For many managers, the collection and processing of timesheets can be a slow and labor intensive work. And employees hate to fill out timesheets – a common universal fact which makes supervisors and managers constantly struggle to adopt an effective and accurate time tracking in the organization. No doubt, they find it frustrating again and again, when they have to nag their staffs to submit timesheets. The consequence is that organizations land up spending considerable human and IT resources alone in performing checks, authentication and reviews to avoid incorrect data slipping through and creating payroll errors. Evidently, organizations need to devise a better solution that supports the way employees prepare and submit timesheets and do not hinder it. A solution that is easy to use and require little or no training at all.

Leveraging Outlook for timesheet collection

In today’s business workplace, most staffs already use Microsoft Outlook extensively – all day, every day for email communications, meetings and contacts. So having a time tracking solution that can easily integrate with Outlook and fits with employees ways of working today, can be just the key to overcoming and solving many of these challenges. And this is one of the main feature of this Microsoft Outlook add-in ‘Team TimeSheet for Outlook‘ that makes it very easy for employees and workers to prepare timesheet and project deliverables in Outlook and publish to a central database.

From the dedicated timesheet form, individual worker can prepare timesheets, tag project metadata and enter other deliverables from the familiar interface of Outlook appointment or task items. Once a timesheet is finalized and ready, it is published to the central database in just a single click. This submission process is seamlessly integrated in your Microsoft Outlook and the whole exercise is transparent to the user.

Leveraging the familiar workflow of Outlook appointments and tasks, this timesheet add-in extends your Outlook as an ideal platform to work, plan on projects and tasks and allows for quick reporting of timesheets, expenses and billing, notes and other intrinsic data to a central database repository.

Streamline timesheet collection and reporting process in the organization

To avoid critical data falling into the cracks leading to information loss and introduce inconsistency in timesheets, expenses or billings, this add-in provides a centrally administered control panel from which projects, tasks, timeline and automated notification emails are deployed to all the members across the organization through Outlook. When member works on project related tasks via Outlook, the timesheet add-in can automatically set the timeline (such as start, due or end date) of the Outlook item with those defined for the particular project.

As timesheets and project deliverables are collected from Outlook items in a standardized structure, there is no separate control process that is required for verifying data format and accuracy, thus saving time, efforts and resources.

Automatic emails notification to workers and managers

Automatic email notification and alerts are essential for keeping team members and managers informed with the progress of the project and tasks. This TimeSheet add-in offers a whole lot of notification options for different reporting events such as when a report is submitted, updated or withdrawn, or when a manager is assigned to the project, or when the audited report is approved or declined etc. Furthermore, these notifications can be fully customized using templates. Automatic emails and alerts are send out directly when a relevant event occurs and the whole exercise is transparent to the users.

Keep Project information fully synchronized among members

One of the challenges of project management is deploying projects and their deliverables at the right time to the right people. This add-in provides real-time transparency to all members to all the projects by keeping all vital project information fully up to date from the central database. On every Outlook startup, the add-in can be set to synchronize the administrator defined projects, tasks, custom fields and other global settings. This is particularly useful to automatically retrieve any new projects/activities or settings that were added or changed by the administrator in due course.

When new projects are added, team members are notified by email automatically informing about the availability of the new projects and their deliverables. Optionally, expired projects can be made unavailable to all members automatically. If members try to submit their timesheets or deliverables on the expired projects, they can be warned and void the reporting.

Control how workers use Outlook for project deliverables

When collecting timesheets and project deliverables from workers, consistency and accuracy of the reported data satisfying the organizational standard is crucial. Administrators can apply certain restrictions in the way the Team TimeSheet functions in Outlook such as,

  • the ability to report project deliverables from the default calendar or task folders only, or from any folder.
  • the ability to update existing published timesheet data.
  • the ability to cancel and withdraw published timesheet.
  • the ability to check for minimum work compliance.
  • the ability to prevent reporting of timesheets for expired project.

