Author Archive

SharePoint TimeSheets – What are Your Options? Part 2: Plug-in Commercial Solutions

Date:November 3rd, 2011 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint TeamTime, SharePoint Timesheets Comments:0 ;

This is the second part in our series covering the options available for anyone looking to implement a timesheet or time tracking system within SharePoint.

Those of you who are regular readers of this blog will know that we have been doing some work with SharePoint Timesheets recently. As a part of that we have spent quite a bit of time looking at what’s currently available. In the spirit of social sharing we thought we would give you a rundown of what we have found.

I want to stress here that we haven’t tested all of these timesheet applications. We’re not aiming to offer any kind of recommendations here, simply a handy run down of what’s available: A brief summary of each product in the publishers own words, and an idea of pricing where possible.

In part 1 we looked at native commercial SharePoint Timesheet applications.  Today we are looking at Plug-in Commercial SharePoint Timesheet software. In other words Timesheet applications which, whilst not built in SharePoint, can be accessed via your SharePoint site. These applications may offer functionality which is not available within the confines of SharePoint. A potential issue to consider if purchasing in this category would be that of data integration.

TeamTimesheet (AssistMyTeam)

Product Homepage

This is an interesting one.  Time is input in Outlook, and then reported in SharePoint:

Team TimeSheet for Outlook & SharePoint is an enterprise time reporting and billing management solution for team to work, plan and execute project related activities and prepare timesheets in Microsoft Outlook and publish to the company’s SharePoint site.

Pricing starts from $600 for a 10 user license.

TimeControl (HMS Software)

Product Homepage

TimeControl is designed with its own powerful web-based interface. However, for organizations which have adopted the Microsoft SharePoint environment as their Intranet or Corporate Portal software TimeControl can be deployed right inside the SharePoint interface. This allows end users to use TimeControl without ever leaving SharePoint.

Pricing: Although HMS give extensive advice on how to buy the product, they don’t actually provide any indication of the price on their website.

SharePoint Timesheet (Tenrox)

Product Homepage

SharePoint Timesheet is a Web-based timesheet solution offered by Tenrox. This Employee Timesheet and Scheduling Management application leverages SharePoint technology for collaboration, dashboards and reporting. Tenrox Timesheet is an on-demand solution that works with your SharePoint instance on-premises or on-demand thereby enabling collaboration with team members and customers in various locations.

Pricing: Once again we are in Enterprise land, and the website gives no indication of pricing.

That would seem to be about it for commercial plug-ins.  Again, if we have missed any then please do let me know.

In our third and final instalment we will be looking at creating SharePoint Timesheets for free.

SharePoint Timesheets – What are your options? Part 1: Native Commercial Solutions

Date:October 24th, 2011 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint TeamTime, SharePoint Timesheets Comments:1 ;

Regular readers of this blog will know that over the past few months we have been doing some work on SharePoint Timesheets.A clock on a laptop

As a part of this we have spent quite a bit of time looking at what the available options are for people wanting manage timesheets in SharePoint, and in the spirit of social sharing we thought we would give you a run down on what we have found.

I want to stress here that we haven’t tested all of these timesheet applications. We’re not aiming to offer any kind of recommendations here, simply a handy run down of what’s available: A brief summary of each product in the publishers own words, and an idea of pricing where possible.

We are going to look at the options in 3 categories:

  • Native Commercial SharePoint Timesheets: Timesheet applications fully built and deployed within SharePoint (commercially produced and supported).
  • Plug-In Commercial SharePoint Timesheets: External applications that ‘plug in’ to SharePoint, rather than being fully integrated; making them accessible through your SharePoint Portal (commercially produced and supported).
  • Free SharePoint Timesheets: Free to use, but lacking a commercial standard of support.

Native Commercial SharePoint Timesheets

Today we are starting with Commercial Native SharePoint Timesheets, with the other 2 categories in separate posts over the coming few days. When we finish there will also be a PDF covering all the options, which you will be able to download for reference.

