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Software for Managing Timesheets?

Cliff posted more than 7 years ago | from the clock-in-and-clock-out dept.

Software 45

An anonymous reader asks: "I currently work as a help desk supervisor for the IT department of a Top 30 American university. We have around 40 graduate and undergraduate students manning our support areas at different times of the day and night, and a recent augmentation of our budget has us in the position to hire more. We still do our master schedule with a moderately complex Excel file, our time sheets are submitted online using a webpage, and our workers' clock in and out with a separate webpage which gives us reports that we import into yet another spreadsheet. Needless to say, our current, time-consuming method is rather clunky and has us looking at alternatives. What existing systems are out there that might fill our needs? What systems should we avoid?"

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45 comments

TimeClockPlus (3, Interesting)

peacefinder (469349) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466603)

If you can afford a commercial solution, TimeClockPlus [timeclockplus.com] is excellent.

Timesheets (5, Informative)

colonslashslash (762464) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466667)

I'm working for a company in the aerospace industry at the moment, and I was originally hired to create a project management system for them. Eventually, timesheets came up as an issue, and we decided to go our own route. We have about 12,000 employees worldwide, but it's easily broken down into about 100 different cost accounts. Without going into too much detail, what I have created is just a web-based frontend to a database table full of cost account codes, and a few tables storing employee ID and hourly/time information.

We spent an extensive amount of time evaluating the timesheet issue, and we came to the conclusion that licensing timesheet applications from third parties is really a waste of time and money. Remove the Excel sheets from the equation, hire a proficient web developer / DBA for a couple of months if you need to, but build your own system. This way, you can customise it exactly to your requirements, and not have to worry about the often massive costs involved in what is really a very simple (concept wise) application.

If you are determined to go down the third party application path, I would strongly advise you to avoid systems from vendors such as SAP. In my experience, they tend to create a whole bunch of (expensive) problems where there should be none, and you end up paying through the nose only to be left with buggy systems, costly consultant fees, and vendor lock-in.

Re:Timesheets (1)

Ritchie70 (860516) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466923)

When I started at my current employer, we had a mainframe-based thing that listed out the tasks. You arrowed to next to the tasks you worked on and typed in your hours. It was written in-house years ago, by (among other people) the guy who was our Senior Director when I started. Everyone had a terminal emulator on their PC, just to get to this application.

Then they replaced it with some version of an Oracle time-keeping product. Web based, and almost unusable. You had to know projects and tasks, but you could give the tasks and projects you used "names" so you didn't have to remember them.

Then they upgraded the Oracle thing to the latest version. Even slower, and the personal names are gone.

We all miss the mainframe.

Domain Logon (2, Interesting)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466705)

What would really be nice is if you could go to the Domain Controller at the end of the week and find out what users were logged in and for how long.

I'm almost sure Windows tracks this. Does SAMBA track it when acting as a DC?

In any event, figure out how that works and just have a script e-mail a report at the end of the week.

Re:Domain Logon (3, Insightful)

LordEd (840443) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466931)

Time logged in does not necessary equal time worked. People have meetings, reboot computers, work on paper, etc. What happens if somebody forgets to log off?

Re:Domain Logon (1)

Bios_Hakr (68586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18467883)

I work in a shared office environment, so I'm a bit biased to that setup.

We require people to lock their workstations if they get up. If they are gone for more than 5 minutes, we require them to logoff.

And you are right about the time. If I come in and spend 20 minutes talking to my boss before I sit down, I wouldn't get paid for that time under my system.

Re:Domain Logon (1)

gbjbaanb (229885) | more than 7 years ago | (#18470713)

'require' is always a tricky thing in most cases, occasionally you will forget or will 'just nip to the printer', and get buttonholed by a colleague or the boss and end up spending ages away from the PC.

Better to automate it! If you cannot put a password-lock screensaver on by default, then get smartcards for the staff that must be present in a reader/usb port for the PC to unlock (which they do automatically). We looked into these for security reasons for a customer, and some are rubbish - they lock thescreen by placing a full-screen image on it instead of writing a new gina dll, but some are good.

