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"I really like the way you can access your work items from within Outlook. I like the way you can bring up the full work item forms, make edits, and save immediately to TFS. It was great to create new meeting requests or mail messages from the work items."

Lori Lamkin
Product Unit Manager for Team Foundation Server at Microsoft

"These types of products are important to the industry."

Joel Semeniuk
CEO and co-founder of ImagiNET Resources Corp.

"I know of a good number of companies that will love having something like this - getting their timesheet management into TFS (so it can be reported on, especially) will make life a lot easier for them."

James Manning
Software Design Engineer for Visual Studio project at Microsoft

"I like the idea of being able to link work items to e-mails and meetings. I also like that it provides non-technical information workers the option of working with TFS in a more familiar environment. Congratulations to TeamExpand on the release!"

Jason Barile
Principal Test Manager for Visual Studio Team Foundation Server at Microsoft

"TX Chrono, by TeamExpand, allows users to easily track how they are spending their time, store that information in TFS, and make it available for reporting in the warehouse."

Brian Harry
Product Unit Manager for Team Foundation Server at Microsoft

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TFS Timesheet

Blog

Outlook Timesheet: Top Time Tracking Features

July 1st, 2011
by

Efficient project time tracking requires both development and management teams to be involved in the process. At the same time, not every manager is willing to use the same time tracking tools that your development team does.

The Outlook timesheet software is the tool that your project manager s will have fun working with, as it offers many useful features in the environment familiar to them. MS Outlook supports integration with third-party add-ins, and many companies develop Outlook timesheets for ALM software, e.g. Team Foundation Server plug-ins for Outlook.

When entering time in Outlook timesheet, users only see the work items they are assigned to. This makes their pick lists as short as possible and specific to them, which simplifies reporting and enhances its accuracy and consistency. Outlook timesheet lets users report time from any location via the Web and sometimes even through their Outlook mobile clients, which is great when your project manager goes on a business trip or has a meeting outside of the office.

Here are some other features to look for in the Outlook timesheet software:

    • Automated email reminders for late timesheets, with links that put employees one-click away from their responsibility
    • Multiple timesheet formats, including daily, weekly, bi-monthly, monthly, etc.
    • Timesheet templates that ensure that time is being filled in correctly, including rules for minimum/maximum hours, national holidays, days off, sickness days, etc.
    • Setting the terminology (tasks, work items, projects, etc.) to match your organization’s terms, so when project managers first see the timesheet, they deal with familiar terms

Outlook timesheet is a powerful productivity tool that allows for accurate time tracking and improves the overall workflow in the company. With the widespread adaptation of MS technology, Outlook timesheets are now more user-friendly and intuitive than ever before.

Posted in Project Timesheet Software, Project Time Tracking | No Comments »

How Can Project Time Tracking Improve Your Working Process?

March 3rd, 2011
by

We learnt long ago that project time tracking is required to monitor how many hours your team spends on certain tasks. The first use case for this information would certainly be to provide precise billing and accurate cost estimates to customers. This is the main but not the only reason why software development organizations need project time tracking tools.

By identifying the exact time spent on tasks, you can quickly find areas to be improved in your working schema. Project time tracking makes it easy for you to monitor your team’s progress throughout the day by logging working hours and running reports. Some other cases when project time tracking can improve your working process include the following:

    • Figure out the quickest possible time for a project to be completed in time.
    • Record the actual working hours against the planned hours to identify the deadlines.
    • Enable the team to track time anywhere, anytime, from any computer.
    • Identify and reduce the time spent by project managers and the team on tasks that take more time than planned.

Project time tracking allows for better planning, analysis, and reporting. The software that automates these processes is intended to make you understand how your business is distributing its time across projects, tasks, and employees. By noting and fixing the drawbacks of your working process, you can easily increase your team’s productivity.

Posted in Project Timesheet Software, Project Time Tracking | No Comments »

How Can I Leverage a TFS Timesheet?

November 24th, 2010
by

Team Foundation Server is a fantastic piece of software as it allows you to tailor TFS to your existing processes. However, the one thing that is missing there is a timesheet application. As you know, time tracking is a big requirement at many software development companies. Let’s see how your development team can benefit from a TFS timesheet extension.

View completed hours against remaining hours:
This feature of TFS timesheet enables you not only to analyze the workload of each project and each employee, but also allows planning future projects.

Set billable and non-billable work items, track overtimes: You can set different rates per hour for different types of tasks. You can track overtime and inform your customers that it has to be paid by a higher rate.

Plan holidays and days off for different locations:
In case you have development and management offices in different countries, as many software development companies do, you can bill clients and calculate salaries properly.

Submit timesheets to resource managers:
You can make each resource manager responsible for approving timesheets of the team that works on his/her project. It will save your account managers time when calculating salaries.

Create reports: You can create reports and convert them into Word, Excel, and CSV file formats to make it more convenient for you project managers and business analysts to examine your team’s performance.

Project managers can use the TFS timesheet for analysis and planning. Resource managers can leverage the TFS timesheet to view the workload, approve employees’ time, and control the work done by each team member. Account managers can use this TFS extension to bill customers correctly and to calculate salaries properly. Finally, developers can plan their work more efficiently.

