Timesheet & Project Management Blog

The goal of this blog is to provide tips and ideas for improving time tracking and project managment for our customers and other interested people.

Advantages of Barcode Scanning

I’m going to discuss some reasons why barcode scanning on the shop floor for manufacturing is a pretty good idea.

One of the reasons, first of all, is that you may have non-computer users. Let’s say machinist, assembly line workers, forklift; people who don’t naturally sit at computer monitors or in a cubicle or not familiar with sitting in front of the keyboard and mouse and operating software. Giving them a barcode scanner and telling them to scan when they start their jobs and tasks allows you to collect that information without them having to be real true computer users. Where they would sit in a cubicle. That’s a really a big advantage; you’re able to gather information without forcing those people to learn all new ways of gathering it.

The next-you’re not going to be getting fake information. When you force a person like that to sit in front of a computer or to even to fill out a paper timesheet; a lot of times you get fake information. They’ll fill out their timesheet on a Friday afternoon, they completely forget what they worked on Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday, even the morning of Friday they are unsure what they worked on. They’ll fill out what they think might be it and the fact is about half that information is fake. The exact times, the exact hours, the exact jobs all escape our memories as time goes on, as days go by. You lose that information and the data becomes fake and false. But they give their best effort.

That is not true with a barcode scanner. A barcode scanner collects at the moment the work is performed. That means it’s not faked. You can’t fake a scanner. You will occasionally get some wrong scans but the fact is you’re getting real live up to date information with a barcode scanner.

The next thing you’ll get is more information. If people fill out paper timesheets; sometimes they just don’t remember as we’ve said before. And they don’t have the information readily available at the top of their head, they simply put down a few things and that’s it. The barcode scanner collects it all-every job, going on lunch break, cleaning the shop, doing maintenance work, GNA type jobs, meetings and then of course the actual project or client work that you’re doing. So you’re collecting more information, more kinds of information, you’re able to use that.

That information becomes very valuable, first of all, for collecting or comparing actuals with your estimates. People are always surprised at how long things actually take. That’s probably because we’re used to these verbal communications, status reports or paper timesheets where you fake the information. But if you collect it for real people are shocked at how long things actually take. How much time they spent doing these tasks or even doing non-project work. Comparing actuals with estimates is a huge advantage when it comes to barcode scanning because you’re getting real information and you’re able to do real comparisons.

You can use that information for resource availability. You can look out into the future and say OK I’ve assigned these employees these groups or work groups to projects, I’ve assigned assembly lines or assembly bays or assembly areas to these projects. And now what is my resource availability? Are these people available for new jobs? Is that assembly line open for new jobs, are my resources available? These are some of the things you get by collecting actuals, knowing how long things take, be able to create good estimates and then assign those estimates to actual resources. Like people, machines or assembly lines and then be able to use that for future reference. Sort of in the lines of production slotting; you’re slotting jobs to physical and human resources. Like assembly lines, you’re slotting these lines for use at these particular times for these particular jobs. You’re able to then look at the resource availability for those assembly lines but also the manpower requirements for each job. And knowing whether you’ve over allocated or underutilized these resources in the future coming weeks and months.

Some things to think about collecting barcode scans on the shop floor using those as comparisons for actuals versus estimates. And then the slotting of resources, the resource commitment, the manpower requirements that you need. Take a look at Standard Time®, those are the kinds of things we do and you’ll find that to be a wonderful resource and a great tool for manufacturing and the shop floor.

See more at: http://www.stdtime.com

Work In Progress on the Shop Floor

The manufacturing shop floor is buzzing with business. So how do you know the status of your jobs? • Has a certain job started yet? • Who worked on it last? • Is it almost finished? That’s exactly what you get from the Work In Progress screen in Standard Time®. Imagine a big screen on the shop floor with the latest job status, like those arrivals and departure screens at the airport.

Slot Jobs for Production


Slot manufacturing jobs with Standard Time® MRP software. Make sure every job is slotted for production. Make sure every production line has enough jobs to keep it busy. Make sure no production lines are over-allocated or under-utilized.

Barcode Scan Qty Items Produced

Sometimes in manufacturing you want to collect the quantity of items produced along with the time worked.In other words, you want the hours employees spend on work orders, and you also want the number of things produced during that time. You can use that information for reporting, invoicing and production KPI’s. Turns out, you can get most, or all of that information with a barcode scanner.

