by Lee Ellis Microsoft Dynamics Consultant

Microsoft Power Apps – Using Power Apps to log time

We understand time is of the essence when it comes to streamlining business administration tasks. Utilising automation tools such as Microsoft Power Apps can save you time and make business operations much more efficient and cost effective.

Logging time can be a tireless task for any busy professional. Our Microsoft Dynamics Consultancy team use Microsoft 365 Project Service Automation (PSA) to manage all projects, including time logging to track the profitability and progress of jobs. Project Service Automation manages the entire project lifecycle, from sale through to planning and execution, collating data from many sources, including time entries, expenses, contracts and invoices.

To further boost efficiency alongside PSA and improve the user experience, our development team have recently developed a Power App for team members to quickly and easily record their time entries. Much quicker in fact than the in-built feature of PSA.

One barrier with the time entry feature within Microsoft Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation is that the user must be signed in to Microsoft Dynamics 365 to log anything. This is not ideal if you are on the go or logged out.

Here is a screenshot of the Time Entry form within Dynamics 365 Project Service Automation. You will see there are several fields to complete and it’s not particularly user friendly.

We identified some improvements that we could incorporate into our Time Logging Power App to address the following areas:

  • It should be responsive on all mobile device screen sizes
  • All controls should have large easy to use finger friendly targets
  • Clear progress indication
  • Simple and quick to use with only the relevant fields
  • Shows an indication of current time entries

Design

After some experimentation with the form layout in Power Apps, we decided to replace most classic UI controls (such as combobox, dropdown and date picker as used in many timesheet apps) and make each selection control in a Gallery format.

Screenshot of the Gallery options in Power Apps form designer

Our design team felt that this layout gave us the most flexibility and best user experience. Allowing simple scrolling and selection of data items on a mobile with a single finger.

 

 

The Item Template also contains a pie chart indicating how much time has been entered for each day.

Progress bar:

We implemented a progress bar with a simple navigation between pages and shows a summary of the options they have selected.

This is also a Gallery control oriented horizontally and the state of the visuals is managed by a collection.

 

 

We have also aided user feedback by displaying a spinning logo while a record is being saved.

It is worth noting that Power Automate (formerly Flow) was not needed for any of the data transfer as we used the Patch function.

Our Time Logging Power App is now live and embedded within Microsoft Teams and easily accessible on a mobile device.

We have continued to gather user feedback on the application and made some tweaks along the way. Overall our team has reported the following.

  • Increased user satisfaction
  • The Power App is a pleasure to use compared to classic pick lists
  • Tests have shown the reduction in mouse events and usability improvement has resulted in a reduction of over 30% in overall data entry time.
  • Time entries are now being entered as users perform the work rather than being saved up for later, meaning more timely and more accurate data

There are potentially even greater improvements that could be made with auto navigation and advanced search features and applying some default entry logic but we’ll save that for phase 2.

User feedback:

  • “That’s an awesome app”
  • “Love what you have done here!”
  • “Loving it.  Nice and intuitive to use”
  • “Definitely an improvement on PSA!”

Here are some more screenshots of the complete application:

App Welcome screen

 

Select Date

 

Select Time

 

Select Project

 

Select Task

 

Select Type

Enter a description

 

We have also developed several other Microsoft Power Apps and have undertaken a Power Apps Hackathon. If you are interested in finding out more about implementing a Microsoft Power App for a process within your business please get in touch with our Power Apps consultancy team.