Posted in Project Timesheet Software, Project Time Tracking | No Comments »

How Can Project Time Tracking Help Your Development Team?

November 12th, 2010
by

Though being implemented quite often, project time tracking is rarely utilized to actually improve a software development process. Software development teams have the time tracking data at hand, but are not using it, unless the work is billable. Here are some thoughts on how to use project time tracking to actually improve your team’s motivation and productivity.

More accurate cost estimates:
This must be the first reason for implementing project time tracking. When you track hours against work items for the project, you can avoid issues related to under- or overestimating. Underestimation appears to be a costly issue for companies and may result in delivering a project later, than planned. Overestimation makes it difficult to win the project, as you need to be as cost-effective as possible.

Improve productivity of each developer:
Project time tracking allows finding developers who constantly compile poor estimates, and helping them provide more realistic estimations. It also helps detect areas where it takes some developers to do their job longer than others. You can assign work according to developers’ strengths / weaknesses as well as to provide them with training in areas they don’t feel confident in.

Track effort against bugs:
Project time tracking helps to realize when a project of a similar size and scope as the one that you tracked before needs, for example, 30% of the total time for bug fixes. It helps to give more realistic estimates to customers.

Competition between team members:
If you publish graphs and dashboards on the basis of project time tracking, it can lead to the competition between team members and improve their productivity.

As you can see, project time tracking does not only provide for more accurate billing, but also is a great tool to improve your team’s productivity and enhance the performance of each team member.

Posted in Project Timesheet Software, Project Time Tracking | No Comments »

Is Project Time Software of Any Use to Sales Managers?

November 9th, 2010
by

I wrote a few posts on how project time software can improve everyday activities of project managers and software developers. I was wondering: are these tools also suitable for the rest of the staff in IT companies? Will project time software be of any use, for example, to a sales person, whose effectiveness is normally measured by the amount of leads found and contracts signed? I want to share a few thoughts on how project time software can enhance the operation of your sales department.

Managing results is not what helps raise successful sales people. It is much wiser to manage their actions that lead to the results. This is definitely a benefit of project time software. Tracking time spent by sales managers on different activities, you can actually manage sales team’s performance.

How can you do it?

    1. Introduce project time software to your sales managers and explain them, how it will benefit them and the company.
    2. Customize tasks in the project time software in accordance with sales managers’ activities: calls, e-mails, meetings, etc.
    3. Track time of sales people and view reports daily, weekly or monthly.

At the end of the month, you will have a clear picture of why some sales managers are more successful in their activities. For instance, an unsuccessful sales person might get in trouble for having a small number of leads. However, the same sales person could have been spending 80% of his/her time cold-calling. This means that he/she just needs training on how to cold-call more effectively.

This way, project time software can be helpful to forecast and measure the effectiveness of your sales efforts.

Posted in Project Timesheet Software, Project Time Tracking | No Comments »

How to Help Your Employees Adopt Project Timesheet Software?

November 3rd, 2010
by

When companies introduce project timesheet software to their staff, quite often employees are not happy with this innovation. If the employees previously were not used to reporting their time, they can name many reasons, why project timesheet software can be a pain. They will say that they are too busy to do this work, or tell you that time does not measure their effort and productivity. Is there a way to overcome this resistance and make your employees fully accept project timesheet software? Here are some approaches you might want to try:

Education: Take the time to explain your employees how project timesheet software can benefit them. If the employees are paid on an hourly basis, the desire to get paid provides the motivation. In the case of project billing automation, project timesheet software helps bring revenue to the entire company. Most people can understand this, as they do care about the success of their company.

Dashboards:
It helps include dashboards with graphs that illustrate, which departments and people are entering their time consistently and completely. This works, because people see that everybody is doing time tracking, so why not to use project timesheet software?

Bonuses: Linking bonuses or other benefits with project timesheet software can also be really useful. Don’t hesitate to reward your staff for timely reporting.

Automated reminders:
You can send out automated e-mail reminders to the employees encouraging them to complete their timesheets. A reminder will tell your employees which time period needs to be filled out and when it is due.

These approaches will help your employees adopt timesheets. It is also important to discuss project timesheet software benefits with your employees prior to launch of the application, so they understand why the system is being implemented in the first place. Getting the employees involved at the early stage of timesheet adoption, helps gain their trust and understanding.

Posted in Project Timesheet Software | No Comments »

Outlook Timesheet vs. Excel Timesheet

October 22nd, 2010
by

Today, I am going to compare Excel and Outlook timesheets and find out whether they are a good fit for comprehensive project time reporting. Here are some differences between an Excel timesheet and an Outlook timesheet:

Interactive Reporting

First of all, an Excel timesheet is a kind of logbook with not so many reporting capabilities, while an Outlook timesheet offers a wide array of interactive time reporting features, such as sending notifications, planning events, setting alerts, and much more.

User Interface

Normally, the number of employees familiar with Excel is smaller than the number of those who use Outlook every day.