This tutorial shows how to collect those quantities in a program named Standard Time.

Let’s see how it works!

For this tutorial I have one simple project called “Electroplating 78102,” not very exciting, there are just three tasks. We’re going to scan the plate task and then collect the quantity of items that were electroplated. So let’s go ahead and press the F4 button on the key board to open up the barcode window. Then press required scans so that we can see the set up required to collect this quantity.

I’ve already go this entered, you can see I’ve named it quantity. I’ve put in a prompt that tells the employee what is expected. This is scan order number 1, you could actually have multiple things that you’re collecting and scan those in certain orders. I’ve also set this up so that we collect the information after the work ends, that’s when the employee knows the number of items that were produced. Or in this case the number of items electroplated. We’re going to choose to type it in instead of scanning.

If you have predefined barcode labels that you could scan; that’s actually a better method than typing. There are no conditions on this, it’s going to all users and the value is going to go into the text 1 field of the time log. Time logs are where we collect the time that has occurred on the tasks. We can also collect other information like this quantity. That’s going to go into the text 1 field.

I’ve got this all set up, we’re ready to scan the barcode window is open. Let’s switch over to MS Word so that you can see the barcode labels that I’ll be scanning. I’ve got my user name, I’ve got the project, I’ve got a task and I’ve got the word “stop.” We’re going to type in the number of items for the quantity instead of scanning it. But if you had barcode labels that were explicit quantities that could be scanned, that’s actually better than typing.

Let’s go back to the barcode window and first of all scan the user name, the project and then the task. Now the timer has started so presumably I’m off working on this right now. Let’s go ahead and close this, go over to the time log. You can see a new item in the list here. I’m sorting these so that the newest ones are at the top. The bold items are scans that are currently timing right now. While that happens I’m going to the View menu choose Columns and I’m going to scroll down here for that text 1 field. That’s the one we’re going to enter the quantity into. I’m going to click add and then move up, click close. You can see some other numbers that were entered earlier. This one is blank because we don’t have anything yet, we still haven’t completed the work and remember that quantity was going to be entered at the end.

Again let’s go ahead and press the F4 key and we’ll go ahead and scan the user name. That tells me the timer is running. I’m going to scan stop and now it’s asking for the quantity. Let’s type in 14, click close and the timer stops.

Go up here, we see the new record, we see 14. That’s a very simple way of setting up required scans. In this case to collect the quantities of items produced.

From http://www.stdtime.com

Manpower Dashboards Tell The Future


I’m going to show you a tool that lets you look into the future, and plan project and work order assignments.

It’s called Standard Time®, which is a time tracking and project management app.

We’re going to specifically look at resource allocation.

In other words, jobs that are assigned to employees or assembly lines.

I’ll go over some graphs that tell you if your employees are over committed, under-utilized, or just about right.

Sound good? Alright, let’s take a look!

The six windows that you see tiled on the screen are from a stand-alone resource allocation app. You can launch that app as many times as you like, I happen to have it open six times. But you could have it two, four, ten times, it doesn’t matter. But each one of those instances will have its own settings; if you click this it will pop open allow you to set the settings for that application. Then the chart or grid will be based on those settings.

In this case I’m looking at one employee, an entire group of employees, entire company, and I happen to be looking at an availability chart rather than a resource allocation chart. You can also look at grids or manpower charts as well. The information that you’re seeing in these charts are coming from Standard Time® and specifically from Projects and Tasks.

Let’s switch over to Standard Time and get a look that. I’ve opened up Standard Time and the wide blue bands that you see here are projects, the actual tasks are under those projects. And those tasks are assigned to either people or groups in the organization. Each task has a starting date, finish date and it can be displayed on a Gantt chart like this.

That is the information source for those charts that we saw earlier. Each one of these tasks can be assigned to people or groups. If you find over or under allocated situations or situations where you need more manpower than you have available you can move projects around, assign them to different groups or people, different resources, change their starting and finish dates. And that can allow you to schedule those projects or work orders so employees have time to do them.

Let’s switch back, this will allow you to put these dashboards up on a big screen. You’re either on the shop floor or managers offices. And be able to look out into the future and see choices that your projects and work orders and tasks have on your available resources.

