Engineers Follow Projects

Manufacturing and design engineers are some of the primary users of Standard Time®. Hopefully, this little video will help inspire you to give it a try. Download a trial once you’ve had a look. And let us know your thoughts. We’d like to hear from you.

Assembly Line Work Order Tracking

How do your manufacturing managers know which orders are running on which assembly lines? Got software for that? Yeah? Then you’re good to go!

Software to track orders in manufacturing is called an MRP. What’s an MRP?

An MRP is a manufacturing resource planner. It is used to plan and schedule resources like assembly lines, equipment, materials, and even human resources. I.e. employees.

Standard Time® is an MRP. It tracks projects and orders on assembly lines. Or, if you don’t have assembly lines it tracks orders through your manufacturing facility. Find out where each order is, what status it is in right now, and how much work is left to go.

Watch the video and then give it a try.

Key Performance Indicators in Mfg

Manufacturing Key Performance Indicators (KPI) are custom calculations that are meaningful to your organization, and signify a position of success. In other words, when you view the results of your calculations, you’re looking for results that tell you you have either failed or succeeded.

Example: Avg Work Order hours: 38
Failed: Above 40
Success: Below 35

In this example, you’re somewhere in between failure and success. You are averaging 38 hours to build the average work order. Anything above 40 hours (in this example) is unsustainable. Anything below 35 hours is great! But in all likeliness, you may have a few bad samples that are skewing the results. So, you’re probably good. But still, it’s time to dig in and find out what’s going on. Which projects are taking so much time? Which employees had a hard time completing the jobs? What circumstances led to the “above 35” results? Maybe it’s an anomaly, or maybe it’s real. You won’t know until you dig into the actual time logs to find out.

Microsoft® Excel® is a good tool to calculate manufacturing KPI’s. You can bring your time tracking data in from Standard Time® and compute the exact success/fail scenarios that are meaningful to you.

It turns out that you can also use scripting in Standard Time to compute KPI’s to be displayed on the Work In Progress screen. (That’s a big display that shows the status of every project on the shop floor.) You custom KPI computations will display next to each job on the big WIP screen. You’ll be able to look up on the big screen and see if you’re achieving success on each job.

The video below describes the basics of manufacturing key performance indicators. Watch it for inspiration and a starting point. The next step might be to download Standard Time, and get started. And then we’ll help you get where you want to be.

Talk to you after the video!


Timesheet Hours in Excel

“You can’t use a timesheet and a spreadsheet together!” That used to be the old saying…

Not anymore. (see video below)

Timesheets and spreadsheets have finally made up. They’re friends again with the new Excel® Add-on named XLST. XLST pulls timesheet data directly from your Standard Time timesheet and puts it into your Excel spreadsheet. This video shows how. Essentially, you’re using Excel formulas to query the ST database, and putting the results into cells. Each cell uses one formula. The results of that formula come from the ST database. You supply parameters for each cell formula, which results in different data for each cell.

For example: Cell A1 might use employee ‘Buzz’ while A2 might use ‘Fred’. Since you’re supplying different data to the same formula, the results will change. That means you can build tables of data in a spreadsheet. Use those cells for pivot tables in Excel.

The data is always hot. You simply open the Excel spreadsheet and the Add-on pulls data in from the Standard Time database.

Go ahead and take a look at the video. It’s pretty nice.


Work order and shop floor status

Need up-to-the-minute status on all your projects, jobs, and work orders? What if you had a screen like those airport departure and arrival screens that showed your jobs?

That would be cool!

Well, here it is. This screen updates every 15 seconds, and displays the current status of all your jobs that have activity in the last thirty days. You see who performed the work, when it was performed, and the current status of each job.

Let’s say you’ve got a crew out in the field with Android’s. They are syncing time and materials used on the job. Those synchronizations could occur any time. So, this screen updates constantly, every fifteen seconds to show the latest status.

Or, let’s say you have a shop floor with barcode scanners and RFID. Workers are constantly scanning and entering time and materials used on the shop floor. This airport screen shows the status of every work order on the shop floor.

Or, let’s say you have an engineering shop with engineers entering hours against projects. Want the latest status? You get the idea. This screen does it.

Take a look at the video and let us know what you think!


Track Time for Engineering Projects

Engineers undertake the biggest projects in modern times. Don’t be caught using a spreadsheet keeping track of your time.  Sure, spreadsheets are nice; they calculate and organize every kind of engineering data imaginable. But we have to draw the line when it comes to entering engineering hours against project. They just don’t work. Here’s why:

  1. When you track engineering time in a spreadsheet, it’s usually only one person. That person becomes a bottleneck. They get weary of the job and make mistakes. There are time tracking apps for this work, which decentralize and collect time where and when it actually occurs. That makes the hours more accurate and more granular
  2. When that one person enters employ hours, they have to find a spot to put them. If there isn’t an appropriate task for the work, they make things up. Why not let the actual employees create their own tasks and enter the correct hours for them. Making stuff up never helped anyone.
  3. Spreadsheets have some pretty cool graphs. But they can’t run complex routines that build the kinds of graphs you need in engineering project management. Instead, you just get summations and statistics. Those are helpful, but maybe not exactly what you’re looking for.