Lucid Information Technologies (3, Interesting)

Jeff Molby (906283) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466829)

http://www.linfotech.com/ [linfotech.com] They're about mid-way through the dev of time/project management app. You obviously wouldn't be getting a battle-tested app yet, but they're classy guys and you could probably influence the direction of the project.

Employee Scheduler (4, Interesting)

clifyt (11768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466837)

Before we switched to a commercial solution (which was a mistake in retrospect), I had implemented an open source / php app I found over on SourceForge -- Employee Scheduler.

It was written for managing student employees in a library -- and its not half bad.

http://sourceforge.net/projects/empscheduler/ [sourceforge.net]

I ended up hacking the hell out of it, adding ajax calls so that it was a little more user friendly, and had ended up with a clock in / clock out solution (using student id cards and a card reader). Tried to contact a few folks listed on the site, but it looks like a dead project (and my source is gone...don't ask...wasn't that hard to do though). If there was a community around it, I would have kept using the software and contributed...but there wasn't.

Its good software, but it needs some work. If you are a php coder, you might want to think about trying it out and seeing if you can hack the functionality you need.

Re:Employee Scheduler (0, Flamebait)

hacker (14635) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466937)

Where are your patches to the mainline source tree? Did you contribute all of your "hacks" or fixes back upstream?

"If you pour water in the harbor, all boats rise at once"

I'm sure many dozens of people could benefit from your changes. They might even re-energize the project.

Re:Employee Scheduler (3, Interesting)

clifyt (11768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18467179)

Ignoring the obvious attitude,

I tried a few times to contact the folks that were responsible for the software to contribute to the source.

No response back. I had actually thought of setting up a fork'd project, but I was too busy with a few other projects to have everyone asking me questions. I wanted to donate to the original project and be done with it. I had cleaned up a LOT of HTML, converted it all to CSS (for instance, the web view and the print view used separate files that needed to be hacked twice to change anything...I used a print style sheet and threw away almost half the code), and de-spaghetti coded the PHP. Beyond that, it was mostly hacks to get things working for me (i.e., lots of crap with the prototype js library)

But all in all, I've had too much attitude thrown at me when I work open source apps. I prefer to get in and get out ASAP. I don't want my name associated because of it. I generally contribute anonymously when I do have to interact -- but most of the time, I prefer to just comment the hell out of code so that it is obvious to the newbie what I'm doing -- and honestly, this is why most of the BIG code I've given out has been put into the public domain because I don't want to get into arguments as to people's religion on code.

Either way, the point is moot now. By the time I had my head above water enough to do anything (running a university office and a music industry consultancy saps the energy outta ya), I found that the development server I had this on was wiped. Backups are probably on some DVDr, but who knows at this point. The code could be re-done in a day or two either way (and probably a lot cleaner now that I've gotten a lot more proficient at CSS and JS -- the PHP stuff was dead simple).

Re:Employee Scheduler (1)

thegrassyknowl (762218) | more than 7 years ago | (#18468383)

Nice to see someone recommending OSS. We have timecontrol at work (non free) and it's poo, activeX, windows only and poo. I hve a Windows box on my machine purely for doing timesheets now (well and for Outlook, but exchange has a web interface that works in FF on Linux).

I just find the interface to TC to be slow, clunky and not worth using. The old system ran nicely using Java in any browser. It was still poo, but bearable if you only ever booked to one or 2 projects. It's hard to find projects/codes to book to. First you have to select the project and it drops back to the main screen. Then, you have to open the codes window and look at the codes for that project. If you selected the wrong project and can't find the code you want you have to drop back and select a new project. It could all just be one bloody big list!!!

It's nice to see the Windows tax on everything just for a piece of shit software that gives very little gain over a much simpler solution in most places.

--
Use and recommend free software!!!

Have you tried this open source solution? (5, Informative)

passion4 (1069666) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466953)

Have you looked at TimeTrex Time and Attendance [timetrex.com] ? Its open source, has web based clock in/out as well as several hardware based methods for greater efficiency, handles scheduling, time sheets and even payroll.

We've been using it for a while now and it has been working great, one of my friends who works at a major University uses it as well.

