Recently we rolled out Cross Application Timesheets (CATS) based on the WebdynPro ABAP interface. Our intention was to pilot this for a small group of users to understand the impact, gather feedback and fine tune before we rollout to bigger group. We also decided to go with out of the box functionality as much as possible
We offered limited training with an assumption that users will use it as we intended it, our users proved us wrong within first few days of the go-live. We did underestimate childlike curiosity of some of the users which forced us to spend quality time analyzing things as simple as settings.
WDA Time entry page comes with several features to fine tune look and feel of own timesheet. Some of the users changed so many things at the same time that time entry page started looking and behaving crazy
Though most of these are simple and easy to explore, it wouldn't hurt to get a job aid like document to start with. So here goes our findings…
Its starts with settings button on the top right of the time entry page.
System displays overview of the personal settings options available
You can make changes, apply them and it will be reflected immediately on the time entry page once you press Apply and OK button. If you want the changes to be permanent, you should create a view and save changes to the view. Otherwise, changes you have made will be reset when you re-launch the time sheet.
For the first time, a view can be saved by choosing the button Save As. It should be displayed as shown below. You could have more than one view. Default view can be selected by the check box Initial View.
Settings you can configure are categorized into 3 tabs as shown below in 1) Column Selection 2) Sort 3) Display
Column Selection lets you choose and re-arrange the columns on the time entry page.
- Hide the columns you don't use at all. For ex, all you normally enter is absence without any accounting information, you can remove all accounting related columns to free up some real estate for better screen layout
- Rearrange Columns. You could arrange column as per personal preference. System does control some of the columns for example; column for Delete or the Date columns cannot be changed. If you try to change those columns, you will see a warning as shown below
- Freeze Columns. You can fix / freeze columns using the drop down for Columns fixed to left. This is similar to the freeze functionality in Microsoft excel. Few best practices specific to this functionality
- If you plan to hide / rearrange columns, do all of those changes before fixing the columns
- Do not fix too many columns. When you do that, there is limited space for rest of the columns
- Maintain consistent column height for heading (First row of the table). If you have columns of varying height (3 words vs. 2 words heading) in the frozen column set vs. rest of the columns, when you move back and forth, screen has a flickering effect which is annoying.
- Fixing column has an impact on property to set visible columns (will be discussed shortly). Visible column will be set after allocating space for the columns which are frozen. So when both functionalities are used in tandem, it has a unique effect
- Includes all columns (not just editable) including system controlled columns like delete. So specify correct number of columns to be fixed
Second tab has options to specify the Sort order as per individual needs
User could choose list of columns based on which the result set needs to be sorted. For each column, option to choose ascending or descending is available.
Note that sorting is inclusive of the blank rows. So if you setup ascending sort on Activity type, you will see 6 empty lines on the top followed by the rows where you have data.
Setting up sort should be done carefully. System tries to sort the records while data entry is in progress which will confuse and irritate end users. For ex, when you enter accounting entries, choose attendance type and tab out to enter hours, the whole rows is moved to the bottom of the table (with Activity type and Rec Order in Ascending Order).
Third table for Display control has the following options
Display Rows : Fixes the number of visible rows to the number specified
Display Columns : You can set value as all or a specific number. When you set a specific number, that many columns are displayed and for the remaining you have to scroll horizontally to the right.
When you use specific value for display column along with columns to be fixed to left, the display columns are shown after fixing the number of columns to the left. So total visible columns in this case will be Total fixed columns + number you have set up for display column
If you want to display 10 columns out of which 4 needs to be fixed to the left, you should choose number of columns to be fixed as 4 and display columns as 6
Table design has values like Standard, Alternating and Transparent. Alternating is applicable only for read only tables. So pretty much it is unusable for Time Entry screen.
Grid Lines: Similar to setting up the borders for a cell in excel, you can choose all, none, columns only (vertical) or rows only (horizontal) options to choose. For ex, column only table will look like this
One of the biggest challenges (biggest irritation from end users) is how system auto adjusts the whole table when a user tries to adjust the column width. After all the trial and error, I couldn't find a one size fit all solution but these are some of the recommendations I could think of
- Assess the list of columns offered and determine the ones that you don't use frequently. These are the candidates to be hidden to free up some real estate
- Re-arrange the columns if there is a specific preference.
- Set up columns to be fixed to left. After first two steps, if all columns are visible with enough space, it would be better not to use this feature.
- Set up number of display columns if you do not want all columns to be displayed at once
- Start adjusting the columns. This could be very confusing and tedious. Space gained will be used somewhere you did not expect. You could start from right and work through columns once done, rearrange specific columns until it is most appropriate.
- At the end, go to settings and save the recent changes to layout.
Without doubt, WDA interface has improved time entry process compared to earlier versions but there are always things to improve. Overall, feedbacks are very positive and encouraging from end users.
Happy Time Entry!!