Engineering Directors Dream

Don’t wake me up I’m having a great dream! All the engineers are getting Standard Time®.

See the dream below………

That’s an awesome dream for the engineering director. She’s getting a timesheet on every desk to track engineering hours. She can use that to compare actuals with estimates. That alone is valuable because project schedules without actuals are not so great schedules (real actuals, coming from real employees, that is). Forget about copying down what somebody said they worked, and typing them into the ‘Actual work’ field. That’s almost as bad as no actuals at all.

But in this awesome dream, the engineering director sees employees closing out tasks they’re finished with. It’s hard to say just how great that little advantage is. That small thing informs project managers that tasks can be set aside and not worried about anymore. Communication in any form is wonderful. But this really helps the PM keep track of stuff.

Here’s the cool thing about this director’s dream: It goes beyond just the engineering team. You have PTO and vacation tracking for the HR folks. And you’ve got reporting for the executives. Hey, that’s sounding an awful lot like an enterprise project timesheet.

Tell us your dream!

Interview: Five Timesheet Features

Project tasks, graphical timesheet, track expenses, client invoicing and time off accruals. Five favorite features available in Standard Time®.

Scroll down for the video.

This product is more than a timesheet.  It is more than a project management app.  In fact, there is enough here to run a good portion of your business.  That is, if your business is engineering, manufacturing, or consulting.

Start by jumping into project tasks.  Build projects that represent your client jobs.  The tasks will show up in employee timesheet.  Track hours to them with the graphical timesheet, or spreadsheet-style interface.  Track expenses to those same projects.  Add your mileage and vehicles.  When you’re done, invoice your clients, all within the same software.

Did I forget project proposals?  Or project revenue estimates?  Or resource allocation?  Yep, sure did… but that’s for another day.  🙂

Actually, it doesn’t end there.  Employees can enter time off and PTO requests.  When their vacation or personal or sick time is approved, those hours are subtracted from their bank.  But… wait a few weeks, and those hours are automatically replenished by the time off accural mechanism.  Now you’re ready for some more time off!

Take a look here.

Engineering director gets a mentor

Why does this engineering director consider changing careers?

Engineering is a hard discipline.  And this engineering director has hit a brick wall.

Enjoy the lighter side of project management!  🙂

This poor guy has hit a brick wall and has turned to an unlikely source for advice.  He learns that Standard Time® is his answer.  Even drug dealers knows that!  But if he can’t make it work, then maybe a change of profession is in his future.

Seriously… Standard Time is a pretty good engineering timesheet.  It’s built with engineering tasks and project tracking in mind.  Project managers can see their project status at a glance.  They see employee task assignments… resource allocation… and employee availability.  Need to find resources based on skill?  Or resources that can fill a certain role?  Easy.  That is why engineering groups prefer Standard Time.

Here’s a great engineering timesheet video.

There are no big problems; there are just a lot of little problems.

There are no big problems; there are just a lot of little problems.

— Henry Ford

Henry Ford was the genius of the 20th Century assembly line.  He almost singlehandedly designed the Model T and Model A Fords.  Those two cars were the workhorses of the early 1900’s.  So when Henry speaks of “little problems” he’s talking about inventing the entire automobile industry.  But that’s big enough for anyone.

His point, though, is that in engineering you have dozens of little issues to deal with.  And they stay with you indefinitely.  In other words, engineering is a constant fight with little problems that you must work out with patience and perseverance.  If you don’t have the aptitude, don’t get into engineering!

1. One of the biggest problems engineering people have is balancing quality with cost.  Any engineer can tackle the myriad of little problems before them.  But can they do it cost effectively?  In other words, does it take forever to solve them, thus costing a fortune?  Or can they resolve each one rapidly and without expensive solutions.  The balance between polishing your work in a craftsmanship style, and pumping product after product out the door is a big, big problem that requires a lot of thought.

2. The next biggest problem engineers face is collateral damage from engineering fixes.  I.e. bugs.  Here’s an example: Say you are an electrical engineer designing a printed circuit board.  And in your haste to produce a cost effective product, you forget a circuit trace.  The manufacturing department is now forced to hand-wire that trace.  It now costs your company much more in the long run.  That’s a bug that must be retooled.  Things like that happen in every engineering discipline.  It’s definitely the next biggest problem you must face.

3. The final big problem engineers face is time estimates and project schedules.  Engineers do not think like other human beings.  They cannot estimate time with any degree of accuracy.  And they do not like being interrogated about how long their work will take.  You’ll just have to wait until it’s done, they’ll say.  I’m working as fast as I can.  Problem is, big money is riding on their engineering work.  Sometimes the company just can’t wait.  It the engineer that has to hurry up and product the product on the company’s timeline.  And that can lead to big battles.  So this is a fairly big problem facing engineering departments and company executives.

And then after those three, there are just a lot of little problems.  🙂