Microsoft Outlook Timesheet Integration
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Microsoft Outlook Timesheet Integration Tracking

1 THE TASK
A Tampa, US based company desired integration between the MS Outlook 2010 Calendar and Enterprise Timesheet input. The feature was required to facilitate MS Outlook 2010 centric users the opportunity to work with familiar tools and to move the project / time information from an outlook appointment to an existing timesheet in Enterprise Timesheet by a synchronization process. The enhancement is to be deployed as an optional, stand-alone Add-In that extends MS Outlook 2010 functionality.
2 THE CHALLENGES
During the server-side installation/upgrade of the Office Add-in by a System Administrator, the System Administrator would be prompted to provide the configuration details which the Add-in will need for communication with the Client Wrapper service and for launching the Client Enterprise Application (import WBS and other details feature). Any further changes to the configuration details can be done only manually by the System Administrator in the physical configuration file created during installation/upgrade. Changes to the configuration details should NOT require uninstall/reinstall of the MS Outlook Add-in Client (i.e., each Client Add-in should read the configuration details from the same physical configuration file centrally located).
   
The deployment of the solution would be provided as a standalone and automated installation package which would be separate from the Client installation package. This installation package for the MS Outlook Add-in Client would be contained in the Office Add-in Click Once installation folder, and if the Click Once Package is put in a central location such as a network share, it would facilitate the distribution and deployment of the Office Add-in within the network.
   
If the Timesheet add-in is installed on the client workstation, it shall attempt to connect to the Client database immediately upon opening Outlook. A successful connection shall be indicated in Client tool bar.
3 THE SOLUTION
The Solution provides planning of employee schedules in accordance with their workload with in-depth information on time spent on various activities and timely submissions of timesheets thereby improving productivity of employees and making their work life a lot easier. The following are the major benefits the solution provides through its functionalities:
   
When the client creates an appointment / meeting in the MS Outlook, the same appointments / meeting details listed are sent to his/her Timesheet, if the user is an employee.
   
The client has options to change display, fill and send the Timesheet data for unscheduled time for each working day, create a multiday or recurring appointment and enter time data, share the Timesheet data with appointment recipients.
   
There are features like Find Control / dynamic search, recording overtime hours in Timesheet data, create zero time appointments, set the display options for the update Timesheet grid by selecting/deselecting, ordering and/or sorting the columns
   
User can create new appointments and could view and edit the data of those appointments in disconnected mode. Once connected this data shall be validated and saved in client Enterprise database.
   
The solution is compatible with the MS Outlook 2010 or higher, and enables Client side trace logging capabilities for all the activities that are being performed between the user's MS Outlook and the BST Enterprise Timesheet input.
   
The solution is architected to support localization during and post installation by creating resource bundles for the languages under the current scope.
   
The deployment mechanism also incorporates the automatic installation of the .NET Framework, .NET Programmability support and Visual Studio Tools for Office runtime through external sources if not located in the user's system.
   
The client's Add-in can be installed on a standard user security and UAC On desktop configuration.
   
The solution adheres to the Microsoft Office System User Interface Design Guidelines as well as the Windows 7 Style guide when opening a window or a dialog.
 
4 THE RESULT
The client has successfully implemented the MS Outlook – Client Timesheet Input Integration that helps them accomplish his activities to view Timesheet, assign data to appointment for subsequent submittal to Timesheet through Outlook Calendar. The solution also takes into consideration Quality attributes like security and validation, reliability of backup and error handling, user preference centric interface, easy maintainability and efficient performance while maintaining data integrity.
Case Study: Timesheet/MS Outlook Integration
MS outlook Timesheet
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