Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Project Server 2007 Timesheets the goods and bads

By now we all know that Task updates and timesheet entry are 2 separate functions within Project Server, generally that is a good thing. The not so good thing is that task updates and timesheet entry is not tightly integrated in Project Server 2007. A user will actually need to import timesheet data into my tasks or vice versa. That is cumbersome as we know.

Having used Timehseets for a while now, I thought I write the pro's and contras of Project Server's timehseet functionality.

Lets start with the Pros:
  • You can maintain timesheet data and task data separate:
    Why is this a good thing I hear you say :) . Well, many organisations would like to plan project tasks in a much more granular level than actually entering time against. Essentially it means that you can maintain your project task information separately from the timesheet data. The timesheet data can be entered on a Project level ( not task level ).

    The downside to this is obviously that a PM still requires to reconcile the Project data based on the actual time entered on a Project level. This can be an unnecessary overhead.
  • Timesheet has a separate workflow to Task update
    When users enter timesheet data and submit this data, it will go to the so called "Timesheet Manager". This could be a resource manager or team leader. The timesheet data can then be approved or rejected by the timesheet manager. This will not influence the project at all.

    Should you want Project Managers to approve the time spend on a project, what needs to happen is Timesheet data needs to be imported into the My tasks and then needs to be submitted by the resource. This will ensure that the PM will receive the Project update ( not the timehseet update).
    Since many organisations want to have this done in one hit, Microsoft made code available that allows you to automate this function. Check out the following link:

    The downside is that a resource cannot update the remaining work, since only the actual timesheet data is populated in the My Task and the task update is automatically submitted to the PM
  • Non Project Tasks - Admin Tasks
    timesheet data can include not only project work, but also administrative tasks, which are managed separately from project tasks.
  • Administrative Time
    Some Administrative tasks can go through an approval process. ( e.g. annual leave ). Once this admin task has been approved, the resource utilisation will show that the resource is not available
  • Great Reporting
    Project Server consists of many OLAP cubes ( 14 in total ) some of them are fully dedicated to timesheet information. You can essentially get all timesheet data out of the OLAP cubes, making the management of timehseeting much easier.

    Further to this Project Server consists of a fully dedicated reporting database. You can extract any timehseet data out of the reporting database with any SQL reporting tool like reporting services, or the report builder.
  • Timehseet Periods
    You can manage your organisational timehseet periods separately from your project periods. Generally I would assume that weekly periods are appropriate, but you can have daily or monthly periods if you like
  • Timehseet Classification
    For Accounting purposes, you have the ability to create your own timsheet classification. Timehseet classification allow you to uniquely identify different types of timesheets, which could be useful for financial consolidation. BE AWARE.... only the general classification is imported into the task update.
  • Different Times
    A user can maintain Actual time , Actual non billable time, overtime, and non billable overtime
  • Surrogate Timesheet
    You can maintain timesheets for someone who is not able to update his/her timehseet

I am sure I forgot some of the great features of the timesheet. To ensure that you have all the info check out this link which explains the timesheet functionality in detail:

Now to the well..... not so nice features, the cons :)

  • Integration with My Task
    As much as it can be a good feature not to have your tasks updated based on your timesheet automatically, as much it can be a curse. I personally find it more of a curse than a good feature. One of the compelling reasons to use the timesheet / taskupdate in Project Server 2003 was that it automatically updated your tasks as well. I truly hope and believe that this will be better in the P14 ( next release )
  • Adminstrative Tasks for everyone
    You cannot determine that certain tasks are only for certain user groups. That is extremely annoying, especially if you have a long list of admin tasks. Essentially it means that a developer can see and enter time against an admin task that is only for Account Management. I hope that this will be rectified in the next release.
  • Timesheets do not automatically update
    Once you create a timesheet, it actually ( depending on how you set it up) looks up the tasks you are supposed to work on this week and updates your timesheet with these tasks. GREAT, but what happens if the PM gives you a new task that you meant to work on this week? I would assume that the newly assigned task is displayed in the timesheet, but no it is not. You will actually need to hunt for it using the "add lines" picker. Which brings me to my next con :)
  • Add lines picker
    Come on Microsoft you can do better than that. If I have many projects and tasks, how do I find the my tasks in the add line picker? It is not a nice User Interface and I hope that the next release will include a more appealing dialog window.
  • Year to Date....
    The year to date vacation time used and the year to date sick used, which can be found in the timesheet header section cannot be reset. hmmmmm. It would be nice to have some kind of admin function that allows me the reset these numbers. Also, Vacation is not the generally used term in Australia, it is Annual leave. It would have been nice to consider a name change.
  • Timehseet approved, task isnt approved
    It is great that you can have different approval process in timehseet and tasks, but ( and I guess that comes back to the tighter integration), if you have a timehseet approved, and then submit your task update, which may was rejected, it is complicated to update your already submitted timesheet. you essentially have to recall your timesheet, change the actual figure, import the task again, resubmit both timehseet and task. hmmmm not sure what the best answer is, but I do know that this is tedious. Lets hope MS comes up with something more slick in the next release.

Well, I dont think I have all the cons covered, but believe the main annoying ones. Please give me your experience with the timesheet. All in all I am sure the Project Server is on the right track with task update and timesheet, but there are still some miles to cover :)

I hope you enjoyed this post


PHE said...

