SharePoint Task Plan – Tracking Time

The post SharePoint Task Plan discusses using SharePoint’s great project team features to develop a sophisticated project task plan. The project task plan includes tasks, subtasks, budgeted hours, budgeted $, assigned staff, task dates, a related Calendar, and Gantt Chart for planning and executing the project. This is all great for planning and proposing the project, but how can you track actual results when your project time and expenses are being captured in either QuickBooks or a time tracking application? This post discusses the options to capture actual time charges against the project. These options are:

  1. QuickBooks. – You can enter the time in QuickBooks by first exporting the tasks as Service Items as discussed in the Exporting Task Lists to QuickBooks post and then use QuickBooks’ time sheet to capture the billable and not billable time as depicted below:

    You can then run either a QuickBooks’ “Job by Time Summary” or a “Job by Time Detail” report and post the actual hours back to the SharePoint Task Plan or to an Excel spreadsheet (Note: I discuss an idea for the former in a separate post). However, some organizations do not use the QuickBooks timesheet either because of # license and permission issues or because in QuickBooks the decision on whether hours are billable or not billable must be made during time entry. This decision usually resides with the project or job supervisor and often occurs when the project bill(s) is being prepared. QuickBooks doesn’t easily handle either writing off hours or deferring hours to a later bill.

  2. Third party SharePoint Timesheet software. There are a few applications available for purchase. However, most of these are geared towards larger businesses, require some modification, and are expensive to license. Also without some custom development they do not get the hours over to QuickBooks for billing.
  3. Third party non SharePoint Timesheet software. There are many third party timesheet alternatives that integrate with QuickBooks. The issue is that they do not integrate with SharePoint and like option 1 above, require posting the hours back to SharePoint or like 2 above require customization to post back.
  4. Custom Develop a SharePoint Timesheet. I would not recommend this alternative for small businesses because of the development and maintenance cost associated with it.
  5. Use a SharePoint List for the Timesheet. This would provide a basic timesheet using SharePoint’s out of the box functionality. It would require some type of posting back to QuickBooks. Thuan’s post on The Soldier of Fortune blog titled “Building Timesheet Management Solution in Office 365 Without Code” goes through such a solution. His solution has the user picking from a list of all projects and then picking a task from all tasks. This could work for organizations that charge at the project level but may be problematic in organizations with many projects and tasks since there are no edit controls. If billing is undertaken in QuickBooks, then a manual posting back is required.
    Below is screen shot of a timesheet alternative based on Thuan’s post. The timesheet is a SharePoint list based on Sample Jim’s Family Store Irrigation Plan SharePoint task plan. Because the list is based on the SharePoint task plan specific to that project, the tasks that can be charged are only the ones specific to the project. The drawback to this approach is that a user would need to go to each project that has a task plan to charge hours to a specific task.

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