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Time & Invoicing Application

Time & Invoicing Application


his is application aimed at staffing agencies that provide consultants on contract basis. The proposed model is that of "Application service provider" with emphasis on self service as much as possible. In this model, the client will maintain its hosting server with an enterprise class database and accounts get created for agencies that opt for this solution.


The application will be hosted either at a data center / ISP or at a server within the CLIENT office premises. SSL certificate must be installed on server as clients will want to be assured that their data is safe and secure. The application is aimed at staffing agencies that place consultants of various skills in various companies. These agencies have sales people (referred as Account Rep in this proposal) who convince the clients to use the service and get approved orders / requirements for consultants with specific required skills. The agency has a set of recruiters who either maintain a pool of consultants or hire consultants based on requirements provided by account reps. Hence, the requirement of any client is met by placing the required number of consultants at client premises. These consultants must fill a timesheet and get it approved by client manager or representative who is typically an internal employee of Client Company but could be an external consultant too. Agencies can bill the clients based on approved timesheets. The key pain in this process is the huge amount of back and forth communication needed and delays / errors that arise from a manual process.

Technology Architecture

The proposed application will be programmed in web architecture using ASP.Net 2.0 (with C#.Net or VB.Net as language) and MS SQL Server 2005 as RDBMS. Application architecture will be centralized for easy manageability. Application will be optimized for Internet Explorer 6+ but HTML 4 compliance will be preserved to ensure cross browser compatibility with other common browsers like Firefox and Netscape Navigator. SSL Certificate will be implemented to keep credit card info secure.

The .NET Framework 2.0 is Microsoft's managed code programming model and runtime for building applications on the Windows platform. Visual Studio is the professional development environment for building these applications. Together, Visual Studio 2005 and the .NET Framework 2.0 are designed to improve developer productivity and increase application reliability and security by providing a fully managed application environment. Cross browser compatibility is largely ensured through use of XHTML 1.0 and HTML 4 compliance. All application testing will be done in Firefox which has a more restrictive implementation of HTML / JavaScript and this ensures that it runs well in IE browsers too. Any cross browser issues will be debugged if they arise during module testing. Optimistic locking will be used in database operations to improve concurrent user performance. Extensive use of stored procedures will ease network traffic and database performance.

Target Audience

The proposed application is aimed at solving the problem areas faced by agencies as described above without requiring them to make expensive investments in IT and application infrastructure. The charges are on pay per use or rental basis which is very affordable for agencies. Option of electronic approval of timesheets using digital signatures has been proposed to eliminate the need for manual faxes / scanning / e-mails / snail mail in approval process. The list of user types is as follows and we have given a very quick definition of each user type.

  1. Site Visitors - Anybody who visits the home page of the site but does not have the right to login
  2. Agency Manager - Owner or administrator of the staffing agency that has paid to get a login account
  3. Consultant - A person who is on payroll of the staffing agency and works for a client on behalf of the agency. A consultant may work for more than one client at any point of time. A consultant submits timesheets based on work done for each client and co-ordinates for manual / electronic approval of these timesheets
  4. Client Approver - This person is a client employee or an external agent appointed by client to approve timesheets of consultants who work on projects associated with that client
  5. Account Rep - This person is a sales representative who gets client orders and manages the relationships with clients in terms of making consultants available as per needs and co-ordination with recruiters and finance users.
  6. Recruiter - This person may or may not be an employee of the agency and maintains a pool of consultants with some on the bench if needed, to provide for the requirements of clients indicated by account reps.
  7. Finance User - This person is an employee of the agency and co-ordinates with all concerned personnel to get payments as per approved timesheets of consultants
  8. Admin User - This person is either n employee of CLIENT or an appointed agent and is given limited access rights in admin panel to control and monitor various site activities
  9. Site Admin - This person is the overall owner of the application and all full rights on every single feature in the application.

Scope of Work

In this analysis, we have described how the process works and the role of different user types. This list of features is an excerpt from our service framework.