See more at: http://www.stdtime.com

Barcode Scanner and Tablet on Shop Floor


I’m gonna show you a very simple way to track time on the shop floor with a barcode scanner, a tablet and Standard Time®. I’ve got a simple table here, paid about $80 for it, a barcode scanner $20. On the low-end you’re looking at $100, high-end $150 depending on the equipment you buy. That’s going to replace the traditional keyboard, mouse, work station, laptop, fat finger, fake entries, paper timesheets; all of that replaced by a simple barcode scanner. Let’s see how it works.

We’ll start by scanning the user name, job or work order and then a task. That’s it, that’s all I have to do. Now I can go off, start my job, timer will start and I’m now collecting time for the job I’m on and the status of that job. All that information goes into a shared database or computer that owners, managers, executives can use for KPIs, invoicing, reporting; anything you want to use the information for. It’s very simple and all collected with a simple barcode scanner.

Manpower Requirements Chart



Manufacturing, engineering and service companies have dozens of active projects at any given time. There are usually project managers for those jobs, and employees assigned as resources.

I’m going to show you a manpower chart that graphically illustrates employee resource requirements.

As a project manager, you’ll simply create projects and tasks, set durations, and assign employees. The Gantt and manpower charts you’ll see come directly from those tasks.

Let’s have a look!

Before looking at the manpower charts I’m going to scroll through this Gantt chart and you can see actual raw materials that feed those charts. The wide blue bands are projects and then the actual tasks are underneath those. This is where the charts actually get the information to display.

I’m going to go to the View menu choose Projects Resource Allocation. Here I’m looking at the entire company showing bars for each week and then showing the manpower requirements for those weeks. In this case the company has the capacity of about 46 employees but we’re pretty under allocated here at 23, 13, 12 throughout the weeks. More tasks, more projects could be added to these employees; as you can see here from the chart.

Now I’m going to switch over to the Resource Requirements grid, which is very similar to this. It’s actually the same information but shown in a spread sheet style. You have your total allocated resources on this line, which is the same numbers that we saw earlier. The total capacity at about 46 employees and the percent allocated here. We can see we’re pretty under allocated on all these.

There are other charts that you might find interesting in this view. Like the Total allocated time for groups or for individual people. As you choose the items from the drop downs then you can configure this chart. So that you have other charts available to you like a task chart, a resource chart, availability chart and back to the resource requirements which is the manpower chart that I showed earlier.

These charts are getting the information from tasks. If I open up one of these tasks you’ll see they have start, finish times. In this case this is a milestone. But they do also have durations for each of the tasks. The bar charts will use the start, finish and durations for the charting of the manpower.

Again View, Project Resource Allocation, you can see the manpower requirements, compare that against your staffing.

See more at: http://www.stdtime.com

Organizing Manufacturing Projects


In this video I will introduce you to Standard Time®, a Manufacturing Resource Planner.

We’ll look at five ways to organize projects for your manufacturing operation. In other words, how to group and report on projects of differing types.

The groupings I’ll show are:

  1. Portfolios
  2. Folders
  3. Clients
  4. Status
  5. And assembly lines

These are all optional. Use any or all to visualize and report on your manufacturing projects.

Want to take a look?

Here goes!

Let’s begin by choosing Tools, Projects in Standard Time®. This is the place where administrators would set up projects and set the properties for them. Right off the bat you see folders where projects can be dropped into; create your own hierarchy of folders, that would be the first level of classification. You also, on the right-hand side in the properties, see client, portfolio and status.

As I click on the different projects you can see those fields changing. You could use clients for external or internal clients, that you’re doing work for or departments. If you don’t have any of those three you might consider using client for a completely different purpose for classifying projects. Portfolios of course would be for different kinds of projects that you do, you could group them together by kind. And then you can also set the status, which is another form of classification for projects.

So those are four quick ways you can classify projects. You also have assembly lines which you see over on the left-hand side.

How can you use these classifications or groupings of projects within Standard Time? The first way would be to use this tree on the left-hand side to filter the views on the right. You see tabs along the top, I’m looking at the project tasks tab, which shows all of the projects and tasks within Standard Time. I can use that tree on the left-hand side to filter this view. I could, for instance, open the clients section, click on a client. Now I’m looking at just the projects, which are these wide blue bands, or this particular client. Or go down to project portfolios, click on a portfolio, and I now see all the projects for that portfolio. Or go over to folders, click on a folder and I see the projects for that folder.

