Timesheet & Project Management Blog

The goal of this blog is to provide tips and ideas for improving time tracking and project managment for our customers and other interested people.

Project Portfolio Management

 

I was wondering if you could show me how Standard Time® handles large groups of projects or portfolios of projects.

Sure. Let’s start of by going up to Tools, Projects. I think what you’re asking is you want to see areas in the Standard Time program where it handles project portfolios or groups of projects inside of a single portfolio.

Right.

Let’s start by going to Tools, Projects. When I click on a project over on the left-hand side you see a Portfolio field, turns out that’s a drop down. You can choose portfolios from this list to put that project into a portfolio. When you click the … button you actually see a list of your portfolios you can add and delete those or rename those as you like. You’re essentially able to go through each of your projects and put them into different portfolios.

Different groups then.

That’s the first step. Now once you’ve done that you’ll see some value in the product because of that. The first area that I’ll go to is the View menu and choose Project Revenue. Inside this window you’re able to see projected revenue out into the future for a year for your project. So you can choose a single project here and see the revenue for that project. This also shows them by folder and by portfolio. Click the little buttons above the project drop down and choose Development Projects, now I’ve got a group of projects.

Isolate that group and see the revenue from that group of projects.

Exactly. This includes all the projects within this portfolio. As you go out through the months you see the various revenue projections for that. So let’s move onto another area. Go to the View menu choose Project Resource Allocation we see another area where project portfolios can be displayed. And here in the Project Resource Allocation dialog you see where employees are scheduled to work out into the future. You can choose a project or show all projects, but you can also show a single portfolio.

So you can see how heavily allocated a single project portfolio is.

That is correct. That’s two areas that you’ll see some benefit from that. There are some reports in the product as well where you can group the time logs by your project portfolios. But those two areas are probably the biggest value for that.

OK. Very nice!

Project Costing and Billing Rates

 

I was wondering if you could show me how Standard Time® handles project rates and project costing. How do you do that?

Yes, I can go into that. That story basically starts here with Tools, Projects. I’m going to go in here and show you where to start with that. I’m going to choose a project here and there’s a few fields that control or at least begin to control some of the rates and costing for each project. You’re going to see as you click on different projects you can actually have different models or ways to do your billing and have different rates for each project. So if you pull down the drop down you’ll see that there are user rates, category rates and project rates. As you click on different projects here you’ll see those two fields change to show the different models.

So each project has its own way of doing it or you can set it up per project.

Exactly. In this case we’re using project rates in which you can see here. But in this case we’re using user rates. So if you went to the Tools menu and choose Users and organizations you’ll be able to set those rates there. You start off your billing method by choosing those choices there. The next thing you’ll see in the product is a few other menu items to set the billing rates on a project by project basis. You can go in here either into Employee Billing Rates or Category Billing Rates. I’m going to choose Employee Billing Rates. And here you’d be able to choose a project from the left-hand side, set the rate for each user so that every user has a different rate for every project.

OK. Instead of using what’s in their profile, the flat rate that they have in their profile, it can be different per project based on the user or type of work.

That is correct. And I’ll show you how that works out in the product. As we go over to the Project Tasks tab, I filter this view so that we’re looking at a small green house project. I have two tasks here; one task is assigned to Ray and one task is assigned to Buzz. Each one has 100 hours of duration but one task is going to bill at $250 an hour whereas the other will bill at $50 an hour. It’s all because of the different user that’s assigned to that task.

It’s based on that user rate!

You can see that here. So if you multiply the 100 hours x $250 you’ll get $25,000 for the cost you’d charge the client. In this case 100 x $50 is $5,000 for this project task. So the total is $30,000. We also see here we’ve logged 1 hour of time for each of these tasks; that’s simply done by typing 1 hour into the timesheet. You can see there is $300 charged already. So that would go to accounts payable for invoicing. That leaves a remaining of $29,700. You can see how it breaks out on the task below.

That makes sense!

Memorize Time and Expense Reports

 

I have a tough question for you! I run reports on a regular basis. And when I do that I have to choose the same choices every time to run that report. I was wondering if you had a way to simply save those choices so I wouldn’t have to do that every time.

