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.

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!

Simple Timesheet

I have a question about the timesheet you probably get all the time. How do you put notes for the hours that you type into the timesheet?

Yeah, that’s pretty simple. Just find the cell you want to put a note with; for example I’ll do this 2.75 hours, for Mail Handling. You don’t actually have to highlight the number, just be inside of the cell. So I click my cursor inside of the cell, when I do that the next step is to go down to the bottom right corner and click Notes and Detail. When I do that it pulls up a little summary for that increment of time. You’ll see the actual task name is highlighted in blue for Mail Handling. And you can leave that task name in the system as it is or override it if you like. Most people leave that name already in the system alone and then they just type their notes right after that. They would say something to the effect “Mailed 24 overnight packages.” When you’re done hit Save and Close down here at the bottom of the box. And you’re done, those notes are in the system. Once you type time into the timesheet it becomes what we call a time log-a historical record of time. If you click over here to the right of Timesheet and click on the Time Log you’ll see basically the same information from the timesheet but arranged in a different manner. In this case I want to find that increment of time where I typed my notes in so I’m going to go over here to the left hand side where I have Clients, Projects, and Users and so on. I’m going to use this to filter my timesheet, that’s what this menu item is for. So I’m going to open up my list of date ranges and I’m going to say I want to see all of the time for this week. And when I do that it is going to narrow down what I have in my window and right here in the middle you’ll see that increment of time where I put the notes against that time log. When I click on this it pulls up back up again where I can see the original information. And as you can see it’s the exact same thing that was in the timesheet it’s just arranged in a different manner in this window. And you can sort by these headers at the top by actual work, by the project name or whatever you like. And when you’re done you just click this little yellow X, it removes the filter and returns you back to your normal view. And that’s it. You can click back to the Timesheet and I’m ready to track more time.

All right! That was the answer I needed. Thank you.

PTO and Time Off Tracking

 

I see an icon there under the first column under Projects; there’s an airplane icon in Time Off. And I know it applies to the time off tab. But I’d like you to show me how to put in a time off record and get a sense how that feature works.

Yeah, sure. First you click on the plus symbol and it will open up a list of your time off reasons. You get to define how many time off reasons you have and how fast it accrues for each employee. But for me, when I want to put in requests for time off or actually put some time in a day, let’s say Monday, I’m going to take 8 hours of personal time. I’ll just type in 8 hours here. And when I go to tab out of the system it’s going to pull up a little form; it’s basically prepopulated for me. It shows I’m taking personal time, I’m taking 8 hours, it shows the beginning and ending date and all I need to do it hit Save and Close. Now that time has been submitted for my time off request and it will appear in the time off tab up on the right hand side. It’s different because the timesheet, when you put time in against one of these jobs here like Chevron or Dynamics Research. When you put time into your actual work it becomes a time log, shows up in the Time Log tab as a historical record of your work hours.

Yes, its project time or task time, something you did in a task for a project. But either way it shows up in the Time Log as a historical time record. Whereas a time off request for personal time shows up here in the Time Off tab as my request for time off. I’ll go ahead and click on the Time Off tab like I just did and I’m going to click on the Date range and click show me my time off request for this month. And there you see the 8 hours I just put in for time off on Monday.

OK. So then this can track for my accrued hours?

Exactly. So when I put in that little 8 hours for personal time on Monday my manager will get an automatic email notification that says Warren has requested 8 hours of personal time. And once that’s approved, it’s automatically deducted from my available amount of time in my “bank.” All of these times; Comp Time, Jury Duty, Other, Personal and so on every one of them has their own bank of time available. And when I take time away from that, or request time off, it’s automatically deducted from my available time.

That’s what I needed to know, thank you! 

Project Revenue Win-Loss Chart

 

Hey Warren. You had mentioned a chart that I wanted to see project estimates or revenue estimates…

Yes, that’s right under the View menu and then scroll down to Project Revenue. It’ll pull up this little bar chart. You see I have a nice little bell curve and it displays all the estimated revenue for the coming year. And you’ll notice way down here towards the end of the year it’s dropping off a little bit. That’s because our sales team filled up the first ¼ of the year with work because it’s in the near further. And as we work through the 1st quarter they’ll bring on new jobs and more projects and fill up the revenue toward the end of the year. ‘Cause obviously we need to more than $12,000 in December worth of work. So that will happen as the year progresses.