Vacation/Sick Time Thingie... (2, Insightful)

creimer (824291) | more than 7 years ago | (#18466963)

Make sure that the Vacation/Sick Time thing works and can be corrected if there's a problem. At one company I worked out, it was broken. I got sick for a while that my boss forced me to use sick time even though I wanted to use vacation time as I knew I was out of sick time. When they got it working again, I was in the hole for a whole year on sick time. I was repeatedly warned that I could be fired for this situation. My boss wouldn't admit he made a mistake, HR said there wasn't anything to do about and I made vague threats of resolving this in a court of law. When I later quit, I was surprised they didn't charged me for the sick time that I owe them. Go figure.

we use basecamp (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18466975)

http://basecamphq.com/ [basecamphq.com]

It's a lightweight project management app with ultra-simple time tracking, built-in. I use that to collect timesheet data, and I have a custom app for downloading the data and munging it further. It's VERY simple, which is what I like.

Might not be what you need but for my needs, very nice.

Use Google (-1, Flamebait)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18467025)

actiTIME (1)

silid (733394) | more than 7 years ago | (#18467037)

http://www.actitime.com/ [actitime.com] may require a bit of hacking as includes billing methods and stuff - but very good for freelancing.

Web apps (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18467075)

Web apps can do the job well. We use this, run by a group of friendly guys who are quick to answer any queries we had:

http://tiktrac.com/ [tiktrac.com]

Have you tried SourceForge? (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18467077)

SourceForge has this project [sf.net] that looks pretty promising. It has several others too, just search for "time and attendance".

Replicon Web Timesheet (2, Informative)

diegoq (149586) | more than 7 years ago | (#18467089)

We use Replicon Web Timesheet [replicon.com] . It's a web-based solution, the website is usable by Firefox, IE, and Opera. The server runs on the Windows platorm, and uses a Microsoft or Oracle database. Of course, if you're not a Windows shop, this probably isn't the answer for you.

It works great for us. We've been using it for 7 years now, with 40-ish users. No problems, it's a great product. Entering time is easy, the reports are powerful, and it can integrate with other software. We integrated it very easily with our in-house account-management system.

If you don't want to run the software yourself, I see they have a hosted offering. [replicon.com]

Re:Replicon Web Timesheet (1)

mabinogi (74033) | more than 7 years ago | (#18470565)

We've used Replicon for a few years now. It's not the worst thing in the world, but it's not really the best either.
The biggest problem I have with it is the requirement to add the tasks your working on to the sheet before you can put time against them. The interface for doing that is too slow and annoying.

Re:Replicon Web Timesheet (1)

JessicaMPM (1080423) | more than 7 years ago | (#18493385)

Hi,

Your suggestion has been entered in our product backlog. In the future, you may enter suggestions at: http://www.replicon.com/supportservices/suggestion s.asp [replicon.com]

Every suggestion is logged and reviewed by the Product Management team at Replicon. We appreciate your feedback. Your comments and suggestions help us provide products and services that serve you best.

Thanks,

Jessica Lee
Product Manager
Replicon Inc.

Excel lent (1)

Strange Ranger (454494) | more than 7 years ago | (#18467135)

When I first saw the title I thought sarcastically "Why don't you take Excel which is an accounting spreadsheet application and wildly contort it to your needs, like everyone else does.

Then I read the rest of the summary and.. well..

Enjoy your migration. I feel your pain. Whoever made that bed should have to lie in it. Ya right.

Timesheets? (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18467349)


You work at a help desk. Since when did slaves track their hours?

Mark Shuttleworth has a project for this problem (3, Informative)

Qbertino (265505) | more than 7 years ago | (#18467391)

Mark "Mr. Ubuntu Linux" Shuttleworth has a team he sponsors building on a project called 'School Tool' [schooltool.org] . It's a) built in Zope, which is quite possibly the most advanced (if yet compareatively slower) web application server in existance and probably the most sophisticated enviroment for this sort of thing and b) is a project that is in extremly good shape (having failed once when attempted in Java) and lead by people with solid software developement experience and skills. If SchoolTool doesn't solve your multiple-timesheets problems I'd say your outa luck because AFAICT it's the best software for this sort of thing there is.