In this category we are looking at applications which are built in SharePoint and available commercially (i.e. you are going to have to pay for them).

If SharePoint is key to your IT infrastructure then the advantages of having a “native” SharePoint Timesheet application are easy to see.  You are leveraging your existing IT investment, allowing people to record time in the familiar SharePoint interface and storing your data in the central SharePoint data repository.

SPTimesheet (1st Thinking)

Product Homepage

SPTimesheet is the first 100% SharePoint based time tracking management solution. With SPTimesheet you are able to fully leverage your existing investment in SharePoint while benefiting from a feature rich powerful time tracking solution.

Pricing is per user and starts at $1000 for 20 users.

Time Management (EPM Live)

Product Homepage

Understand the full effort associated with the execution of any work item. Reduce organization costs by re-aligning employees to improve deliverables and improve employee productivity and performance. Understand historical data to create precise future estimates and quotations.

This is part of the EPM ‘Work Engine’ which “expands the capabilities of SharePoint with a whole raft of common business applications for you to pick and choose from”.

Pricing – is not clear from the website, however this is firmly positioned as an Enterprise solution, which may give some clue as to where pricing is likely to fall.

Timetracking for SharePoint 2010 (NowShare)

Product Homepage

Our application “TimeTracking for SharePoint 2010” offers you a professional time tracking tool. It simplifies the time registration on different tasks or projects, also with your iPhone while travelling. The instantaneous commenting simplifies the documentation of the accomplished tasks.

Pricing starts from $1600 for a 10 user license.

SharePoint TeamTime (Pentalogic Technology)

Product Homepage

This is of course our own offering:

A simple SharePoint time tracking application.  Time is entered through a punch card or a traditional grid. The Team Dashboard shows what everyone is working on now, a breakdown of work this week and timesheets awaiting approval. Powerful reporting and analysis with Export to Excel gives an overview of the big picture. All in a ready-to-use SharePoint site.

Pricing – $995 per server.

That rounds off the commercial SharePoint timesheet applications.  If you know of one we’ve missed, please share!

In our next post we will be looking at Plug-In commercial TimeSheet solutions.

New-SharePoint TeamTime: SharePoint Timesheets to go

Date:September 22nd, 2011 Author: Tags: , ,
Category: SharePoint TeamTime Comments:0 ;

So here’s a new one for you.

SharePoint TeamTime: a nice and easy, ready to use timesheet and time tracking application for SharePoint.

We have been busy working on TeamTime all summer and now it’s very nearly ready to go.

TeamTime is a native SharePoint application pre-built for you to simply add to your SharePoint site and start using with your team.

It offers you two methods of time entry:

  • either a punch card, to let your record time as its happening by stopping and starting a timer,
  • or a traditional grid or timesheet if you prefer to enter all of your time at the end of the day or week.

The team dashboard lets you see who is working on what right now, and to approve time already logged.

Then powerful and customizable reports and analysis give you an overview of work over time to help you answer questions like:

  • What exactly has Bob been doing this month?
  • Who has been working on Project X?
  • How much time are we wasting on meetings?

TeamTime is a bit of a departure for us.  Up until now we have concentrated creating SharePoint components: tools that you can use to help you get more out of SharePoint when building your own sites, applications and dashboards.

One of the great things about SharePoint is the ability it give end users and power users to build their own applications.  It can be great fun to see just what you can achieve with SharePoint and create something that is exactly tailored to your needs and your processes.

But equally sometimes you just need to quickly get your hands on something that just works and instantly solves your business problem, with no time or effort required from you.

Our research into SharePoint End User Adoption showed us that getting a visible “quick win” with SharePoint: using SharePoint to rapidly and visibly address a business pain point can be one of the best ways of jump-starting user adoption of SharePoint.

Our experience with SharePoint Vacation Planner taught us that sometimes you prefer to have someone else map SharePoint functionality on to business processes for you, rather than having to make that journey yourself.

All this made us think that you might welcome a ready to go SharePoint application that addresses one of the most common issues in any business: time tracking.

