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Spec sheets contain standard information about a particular type of job.

They are used to automate adding jobs that are similar, since they produce the same kind of work. You can create dozens of different spec sheets for every type of job you do (e.g., print production, annual reports, radio, PR, print media, etc.)

Spec sheets are created by job type. Every type of job can have a spec sheet that knows its specifications, estimate options, traffic milestones, and tasks. Spec sheets make opening new jobs virtually automatic: All a user needs to know to open a job is the client, the job name, and the spec sheet -- the job’s tasks, estimate options, contingency, and other information is entered instantly.

Spec sheets aren’t rigid, however. You can change anything about a spec sheet anytime: milestones can be edited, tasks can be removed, and estimate options can be added freely. Plus, changing a spec sheet doesn’t affect existing jobs, so they stay accurate.

Not every job will benefit from a spec sheet. You wouldn’t use a spec sheet on one-time jobs that are unique. For example: If you do one billboard ad a year, it’s faster to simply enter the job ticket yourself instead of first setting up a spec sheet. The time you’d spend creating the spec sheet wouldn’t be saved adding only the one job.

How Clients & Profits X uses spec sheets

Spec sheets are used exclusively for speeding up the process of opening routine jobs. By opening a new job with a spec sheet, users save time since they don’t enter as much basic detail about the work. Spec sheets keep jobs of the same type more consistent, since they include the same details.

Spec sheets have three essential purposes: They standardize job tracking (i.e., job tasks), trafficking (i.e., milestone headings), and estimating (i.e., estimate options, disclaimers, and the contingency). You can assign certain tasks to a spec sheet, so that every new job gets the same tasks automatically. Jobs with spec sheets can be trafficked by job type, using the same milestones. Most importantly, though, spec sheets standardize how estimates are made for jobs with the same type. This ability lets you later compare how well you estimated your jobs by the type of work you did.

Job types and spec sheets

There is no difference between a job type and a spec sheet. A job type is simply a name that identifies a spec sheet. Each type of job has its own unique characteristics that affect how you track, estimate, cost, and bill your work. The spec sheet simply organizes these various characteristics in one place, where they can be used later on new jobs. You can create and use dozens of job types.

When a spec sheet is created, you’ll give it a name. The name is the job type, such as Print Production, Annual Report, Brochure, TV spot, or whatever you need. What you call your job types isn’t important, since it’s used inside the shop only. Clients usually don’t see your job types.

Customizable job types. Dozens of different job types can be created for all of the kinds of work you do. Each job type has a spec sheet with commonly-used information and job tasks.

The names you use are important for job tracking, however. Job lists show jobs by job type, conveniently summarizing similar jobs together. Traffic reports show jobs and their milestones (the key events and approvals for each job) by job type, for easier job tracking. And profitability reports compare estimates, costs, billings, and profits by job type.

To add a new spec sheet

1 Click the add button, or choose Edit > Add New Spec Sheet.

2 Enter the name of this spec sheet.

The name describes this job type. Jobs are sorted by job type on job lists, traffic reports, and profitability reports, so the name should be meaningful. The same name can’t be used twice.

3 Enter a short description of this job type, then click Save.

Once the spec sheet is named and saved, you can change its estimate options, milestone headings, and template.

To change a spec sheet’s name and description

1 From the Spec Sheet window, click once on a spec sheet to select it.

2 Click in the edit button, or choose Edit > Edit Description.

3 Make your changes, then click Save.

To delete a spec sheet

1 Click once on a spec sheet to select it.

2 Click the delete button, or choose Edit > Delete.

Deleting a spec sheet doesn’t change any jobs that were associated with it, but it isn’t recommended. Jobs will appear on job lists even if the spec sheet has been deleted, but they won’t show the spec sheet’s description.

To print job type/spec sheet reports

From the Job Types/Spec Sheets window, click the print button or choose File > Print Job Types.

To print a list of job types, including the task templates, choose Print Templates from the File menu.

Spec sheets and estimate options

Each spec sheet can contain estimate options that are special to a particular job type. These special options help make estimating similar kinds of jobs consistent and more accurate. By changing a spec sheet’s estimate options, you can configure a job’s estimates in advance based on the kind of work you’ll produce. The estimate’s disclaimer, user-defined fields, and contingency can be tailored just for a certain job type. In addition, you can choose the billing rate method for this job type and you have the option of making a new job either completely taxable or nontaxable.

Standard estimate options. Each job type can contain typical estimate details, such as a disclaimer, user-defined fields, sales tax, and a contingency. These details are copied to new jobs opened with this job type.

