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Why Do This

Tracking your time is critical to improving your financial performance. Most small-firm architects do not have the systems in place to make sense of what is happening with their main resource - time. Nor do they have a way of determining whether a project was profitable or not. This simple system that I built using CODA provides the missing answers to time use and project profitability. As an added benefit you will be introduced to one of the tools that are a leap forward in technology - CODA. You can try this Timekeeping system out with a free CODA account. There is no charge for the CODA Doc that contains the system. You will probably want to get a paid CODA account. One ‘Maker’ is usually adequate. That would cost just $10/month (as of January 2024).


The concept behind this system is to use CODA to make a simple timekeeping app for small-firm architects that will:
collect everyone’s time data through the cloud
allow focus on an individual, on a timeframe, or on a project
calculate the billing ratio (productivity) of the firm or individual
track progress against a design budget per Project-Phase
expand to do more as familiarity with CODA increases

The Onboarding Process

Read all of the information/instructions on this page.
Using the sample data, examine how the tables work.
Start adding some real data on the Staff sub-page.
Next go to the Projects sub-sub-page and add some of your Projects. The Name (shorthand/ID) column is all that is needed for now.
Go to the Project-Phases sub-page and add the phases of your Projects.
Add your own sample data on your actual projects and continue exploring.
When ready, get your own free CODA account.
Copy the Timekeeping doc into your account.
Add your actual data to all the tables.
Begin adding real time entries.


The Staff sub-page is where you store information about staff that is used in the other tables. The information is entered into a table with the following headings, with descriptions.
Name - the name of the staff person or their initials, but a unique designation.
Labor Rate - the amount per hour the staff person is paid. If they are salaried, then convert the salary to an hourly labor rate by dividing by the number of hours the salary is for. For instance a full time salary would be divided by 2080 hours, which is the number of hours in a year of 52 weeks times 8 hours per day.
Charge Rate - the amount that will be charged to a project for each hour that they work on the project. The simplest Charge Rate system is to use their hourly billing rate.
PTO Hrs/Yr - this is the number of hours of Paid Time Off that the staff person is allotted per year. Using hours allows more flexibility and can be tracked in these tables without the need for another system or spreadsheet.
P Target - this is the percentage of the staff person’s time that would ideally be billable to maintain profitability for the firm.
Status - the options are Active, Inactive, and Departed. Only Active staff are shown in the time card for simplicity. Inactive might be used for interns who have returned to school but might return to the firm. Departed is used when no longer associated with the firm.
Notes - this is a ‘canvas’ that can hold anything - paragraphs of text, tables, links, images, hire dates, compensation history, etc. (‘Note’ columns in other tables have the same features.)


The Staff sub-page also holds a pie chart that can be filtered by Date or Staff. The chart shows the relationship between Billable and Non-Billable hours that have been reported. Hover over the chart to see more detail. By default every time entry is included. To see just this year, month, or other timeframe, use the Date filter tab to select what you are looking for. The Staff filter lets you investigate any particular person or group of people.

PTO Status

Below the Productivity chart is a filtered copy of the Timekeeping Table that shows just time entered for Paid Time Off. By selecting a staff member you can see how much time has been taken by them and compare it to their PTO allowance. The date range can be set to ‘year to date’ or ‘last year’ or any timeframe you wish.


Also on the Staff sub-page is a table designed to show the payroll amounts earned. Set the date range equal to your pay period, and select a staff member to see a calculation of their hours logged times their pay rate entered in the Staff Table.


Your Project information is entered into a table on the sub-sub-page below Project-Phases. These are the headings below, with descriptions. The Project table is a convenient place to store all kinds of information about the project in one place. Unlike other tables, very little is required here. You can add information and columns as you need or like. The critical information is in the Project-Phase table described next.
ID - the identifier for the project. This is a convenience label so that you can see all the phases of a project at once. Make certain it is a unique designation and is identical from phase to phase. I suggest an abbreviation as seen in the sample data. Add your own column to store an accounting-type number. This isn’t the place for that. This is just a convenience.
Full Name - Enter the full name of the project for reference.
(Custom Columns) - over time you may want to collect more specific information about every project. You can add more columns and new tables to connect marketing and project management information.
Notes - an open ‘canvas’ as described before.


Your Project-Phase information is entered into a table with the following headings, with descriptions. The Project-Phase is a fundamental piece of data. By combining the project designation and the phase name into a unique phrase you avoid confusion and the potential for scrambled data since phase names alone are not necessarily unique.
Project-Phase - the combination name of the project and phase. Each Project-Phase should have an identical and unique project identifier. The phase portion of the Project-Phase can be standardized. Using a number in the phase portion as in the sample data is helpful for sorting.
Project - select this from the drop down menu
Active - the choices are Active and Inactive. ‘Active’ includes the Project-Phase in the dropdown on the Time table and the Time Form. Inactive Project-Phases are not available to add time to. It keeps the list of Project-Phases manageable.
Billable - choose whether the Project-Phase is billable or non-billable.
Budget - this is the design budget for the phase. It depends on how you set up your charge rates. The simplest method is to use the net fee for the phase after setting aside consultants and other expenses. In this case the charge rate is the hourly billing rate.
JTD - this is a formula that collects all amounts charged to the phase (hours x charge rate for the individual). You can easily see how you are doing compared to the design budget. It goes without saying that daily time entries are critical to having good information about how things are going.
Notes - an open ‘canvas’ as described before.

Billable Estimate

A sub-page of Project-Phases page contains a table that is another view of the Timekeeping Table. This version only shows billable Project-Phases and pulls in the charge rate for each hour logged to give you an estimate of how much billable work there is.
Adjust the three filters above the table for the date range, the Project-Phases, and the Staff that you want to consider.


Once all the tables mentioned above have been completed, you can begin adding time entries into the TIME table on the Timekeeping page. This table can be filtered in several ways to get any information you might want. The columns are pretty self-explanatory, but this is the list of columns and their descriptions. The blue button in the upper right of the table opens a form that you can fill or, optionally, you can click the “New Row” link that appears as you hover near the bottom of the table. After you have a few weeks of data entered, this second option works best if you first filter the table by date, say ’this week’ or ‘ today’ to shorten the list.
Date - the date that the time was spent. Clicking in the cell calls up a calendar with today’s date highlighted. Either click the date or outside the calendar to select the date and close the pop-up.
Project-Phase - select the Project-Phase from the drop down menu
Staff - select your name, unless you are adding time for someone else (In your own CODA account, you could make this automatic)
Hours - enter the number of hours. The number format is set to one decimal point, but you can modify the format to anything you want.
Description - enter what the time was spent on if that is something you track. In your own account you could change this to a drop down menu of standard choices or connect it to a table of active tasks assigned to the individual. There are endless enhancements that can be made.

Time Entry

The Time Entry page is a form that you can use to collect time using the internet. When you hover your cursor anywhere inside the form, options appear on the line reading “Time Entry Form”. You can use the “Publish Form” option to get a URL for the form. By adding the URL to your phone’s home screen, you can call it up anyplace to make a time entry.
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