Great post, Marc. You got most of the good and the bad about timesheets. I have a couple of comments:

1. I disagree with your fundamental belief in the "goodness" of the task/timesheet seperation. This is a point of enormous, unnecessary confusion (IMHO) and I don't have what I consider an acceptable explanation for it. I think this is the biggest miss in the entire product!

2. A major "con" for me regarding both timesheets and tasks is the inablity to add Baseline info to either page. How stupid is this? Baseline Work and Baseline Finish would be enormously helpful on both displays, but nooooo, there's no way to add these fields.

Time capture is one of the most intriguing features of MOPS for most prospective users, and it remains pretty much the weakest area of the tool. It is what it is, and we have found ways to accomplish most of what we need to do on these pages, but I think MSFT has really missed with this critical set of features.

Unknown said...

We have a problem where timesheet managers are on leave but Fixed Approval Routing has forced submitted timesheets into their "queue" for approval.
Do you know anyway to change the approver for a timesheet that has already been submitted? Or to have someone "surrogate approve" a timesheet?

Anonymous said...

Nice summary, Marc! Timesheet was bad before and now it is pain in the ass. I also noticed that even when you import timesheets to do task updates, they do not always become visible until you go and republish project. How convenient this is! :-|

Gordon Lewis said...

Hi Marc,
love your post on timesheet. Would have liked to add the approval process. If you setup a timesheet Manager for another Timesheet Manager. then the resources timesheets for the first Timesheet manager are sent to the secod Timesheet Manager.


Anonymous said...

Hi Marc,
i would like to rise additional gap
Is there a way (and if so, can you point me in the right direction) to add a
custom field to EPM Timesheet cube?
This cube has a hook into Resource List. We have created a custom field for
resources called Team Name, which I would like to bring into this reporting
cube, if possible.
I guess I could be a little more clear in what I'm not seeing...

When I goto Server Settings, Cube Configuration... step 4 from the
instructions on how to add custom fields to your cube is below...

On the Cube Configuration page, in the Cube Dimensions section, go to the
Cube list and select the cube for which you want to specify dimensions.

My problem is, I DON"T SEE THE EPM TIMESHEET CUBE in the list of cubes for
Cube Dimensions...
all I see in the drop down list is Project, Resource, Task, Assignment

I DON"T SEE THE EPM TIMESHEET CUBE in the Cube Measures...all I see is
project, resource, task, assignment.


what gives??? My custom field, uses a lookup help out there?

Thanks in advance!!!

Anonymous said...

Thank you Marc for you comments here and the help you have given me via the MOPS Discussion group. We are struggling with the loss of administrative projects and this new way to enter time & tasks.

One issue for us is not being able to have custom fields for timesheet entries.

Microsoft needs to add more flexibility to the new functions or bring back admin projects. Microsoft please give us a Project Server roadmap, so we don't start configuring ourselves in the wrong direction.

Anonymous said...

I am looking for instructions to connect Excel 2003 to Reporting DB. Any help appreciated.

Anonymous said...

Hi !.
You re, I guess , perhaps curious to know how one can collect a huge starting capital .
There is no initial capital needed You may begin earning with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you need
The firm represents an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

Its head office is in Panama with affiliates around the world.
Do you want to become an affluent person?
That`s your choice That`s what you really need!

I`m happy and lucky, I began to take up income with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. If it gets down to choose a correct companion utilizes your savings in a right way - that`s the AimTrust!.
I make 2G daily, and what I started with was a funny sum of 500 bucks!
It`s easy to start , just click this link
and lucky you`re! Let`s take our chance together to become rich

Anonymous said...

Can anyone recommend the well-priced Endpoint Security system for a small IT service company like mine? Does anyone use or How do they compare to these guys I found recently: N-able N-central remote desktop
? What is your best take in cost vs performance among those three? I need a good advice please... Thanks in advance!

Anonymous said...

Good day !.
might , perhaps very interested to know how one can manage to receive high yields .
There is no need to invest much at first. You may start to get income with as small sum of money as 20-100 dollars.

AimTrust is what you need
AimTrust incorporates an offshore structure with advanced asset management technologies in production and delivery of pipes for oil and gas.

It is based in Panama with structures everywhere: In USA, Canada, Cyprus.
Do you want to become a happy investor?
That`s your chance That`s what you wish in the long run!

I`m happy and lucky, I began to take up real money with the help of this company,
and I invite you to do the same. If it gets down to select a correct companion who uses your funds in a right way - that`s AimTrust!.
I take now up to 2G every day, and what I started with was a funny sum of 500 bucks!
It`s easy to start , just click this link
and lucky you`re! Let`s take this option together to become rich

Anonymous said...

You may probably be very curious to know how one can make real money on investments.
There is no initial capital needed.
You may begin to get income with a sum that usually goes
on daily food, that's 20-100 dollars.
I have been participating in one project for several years,
and I'm ready to share my secrets at my blog.

Please visit my pages and send me private message to get the info.

P.S. I make 1000-2000 per daily now. [url=]Online Investment Blog[/url]

dhasharath said...

interesting blog. It would be great if you can provide more details about it. Thanks you

Online Timesheet

ranjini said...

This is very useful to me...

Timesheet Management Application

Unknown said...

Everything is written very nicely specially I liked the way you have explained your thoughts. Time And Expense

Anonymous said...

Very interesting post .Thanks for sharing........time sheets