Power of using Time Reporting in Project Online

Have you sat in meetings as a team member and waited your turn to provide your progress update and thought: “Wouldn’t it be great if the Project Manager already had this information in advance so we could discuss the impacts of resources’ progress?”

Are you tired of going from team member to team member asking for a progress update, only to get an “off the top of my head” calculation of 65% complete? Do you or your organization struggle with maintaining accurate project plans and working collaboratively?

If you want to capture accurate project data, are tired of hunting down team members for accurate status updates (even if they are mathematical geniuses), and want to host more meaningful Status Meetings, take a closer look at Time Reporting features in Project Online.

These features allow you to:

accurately capture hours and cost from the source
provide automated calculations on project progress
streamline your processes
Time Reporting Overview

The time reporting functions of Project Web App (PWA) provide an easy to use interface for resources to submit updates and comments to their Project Manager against the tasks that they are assigned. These updates, once approved by the Project Manager (and optionally by a Timesheet manager) will update the Project Plan Schedule with Actual Work (hours) and – if Cost is associated with a resource – Actual Cost. Resources may submit updates in the form of % Work Complete or in actual hours. Regardless of the method, proper use of these tools is a fantastic way to gather timely feedback from your resources.

Decision Points

Project Web App provides various methods for configuring time reporting. Some key decisions for an organization to evaluated include, if Team Members should:

Report progress against tasks within a project (most common) or against the project as a whole?
Submit administrative time such as PTO, Holiday, Production Support, etc.?
Submit hours per day per task, or per week? Or report only % Work Complete?
Submit overtime or non-billable work?
Be governed according to organizational compliance rules

Project Web App supports entering progress against specific tasks within a project, or against the project as a whole. Entering time against specific tasks is the recommended method and most common. This method will update the schedule with Actual Work from the team members, entering time against only the project does not update the schedule.

When reporting time in Project Server, users may enter time on a Timesheet or on a Task page.

The Timesheet displays only the tasks that the user is assigned for that specific time period and any unfinished tasks. This is useful to help resources focus on the work that is assigned but does require the project schedule be set up and properly maintained. The Timesheet supports recording overtime and non-billable work, and also provides the ability for users to enter Administrative time such as PTO, Holiday, Training, and Support.

The Task page displays all tasks a resource is assigned, grouped by time period. Time period groupings are displayed by Current Time Period, Near Future (typically two time periods beyond current), Distant Future, and Completed. This is helpful for easily seeing upcoming work as well as work that has been completed.

The Task page does not support submitting non-billable time or any administrative tasks. Many organizations that use the Timesheet often make the Task page read-only to allow so that the Task page does not support submitting Non-Billable.

PWA provides a review process for both Timesheets and Tasks. These review processes are beneficial for communicating updates, ensuring data accuracy, supporting company policy or audit requirements.

When resources submit Task updates, these are sent to the Project Manager for review. When resources submit Timesheets, updates are sent to both the Project Manager and (optionally) a “timesheet manager” for approval. If a timesheet manager is utilized, PWA may be configured to continue approvals up the “chain of command.” Either the Project Manager or the Timesheet Manager may reject a timesheet which would require the resource to make changes and resubmit.

Streamlining Processes

When status updates are submitted, the Project Manager has the ability to view how the project will appear if the updates are accepted. This powerful tool displays the new status updates against the current schedule. This is helpful to see what tasks are being delayed or may occur earlier.

Putting it in to practice

At Wicresoft, our project managers ask team members to submit status updates for their projects by end of day prior to a status meeting. We simply select the tasks for the project, then click “Send Progress for Selected Tasks” from the Submit menu. By doing this, we’re not submitting our final timesheet, just the updates for the related project. This provides the PM the ability to see resource progress and plan for any schedule impacts prior to the meeting.

In the Status Meeting, instead of checking LinkedIn while waiting for our turn to provide our update, we all review the Preview Updates function as a team and work together to address the impacts.

The image below demonstrates that the “Test Deployment” task is slipping based on the latest impact. The Blue represents the new schedule if the task is accepted. The grey indicates the current schedule prior to accepting the updates. As a team, we could evaluate if the resource conducting the testing needs additional assistance or if they will catch up by the scheduled finish date. This is definitely a more impactful Status Meeting!

Other Tips

Submit PTO in advance and PWA won’t schedule work for you during your break!
Use the Comments column to submit feedback to your PM or Timesheet Manager
Consistent governance, training and communications are key for successful time reporting implementations.

Project Web App provides many options for setting up time reporting. At Wicresoft, we leverage our years of experience with Configuration, as well as the other key aspects of deploying Time Reporting such as Timesheet Compliance, change management communications, and training.

For Compliance, we can deploy our Timesheet Compliance report pack, provide guidance on RACI and other compliance documentation.

Time Reporting is often a change for users in an organization and a topic that always needs careful, consistent communication and training. Wicresoft has the experience to know what your users need to understand from executives to what Project Managers need to learn to properly maintain plans.

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