To change your basic estimate options, choose Setup > Preferences then choose Estimate Options from the pop-up menu.

Estimate options vs. report options

Every estimate gets a basic set of estimate options from the Estimate Options settings in Preferences. These options are system-wide settings that are used on every new job by all users. These basic options include a standard disclaimer, estimate heading (which is automatically set as Estimate), and contingency.

These standard options are replaced by the settings you enter on a spec sheet. When a job is opened with a spec sheet, its estimate options -- which are usually specific for the job type -- are copied to the new job, replacing the system’s standard options.

In addition, the job’s estimate options can be further customized as needed. Changing the job’s estimate options doesn’t affect the spec sheet or the system’s basic estimate options.

To change a spec sheet’s estimate options

1 Click once on a job type/spec sheet to select it.

2 Click the Options link.

The Estimate Options window opens, showing the options you’ve already entered for this spec sheet. The spec sheet’s name and description appear at the top of the window for reference.

3 Make your changes, then click Save.

Every spec sheet can contain traffic milestones that are specially designed to manage different job types.

Milestones are the key, big events in a job’s life. Milestones usually aren’t tasks (but could be), instead they represent the job’s important steps: Creative meetings, client presentations, management approvals, print dates, and more. Milestones are used to show the Big Picture of open jobs on traffic reports and job lists. They help you keep from missing the job’s most vital and critical dates, from its start to completion.

For flexibility, every job type can have different traffic milestones. This is because your print production jobs have different meetings, approvals, and other critical steps than a radio production or an annual report.

Due to limitations in printers and paper sizes, there’s a limit to the number of milestone headings that can be created for each job type. Some job types may use all of the traffic headings, while other (probably less complicated job types) may use just a few. you’re not obligated to use every milestone; instead, only use the milestones that are truly useful to tracking jobs in production.

Milestone headings are always copied from the Spec Sheet to the job ticket. To be consistent with other jobs of the same type, they can’t be modified on an individual job ticket. The headings themselves can only be changed in Spec Sheets -- which will affect every open job that has the same job type.

Milestones and Traffic Reports

Milestones are the basis of the traffic system in Clients & Profits Pro. Traffic reports are the center of three systems for tracking jobs in production (the others are job lists by production status and job schedules using tasks).

Traffic reports combine some of the better elements of the job list, which simply shows open jobs, and the job schedules, which show tasks and due dates in full detail. The traffic report is like a job list, since it doesn’t show tasks. But while the job list is excellent at showing where jobs stand now, it doesn’t give production managers a good sense of what’s upcoming. That’s where the traffic reports excel: They are essentially job lists with due dates.

Customizable milestone headings. Every job type’s spec sheet can contain special milestone headings. These headings will be applied to every job that has this job type. Traffic reports show milestones by job type.

Milestones and Job Schedules

Traffic milestones shouldn’t replace job schedules. There’s still a place for both systems, and which one you’ll use depends on a job’s complexity.

The advantage to traffic reports is that they present a clear overview of a job’s important dates. The disadvantage is that you can’t print a to-do list using traffic information. Milestones don’t contain much information beyond the date, unlike job tasks. Job tasks include specific details about start dates, due dates, resources, and specifications needed to complete them.

So to get detailed work-to-do reports on a task-by-task basis, especially for each staff member, you’ll use job schedules. But to track a job’s key dates, regardless of its tasks, you’ll use traffic milestones. Both reports work together to provide the most complete look at your work in progress possible.

Remember, not every task on a job ticket needs to be scheduled. You should only schedule those job tasks that need to appear on daily to-do checklists for your resources.

1 From the Spec Sheet window, click once on a spec sheet to select it.

2 Click on the Milestones link.

The Traffic Milestones window shows the spec sheet’s milestone headings. The name of the job type appears at the top of the window for reference.

3 Make your changes to the spec sheet’s milestone headings, then click Save.

You can enter any kind of information into the milestone headings, up to the length of the column. You can use any letter, number, word, or abbreviation. If you change a spec sheet’s milestone headings, beware of its open jobs. When you change the milestone headings, you’re changing the column headings on the traffic reports.

Any open job that has traffic information expects these column headings to stay in place; if you rearrange the column headings, the job’s milestone dates may be wrong. If you change the milestone headings, be sure to edit the milestone dates for open jobs.

Customizable creative briefs. Each job type contains default subjects for the creative brief. When a job is opened with a job type, its default creative brief headings are copied to the job. This way, the creative briefs will be consistent for all jobs of the same type.

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