How estimates work
Members of the Activity List
An activity is a potential cost. It can be one of three types.
Members of the Charge Code List
Codes meeting regulatory body requirements; may be called service codes, biller codes, payment codes, etc. In Case Manager the code is called a charge code and is linked to one or more activities.
Estimate costs are added to an estimate and displayed in Estimate tab.
They can be created from activities or charge codes.
Costs are added at the Costs tab.
They are created from activities.
The estimate usually directs which activities can be added.
A useful distinction is that estimate costs represent costs that can be spent. In contrast, case costs represent costs that have been spent.
In general, an estimate 'polices' the kinds of costs that can be entered for its case and the maximum value these can reach. This helps to hold the case costs to a quote.
In practice, estimate operations are extremely customisable depending on your needs. You define their functionality at the category level and this should only be modified by senior administrators.
Estimate costs provide the foundation for managing case costs. For each estimate cost, the duration multiplied by the rate determines the maximum value that can be entered, which may or may not be enforced depending on the estimate's strictness.
Estimate costs can actually be created from activities or charge codes, depending on the estimate settings.
Costs added to a case are always activities, although they may be required to have certain charge codes depending, once again, on estimate settings.
In Estimates, activities and charge codes we saw that when the estimate polices through activities, you can specify how strict this is. The options range from dictating exactly what activities are can be added to merely suggesting that the estimate costs (or any other activities) be added. In contrast, when estimates police through charge codes the estimate is always strict.
The estimate settings specify other general levels of strictness. The most significant are:
- Total costs
- Start and end dates
You can specify that costs cannot be added if they would cause the amount added to exceed the maximum specified for this estimate cost. This makes the estimate quite strict.
This setting, Do not allow costs to exceed the estimate limit, is enforced generally whenever you do something that might alter the amount remaining for the estimate, see Estimate limits for further details.
When the cost rate is zero the limit to an estimate cost can be provided by its duration, see Estimate costs with zero rates.
You can specify that costs can only be entered within defined dates. This also makes the estimate more strict.
Every estimate cost has an optional start and finish date. There is an estimate setting to Hide estimate costs when out of date range, see Estimate costs settings at D.
If this setting is switched on the date is consulted when costs are entered. If the date is not between the start and finish date for the estimate cost, its option(s) will not be available to select at the Costs tab.
Note that the start and finish dates for the estimate itself (its goal) are used for synching the dates of all estimate costs (see Estimate buttons at G). They do not limit when the entire estimate is active.
Note that a case can have multiple estimates linked to it. Only one estimate should be active and policing costs at any one time, see Set the current estimate.
In summary, Even though it is always costs that are added at the case's Costs tab, the estimate controls which costs can be added, either through permissible activities or activities with permissible charge codes.
When estimates police via activities and you are creating estimate costs from activities in the Activity List, you can change their rates. As a result, when costs linked to the estimate are added at the Costs tab, the rate in the estimate applies, not the rate in the Activity List.
This feature does not apply when estimates police via charge codes.
Note also that the company rate overrides rates for all activities of type Activity when they are added to a case or case estimate, see Cost rate settings for details.
When entering costs for a case that has an estimate you are offered choices and may also be restricted in several ways, depending on the estimate settings.
- estimates can police through permissible activities or permissible charge codes
- case costs can be limited to only the costs permitted by the estimate and nothing else
- total case costs can be capped at the estimate totals, so that you cannot add a case cost that would cause the total for that cost to exceed the total of the estimate costs
See Estimate examples for some practical examples.