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With this blog post, I would like to make you aware of a functionality that will speed up your project invoice creation process when the scenario described below sounds familiar to you.

The solution part includes a video followed by some detailed information on the functionality.

The Scenario

Let's assume you are a project lead and in charge of creating project invoice requests for your projects in SAP Business ByDesign at this very moment.

Some of the time recordings your project team members created are not assigned to the right task or even the right project. There is a multitude of reasons for this: The team members did not know better, they did not care, something changed that requires some time recordings to show up on a different task,...

So,what can you do? Here are a few options that were available prior to release 1811:

  • You could try to reach out to the team members and ask them to make the changes.
    But, they are on an assignment and cannot react in time.

  • If you were the line manager of some of the project team members, you might want to change the project task assignment on their behalf.
    But, since you are in an intercompany project, you would miss some time recordings.

  • You could look for some colleagues who have access to time sheets in the Time Administration work center and have them change the respective time recordings.
    This, however, is a quite some time-consuming job to do since this user interface is not optimized for that kind of work.

There does not seem to be a satisfactory solution that allows you to do what you are expected to do in time.

Can SAP Business ByDesign do better?

The Solution

As of now, project leads or project management team members can easily change project task assignments in two of the places in the work center Project Management that they usually work in:

  • In the Time and Expenses view (as of release 1811)

  • In the Edit Time and Expenses quick activity in the Not Invoiced Time and Expenses view (as of release 1902)

In both places - depending on whether you prefer to work in the overview of project-related expenses or in the project invoice preparation - you can select one or several time recordings and reassign them to another task by simply pressing the button "Change Project Task Assignment".

The reassignment is done in the background in order to not keep you from what you originally wanted to do: Prepare project invoicing.

Status icons help you to immediately recognize what the system's progress on the reassignment is. In addition, as expected, ByDesign reporting provides full transparency on who changed what at which point in time and the changes are reflected in all related documents: time recordings, goods and services receipts, financial postings, and information stored in project management.

Finally, in case you need to reassign time recordings to non-customer-facing projects, this is supported as well!


Please watch the video to see the solution in action.

Time Content
00:00 Introduction / Overview
03:30 Time and Expenses View
05:30 Business Configuration
06:42 Monitoring (Reporting)
07:30 Not Invoiced Time and Expenses - Edit Time and Expenses
11:04 Monitoring (KPIs)
Check out the blog post dated March 1, 2019


The Functionality in Detail

Here are the main features that come along with the reassignment.

  1. Business Configuration to define the work center views that offer reassignment and the scope of the reassignment.

  2. In the Time and Expenses view users can mark one or more time recordings for reassignment.

  3. In the Edit Time and Expenses quick activity users can mark one or more time recordings for reassignment.

  4. The system performs plausibility checks to make sure it can perform the reassignment.

  5. The reassignment is done in the background.

  6. The reassignment cancels the original time recording and creates a new time recording that is assigned to the target task.

  7. Reassignment process monitoring is provided, approvals are not supported.

1. Business Configuration

The functionality comes with one configuration element only: Time Confirmation Reassignment in Project Management.

In this fine-tuning activity you can decide where ByDesign users can use the feature.

  • In the Time and Expenses work center view and/or

  • In the Edit Time and Expenses quick activity
    (via Not Invoiced Time and Expenses work center view)

The second choice you have to make is about the scope you want to allow for the reassignments:

  • Source and target task must be "within the same project"

  • Source and target tasks at least need to belong to the company that runs the source project

  • Source and target tasks can be chosen freely from any project in the system independent of organizational assignments.

2. Time and Expenses Work List

The user can select one or more time recordings, press the button "Change Project Task Assignment"  and then enter the target task in a popup.

Upon pressing OK, the system will start the background job and will display a status icon representing the current status.Clicking the icon will open a popup with information on the target task, target project, target project person responsible, and on who triggered the reassignment and when this happened.