If you have assembly line set up you could click on assembly line and see all the projects that are running on that assembly line. So lots of different ways to categorize, visualize, group your projects. Another way might be to go to the view menu choose project, resource allocation, you see a few buttons at the top of this drop down that you can use to find all the project resource allocation for a certain folder. Or for a portfolio or for an assembly line. Or see all of the projects.

Another way would be to the view menu, choose project revenue, you have those same buttons that you can look at all the revenue for a folder, portfolio and so on. You have these groupings available within reports as well. If I open time log reports I can see reports by client or by portfolio. You could create custom reports that used folders, status or assembly lines as well.

Lots of different ways to use those classifications to visualize, group and report on your manufacturing projects.

Shop Floor Barcode Scanning


Hi everyone, Ray White from Mfg Projects

I’m here to introduce you to barcode time tracking on the manufacturing floor.

There are a lot of advantages to tracking time right on the shop floor with barcode scanners.

Consider these three to start:

  1. First, you’ve got work orders or manufacturing projects, but how do you get actual work hours from employees that don’t use computers? Or don’t sit in front of a workstation? The answer is, with barcode scanners. That’s advantage number one, and it’s a big one.
  1. Number two; barcode scans are the most accurate way to track projects. No more fat finger, mouse, clicking, fake time entries, trying to remember what you did last Tuesday, or last week. You just scan… bleep, bleep, bleep, and a timer starts. Bleep, bleep again, and it stops. That’s real data; nothing fake about that.
  1. Number three; you collect a lot of extra information in just a few scans. The work order, the client, the employee, department, task, phase, status, kind of work, percent complete, not to mention actual start and stop times. This is a river of data coming off the shop floor.

That was just three. There are others you’ll see in these videos.

So, if you want to track actuals on the shop floor verses estimates, barcode scanners are the way to go.

Hey, I’m Ray White.

Good luck on your manufacturing projects!

Project Task Link Relationships


Every manufacturing project has tasks, or steps, phases, or activities that define the work you'll perform. And some of those tasks are dependent upon others.

In other words, you can’t start one step until another is completed. Or, there may be phases later in the process that won’t start until previous phases are finished.

Those are called task dependencies. Tasks are linked, and their dates depend on previous tasks.

In this video, we’ll look at four types of task dependencies that model actual conditions on the shop floor.

Let’s take a look!

Here on Standard Time® we’ll look at four distinct types of link relationships that you can see by the lines and the arrows in the Gantt chart. The first one we’ll look at is finish-to-start, which is the most common; then start-to-start, then finish-to-finish and finally we’ll take a look at start-to-finish.

Let’s go ahead and look at the most common link relationship which would be the finish-to-start. The starting date of a successor task is linked back to the finish date of another. When this task ends another can start. That’s the most common. We’ll move this task and you can see the next task updates because this one has been moved. Finish date on this one changed so that changes the starting date of the successor task.

The next type would be start-to-start. You can see the starting date of this task is linked back to the starting date of another. When that one is moved then the successor is also moved because the two start dates are linked together.

The third type would be finish-to-finish, where the finish date of this task is linked back to the finish date of another. We move that, the two finish dates are linked together and when the predecessor moves then the successor would also be updated.

The fourth type would be start-to-finish, where the starting date of this task goes down to the finish date of another. When we move this task then the successor also moves because the starting date is linked back to the finish date.

The examples you see down below are variations of we already looked at. We’ve got start-to-start; when the starting date of this task changes then the starting date of a successor task would change. We’ve also looked at the finish-to-finish; so when the finish date of this one changes then the finish date of the successor would also change. So you can combine these to form a nice little link relationship.

The long lines you see on these milestones are lag times. If we click on this link icon in the link column; we can go ahead and look at the lag times that you see connected with these link relationships. I should point out that the inbound tasks that you see here, actually none here, are predecessors and the outbound tasks are the successors. They are linked together with certain link relationships. In this case they have some lag times. I’ll click here, you can see the finish-to-start link relationship; which we already looked at. And a lag time of two calendar days. Close that and look at this one.

We have start-to-start, which we’ve also looked at previously with minus-four calendar days. Cancel out of these and that explains the long lines that you see here linked to these milestones. That covers the four distinct types of link relationships in Standard Time that you can use for your projects.


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