Re:Mark Shuttleworth has a project for this proble (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18467939)

Fick dich!

timesheetphp (3, Informative)

tonigonenstein (912347) | more than 7 years ago | (#18467769)

I am surprised almost no one mentioned free software solutions. We use timesheetphp [timesheetphp.com] at work and its pretty good. We naturally had to make a couple modifications but not that much. Check the demo on the web site.

Journyx (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18468233)

I've installed Journyx (http://www.journyx.com/ [journyx.com] ) at the last two places I've worked. It doesn't do scheduling, but punch in/punch out as well as more free-flowing time entry, plus expenses and milage. Free for up to 10 users, after that you pay, but the (few) times I've had to call them for tech support they've been great. And it runs on Linux. I was all over that. (That was a big thing for me 7 years ago, the first time I installed it.)

WebGUI (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18468523)

WebGUI (www.webgui.org) has time tracking and project management features built in, and it's open source.

"Stuff To Do" (1)

DavidNWelton (142216) | more than 7 years ago | (#18468965)

I am putting together a time tracking system that is free for basic use and comes with a one month trial for the group use features. It's available here:

http://stufftodo.dedasys.com/ [dedasys.com]

It's very simple and straightforward - what it has going for it is that all you have to do is tell it what you're working on via drag and drop, and it keeps track of how long you've been active on the project. Of course, this makes it most suitable for people who are at their computers most of the day, but I guess you can't be everything to everyone.

It is still beta-ish, so pricing is open to negotiation and feature requests are welcome.

ERP (1)

dreamchaser (49529) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469139)

You work for a top 30 Uni that doesn't have an ERP system? I suppose I'm not too suprised at that, but that's really the best solution since if done properly it will tie everything together, not just time entry and tracking.

Re:ERP (1)

clifyt (11768) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469863)

"You work for a top 30 Uni that doesn't have an ERP system?"

I too work for a 'top 30' (actually, I believe mine is a 'Big 4') -- and while there are certainly tools that can manage the extremely tedious details, these are generally not in the hands of rank and file employees, and really don't suit departmental needs for managing and scheduling groups of peoples.

When you talk larger universities, you are talking hundreds of offices, probably multiple campuses, and many thousands of employees. I believe my university is one of the largest employer in the state. The tools that they can offer don't really meet the needs of individual areas of service. For instance, one of the BIG reasons we are a 'Microsoft Campus' is because Exchange offered the tools needed for collaboration and scheduling. I normally hate M$ products, but this one does its needs. Still, the scheduling component is not very useful for scheduling students, or managing time sheets, or otherwise.

So the larger employers can and do offer tools that meet the requirement of the organization, but rarely do they give anything that is truly useful for managing the details.

Timesheets always the problem (0, Redundant)

jellomizer (103300) | more than 7 years ago | (#18469365)

Well first we don't need all this stuff to make you feel super important. About the Top 30 American University. Top 30 or Bottom 10 University, Company, Government Agency, Non-Profit organization.... All can have completely sucky IT Infrastructure. So you are not impressing us. But timesheet are always a problem. I would avoid any 3rd party canned software package Open Source or Not. They are more problem then what they are worth. The Cheap ones normally don't have features that you need. The ones that do have features on what you need are so big and hard to use that it is not worth it, over a large period. So just spend the money and get one custom written to your specs. If you don't have one consultants can help write the specs (which will cost more money). But being that you are at a Top 30 University I would expect that you would have a teams of Slave labor err... Um... Bright Eyes, Eager, and talented students. Who is willing to do the bulk of the coding for meager spending money Err... Um... Tuition Reimbursement and experience. Coming up with good specs for the product is actually a lot harder then getting good programmers to make it. You will need to discuss with the people are are entering in time, see what they like and what they don't like and as well the people who are doing something with the time, what they like and don't like. Then you will need someone to take all the considerations and balance all the requests and come up with something that is better then what it was before. But remember not all requests should be put into the program, only ones that really important or makes the process much easier. If you go down the lines of making everyone 100% happy you will create a product that sucks and noone likes.

actiTIME is nice (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18472865)

Where I work, which is a relatively small company, we've been using actiTIME [actitime.com] for the past few months.

