This blog post, is about a topic that seems to be as widely known, as it is unknown.

So, you are using Project Server (or Project Online), but not using Timesheets at all for logging progress and time tracking?

That is fine. While I am a fan of Timesheets, and really like the tracking ease it brings, I understand that not all organizations are not ready for using the ‘hours’ kind of tracking.

However, there is one feature of Timesheets that you can absolutely take advantage of, even if you do not use it for daily time tracking. That is the tracking of ‘Vacation’ (or other out-of-office) time.

The standard practice for tracking of resources’ out of office time without Project Server is to manually (or programmatically) enter exceptions on each of the resource calendar.

However. When using the timesheets for the same purpose:

  • You get an inbuilt approval system out of the box
  • An easy OOB reporting of planned vacation vs Actual Vacation
  • The non-working time also adds exceptions to the resource calendars, there by accurately moving dates in your organizations projects whenever someone goes on vacation.

In addition, the project manager cannot assign any NEW work during that time.

So, sold on the hypothesis here? Let’s see how we can set the timesheets up to just use them for vacation tracking. Here is a quick 3-step process for you:

Step 1: Basic Setup

Complete the Basic Set up activities like

Step 2: Non-Working Categories

Configure the Administrative Time only to contain Non-Working Time. See how to do it here: Set up the Non-Working Time Categories. Make sure you select ‘Approve’ check-box, if you want to enable approvals on the vacation requests. The approval requests will be sent to the Timesheet Manager you set up in the basic set up above.

Step 3: Set up Timesheet Settings

• Navigate to Server Settings >> Timesheet Settings
• Make sure the settings below are set as shown.

Step 4:  Change the name

Change the name on the quick launch from Timesheets to something users can easily understand. Something like Report Out-of-Office Time.
That’s it.
Once the above set up is complete, users can report ‘planned’ and ‘actual’ vacation on the Timesheet.
Using the Feature
  • Clicking on the Report Out-of-Office Time link will display the non-working time categories for the user.
  • Now to enter the ‘planned’ vacation, enter the hours on the ‘Planned’ row, and click Save. To send the hours for approval, click Send Progress for selected tasks. This will send the hours for approval to the timesheet manager that you set up for the resource.
  • Once this update is accepted, you will see that the resource’s timesheet is grayed out, indicating that the days/hours are non-working.
  • This also creates an exception on the Resource Availability.
  • This, in turn reschedules any scheduled work for those days, in any Project Schedules. This way, the project manager also is informed of the unavailability of the resource during that time.
  • Once the resource takes actual vacation, he/she can add the actual hours and send the final time sheet, for future vacation reporting.