TeamTime has been built using a combination of out of the box SharePoint functionality and customized versions of our own web parts: PivotPoint and FilterPoint.  The development has provided us with some new challenges, particularly in the area of user interface design where we have had far more scope to express our creativity that we normally get when building components.  Could be dangerous!

Working our own components in to TeamTime has also given us a fresh perspective on them and some improvements have resulted – watch this space for a new version of FilterPoint.

We are now in the final stages of development and testing with TeamTime and the final version will be released very soon.

If you’d like to give it a whirl with our 30 day free trial then sign up here.

How to Create a SharePoint “Does Not Begin With” Filtered List View

Date:September 9th, 2011 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: Calculated Columns, Filter Comments:6 ;

Wonderful though SharePoint is most of the time, occasionally it just lets you down at the most unexpected moment.

So, last week, I wanted to look at a list of all of our sales that were not made to organizations in the USA.

Simple I thought, since all our sale reference numbers start with a 3 letter country code I shall just create a view for all records where Reference Number does not begin with “USA”

So, create a new view, off we go:

Oh dear, we have an option for “begins with” and “contains” but nothing for “does not begin with” or “does not contain”. How disappointing!

So, quick call to Ryan, the king of the calculated column, and we have a handy workaround which seemed worth sharing with you.

Create a calculated column using the following formula which will just display the first 3 letters of the reference code – call it something like “First 3 letters”.

=LEFT([Reference Number],3)

Then create a view with a filter:

WHERE “First 3 Letters” “Is not equal to” “USA”

Easy as that!

You can use this method to create a view for:

  • Does not begin with
  • Does not end with (using the RIGHT instead of LEFT function)

“Does not contain” is a tad more complicated but can be achieved by using the SEARCH function. So in our example

SEARCH("USA",[Reference #],1)

Will return the first position of USA in an entry in the Reference Number field, or an error if it can’t be found.

So combining this calculated column:

=ISERR(SEARCH("USA",[Reference #],1))

Which gives “Yes” where it returns an error ( “does not contain”) and “No” where “USA” is found, with a filtered view with shows only “Yes” results, will give you records which do not contain USA.

See our Calculated Column Cheat Sheet for these and other useful formulas.

Hope this helps, and if you have any suggestions for other calculated column ninja moves we would love to hear them.

SharePoint Staff Vacation Planner Update – dealing with Public Holidays

Date:September 1st, 2011 Author: Tags: , , , ,
Category: PivotPoint Web Part, SharePoint Planner, SharePoint Reminder Comments:0 ;

Customers who use our SharePoint Staff Vacation Planner Toolkit often ask about the best way to deal with public holidays.  Public Holidays tend to affect the whole team.  So you want them clearly marked on your Vacation Planner dashboard, but you certainly don’t want to have to enter each public holiday for each team member as a separate event.  And you probably also don’t want to be firing off absence approval requests for each holiday either.

So here are our suggestions on the best way of handling Public Holidays within the SharePoint Staff Vacation Planner Toolkit.

First you need modify your list.  Go to list settings and open up your “Reason” field.  In addition to your existing reasons for absence add a new reason – Public Holiday.

Then open up the settings for your “Requested By” column and make sure you have “Allow Multiple Selections” checked.

Now you need to modify your Planner web part.

So, “Edit Shared Web Part” then, under your “Category”  picker, check the “split multiple selections box”.  This is key if you want to be able to create just one event for each public holiday but have it show up against each of your team members.

Now go down to the Planner Colors section of the Toolpart and update your color coding by column section to include an extra color code for your new Reason for absence that you created in your list – Public Holiday – I am going for a nice orange.

Now check your PivotPoint web part. For this to work you are going to need PivotPoint 2.1.4 or above.  Download it here if you don’t have it already (free to all PivotPoint v2 customers, or v1 customers with Premium Support). In the Toolpart make sure that in the “Split Multiple Values” dropdown you have chosen “Split Records”.  This will ensure that when we enter a 1 day public holiday for 4th of July, for example, 1 day gets entered against each team member in the pivot table.

