“Digite does not have extensive financial capabilities,” says Abhinav Praneet, Senior Solution Specialist at Digité Inc. “You have the basic functionalities for basic project management functions.”
Fair enough. Digite is a collaboration tool in the Application Lifecycle Management arena, not a financial management tool, but from what I have seen there is more than enough financial functionality to suit the average project manager.
The product does have enough financial functionality to manage a project successfully, but it does take a bit of effort to set up. You need to set up account heads such as the ones shown in the screenshot below i.e. the central points for aggregating figures under the head of income or expense when you start defining your budgets. These could be ‘fixed asset cost’ or ‘budget consumable cost’.
You can also create financial templates. “You can set up these to define a skeleton of how you would capture your budgets, and estimates,” says Praneet. Then each time you start a new project you can just call up a template and use that as the basis for entering financial data. You can create an estimate and then make it your project budget with pretty much just a click. If you don’t bother to estimate beforehand you can create a budget from scratch. Digite also allows you to reforecast and have different version of the budget, just in case it changes in the future. You just inactivate the budget, change it and reactivate it – and that version becomes the latest version.
The most important part of the template is the worksheet. “This defines the line items that form the budget items in the project budget,” Praneet explains. “You can capture all the line items that you are budgeting for on your project.” One of the lines in the sample data he shows me is ‘books and library materials’ and it reminds me of a conversation with someone on Twitter recently about how we would love to have a budget for buying books at work.
There is a lot of set up required with Digite, but you only have to do it once. For a tool that prides itself on minimising the amount of data entry users have to do, I think there is a lot of data entry. But again, you only have to do a lot of it once. If you are the system administrator, there is a fair amount of effort involved in getting the software configured correctly to make life easier for everyone else. As with any tool, the data out is only as good as the data put in, so you want to make it as easy as possible for the end user, even if the administrator does have a bit of a job when they first install it.
“Doing it in Digite is better because you can track against actuals,” says Praneet. “If you do it in Excel you can’t compare.” Digite allows you to see how you are faring in terms of what you have budgeted for.
The software also allows you to input salaries so that you can track how much your project resource costs. You can capture transactions and chargebacks, and create invoices for clients based on billable hours and operational expenses for any given period.
There is a reporting function which will churn out a financial summary, expense report and even some basic earned value analysis graphs (for example, those below) which draw from the integrated timesheet data, all of which are perfectly suitable for the majority of projects.
Digite might not look the slickest tool on the market, and it seems to involve a fair amount of set up, but once it is operational it looks as if it will meet the needs of most project managers.