Problem: I need to report work that I’ve done to managers and the program office staff that I support. I also need to manage a large portfolio of active projects.
Solution: Built a database that tracks my daily activity by project and then automatically generates various types of reports to meet monthly and annual reporting requirements
Results:
  • I have personally used this database for 8 years
  • I demonstrated the functionality of the database to my work colleagues and received > 40 requests for a copy of the database.
Status: In Active Use
Skills Used: Microsoft Access; relational databases
Languages Used: Visual Basic for Applications (VBA)

My very first day at BLS, I built a simple Microsoft Access database to keep track of my daily hours so that I could fill in my timesheet every two weeks. After a couple weeks, I added the ability to track what I was doing each day so that I could look back through those activities when I wrote my monthly activity report for my supervisor. After several months of that, I decided I was done spending an hour and a half each month typing up my monthly activity report so I retooled the database so that it also tracked my projects and I was able to generate the report with the click of a button. I can now tell my boss that I spent 34.5 hours working on Project A and 23 hours working on Project B this month.

Over the years, this database has grown to take on a number of other tasks; the most important of which is maintaining information on all of my active projects. At any given time, I might be working on 10-20 projects though activity on those projects can ebb and flow. My work database helps me manage all of the timelines and deliverables. It also serves as my memory when it comes time for annual reporting.  Project tracking has also allowed me to give stakeholders realistic estimates of how long a project will take by searching for projects of similar scope that I’ve worked on in the past.

The database is a bit idiosyncratic. Much of the content is hardcoded for me and the types of projects I work on. I recently demonstrated the database for my colleagues at “work hack” day at BLS and I received more than 40 requests for copies of the database. I build in some features that allow for customization, but sent out the database. I am not sure how many of those people actively use the database, but I talked to at least one person who adapted the database into an office-wide project tracking database.

      

Daily Activity Tracking                                                                     Monthly Report

     

Work Metrics                                                                       Project Gaant Chart                     

 

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