I find it very easy to use, certainly moreso than our previous custom Excel jobby.
But yeah, it's quite AJAXy and pretty smart overall. The reporting functionality is very good and it's free (as in beer, only)!

WorkBrain Not good Danger do not use (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 7 years ago | (#18475129)


WorkBrain on Vista would most likely be as fun as having a DOJ and IRS audit at the same time

Try Kronos (1)

JLang22 (774790) | more than 7 years ago | (#18476131)

Has anyone else heard of or tried Kronos http://www.kronos.com/ [kronos.com] ?? Holiday Retirement Corporation uses it for its entire work force. I only use it at a facility level. We have Human Resources and and IT department who handles it on the technical end. From the level I am allowed to use it it handles with punch cards in/out times. It allowes multi-user log ins to manually add in split shifts, sick hours, and vacation time. I have heard a future version handles scheduleing and incorporates it into the time cards to automatically adjust for minimum 2hr rules. Sorry I don't know the technical details or cost.

Re:Try Kronos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18481665)

Kronos is for manufacturing payroll automation and is particularly well suited to nurses in hospitals. For knowledge workers interesting in billing automation or project accounting, use Journyx. It runs on Linux or Windows and is free for the first 10 users.

Re:Try Kronos (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18489197)

Kronos is a bit pricey but would definetly suit your needs. They also offer timeclocks that tie directly into their timecard solution. Good reporting and custimization.

Timesheet Software Applications (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18487259)

I was personally involved with a 3 month evaluation process for an IT department of 200 programmers and we evaluated a bunch of different timesheet software applications (narrowed it down to ten, then finally choose one). We found the timesheet software by dovico (www.dovico.com) to be the easiest to setup (we imported a crap load of data initially) and no additional modules had to be bought (they include expenses and links to Microsoft project server. We don't use it QuickBooks, but they also have a QuickBooks link as well) all at only 86.25 US / Employee (one time fee). We could not even attempt to build the application for that!

They seem to stand behind there product as we have found no bugs yet, but have had some questions and the company always responds quickly and really seems to stand behind their product. One of our staff submitted a suggestion on the software (through the software itself) and received a phone call back asking them for more details and discussing how it could be improved. He was impressed. Now that's what I call, listening to the customer!

Anyway, we found it to be the easiest with little setup, installation, and deployment time. So this is what we went with.

SAASman1

Comparison (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 7 years ago | (#18487335)

I did a quick search and found this web site that did a comparison of a bunch of leading Timesheet and Time Tracking Applications.

http://time-tracking-management-software-review.to ptenreviews.com/ [toptenreviews.com]

Whatever You Do (1)

aquatone282 (905179) | more than 7 years ago | (#18490273)

. . . don't build it on Oracle Forms.

Just trust me - don't do it.

Re:Whatever You Do (1)

jerkyjunkmail (590408) | more than 7 years ago | (#18539457)

Too right. Fuckin' JInitiator. Thorn in my side that is. jerky

You might try Taskjitsu (1)

rbulling (7973) | more than 7 years ago | (#18502035)

For the last ten years, I've been developing Taskjitsu [taskjitsu.com] , an open source professional services automation system that tracks time sheets and tasks. It is freely available, GPL-licensed, and commercially supported by PKR Internet [pkrinternet.com] .

Taskjitsu is at its core a Java web application, layered on top of Tomcat [apache.org] and PostgreSQL [postgresql.org] . It runs on Windows, Linux, and any other system that can run Java 1.4. We have RPMs available [pkrinternet.com] that work with Red Hat Application Server 1.0 [redhat.com] and other JPackage 1.6 [jpackage.org] -derived systems.

For our company needs... (1)

DarkShadeChaos (954173) | more than 7 years ago | (#18532099)

We use Microsoft CRM with some modifications. You track cases / tasks / projects / etc and resolve with time. If you don't truly need clock-in / clock-out time, it should work great. And with the reports it generates you should be able to track total time - if it doesn't match your set hours, then your employees may be uhm reading slashdot or something :-D

Disclaimer: I am generally a Linux proponent, but Microsoft CRM truly is a good product.
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