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Timecard – A Time Tracking Solution 

August 2, 2009

Say you are a CAD operator and working on multiple projects, switching projects from time to time during a day. Your project managers want to collect how many hours you spent for each project. You could enter the data at the end of the day trying to remember what you did on what. This is the way to enter the data in most of the off-the-shelf timesheet solutions in the market.

I decided to adopt a different way to minimize users’ effort to enter the data correctly. First, I wrote a simple Windows application which does not have any user interface except a system tray icon.

When a user right-clicks on this icon, it pops up a menu of pre-defined projects/tasks and then the user selects the next project/task that he or she is going to work from that moment. This small Windows desktop application (“AvTracker”) communicates with an SQL database server to record the user’s activities during a day. At the end of the day (I mean literally), the user could review, edit and submit his/her hours through a separate web application (“Timecard”).

This web application shown above includes other features such as setting user preferences, approval workflow, defining project sub-tasks, resource management for PMs, and various reports for summarizing entered time sheet data. Not all users need a real-time tracking by AvTracker because some of them only perform a single task all day or the switching is so frequent that real-time tracking does not make sense. They can use just the web application for directly entering and submitting their daily hours.

This two-application approach achieves the goal of minimizing users’ interaction yet enables collecting accurate time data.

Time collecting system for shop employees is a different system because shop employees need to scan production orders and they don’t have their own desktop machines but usually share terminals. I will describe this project (“Avclock”) in another post later. (♥2010)

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