Currently some staff use Microsoft Outlook Calendar to keep track of their appointments and record what they have done during the day. Everyone however eventually records their time into JournyX, our web-based SQL time keeping program.
I believe it may be desirable and possible to use Microsoft OutlookĂs Calendar as the front end or ˘input interface÷ for time keeping. Staff would enter their time in their own Outlook Calendars. This time would then be exported into another program for processing and report generation.
I understand the ˘appointment÷ form of Outlook Calendar can be customized. What I would like to see added to the appointment form is a box that will allow me to enter a four-digit ˘project number÷; a pull down box or radio buttons offering the choices of four or five possible ˘project states÷; and a similar listing for six or seven ˘project phases÷. IĂd also like to re-title some of the current headings. It is not necessary for this revised form to look-up project names from a central registry or even validate project numbers.
Once OutlookĂs default Appointment form is modified, I believe staff will then be able to record their time and provide all the needed information.
The second challenge with this scenario is how to export the appointment data from Outlook, for 12-15 people in the office, and then take that data and generate reports; all fairly easily.
The long and tedious method is as follows:
1. Each user can exports their appointment data using OutlookĂs export function. It is possible to export selected fields for a selected period of time, into a new Excel spreadsheet or Access data file. Every time the user exports Outlook data, however, he is confronted with all these choices, and if any one of the choices are incorrect, erroneous data is exported.
2. Someone must then take the exported files from each of the 12-15 users and manually merge the data into either one Access database or one Excel spreadsheet. Using Crystal Reports, as an example, it is only then possible to generate a payroll report for staff.
3. This is a tedious process that would reoccur every one or two weeks.
Is there a way to automate this process? Perhaps an icon on everyoneĂs desktop that when clicked, asks for a range of dates, and once entered, the data is ADDED to a central file. Better yet, is it possible to access the Exchange database directly so there is no need to export any data at all; instead you would run Crystal Reports (or similar) straight from the data whenever you liked? (My research tells me however that Cyrstal Reports can only access one user's Outlook data at a time and then only if CR is installed on that user's machine.)
To complicate matters, not all 12-15 people will be ready to export their data at the same time. Some people will religiously have all their time data entered no latter than every second Wednesday; others may not enter their time data for weeks on end. Also, one of the concerns I would have with exporting any data is the possibility that someone may accidentally export the same data twice or export the same dates twice even if the data has changed.
Can Outlook Calendar be used for time keeping in the manner I envisage? If so, are you able to do the necessary programming, etc. for it to work, and if so, what would the cost be, and how long would it take to install and tweak?