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Blog post update: With the 2202 release, we have added one more administrative control - "Exceeds Planned Work". See here for the description.

Time recording on projects is a critical component of the order-to-cash business process. As part of the project set up, the project manager could specify which tasks would be used for recording time entries, and whether an approval workflow would be required. Over the last few years, we have had a number of improvement requests that were submitted asking for features that ease the administration of these time entries - right from delegating the time recording approvals, to providing controls to increase the correctness of these time entries.

With the 2108 release, we've released new features that help a project manager reduce their administrative effort for managing the time entries on their project.

These "time recording controls" as we like to call them, can be set in the Project management header task in a new tab, called Project Settings.

These settings allow the project manager to add 5 types of controls

  1. Approver: Allows one to set the approver of the time entries to either the Project manager (aka Project lead) , or the Task Owner.
    The Task owner of each task is specified by the Person Responsible maintained in the Basic settings of the task.
    If the task owner is not maintained on the task, the upper task in the hierarchy is fetched until a task owner is determined. With this, the project manager can delegate time recording approvals to different team members, depending on the task they are responsible for.

  2. Non-listed service: When services are planned on the Work Tab of each project task, they are automatically listed under the Products tab. Many a time, employees record times against services that are not listed here, ie, that have not been planned on any task in the project. The project manager can decide whether such time entries should be blocked at the time sheet itself, or be submitted for approval, or be allowed without an approval process.

  3. Non-team member: A project team member is one who is staffed to the project and is visible in the Team and Staffing → Teams tab. They would be present either in the Team Members list or their organizational unit (the one they are assigned to when they are hired or transferred) is listed in the Organizational Units table.All others are non-team members, and the project manager can set controls on whether time entries on the project can be rejected in the time sheet itself, or submitted for approval, or allowed.

  4. Outside of planned period: On a work package, the project manager can specify the planned start date and planned end date in addition to the planned work.This setting allows the project manager to inform the system what should be done for time entries that fall outside of this planned period - if this should be rejected, submitted for approval or allowed without the approval process.

  5. Exceeds Planned Work: This is a new administrative control that was introduced with release 2202. Using this, the project manager can use the Planned Work as a control mechanism and allow / submit for approval / disallow the time recording on the work package if the entered hours exceed the planned hours.If this control is to Not allowed, and the planned hours for the work package are zero, then any time recording on the work package would throw an error message. It also results in preventing the employee from recording time on a service that is not planned on the project task - the logic being that the planned hours for this "new" work package would be zero, which would trigger the error message anyhow.

If for any of the above controls, the value is set to "Not allowed", the employee would see such an error in their time sheet for those entries that match the condition when the entries are released.

Please note - these conditions are used only if the time recording setting on the Basic Data on each task is set to No Approval Required.

Time Entry Approval for specific Team Members

In the Team and Staffing → Teams tab, in the Team Members list, one can also set whether time recording by specific team members should always be sent for approval.

Prior to the 2108 release, time recording by an external employee (aka service agent) was always sent for approval. With this new setting, the project manager can now decide that for "trusted" service agents (and internal employees), their time entries need not be sent for approval all the time, and can adhere to the time recording settings of the project or Task.

With the 2108 release, the project manager needs to explicitly specify if time entries by service agents need approval irrespective of the work packages. By default, this checkbox is unchecked.

Reason for Submission for approval

With so many controls in place, we understand that it can be confusing for the project manager to know why a specific time entry has appeared in the list for approval.

To make things transparent, the Project Management → Approvals → Time Recording list has a new attribute that provides clarity to the project manager as to why the specific time entry has appeared for approval. This would help the approver understand the context, and make a better decision on whether the time entry is to be approved or not. It takes into account all the time recording settings discussed above. Here is an example screenshot.

This enhancement is also available in the ByDesign mobile app, under the Manager Approvals Tile.

Please note: only those time entries which are submitted for approval after the system upgrades to release 2108 would have this attribute filled out.

All the Time Recording Controls mentioned above would be available automatically on system upgrade to release 2108. Thank you for reading. If you have any questions or suggestions, please leave a comment, I’d love to hear your opinion. Have a great day !