So there won’t be a bell curve at the end of the year; you’ll fill out the rest of the year. I have a question about the Win Status drop down. Could you pop that open and tell me what’s in there?

We’re looking at the Submitted and won status right now, that’s what’s currently being displayed. And if you wanted to you could just say show me all work that has been submitted. In other words sales teams have submitted these jobs and they’re possibly going to land them but not sure yet. And as you go through the process, you want to see everything you’ve won to date, you can look at that. This is all the work that’s guaranteed, signed the contracts and ready to roll. Or you can show the inverse, which is a painful number to look at but important to know how much revenue you’ve lost in the coming year out of expected or possible projects.

OK. Then you have some drop downs at the top with the project and client. I’m guessing that just lets you see one project.

Right. If I want to see just one project I can click on that project and see only that project. Of course the default is to see all the projects. And you can do the same for clients. I won’t jump into all that but you can see a particular client.

How do you get these vertical bars to show up?

Let me show you. You go to the Tools menu. Choose the first item called Projects. Once you select Projects you get the Projects Properties dialog and it shows all the projects in the system on the left hand side. And once I click on a project all the properties now on the right side of this window that pertain to that project. And what you want to make sure you do is select a start date for the project, a finish date for the project. And once you get those two basic date parameters in here then you throw in your estimated revenue; it will spread that revenue evenly over that date range. In addition you also have the option of selecting which stage or what status this project is in. Has it been Submitted, have we Won the project or has it been Lost. If it’s in the submitted stage you can also determine what your win probability is. Do you want to say we’re 75% sure we’ll get this or whatever that number may be.

So that’s the Sales funnel sort of model where you crunch the numbers down and find out what your probable revenue is.

Exactly. It gives you a good estimate what you can expect to land.

Can you pull up that chart again? I just want take one last look. I think I have all my questions answered but want to see it again.

Just go to the View menu, select Project Revenue and there it is!

Project Management

 

Hey, Warren. I have a question about your Standard Time® program. I know you have time management because you have timesheets and expense tracking. I also know you have project management. I’d like to know a little bit about how they tie together.

Sure I can talk about that. What we’re looking at here is a timesheet. And as an administrator you can create projects and tasks for your employees to track time against. And those projects and tasks will appear in the timesheet which I’m looking at right now. We have a number of different projects here 7001SBIR, Chevron, Dynamics Research, and so forth. And down here in Embraer we can type in our hours directly to a task, if we want to. That’s how we track the time inside the timesheet. And this time will relate back to these projects and these tasks so that project managers can look at each project and gage how far they’ve come, what their forecast is, maybe what their baseline is vs their actual. A lot of that can be shown actually in the Project Tasks tab which is just left of the Timesheet tab. So when I move away from the Timesheet and click on the Project Tasks tab, I’m now seeing a dash board view of my projects from a project management prospective. We’re seeing the same projects here that showed on in my timesheet. The difference is I’m seeing the estimated Duration, Actual work and the % complete. And then over here to the far right we have the % status bar. When I open up one of these projects by clicking on the + symbol, I get to see the tasks within that project that are showing up in my timesheet to track time against.

OK. So the actual work column then is the hours that people have typed into the timesheet.

Yes. This column here the actual work is exactly the hours typed from the timesheet. And again this is cumulative total. So their might be 100 people working on this task and as they type their time into the timesheet it all shows up here in one big number.

OK. I see these bars over on the right-hand side, blue and red. What are the red ones?

This is a status bar. It tells you when it’s red that this task has gone over the allotted estimated time. So if I just click on Media Planning. We can see estimated Duration was 30 hours and the Actual was 104. So therefore it’s way over the estimated budget. So when you look at the actual bar and it being red its telling you you’ve gone over the allotted time.

Thank you. No more questions. Just wanted to see how the two tied together.

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