Absolutely! We have a way to memorize reports. Let me show you that real quick. If you go over here to the left hand side, you’ll notice we have a couple of choices of things we can do. One of them is a list of reports, so let’s click on this + symbol and open my list of reports. I’ll go ahead and choose Time logs, open up that list and I’ll go down here and choose employee by project. When I select that report you get your normal list of filters and things you want to memorize in the report. The first tab up here at the top that you can select is the list of Users, you can choose a person or group of people. However by not choosing someone it will show you everyone. So by not making a selection you get to see everything. So the same is true for projects. If I want to see one project or so I can click on that project. In this case I’m not going to make a selection, I want to see them all. The same is true for Clients and so forth… But when I click on the date range, let’s say I want to see everything from last week, so I will make that choice here. I just want to see all the time for last week; you can look at billed or unbilled time or you can look at summary vs detail. In this case all I did was make one selection; I want to see everything from last week. Then click the save button over here on the bottom right corner. When I click save it allows me to name this report whatever I like. And you’ll notice it gives it a report extension of rpf instead of rpx. It’s just going to save it under that extension on your hard drive or your network, where ever it’s located. Then I hit the save button and when I do, I now have a brand new report listed here on the left hand side. I quickly identify it because it has a little icon listed next to it and that tells me I have a memorized report for the hours for last week. If I click on that, there’s my report.

Perfect, single click! I don’t have to make those choices over and over again I just click it once.

Right. You just click it once and you’re done. This thing has already memorized all of your attributes and in fact you can create as many of those reports as you like. And every time you create one and save it you’ll find it in the list where it was originally created.

Thank you!

Windows and Web Time Tracking Apps

 

Can you show me the differences between your Windows app and the Web app for Standard Time®?

First of all there really aren’t any differences, they are functionally the same. Let me go over the Windows app first then I’ll show you the Web version. Right now we’re in the timesheet for the Windows app, we can jump over here to the Project Tasks tab. Which is a mini dashboard of all of your projects. And again I’ll click back on the Timesheet and put in 8 hours for each day on a particular task. Then I’ll click on the Time Log tab, which is a historical record of all time put into the system. We have the Expenses tab, the Billing tab, the Time Off tab. Again you can hide or display at your will, depending on the user, and of course most people just want to use the timesheet which is a very common thing to do. Then I’m going to jump over here to the Web version; when I do that you’ll notice we have the same tabs along the top. We’ve got the Project Tasks tab, which is this dashboard screen. The Timesheet tab, which of course you can see the 8 hours I entered earlier into the Windows version; you see they’re connected. Then I click on the Time Log tab, it’s very much the same. Expenses tab, same is true there. Then we have the Billing tab and finally the Time Off tab. Most people utilize the Timesheet. You can hide all the tabs you want or display them according to the user. That’s pretty much it!

OK. How about admin functionality? How do you add new projects, clients and so on?

That’s all found here in the Tools menu. If I click on the Tools menu you’re going to see a list of items available here. Let me click over to Windows real quick as well. When I do that we see we have the same information available in the Tools menu as well.

And reports?

Over here in the Windows version you’ll see we have a list of reports on the left hand side. And if I click over to the Web version you’ll see the same list of reports all well.

Nice! Thank you!

 

Timesheet Email Notifications

 

I have a question about our email notifications. I know we have a number of automatic emails that you can select to utilize or not utilize. Can you go over those real briefly and give me an idea of which each means?

Yes, you can find those by going to the Tools menu, choosing Users and Organization; each person can have their own email notification. So I’m going to go into this dialog box and here you see a list of users and groups in the system. I’m going to right click on one of these users and then choose Email Notifications. When I do that we will see a list of all the notifications you can get from Standard Time®. I’ll go through the list quickly so you have an idea what each one of these means. The 1st ones are sent on the 1st day of the week, usually Monday. ‘Timesheet has not been submitted for approval’ essentially that means the system will check each employee to make sure they’ve submitted their timesheet sometime last week. If they’ve not done that then they’ll get an email notification so that they get around to doing that so that certifies that their timesheet is correct. It’s actually optional but you can choose to enforce this type of internal policy so employees do that. The next thing, notifications are along the same lines; Timesheet contains less than a certain number of hours then they will also get an email notification telling them that so that they can look through their timesheet, find out where the hours need to be added and update their timesheet. Managers can look over their timesheets. The next two would be for managers so if a timesheet has been submitted by employees the manager would get notification of those. Or rejected by a manager the employee would get a notification of that. Time off request has been submitted is another one managers would get when employees submit time off for vacation or sick, etc. If the time off request if modified, if it is approved or declined, then the employee will get that. The next few here are for tasks that are scheduled and that are overdue, you can get an email notification so that you take a look at those tasks and start working on those. The next one here ‘Task percentage warning exceeded’ would also be for managers so that if employees begin to work on tasks and exceed those tasks, they can be notified. They can intervene if necessary.