Finally, before we start adding events, to ensure that we don’t accidentally fire off approval requests and notifications all over the place, access the Reminder web parts that you have set up and in the “Reminder Testing”  section at the bottom of the Toolpart enter your own email address so that any emails generated whilst you are adding the public holidays go to you.  This will be a better solution than simply switching the Reminders off as you work, as it will mean that if any “real” requests are submitted whilst you are working you will be able to redirect them, rather than them being lost.

Add a Public Holiday

So, from your Planner dashboard add a new item.  Let’s do 4th July. Set it up as an all day event.  Set yourself as “approved by”, you will need to approve the event before it will show up in people’s dashboards.  Now add your whole team to the “Requested By” field.  It’s easiest to do this using the Address Book.  Now ensure you have selected “Public Holiday” in your Reason field.  Approve the request.  Discard all the “Request approved” notifications that are redirected through to you.  And now you will see your public holiday, nicely marked against each of your team members.  Repeat as needed for all of your other public holidays, remove the redirect from your Reminder emails and then you can relax for another year!

I hope this helps you in using Vacation Planner.  If you have any questions or requests about the Vacation Planner we would love to hear them.

PivotPoint for SharePoint – New version Released v2.1.5

Date:August 31st, 2011 Author: Tags:
Category: General, PivotPoint Web Part Comments:0 ;

Only last month we launched PivotPoint v2, which added charting and drill down to this popular SharePoint tool.

Now we are releasing v2.1.5 which has some pretty nifty new features added as a result of your feedback on v2.

Axis Minimum

You pointed out that when looking at a chart, if all of your values are bunched between say 90 and 100, viewing them on an axis that runs from 1 to 100 doesn’t make things all that easy to read.

So the new Axis Minimum option lets you choose where your axis starts (in the example above this would be 90) making charts that much easier to read.

Split Multiple Values

In PivotPoint v2 we had disabled the option of using a multi-choice column. We felt that in most circumstances this simply didn’t make sense as an option within a Pivot Chart or Table.  But you disagreed, so we put the option to work with multi-choice fields back in and we think we have come up with a way of making it more usable.
So for example, take a simple task list – where as you can see the “Present Proposal” task is assigned to multiple people – Barry and Fred.

In your Pivot Table or chart you can choose to either treat your multi-choice record as a single record, effectively creating a new category in the Pivot Table, like this:

Or you can choose to split the multi-choice record between all the choice categories (in this case people) in it, like this:

If you choose to split multiple choice records between their multiple parts the full value of the record is allocated to each of its choices.

This brings PivotPoint in to line with the way that SharePoint Planner works, so will be especially useful for people who use dashboards with both Planner and PivotPoint deployed, and will also be very useful for our Vacation Planner users – watch this space for an update on how this is going to help you.

Allow Custom Field Types

Custom fields can cause all sorts of trouble, so previously we had simply outlawed them in PivotPoint in an effort to try and keep things simple.  However quite a few of you have said you wanted to be able to use custom fields, so we have now allowed you to enable this feature.

Be warned though, not all types of custom field will work correctly in PivotPoint (depending on their design) and we won’t be able to provide support on 3rd party custom fields.

Full information on all of these changes can be found in the PivotPoint manual.

Getting the Latest Version

PivotPoint v2.1.5 is free to download for anyone who has previously purchased PivotPoint v2, or PivotPoint v1 plus Premium Support.

Existing customers can download the latest version here.  The new version can be installed directly over the top of the old, and you will retain all of your existing web part settings.

For those of you using PivotPoint on a 30 day free trial, you can upgrade to the new version here, your trial will continue and you will retain any web parts you have set up already.

We hope you find these new features useful and we would love to hear your feedback on them, or any other aspects of PivotPoint v2.

SharePoint Planner – New Version Release, every minute counts!

