Employees on the shop floor now have task status while scanning barcodes, telling them how far long their tasks are, and when they are expected to end.
This is huge! (scroll down the to the video below)
This small “percent gauge” acts as a motivator to help employees move forward and finish up tasks. Each time you start a timer with a project task, you see a percent complete indicator that informs you of the status of your tasks. When it approaches 100% you know it’s time to clean up and move on to the next task. Lingering past 100% is a no-no.
But how else would you know, without this indicator.
Here’s a persistent problem project managers face: Their project schedules are obsolete within a week of completion. So what is your solution to that?
(scroll down for a video solution)
One solution is to get input from the boots on the ground. Get the actual employees doing the work to enter the tasks they are working on, and updating estimates. If you combine that with getting time and material “actuals” from employee timesheets, you have just about everything you need to fix this issue.
Getting input from the boots on the ground
Employees may not know the full strategic direction your project is going in, but they do know the tactical maneuvers to get things done. So let them have that input into your schedule. Let employees input their project tasks and update estimates based on their understanding of the conditions on the ground. That may be entirely different than your 30,000 foot birds-eye view.
Both perspectives help.
The video below shows how to sync project tasks with your timesheet, which lets employees on the ground have their input. Give it a watch, and let us know what you think!
The basics of time tracking for manufacturing are time and materials. But did you know that you can collect more? This video shows how. Scroll down to watch.
You’re probably already collecting time for employees on the shop floor for manufacturing and assembly. You scan a username and project, and that starts the timer. So you’re getting the basics. That’s good. Of course you can also scan a project task or category to gather a little more information that can be reported on later. Everything you collect is intelligence.
But there is also a technique for collecting user-defined items. The video describes scanning a building name, an assembly line, a product line, and details about your product. These are details Standard Time could never imagine. But you can set up the software to require these special scans. Employees must scan your special requirements before the timer will start. That means you’re guaranteed to get them.
Think about all the special things you might like to collect, right where the work is done. Now give the software a try. You’ll get some awesome time tracking metrics you may have never thought possible.
If you’re barcoding both time and materials for manufacturing, take a look at this video.
You’re going to see how you can track both time and expenses with a barcode scanner. First you’ll scan the project and task to start the timer. Next, you can scan expense templates that represent the materials or supplies being consumed on the job.
Expense templates are used to represent all the fields you want per-populated in each expense record. They have a name you can scan. That names shows up in the timesheet, with the quantities next to it. Just scan once for each item being consumed. The quantity will update each time. Then look in the Expenses tab to see all the records you are accumulating.
Scroll down for the video.
Now that you have both time and expenses for the manufacturing process, you know exactly:
Do you want the actual end-users of your MS Project plans to have input?
After all, what’s a project plan without input and adjustments from the boots on the ground? It’s static and lifeless. The project manager creates the plan, and minutes later it’s out of date. Why? Because the project manager doesn’t know the actual conditions on the ground. Only the actual employees know that. So you need their input.
This video describes getting input in the form of materials and costs that are synchronized with MS Project. Get a look below!
Information collected in your timesheet can double the value you get from it. Especially if you are only using the basics of client billing or employee payroll. Those things are great, but they are only half what you can get.
Check this video out.
Lingering behind your timesheet is a wealth of new information. It’s behind the “Project Tasks” tab. Your timesheet is feeding information to project tasks every time you enter hours or start a timer. And the information that is collected is completely free.
That is to say… completely free of managing computations like costs, percent complete, and budgets. For example: as soon as you receive an email notification that your project has reached 90% of its budget, you’ll understand “free.” You didn’t have to do anything to get that; it just happened for free.
There are actually three types of resources in MS Project
Work resource — human resource, or equipment rented by the hour
Material resource — consumable materials used on the job
Cost resource — misc. expenses used on the job
Building a Microsoft Project with resources is much more than just human resources. It’s more than just Jim and Bob assigned to tasks. There are other types of resources that all have costs impacting the project.
The video below shows all three resource types. Scroll down and watch.
Work resources are usually human beings. They have a standard rate for each hour of work. But Work resources could also be machines that cost you a certain amount to use for each hour. A trackhoe that costs you $10,000 per hour is a work resource. You assign it to a task for a specified number of hours. When the task is finished, you own $10,000 times the number of hours. Ouch!
Material resources are normally consumables. You use up these materials on the job. The video describes buckets of nails as an example. You use a certain number of buckets for each task. When the task is done, you have cost the project the number of buckets times the cost for each bucket.
Cost resources are miscellaneous expenses your project incurs. Add these to your project so you know the total cost, including all the items used.
It turns out that all these MS Project costs come down to Standard Time during synchronization. Not only do your tasks come down, but so do all the resources and their costs. Of course you can send actual work back up to MSP from your employee timesheet, which lets you compare estimates with actuals. But this video describes resource costs.
I don’t know how to get those pesky serial numbers to show up while barcoding! I need to track time to serial numbers on my widgets, but how? Where do the serial numbers show up in your time tracking app? Are they projects or tasks? How do I even start?
Start by watching the video! (scroll down)
Then, consider creating projects for serial numbers you’ll be scanning many times over a long period of time. Or, consider creating tasks for serial numbers you’ll only scan for a few days or weeks. It all depends on what the serial numbers and barcode labels represent.
In the end, you’ll get the same employee hours in the timesheet, and time logs in your reports. You’ll see how many hours each employee spends on your projects and tasks. You’ll see how much time was spent on each product. On each kind of work. On each step of the manufacturing process. All that information makes your process more efficient, and cost effective.
Here’s the basic process you will follow:
Scan an employee name
Scan a task name (representing a serial number on one of your widgets)
The timer will start
Perform the task
Scan username again
Scan the word STOP
That basic exchange collects a lot of information:
How long the employee worked
How long the project took to manufacture, assemble, box, and ship
How long each serial number took
How many times you touched the product
Who touched the product
When they touched the product
How much time you’re spending on each kind of work
Microsoft Project can automatically sync with Standard Time®. You set it and forget it!
Watch this video for the description of a little console app that syncs MPP files with your timesheet. You specify the input settings in a batch file or scheduler. The console app will run when instructed to do so. And when it does, it syncs the tasks and actual work with your timesheet.
The timesheet it works with is Standard Time. You’ll see the MS Project tasks down on your timesheet, and you’ll see employee hours up in the Task Usage view in MS Project. That sync will occur as many times each day as you want. Just put it on a scheduler and let it run.