Color coding of timesheet items

Color coding an appointment or task item in Microsoft Outlook makes it easy to distinguish between various items on your calendar or task. By color coding your Outlook items, you can scan quickly and tell what types of appointments or tasks you have coming up. It also helps you to distinguish between various work projects at first glance. From the manager add-in, each project can be assigned a unique color code from the supported 25 colors in Outlook. If you enable this option, all the projects with color codes will be added to the ‘Master Category List’ of your Outlook.

Once the projects with color codes are imported to your Outlook, when you tag an Outlook appointment or task item with a project, the corresponding color code would be applied automatically. As this color code is deployed centrally, all members working on projects would have same uniform color coding for the entire team.

In Outlook calendar, appointments tagged with different projects are color coded.

Outlook views especially geared for effective project tracking

Outlook views are a wonderful tool to automatically sort, quickly find information and rapidly re-arrange Outlook items in any folder. Views can also be organized to group and filter items to make a particular feature of your information obvious at first glance. This TimeSheet add-in provides special Outlook views to help you to work with your projects and deliverables in a simpler and sensible way.

Table view of Outlook calendar folder, where all the appointments are grouped by the reported state. Reported timesheets will be group under ‘Yes’ and unreported items under ‘No’ or ‘None’. You can easily differentiate reported items from the unique ID value.

Table view of Calendar folder, where all the appointments are first grouped by project, and then sub-grouped by activity value, to generate a hierarchy tree representation and may prove useful to track and pinpoint a specific project or activity, or to get the number of items belonging to a specific project or activity, or simply just to have a listing that is better organized and summarized.

Offline Support

Supports offline mode with Outlook, allowing coding of time and expenses while away from the office. In leveraging the Microsoft Outlook platform for time and expense reporting, this add-in also offers an ideal billing solution for distributed organizations – companies with multiple locations or employees who travel on a regular basis. Through their Outlook client, team members can work on the time sheets and other deliverables of the projects in Outlook in offline mode wherever they are located. Once the timesheeets and project deliverables are ready, workers can submit time sheets when they are connected to the database server.

Audit Manager to accept or reject timesheets

After a time sheet is submitted, it can be routed to the appropriate supervisor, eliminating delays in the approval process. With Audit Manager module of the add-in, a time sheet can be approved with the click of a button or sent back to the particular member for revision. Additionally, instead of rejecting a report, supervisors and managers can also choose to make amendment to project, task or cost directly and can approve to prevent delays and meet deadlines. Notification emails on approval or rejection are automatically sent out to the concerned member.

Reporting, Charting, and Data Analysis – multi-dimensional OLAP

With the integrated Online Line Analytical Processing (OLAP) tool, managers can analyze submitted timesheets and other project deliverables in multidimensional view to extract critical information and intelligence that will enable better decision in business. The integrated OLAP tool supports the ability to explore large complex data sets and allows displaying in grids, charts and graphs and support most common operations such as pivoting, drill down/slice and dice, filtering etc. It’s simplistic point-and-click interface will ensure managers easily achieve the high-level views of information they require. Additionally, creating reports destined for different management levels is a simple task – and eliminates the manager dependence on IT personnel.

OLAP Grid with a pre-defined report view (Total Cost per Project per Member)

By unifying data analysis needs on a single platform, it provides an unparalleled array of reporting tools for web portals, intranet applications, websites, and other data-rich applications. It also provides more then 30 inbuilt reports geared towards providing out-of-the-box. Managers can also easily create and save their user-defined reports for future references. Any report, chart, grid or graph can be saved to PDF, images, web pages or printed.

OLAP Chart view with customized color code for the Work dimension.

