Managing Permissions with User Roles

Projector’s professional services automation (PSA) software is a cloud-based services resource planning system designed to be simple enough for small project teams and robust enough to support global professional services organizations with thousands of users. Because of this, it should come as no surprise that Projector contains tools designed to help organizations continually adapt their use of Projector as their business scales in size and complexity. One of the most powerful techniques that Projector administrators can use to save themselves time is to use clearly defined User Roles.

Each User Role within Projector is intended to capture the permission and configuration settings that should be applied to a particular user profile. These User Roles will help streamline the user creation process, prevent security holes in user permissions, and establish scalable system administration policies. In this post, we will explore how to create proper User Roles, where those roles should be applied, and how they can quickly accommodate special cases.

Defining User Roles

User Roles in Projector are intended to model how typical new users should be set up within the system. Each User Role will have default settings that will act as a template for a new user’s profile. User Roles will define the permissions that a user has, what that user’s notification preferences are, and the tabs that will be displayed when the user first logs on.

Before creating any User Roles, it is important to first think about the different types of people that will be using Projector. The application comes pre-configured with some common user groups such as project managers, delivery managers, finance managers, and Projector administrators.  Organizations can create new User Roles or modify existing ones as needed.

When thinking about setting up a new Resource Manager User role, for example, you would want to make sure to include everything they need to perform their resource management duties without giving them access to information that they don’t such as burdened labor costs. Perhaps they should be able to approve time, track skills, schedule consultants, measure utilization, and assess backlog, but don’t necessarily need to be able to invoice clients. In addition, a typical Resource Manager may appreciate seeing a real-time operational dashboard of key performance indicators (KPIs) such as how busy her team is as soon as she logs in. All of this can be accomplished by properly defining a Resource Manager User Role.

Assigning User Roles

Now that you have a User Role or two defined, you can assign them to individual users. You may also run into scenarios where one user might have multiple responsibilities within the organization and needs permissions to match. In Projector, you can easily handle this by assigning him a User Role for each of the areas of the organization for which he is responsible. An example of this might be someone who is a resource manager just in the New York office, but is also part of the project management office (PMO) for the entire organization. By giving this user the Resource Manager User Role for the New York cost center and the PMO User Role for the entire organization, he will then receive the appropriate permissions to enable him to do his job.

Conversely, if you are setting up two new users that are both to be finance managers, but for different parts of the organization, you can use the same User Role for both of them, but selected for different cost centers. Doing so will give the users the permissions they need only within the functional areas you choose without needlessly giving them permissions for the entire organization.

The way that Projector models User Roles allows administrators to think in natural language terms when setting up new users. Instead of requiring administrators to know what settings and permissions each person within the organization needs, administrators simply need to know that a user is to be a resource manager for the New York office. Projector will then do all the heavy lifting of applying all of the proper settings and ensuring the user is properly configured.

Making Targeted Changes

Even if someone has multiple User Roles applied to a User Profile, there may be an instance where you need to give her an individual permission within the application without affecting her peers. In Projector, you can give this user the needed permission by simply overriding the individual permission settings just for her. This can become very useful if, for instance, one of her coworkers will be out of the office on vacation, and you need someone to pinch hit during the monthly invoicing process. You can quickly give that user the needed invoicing permission and then later remove it after her coworker returns.

Changing Global Policies

While permissions can be maintained at an individual level if needed, User Roles, when used smartly, provide a more scalable way to manage access rights at a global level when possible, without sacrificing more granular access control when needed. As policies and processes change and large groups of users need to be modified, User Roles take what could be a daunting task and turn it into a matter of seconds. Shifting the approval of time off to be the responsibility of resource managers is as simple as updating the Resource Manager User Role, which immediately grants appropriate permissions to all of the resource managers in the organization.

Balancing Scalability and Flexibility

As organizations grow in size and complexity, they need their business systems to be flexible enough to both support and enable that growth. Projector’s User Roles enable firms to adopt an efficient global permissions management strategy when possible without sacrificing tight control of individual user access rights when needed. Tools such as User Roles enable Projector’s professional service automation software to effortlessly model your business as it exists today, and to serve as a framework to scale with your business as you look towards the future.

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