Figuring out who will work on what project is the tough recurring question all managers face. Today, scheduling time to a project in Forecast requires that you also assign that time to a person on your team. For the most part, this is naturally how scheduling works (“So-and-so is planned to work X hours next week on Project Y”).

However, this requirement can sometimes become a hassle. What if you have hours to assign to an upcoming project, but you’re not yet sure who’ll be working on it? What if everyone on your team is already at full capacity that week? What if you planned to hire someone to work those hours, but you haven’t hired them yet?

These are common real-life scenarios we’ve heard from our customers. As a workaround, our customers have been adding “dummy users” to their team in Forecast. Then they assign those dummy users to projects.

The main problem with this: Forecast charges for each person on your team! We don’t believe we should be charging you extra for a workaround.

Introducing Placeholders

Today, we’re excited to introduce Placeholders to Forecast.

Placeholders can be assigned to projects—just like people!—and will help with all of the scheduling scenarios listed above. You can assign time to a Placeholder when you’re unsure who’ll be working on a project, or if your team is already too busy. Simply reassign that time to a specific person later. This makes Placeholders useful both for planning new business and knowing when it’s time to hire.

There are two main benefits to using Placeholders over a “dummy user”. First, Placeholders are free! Second, Placeholders are visibly highlighted on the schedule. When time is assigned to a Placeholder, it’s considered tentative. That’s important, so we make sure you can see it.

Here’s a quick 2-minute introduction to Placeholders:

Creating and Assigning Placeholders

You can add new Placeholders from the bottom of the Team Schedule.

Typically, Placeholders will align with certain roles you need on a project. For example, if you often need designers on projects, we recommend creating a Placeholder named “Designer”.

You can also assign a role to any Placeholder you create. For example, the Designer Placeholder could be assigned to the Designer role, too. Then when you filter your Team Schedule to “Designer,” you’ll see the Placeholder along with your usual design teammates.

Placeholders can be assigned to projects in the same way you assign people. When adding people to projects, you’ll find Placeholders at the bottom of the list, below your team. The only exception is Time Off—Placeholders can not be assigned Time Off.

In all other ways, Placeholders mirror how we handle people in Forecast. You will find them in Forecast Exports, and on Project Analysis pages in Harvest.

Schedule With Ease

Scheduling can often be a challenge—new projects spin up fast, plans change, calendars fill up. We believe Placeholders offer the flexibility you need to schedule your team in an ever-changing environment.

If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out to the team.