IT Connect
Information technology tools and resources at the UW

20150707: Nebula billable time infrastructure changes and the demise of ‘Budget Approvers’

Changes to the underlying billable time infrastructure Nebula uses to support Nebula consulting charges have occurred. This email outlines some of the consequences for Nebula customers.


What and When:

UW-IT began retiring the help request tool called RT a year ago, replacing it with a new system called UW Connect. Up until June 30, 2015, Nebula used RT to report billable time for consulting. On July 1, 2015, UW-IT discontinued the billable time capability of RT and replaced it with a similar capability in UW Connect. The new billable time capability in UW Connect does not work exactly the same as the old billable time capability in RT. The most notable difference is that there is no “budget approver” functionality. This was a functionality that allowed someone previously designated as a “budget approver” for a given budget to be alerted to new billable time records by automatically adding them to the email interactions.


What you need to do:

There is no action you must take, this announcement is informational only. You might choose to implement workarounds to meet any lost value due to this change.


More info:

Nebula billable time results from consulting charges when a request isn’t covered by the core Nebula desktop rate and we bill for the time spent to bring such a request to resolution. When this is the case, we ask for a valid budget and notify the customer that the request will result in additional charges.


For billable time, you should see the same level of detail in the monthly TSE bills that are generated.


The billing mechanism is owned by UW-IT Business and Finance. The decision to not provide an authorization/notification mechanism was made by UW-IT Business and Finance due to the lack of a central authority for all UW budgets for billable activities, as well as technical constraints in customizing the new help request system. Nebula’s previous authorization/notification capability was unique among UW-IT billable charges and required a highly customized tool to support it.


I recognize that this change represents less functionality, and many customers relied on the notification mechanism to have a higher degree of confidence about charges being incurred or to intercept requests for which your department has special procedures. UW-IT will definitely work with customers on charges that are not appropriate or excessive. If you’d like for us to track specific kinds of requests for your department and redirect those kinds of requests for help to you, please do let us know about those–we do track that kind of information already and are happy to expand this. Another workaround you might consider is to ask your users to copy you on their email to–you would then be part of the interaction if we need to ask for a budget.


On a positive note, this change means Nebula support staff are no longer using two different help request systems to track your requests. Using both for a year has been a strain on us.