3. Edit Time and Expenses Quick Activity

The user can select one or more time recordings, press the button "Change Project Task Assignment"  and then enter the target task in a popup.

Like above, a status icon will be displayed for the time recordings selected for reassignment. The background job will only be started once the user presses Save. Before that, a click on the icon will open a popup which, in addition to the above case, allows to remove a time recording from the list of time recordings to be reassigned.

4. Plausibility Checks

When you change the project task assignment of time recordings, the system will perform a few checks and will immediately inform you via error messages about facts preventing the reassignment. You can then decide on how to proceed.

An expense cannot be reassigned when:

  • It is not a time recording

  • It is canceled or if it is a cancellation item

  • It is currently belonging to a reassignment process

  • Its project task is not in status started or released

  • Its project task belongs to an intercompany project

  • It is assigned to an in preparation or released project invoice request

An expense cannot be reassigned when the target task

  • Is not in status started or released

  • Is the same as the source task

  • Is a milestone

  • Belongs to an intercompany project

  • Is incorrect according to configuration

5. Background Reassignment Process

Two of the non-functional requirements when developing the functionality were

  • Enable the user to progress quickly when they trigger a reassignment.

  • Proactively prevent performance issues when a user selects a larger amount of tasks for reassignment - which may easily happen when you decide to collect quite a few time recordings in the Edit Time and Expenses quick activity.

This led to the decision to go for an asynchronous process. In doing so, in both work center views the control is returned very quickly to the user once the background job is triggered. The user can then proceed with their work proper while the system is working in the background.

The background run is picked up by the system scheduler as soon as possible. Since there are concurrent processes in the background, please give the system two or so minutes to do the job for you and expect the time to be longer the more time recordings you select at a time.

6. Document Handling During Reassignment

Once the reassignment is triggered this is what happens:

  1. Late checks that were not part of the plausibility checks may prevent the next steps from being executed. Here is a selection of checks

    • Validation that suitable purchase orders are present in case the company of the target project differs from the company of the source project or if a 3rd party resource is involved.

    • Financials process control

    • Accounting period closure .

  2. The time recording for the source project task is cancelled,

  3. A new time recording is created for the target project task.
    Apart from the changed project task the new time recording contains the very information entered by the project team member.

  4. Relevant information on both the cancelled and the new time recording are made available to Financials, Project Management (project expenses) and Supplier Relationship Management (goods and services receipts).

In the above sequence - when it comes to intercompany time recordings - the system makes sure that the time recording to the intercompany project in the company of the employee is being dealt with as well.

7. Reassignment Process Monitoring

In order to facilitate monitoring the progress of the time recording reassignments, two measures were introduced:

  • In the Time and Expenses work list status icons indicate the progress.
    They show

    • "In Process",

    • "Finished Successfully",

    • "Finished with Error", and

    • "Wait for Retry".

  • An analytical report "Project Expense Reassignment" - based on a data source with the same name - allows to answer questions like

    • When and by whom was the reassignment for a certain time recording started?

    • Which were the project tasks involved?

    • How many hours were reassigned?

    • How many time recordings were reassigned?

    • Did the reassignment succeed or did it fail?

    • Is the reassignment finished, successful, erroneous, in process?

The statuses "In Process" and "Finished Successfully"  speak for themselves. "Finished with Error" and "Wait for Retry", however, require an explanation.

As explained in paragraph 6, late checks may prevent the system from performing the reassignment. In that case, the status of the reassignment will be "Finished with Error".  Once the situation has been dealt with you can choose the relevant time recordings again and start the next reassignment. In case the reassignment succeeds, the status is set to "Finished Successfully", and the old error status is deleted. Thus, at a later point in time, you will not be able to see how many tries it took to get the reassignment through, but only that the reassignment was successful.

"Wait for Retry" informs you that concurrent processes try to access the same data and that due to these locking issues the system will try again soon.

With these very detailed monitoring capabilities being available, we decided to skip time recording approvals independent of whether the time recording was performed by a 3rd party or if the setting on the project task enforces is for the original time recording.