  1. There is a home page of the website where a site visitor lands and can read some informational pages about the service, featured news and terms of use
  2. Site Visitor can submit a query to CLIENT using a contact form
  3. If the site visitor is interested to create an account, they get a 2-3 step wizard, where they specify their profile and contact information and pay for the service.
  4. The CLIENT site admin can create some limited access rights account for some CLIENT employees to control the various activities using an admin panel. We have called such users as admin users.
  5. Admin user will get a notification or alert with a flag stating that a new agency has created an account. This admin user can review the agency information and approve the account
  6. Agency managers can also choose the "Invoice Me" option where the site admin bills and receives payment from agency manager in an offline manual process. Site admin will approve the agency account after payment is received. If the Agency Manager uses the "Invoice Me" option their site will be created but be held in the "pending" state until approved by an Admin or System Admin. If the agency pays for their 3-6-12 Month subscription up front or enters a valid code for Free initial service then their virtual site will be functional and active immediately upon completion of the Wizard.
  7. Upon approval the agency manager who registered on the site will get an alert saying that they can now get started and there will be link in the e-mail to click and login. Agency Login link is also put in header navigation of main site for convenience. The default homepage of the Agency Virtual Site is only a login page with option to Login, Close the Window or "Forgotten Password". The email notification of the Activated Site will include the HTML code and instructions that the Agency can Embed into their own Agency web page to allow users to login directly from the agency web site and depending upon the class of user they will see the appropriate startup page for Agency Manager, Account Reps, Recruiter or Consultant.
  8. Agency manager can now login and land on the account page, where the following types of users can be created and agency manager gets a shadow login with full rights to login on behalf of any user
  9. Agency Managers can use a CMT tool to update the content of the landing page for the agency. This is the page all users will see before they click on the login link in the top header navigation of the page.
  10. The list of users that the agency manager can create is as follows:
    1. Account Reps
    2. Recruiters
    3. Consultants
    4. Finance Users
    5. Client Approvers
  11. Barring client approvers, all the other 4 users can be directly created and get an e-mail with login information
  12. Client approvers are external people who are not employees of the agency. These people are typically employees of clients or an agent appointed by client. Their job is to approve the timesheets that are submitted by consultants.
  13. The request to allow electronic approval of timesheets in done on a "per-project" basis. And that request can come from the Agency Manager, Account Manager or Recruiter once the Client and Project have been setup and a Consultant has been assigned to the project. Upon confirmation of the client approver, the agency manager enables the flag for electronic approval of timesheet by the specific client approver for a specific list of projects. In case the client approver is not comfortable with electronic approval, then the approval process is offline and the workflow is outside this application, except the final stage, where the finance user upon receiving the faxed copy of approved timesheet, will flag the timesheet as approved for all to see. In the balance description of process, we have assumed that electronic approval is confirmed and agreed by client approver.
  14. Agency Managers can use a grid interfaces with add / update / delete / deactivate rights to manage the following entities:
    1. List of clients
    2. List of projects for each client
    3. List of consultants allocated to any project
    4. List of client approvers associated with any project
    5. List of consultants associated with any recruiter
    6. List of projects associated with any account rep
  15. Each recruiter will have access to records of a set of consultants that he / she provided. Recruiters can Add/Edit/Delete Consultant information but they cannot assign them to projects. This can only be done by Account Reps or Agency Managers. The only action they can take is to use a message board for exchanging messages with consultants, finance users and account reps for any specific timesheet related to a consultant under their purview.
  16. Each account rep will have access to records pertaining to clients or projects assigned to that account rep. Account Reps can create and manage clients, projects and associated consultants / recruiters. Account Reps can also exchange messages with any consultant, client approver, finance user or recruiter using a message board for any timesheet related to projects assigned to them
  17. Finance user can see all timesheets of consultants and can update approval status. They can exchange messages using a separate message board with consultant, account rep, client approver and recruiter for any timesheet
  18. Each Consultant can create own timesheet for a date range and submit for approval to client approver. Consultant can exchange messages using a message board with account rep, client approver, finance user and recruiter for any timesheet.
  19. If electronic approval is enabled, the timesheet goes to a client approver who uses a grid interface to approve or reject or hold any timesheet.
  20. Client approver can also use a message board to exchange messages with consultant, account rep or finance user for a particular timesheet
  21. Upon final approval, the finance user can mark the status of timesheet as approved or paid. This updated status is seen by all related users with access rights for that project / consultants. Finance User can export timesheet information by Status, Date, Consultant, Project or Client. This export will be either Comma Delimited File or direct export to MS Excel if it is loaded on the Finance Users local computer.
  22. There are e-mail and application alerts for each action in the workflow. This alert always has the action link
  23. There are default settings that define the initial starting values for timesheets like working days and timings
  24. There is a notes box for each timesheet
  25. There is an access rights form where the default actions defined for each user can be modified by agency manager.
  26. Agency manager will have a shadow login and full rights to all actions all grid interfaces related to the agency
  27. Agency manager can login and renew subscription using a credit card payment or Paypal (we have assumed that e-check payment integration is not in Phase 1 scope)
  28. Agency Manager can report system errors to admin users who can see them in helpdesk section
  29. Agency Managers gets a report wizard to specify parameter selections / filters and get the following reports:
    1. List of Users classified / filtered by type / project / client
    2. List of payments by date range
    3. List of timesheets by status and date range / month / year
  30. The site admin is the super user with all rights to grid interfaces of all agencies. Site admin can delegate selective rights to admin users
  31. Admin users can view the enquiries from contact page in a paginated grid and can reply those queries besides users filters like date range and status to manage this grid
  32. Management rights of CLIENT admin include:
    1. Manage Admin users and their access rights
    2. Manage the content of informational sections on the home page using a CMT editor
    3. Sites Console that shows Virtual Sites, Active Sites, Pending Sites, Total Number of Users, Active users
    4. Finance console that shows type of account billing, fees collected to date, length of subscription, and remaining amount to be billed
    5. Suggestion box where the entries can be replied and managed in a grid. Message board support will be providedM
    6. Helpdesk section with paginated grid interface to respond to complaints about system errors. Message board support will be provided
    7. Setup notifications using an array of checkboxes