That helps you from budget overruns.

The next two would be for managers, high-level managers who do not want their timesheet submittal or time off request broadcasted to other managers. They can stop those. Those would normally be for managers not for employees. And here you can get an email notification when you’re assigned to a new project. As soon as a manager assigns you to a project you will get an email notification letting you know that happened. That’s the list, you can look through those and set them up for each employee.

OK. That helps to clarify things. Thanks!

Standard Time® Apps

 

Have you ever heard of Standard Time?

So… let’s say you’re a tech consultant… or engineer… or SEO expert... or service tech.  You meet with clients.  You bill hours.  And you travel sometimes.  You’re a road warrior, and good at what you do.

But the question is…

What time tracking app do you use?  Do you record mileage and expenses?

You’re not tied to a terminal, are you?  Or a spreadsheet for your billable hours?  Have you tried the Standard Time apps?

And how about the other engineers you work with?  Why not introduce Standard Time to them?

You should try the Android app?  Or iOS.  It syncs with the cloud or desktop.  The whole office can use it, and client billing can occur at one central point.

Track projects.  Track billable hours.  Expenses and mileage.

Make life easy.

Click to download Standard Time.

Watch the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=4BtsEuzbsQU

Employee Skill Availability

 

Every once in a while I get a question about resource allocation. I know we have a resource allocation view where you can see individuals and whole departments of people; at least how far they’re allocated out into the future or under allocated. But occasionally someone will ask me how do I find if we have any engineers available or product developers available? Is there a way to see that in our resource allocation view?

I believe so, yes. I’ll go in there now. You can see the menu item I’ve chosen to get there (View, Project Resource Allocation). I’ll go ahead and choose that. I think what you’re describing here is simply choosing a user from this drop down list and going to the Availability bar chart. When you do that you see the blue bars here indicating the available days or in this case months. The yellow bars indicating months in which this person is not so available. And then the bars here where there is no availability because there are no bars. That is for one person; that’s the person I’ve chosen here on this User drop down. But I think what you’re saying is you want to find people with certain skills, certain engineer, and other skill sets-find out when those are available. For that you’d pick this little wrench icon that actually changes this drop down so that you don’t see people instead you see skills. If you were to pick a skill; in this case I’ve chosen ENG1 from the list. You then see a list of all the people who have that skill. Again the blue bars are indicating those people have availability because we’re looking at the Availability bar chart. The yellow bars would indicate they are partially available and you see some areas where there are no bars at all so there is no availability for that skill set. So as you choose the skill you’re narrowing it down and finding different people. Of course you can go deeply into these different groups and only find the people within that group that had those skills.

Great! You can look at this from the whole company perspective or maybe by department. And find skills within a small area or within the whole organization.

That is correct.

That’s what I want. Thank you!

Future Project Billing Rates

 

An occasional question I get is how Standard Time® handles future billing rates or estimating projects out into the future.

That actually starts here in the Tools menu. If you go to the Billing Rates menu, go over here to Employee Billing Rates or Category Billing Rates, I’m going to choose Employee... Normally you’re able to filter this view on the right hand side and set your client and salary rates here for each project, each project has different rates. But you’re also able to go out into the future so when you open up the date range choice you can choose a certain date range and then set the rates for that. This would essentially handle projects that would go out into the future, into future years, even bleed over into the next year. Where you know there is going to be a rate increase, you can see the rate is changing here as I go into future years. Even projects that go into one year from now you’ll be able to estimate those client salary rates so you can estimate your costs and your revenue for those projects.

I see you have a lot of those that look like they are year by year. Can you do different date ranges? What if I have a project that has a 3 month range?

That would be handled here by going here to the Managed choice. You are correct, each of these happens to be on a yearly boundary for this example. You do not have to limit yourself to that. You can set these to any date range. If you have year and a half, two year, whenever your rate changes occur you can set your starting and ending date there.

It’s probably more clarifying too that if you don’t do any changes here it just uses the default billing rate that the project already has.

Yes, that’s correct. What I’m going to do is take a look at a fictional project that has some tasks that go out into the future. You can see I have some tasks here with some starting dates that go out into future years. Just as we saw in that previous dialog box you have rates that get assigned because those tasks are out into future years.

Good. Basically looks like in 2013 the billing rate is $200 an hour, 2014 is $225 and so on.

That’s correct!