Date:August 25th, 2011 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, SharePoint Planner Comments:0 ;

We were recently contacted by a customer who was going to be responsible for organizing a visit from a Very, Very important person. The visit would only last a couple of hours, but would involve many people and needed to be planned down to the minute.

The client wanted an easy to use graphical representation of the project, in SharePoint, for everyone to refer to and update as the event progressed.

Let’s take a look at how the project might have looked in an out of the box calendar view:

Hmmm, don’t think that’s really giving us the kind of info we need.  We have 7 items here, scheduled over a 3 hour period from 12 noon to 3pm, items fall in to different categories and are assigned to different people.  We’re not really getting that from this view are we?

Actually, the view is quite misleading.  The first event “Close Streets to Traffic” looks as though it lasts for one hour from 12.00 to 13.00 right? Wrong, this is actually a 40 minute event, starting at 12 and finishing at 12.40.  This may not seem like a big deal but there are times when this kind of accuracy really matters – it’s easy to see how running 20 minutes late at a VIP event could lead to VIP tantrums!

So how about the out of the box Gantt Chart? OK, so we have access to a little more info on who is doing what, but now we can see nothing at all on timings.

We can zoom though, and this is what we get when we do maximum zoom.

Well it’s certainly an improvement, but it’s not great is it?  We are on maximum zoom here are it’s still quite difficult to see the detail of what’s happening when.

We thought we could do better.  So we added to SharePoint Planner the ability to set timescales to 10 or 15 minutes.  We think this gives a much clearer view for fast moving projects like this. Either in the classic Gantt view, most usually used for projects: Or in a category view for exactly what each of your team members should be doing at any one time:

The new 10 and 15 minute scheduling options allow you to schedule events more accurately and deploy resources more effectively.

This is a new feature in Planner version 2.6.6, so if you are using an older version of the software it would be worth upgrading now.

Or if you don’t yet use SharePoint Planner why not give it a try today with 30 day free trial?

SharePoint Highlighter – color coding date ranges based on [Today]

Date:August 17th, 2011 Author: Tags: , , ,
Category: General, Highlighter, SharePoint Ideas Comments:2 ;

It is sooo much easier to keep on top of your tasks if you can see at a glance what is due when.

Tasks Highlighted by due date


It’s easy to add this color coding to your SharePoint lists with SharePoint Highlighter in just a few clicks, but setting up the rules correctly is a bit of a mind-bender, so in this post we are going to show you how.

So above you can see:

  • Tasks due in less than 7 days highlighted in orange
  • Tasks due in 7-14 days highlighted in yellow.
  • Tasks due in more than 14 days highlighted in green.

So first add a Highlighter column to your list:

Give it a name – I’ve called mine “Due When”.

From the 3 Highlighting Styles choose Highlighting, and choose to Highlight Rows, though this method would work equally well with icons or cell highlighting.

As we are highlighting the whole row we don’t really need to see the actual Highlighter column, so choose to put this to the right of the view, out of the way.

If we were using Auto Setup Rules we would now base the Highlighter column on your Due Date column – this is where it would get its information from.  But what we want to do is a bit too complex for the Auto Setup, so you can leave this box blank and go straight to to the Advanced Rules – click Add Custom.

Scary!  Not really, we just need to think logically about when we are trying to achieve.

The main thing you need to remember is that Highlighter will apply the first rule it finds that is true.  Once it has applied one rule to a row, it will ignore all other rules.

So to get the Highlighting shown above we need this setup:

So, when Highlighter checks the list, first it checks to see if the item’s due date is less than 7 days after today, if it is Highlighter colors the row orange and moves on to check the next list item.  If this rule isn’t met Highlighter checks to see whether the item’s due date is less than 14 days after today, and so on.

It’s all a matter of getting your rules in the right order.  So for example, if we change the order of the rules so the 14 day rule comes first, like this:

This is what happens to the list:

As you can see we have lost our orange highlighting for items that are “Due in Less than 7 days”.  Because Due in less than 14 days is now at the top of our list of rules this is what Highlighter is checking for first, so it is missing the more urgent items.

