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.

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.

Pay Periods in Timesheet


Question about your timesheet. I see your timesheet is in a weekly view. In other words I see Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday and so on. That’s nice but we like to enter time for a full pay period. Usually pay periods are from the 1st of the month to the 15th then from the 16th to the end of the month. Can you configure the timesheet to do that?

Yeah sure, Ray. You just go right here to the Tools menu scroll down to where we have Approve Time and Expenses. And once you’re in this view you’ll notice there’s a box for Pay Periods, click on it and this is where you create the pay periods. You can create as many as you like. I’m going to create one here from the 1st to the 15th as you said; and I’ll choose Create Pay Period. Now we have one pay period created. Now I’ll go ahead and choose the next one which is the 16th through the end of the month.

I can create these out into the future, really for the whole year then.

Right, a lot of people do that. You can create them 6 months at a time, a year, two years-whatever you like.

I created a few here as an example so I’m going to close this box. And I’m going to get out of this view as well. And then you’re going to notice right here at the top you’re going to see we have a pay period/date range for this timesheet. And you’ll also notice it shows up at the bottom of the timesheet as well. So you get two indicators of the date range for the pay period you’re in.

OK. I also see a bracket there. I guessing that tells me expected number of hours for that pay period.

Exactly. That’s the number of scheduled hours.

I guess the way things work depending on the way weekends end up some pay periods are longer than others and require more hours. Some are 88 hours, some are more or less.

This just gives you a good indication what you should have in your timesheet so when you get ready to submit it you know whether you’re in the ball park or not.

Now the next thing you can do is select this little drop down arrow; right in this little arrow are a bunch of hidden features for the timesheet. For instance you can display hours at the top verses the bottom. In addition to that there is a selection for Time Periods. Right now we’re displaying it one week at a time, well what I want to do is display the full pay periods. So I’m going to hit this little button Pay Period and when I do you’ll notice we have a scroll bar at the bottom of the screen and it allows me to scroll left and right through the full pay period I’m inside of.

So I can enter all the hours for that pay period.

More importantly I think it’s not just entering the hours it gives you a chance to review all of those hours before submitting them. That way you can look at the full pay period before you submit for approval.

Now I’ll just scroll back down here and go back to the weekly mode; most people like to see their time in a weekly mode even if they have different pay periods.

We like to see how many hours we’ve worked in a certain week even if though we enter hours for the pay period we at least like to see the weekly view to see how many hours we did last week.

That’s what I’m trying to get at here. You can toggle back and forth between those views. So the week you’re putting in your time you’re good, and then if you want to review it before you submit it you can also get into that mode to take a look at.

Creating a New Project


I know you can create a project by going to Tools, Project but I wondered if you had any other recommended ways of doing it that might be quicker.

One way you could do it is go up here to the help menu, scroll down to Startup Project Wizard and when you do a little box will pop up that will ask if you want to create a project. You say yes by clicking next, and here you can enter the name of your new project. I’m just going to name this something very simple “A New Project.” Then you hit next, enter your tasks in this window. I’ll enter Task a, Task b, Task c. Then hit next once again. Now it’s asking me if I want to bill these hours to a client. If it is billable I check this box; I have two selections to make after I decide its billable 1. I can choose from a list of existing clients from a drop down list. Or if their a brand new client and I’ve never done work for them before I’d chose this middle radial dial and I would type their name right here into this window. So in this case I’m going to say they’re not billable to a client, I’ll just let it go, maybe it’s an internal project. And hit next, and finish. And now I have my new project right here with my tasks a, b, and c.

How would I add a 4th task; let’s say task d?

That’s pretty easy. Go up here to the insert menu, select New Project Task. You’re going to get a little pop-up window; every field in this window now is pertaining to this new task I’m going to create. But really the field you want to populate is the name field. I’m going to call this task d. And in addition to that you’ll want to make sure you assign that task to the project you want it to appear with. And I’m going to say A New Project-there’s our project here. You can also assign it to a client or subsystem or any number of events. But in this case I’ll just sign it to the project and be done with it. And one other item you’ll gonna wanna make sure is checked is found under the extra section here. And that’s this little Quick Task (which was renamed to ‘Timesheet’ in 2015) checkbox. That just forces a task to appear in your timesheet. This is for if you have a task way out in the future and you don’t want it to appear right now in the timesheet. You can have it appear later. In this case I do want it to show up so I’ll make sure that box is selected. Hit save and close. And now I have Task d.

What if I have a project that exists that already have all of these tasks; can I make a copy of that?

Absolutely! Go to the Tools menu, select Projects. Once you do that you get a list of all your projects on the left hand side here. I can select any project; here’s the one I just created “A New Project.” And all I have to do is right click on that and select Duplicate. When that’s selected it will duplicate that thing and what you’ll want to do is rename it here and assign it to a client if it needs to be assigned and you’re done.



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