Expense Timesheet Template

 

I have a question about Standard Time®.  We have fixed expenses that occur in our consultancy where the engineers will go out and have to charge these expenses. I would like to set up Standard Time so that they don’t have to fill out all of those expense fields every time. Essentially setting up a template. An example of that it might be travel; we have a $500 a day travel expense and I don’t want them to have to fill those fields out and make mistakes on those. Can you help with that?

Absolutely, that’s what we call a fixed expense. What you can do is go here to the Insert menu and create what’s called New Expense Template. When I do that I get a little form I can fill out. So with your example let’s say its $500 a day, and call it Travel Time. Then you have to give it a Type. So in this case I’m going to scroll down here and call it Travel and then a Category. I’m going to call this InDirect time. You can create as many as these reasons or delete the ones we have, you customize that. In this case I’m making this available to All projects, or I can make it available to certain projects. But in this case I’m going to say this is available for all projects. It is a Billable amount to the client but the Employee does not pay it so I’m going to uncheck that box. Hit Save and Close and now I’ve created an expense template for $500 per incident for travel time.

You’ve essentially set up all the fields our guys would normally have to fill out every time.

Right, so they don’t have to fill it out now. It’s prefilled, they just mark the number of occurrences this happens per project or job.

Let’s see that.

It’s kind of a hidden feature in Standard Time, I’m looking at the timesheet now. But if I want to go to the expense template I click this drop down arrow, and choose Expense Sheet. When I do that I’m looking at an expense sheet instead of a timesheet. So for example for Dynamics Research if I open it up, there’s Travel Time. If I open up this other project you’ll also see Travel Time because again I made it available for all projects. So I’m going to say on Monday for Dynamics Research I did one day of travel and its $500 for that expense. If I want to go down here for ECM System and I did a day of travel on that one and also a day of travel on this one; basically I have two instances of travel on two different projects and its $500 per occurrence. That will already be prepopulated so when my manager runs an expense report they’ll get to see what categories it falls into and what type of expense it was.

OK. So I can see that over in the Expenses tab then?

Yeah. If I click on the Expenses tab, there exactly are the three expenses I entered. Again you can sort by category, by the amount, whatever you want by just clicking on the header.

Very nice! That will do it, thank you!

DCAA Compliant Timesheet

 

Warren, I’d like to know a little more how your timesheet’s support DCAA (Defense Contract Audit Agency).

First thing I’d mention is there is a whole cottage industry of consultants and experts that make a living consulting businesses how to remain and become DCAA compliant. It does require some internal training, no software package in its own will help you get there. But we have a lot of tools that will assist you in becoming DCAA compliant. The first thing I’d mention is in our system, to become DCAA compliant, you want to be able to lock down what people can or cannot do within Standard Time®. And you do that as an administrator by going to the Tools menu, selecting Users and Organization. When you select this dialog you get a list of all your users on the left hand side. I’m going to right click on a user name and scroll down to User Rights. This is imperative because this is where you make the changes to a person’s interface that allows them to become DCAA compliant and helping them get to that point. One of the main things you want to check is ‘Can bypass locks.’ You want to unselect that because you do not want to allow someone to bypass a lock. In addition to that DCAA is very clear they want only the employee to enter their time, no one else should be entering time on the employees behalf. So you’re going to want to make sure you uncheck this dialog box ‘Can enter time and expenses for other employees.’ Additionally there’s a third very important requirement, it’s found down here near the bottom. If you make a change to your timesheet DCAA wants you to notate and document why you made that change. So uncheck this box (‘Modify time without requiring special notes’) as well that allows you to make changes without putting a notes in the system. If you uncheck this box it will force your employees to document why they make those changes.

Now that I’ve done that I’m going to go back here to my Timesheet. I’m going to click on here at this 6.00h and I want to change that to 7. When I go to change that immediately the dialog box pops up asking me to document my changes. So I’m going to say something very generic. Now this is where training is important because your employee can type anything they want in this box but you want to make sure you’re clear, they need to document exactly why they made this change. In addition to that, after you put in your own time and document your own time, you want to be able to lock the system down and prevent people making changes in the future. What you do is go to the Tools menu, as an administrator you can choose Approve Time and Expenses. Right on the bottom left corner a bottom says Lock Date Range. Here I’m going to say I’m going to lock everyone in my system from February 1st to February 15th.  Then I say Lock Date Range and when I do that it’s going to lock down the whole system out into the future so no one can make changes.

There is a document on our website you can visit http://www.stdtime.com/dcaa.htm and it will help     explain how Standard Time® can help you become DCAA compliant. It will help answer some of those questions for you.

Very good, Thank you!

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