It’s all about getting your rules in the right order, and as you can see, Highlighter gives you the ability to move items up and down the list with the up/down arrows, or insert or delete a rule at any point.

I hope this has helped to make sense of the advanced rules, and if you have any scenarios that you would like us to work through for you then we would love to hear from you.

Show Actual v Target Performance in SharePoint with PivotPoint web part.

Date:August 3rd, 2011 Author: Tags: , ,
Category: General Comments:0 ;

So we all like to know how we are doing – hitting our targets, meeting our KPI’s, staying within our budgets, running out of vacation days.

If you record things like this in SharePoint lists you would hope it would be easy enough to see how your actual performance compares to your targets, budgets or KPI’s.

Well for those of you who have Enterprise  and PerformancePoint it is possible – if not exactly a walk in the park –  but for the rest of us this can be a tricky task.   You need to find a way of bringing together 2 different sets of data:

  • Target or KPI – which is one item of data, which stays constant – no one likes a moving target do they?
  • and an “Actual” figure which is the sum of a number of list items – sales, purchases, leave bookings, whatever, and which will clearly change as list items are added and changed.

So if we were looking to compare Target and Actual sales for July, as in the chart above, the date would loook like this.  A list of sales items, which will grow as the month progresses, producing a changing Actual total,  and one Target item, which will stay the same throughout the month.

These two data sets would generally live in separate lists.  The way many KPI columns work is by getting you to manually enter – and manually update – your changing Actual total into your Target list.  Not great, as you never get to see how the situation is changing until you have done your manual update.

In a workaround for one of our PivotPoint customers we have turned this on method on its head – entering the static “Target” into the ~Actuals list (in this example the sales list) to allow you to produce a chart or table with our PivotPoint web part, which will show actuals vs targets and is updated as your actual data changes, without the need for manual intervention.

So here’s how.

Add a new column to your list.  Make it a choice column with the choices as “Actual” and “Target”.  Have it default to actual, as this is what the vast majority of items are going to be.

Then we simply enter a “Target” item for each category we want to compare.  So in this example I want to see actual vs target sales for each of my products. So I have entered a Target Sales item for each of my products for July.

As the month goes on my team will enter actual sales for July, which will (hopefully) start to stack up nicely against my target.

So to see how things are shaping up set up a PivotPoint, get it to watch the sales list, and in this case a “This Month” view of the sales list.  Display a Pivot Chart, in this case a column chart.

To see the actual sales vs target sales set it up like this:

  • Get your column data from the Actual/Target field.
  • Your Row data from the product field.
  • And your values from the Value field.

And you should end up with a nice column chart like the one above.

The best bit about this is that your chart will update as your list data changes.  So let’s say I get a really huge Planner order:

Woohoo – you can take that to the bank!

So, it’s not perfect, it’s a workaround, but some of you might find it useful.

Places you could use this would include:

  • Sales vs Target
  • Budget vs actual expenditure
  • Annual Vacation Allocation vs Vacation taken to date.

If you have any other ideas on where this might be useful we would love to hear them.

SharePoint Pivot Charts and Tables – Quick and Easy Video Demo

Date:July 15th, 2011 Author: Category: General, PivotPoint Web Part, SharePoint Ideas Comments:0 ;

It’s all too easy to say that a piece of software is “intuitive” or “Quick and Easy” to use. But what’s quick and easy for me could quite possibly be mind bogglingly slow and tricky for you.

So to show you just how quick and easy it really is to set up dynamic Pivot charts and tables in SharePoint using PivotPoint web part we have produced a 4 minute video demo which walks you through the set up.

The video:

  • walks you through setting up a pivot chart from SharePoint list data,
  • shows you how the chart or table you have created provides a drill-down to a filtered view of your list data, and
  • shows you how your charts and tables update dynamically as you list data changes.

Take a look and if you think you could make use of PivotPoint on your SharePoint site why not try it out with a 30 day free trial.