Customization

Unlike the Excel timesheet interface, the Outlook timesheet interface is easily customized, which helps minimize the time and costs of training. Outlook timesheet can be submitted daily, weekly, monthly, etc. Team members can create Outlook timesheets tied to work items data, which improves the accuracy of billing.

Remote Access

Using Excel timesheets, the team members who work remotely need to upload/download them. With an Outlook timesheet, team members can participate in time reporting and approval processes wherever they are located using Outlook.

Automated Approval

An Outlook timesheet automates the approval of work hours. After a timesheet is submitted, it is automatically e-mailed to the appropriate supervisor. A timesheet can be approved with a click of a button, forwarded to the accounting department for processing, or sent back to the employee for revision. Excel timesheets don’t provide these features.

Management and Control

Outlook timesheets provide a number of tools that simplify the management of the entire time reporting process, including archiving, time compliance, etc. An Outlook timesheet also offers a much higher degree of control, than an Excel timesheet, such as separating billable and non-billable items, setting holidays, marking sick leaves, etc.

Outlook timesheets offer more functionality for time reporting, than Excel timesheets. They simplify project time tracking by offering managers and administrators greater control throughout the time reporting process.

Posted in Project Timesheet Software, Project Time Tracking | No Comments »

TFS Add-in Types

September 27th, 2010
by

TFS provides a lot of features that allow customizing your software project management, but the good thing about Team Foundation Server is that it also supports third-party TFS add-in integration that enables you to do almost everything else that MS doesn’t provide natively. That’s why I thought, a brief overview of TFS add-in types might be of use to you.

Timesheets
This TFS add-in allows employees submitting time spent on different work items, and enables team leads and project managers to review, approve or decline the reported timesheets. You can run reports based on the information submitted and export them to Word, Excel, and other applications.

Outlook Bridges
This group of TFS add-ins enables users to utilize Team Foundation Server through the familiar Microsoft Outlook interface. You can create TFS work items, run reports, manage projects, and organize meetings through Outlook.

Administration Tools
This is a vast category of TFS add-ins that allows controlling the whole team with one interface: create and edit users, reassign roles and permissions, and much more.

Process Reports Customization
You can utilize large collections of reports to run against the standard process template, or use them as examples for writing custom ones.

Migration and Synchronization
This add-in provides for migrating from other ALM systems to TFS, including support for ongoing two-way synchronization.

Project Management
This add-in allows customizing work items and project dashboards for better team workload coordination.

Surely, there are more types of TFS add-ins on the market; here, I have just mentioned the most useful ones for project management and collaboration.

Posted in TFS Management, Project Timesheet Software, Visual Studio Add-ins | No Comments »

Outlook Timesheet for Easy Time Tracking

September 20th, 2010
by

Efficient time tracking and reporting can make a big difference to your productivity. MS Outlook add-ins, such as Outlook timesheet, make it easy to manage projects, distribute activities to team members across the organization, record time and expenses to a central database via Outlook.

Outlook timesheets allow developers, resource managers, team leads to use Team Foundation Server (TFS) through the familiar Microsoft Outlook interface. The users can import time from their Outlook Calendar and move between Mail, Calendar, Tasks and Timesheet with no much effort involved. The timesheet can be opened all day long in the Outlook environment, which provides for accurate time tracking and reporting.

Outlook timesheet users can receive notifications about the new tasks and events in real-time, as well as plan their work items in the Calendar. Outlook timesheet is an ideal solution for companies with multiple locations or employees who travel on a regular basis. Through their Outlook client, users can track their time and submit timesheets for approval wherever they are located.

Outlook timesheet saves time, simplifies timesheet entry and increases the accuracy of time tracking, since users can record time as they work, which, undoubtedly, provides for better performance and productivity.

Posted in TFS Management, Project Timesheet Software | No Comments »

TFS Timesheet to Help Customize Days Off and Holidays for Proper Accounting and Billing

September 16th, 2010
by

As every project manager and team lead knows, the month contains 168 or 176 work hours. Fortunately, not every day is a working day. How does TFS know when it is a holiday? How do you make it calculate public holidays as work hours - so that your employees don’t get less money than they have earned?

Moreover, if you are an international software provider with offices located in different countries, how does your TFS know when it is a holiday in one country or another? May be it will consider the 4th of July is a national Indian holiday as well? How do you calculate the work hours in this case?

Being a great SDLC management system TFS, however, doesn’t provide for the mentioned situation with holidays and days off. So to recognize public holidays, TFS needs to be paired with add-ins, such as TFS timesheet that provides settings for scheduling holidays. Also, if you have development office in one country and the management office in another country, you should be able to set different holidays for different offices in your TFS timesheet.

This way you can set Christmas vacations at the end of December for your US office and at the beginning of January for your Russian development office (Russians celebrate Christmas on the 7th of January and normally have Christmas holidays around that time).

Using TFS timesheet for the occasions like mentioned above is quite handy when it comes to billing clients and calculating salaries. Having all the information about the number of working days and holidays in their offices in different countries right at hand, can ease greatly accounting managers’ work, as well as ensure more accurate billing.

Posted in TFS Management, Project Timesheet Software | No Comments »




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