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Project Timesheet Activities

Your project timesheet includes numerous activities grouped into broad categories, into which you are to allocate and report your time spent on 2.009.

To aid you in deciding under which activity you should report your time, please refer to the chart below that describes the timesheet categories. At the bottom of the page, there are also examples based on questions we have received.

As a general rule, your time should be allocated to the activity which most precisely describes the nature of the activity. The activities are intended to be distinct (non-overlapping) and clear.

If you have suggestions, questions, or comments about the activities, let us know. You can talk to any course instructor or TA or send email to the 2009sysadmin mailing list.

Category/activity Mouse-over description Other examples
identifying design problems time spent choosing the general problem(s) that your project will address, or finding specific problems with your design or a competitor's product
generating design concepts time spent on generating concepts by brainstorming out loud, by sketching, and by writing down ideas
selecting design concepts or details time spent determining which idea(s) to adopt or what approach(es) to take in order to solve a problem Pugh charts, discussions of pro/cons of options, voting
sketching ideas time spent sketching out details of what an idea might look like or how it might work; excludes brainstorming
CAD modeling specify part and program used
writing about your project including writing in your design notebook and documenting the design on the wiki; excludes purely administrative writing
analyzing or calculating including estimations, detailed calculations, and analytical modeling
conducting focus groups with users
observing in the field includes observing people (users) or places
communicating in other ways with users/clients
researching the market time spent determining which companies are players/competitors in the market and information about potential customers
benchmarking/looking at competitive products including finding related products, studying them, and comparing them product teardowns, reading product literature
searching/reviewing patents discussing patents
searching/reviewing non-patent product-related literature including research on sub-parts of your project (e.g., what material or motor to use); may include the web, textbooks, journals, newspapers, video reading about technologies used in products
searching/reviewing design/industrial design/technique-related literature reading course textbook, watching tutorials on how to draw or finish parts
procuring materials finding options for things that need to be sourced, finding where to purchase materials, and purchasing materials reading specifications for different motor options
fabricating parts measuring, laying out parts, machining parts sanding/removing burrs so that parts can fit together
finishing including painting, sanding, and other work to make the already functional parts look product-worthy
assembling putting together parts of your design
testing/debugging without client/user testing/debugging your design or subsystems of your design
testing/debugging with client/user testing/debugging time in which a client or a potential user tries out your project
organizing via meetings time in meetings spent organizing the team, delegating tasks, deciding who does what, when to meet next
organizing via email, phone, messaging, etc.
preparing for class, lab, meetings planning activities that do not fit in above categories (design, research, prototyping, testing/debugging); e.g., reading lab notes
preparing presentations
practicing presentations
attending class lectures record class attendance here, even if it involves activities that could be recorded elsewhere
attending design milestones record design milestone attendance here, even if it involves activities that could be recorded elsewhere and even if it occurs in class.  
recording timesheet data time spent working on the timesheet time spent recording the data and inputting it into the online system
thinking on your own spending time simply thinking about the project without any tangible results such as sketches or prototypes
hanging out in lab in lab, but not working on anything in particular
other please describe the type of activity


Example 1: Doing research on feasibility of different concepts in preparation for selecting a concept to pursue would be categorized under the specific type of research performed, not under "selecting design concepts," which is intended only for the actual selection activity.

Example 2: As part of benchmarking/looking at competitive products, you find some patents and also read some literature about technologies used in the products. The time spent on a patent search and reviewing patents goes under searching/reviewing patents since that is the most specific category for the type of activity. If the non-patent literature you are reading is not product specific (e.g., a review of the product, product literature/specification), and instead is about a technology used in the product (e.g., WiFi), record the time under "searching/reviewing non-patent product-related literature."

Example 3: Time spent in officially scheduled class activities should be categorized under the type of activity that best describes the activity. The only exception is that attendance at class lectures and design milestones (e.g., sketch model presentations) should be categorized under the activity "attending class lectures" or "attending design milestones." The idea fair should be categorized under "communicating in other ways with users/clients." The observation tutorial should be categorized under "searching/reviewing design/industrial design/technique-related literature." In general, lab time is spent working on your project. Therefore, lab time should be allocated to the categories that best describe how you spent your time in lab. Some of the time will likely be spent "organizing via meetings," and some of it under many of the other categories, depending on where you are in the product development process.

Example 4: The time spent doing an estimation or analysis for how much torque is needed for a motor in your project is categorized under "Designing-analyzing or calculating." Once you have the specification for the motor, you need to obtain a motor that satisfies the specification. The processes of finding what motors are available for purchase, evaluating whether the motors satisfy the specification, selecting a merchant, and purchasing the motor go under "procuring materials." If there is a discussion to choose between different options, that time is allocated under "selecting design concepts or details"