Summary

Compared to a similar system based on Excel or the web, this timesheet add-in provides substantially better range of functionality for time reporting. Leveraging the familiar workflow of Outlook appointments and tasks, it simplifies timesheet creation, submission and tracking for employees, yet offers managers and administrators greater control throughout the time reporting process. With the assurance that team members are reporting through a regulated system such as Outlook, that promotes accurate, consistent time reporting, managers can leverage precise, up-to-date budget and billing reports for project estimation and budgeting. The end result is a reduced administration costs and little or no requirement of specialized skills and user training. Your team members are productive within minutes after installing and setting up the application in their Outlook. Because of this, user adoption is maximized, yet training time and costs are minimized. More importantly, reporting process of work done and expense is streamlined for all employees, resulting in a highly accurate and scalable solution for the organization.

Who should use it?

This timesheet solution is ideal for organizations looking for an enterprise time and billing management solution with Microsoft Outlook integration. Project Managers, will find it easier to distribute projects, timelines and calculate expenses and track budgets for current and past projects. Human Resource Managers can easily calculate work done and payroll for staffs and contractors without using an expensive ERP suite. With summary and OLAP reports, Analysts and Accountants would have access to budget information, accurate to the last number. Freelancers can easily calculate the exact hours and expenses to bill their employers.

To get more info about the tool, you can visit – https://www.assistmyteam.net/TeamTimeSheet/

 

It is almost 3 years ago AssistMyTeam was conceived and founded and it has come a long way since. The journey and experience has been worthwhile in-spite of all the challenges, stumbling blocks and failures that are associated with a start-up. Today, I am proud to say, it is a pioneer in providing IT business and CRM solutions on three of Microsoft Core platforms – Microsoft Office, Microsoft Exchange and Microsoft SharePoint. Our clienteles include some big names in the fortune 500 companies such as Microsoft Corporation, Samsung, Goodrich, Cybercom, Fujitsu, Capital Finance Company etc. (see the complete list). This is a testimony to the high quality standards we have set in all our products and solutions. Reliable, highly scalable and cost effective solutions are what drives our applications in helping businesses and teams become more information-driven, even more dynamic.

Our foremost task at this point is to make all our products compatible with the new Microsoft Office 2013. With every new Office release, there are changes in workflows and user interface and this is where the time consuming tasks are. We have to make a middle path where the new features in the new Office version is supported without breaking the existing compatibility with older versions of Office. Because quite often many IT departments feel comfortable with their existing versions of Office and seldom rush to adopt new versions. Another challenge we are tackling currently is supporting both 32 bit and 64 bit native versions of Microsoft Office applications. The queries and pressure from prospective and existing users for 64 bit compatibility has lead us to prioritize our short term goals and push back new product development and release. Moreover, who would want to lose a half of Office 64 bit users!

I am very excited about 2013 as what we design and build these moments will steer the direction of AssistMyTeam for the next 5 years – which is exploiting the cloud computing services that Microsoft is focusing on for their office applications. Microsoft Office 365 Exchange and SharePoint Online are such offerings and we have seen in the last year alone, one-third of our clienteles were already using these cloud based services. So, we had been investing heavily in term of funds and development to support Office 365 on all our products. And we are glad that we made the right move.

I also want to reflect on our commitment for giving back to the community. But before that, let me emphasis on an old saying – success is just not merely a reward, rather it is a responsibility. I believe any business, no matter how small or big, can give back to improve the lives of others. And I truly value the exposure and goodwill generated by such acts of kindness. Since its founding, I offer free licenses to use my products to educational institutions and universities around the world. And that tradition is still continued today and I am happy that more than 80 institutions and renowned universities have implemented one or more of my products and solutions in their workstations and departments. Notable among them are in the top ten world ranking including University of Cambridge, University College London (UCL), University of Oxford, University of California, Berkeley (UCB), Columbia University, Stanford University, Australian National University, Canberra. (see the complete list)

So, if you represent an educational institution/university/non-profit organization and would like to use one or more of my software solutions, don’t miss this opportunity. Simply write to us (or refer to this page) to participate in our academic license programs.

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