Centaur - Timesheet System
Centaur is the Department's time management system. Different staff groups get different versions of the system, for example only Assistant Staff (who have contractual working hours) get a section on the timesheet to fill in to record in-out times and the details of the leave form differ reflecting whether or not the user is on flexitime, etc. One of the main purposes of the system is to record how much time has been spent on a piece of work (Centaur calls this a Project or Task - see below). To do this, each Project or Task has a line on the Timesheet on which the time spent on it each day can be recorded.
As use of the system is different for different staff groups, there are further separate user guides for each staff group (COs, Researchers, Technicians, and Clerical and Administrative). These contain the essential information for that staff group whereas this page introduces the concepts behind Centaur (Projects, Tasks, Cost Centres), the information which needs to recorded and its purpose.
Enhancements and bug fixes are continually been made to Centaur whilst further requirements are still being add. For a todo list of these and recent release changes please see here.
All Centaur users have their own Centaur homepage. Each user's homepage contains customised tabs to access the main areas of the system they use, e.g. timesheet, leave and favourites, plus a help tab linking back to this page. You should therefore explore each of these tabs and familiarise yourself with what you need to do on each (see the sections below). As well as the tabs, the homepage has links to each of these pages and also any other parts of system you may need to use, but less frequently.
Projects and Tasks
Projects are a key concept in Centaur (Projects might have been called Jobs were it not that the Department already uses Job in other ways, e.g. Job Number). Projects have different uses and meanings for different Centaur users but in general a Project is what you record time spent against on your timesheet, i.e. each Project has separate line on the timesheet. A large Project may comprise several distinct Tasks with a separate line on the timesheet for each Task (see below).
One of the main purposes of a Project is, via the timesheet, to associate time spent to a cost centre (see below) to which it can be charged. It may also be useful as a way of aggregating time spent on a particular activity for management purposes, e.g. to find out how much effort is needed to keep something running, or for specific pieces of work for a research grant. As particular examples, the Workshops set up a Project for each job they are asked to do (i.e. a Project plays the same role as the old Workshops Job Sheet) whereas Computer Officers will generally account their time to broader longer lasting Projects such as "Div X Teaching Support" so that, for example, the balance between research and teaching support can be seen.
A given Project may be split into several Tasks. Whilst Projects are a relatively formal concept and are set up set up within Centaur by managers/supervisors (see the projects page for details), any user can create extra lines on their Timesheet for different Tasks simply by entering a different description in the task box on each line (see below).
Filling in the Timesheet
For Assistant Staff, there is a section at the top of the Timesheet in which to record the start and end times for each morning's and afternoon's work. From these, the number of hours worked each day and week is automatically calculated, e.g. for flexitime. This will be very familiar to those who have previously used the Department's printed timesheets and similar systems elsewhere.
The rest of the Timesheet concerns the assignment of time to different Projects. A line must be created on the Timesheet for each different combination of Project, Task Description and, where applicable, Requester CRSid and/or Cost Centre. The following sections describe each of these fields. If work on the same activity extends over more than one week, its line may be automatically carried forward onto the next week's Timesheet by ticking the tick box at the start of the line. It can often be worth carrying over a task in this way even when there are weeks in between in which no work is done it on it; this ensures that the task is recorded consistently and can be tracked in reports.
Whenever you make changes to your Timesheet remember to press the Save button to store these changes when you have finished. Wherever possible the Timesheet should be filled in each day while what you did is still fresh in your mind, In addition to saving changes, some staff also have a Submit button which commits the data as a correct record (and after which it can no longer be edited). Submission can either be done on a daily or weekly basis but should be done at the latest by the end of Monday of the following week. For those staff who do not have to Submit their Timesheet, their supervisor is responsible for checking and formally submitting it. It is particularly important that Timesheets are submitted on time near month ends, otherwise charges to external sources may be delayed or even in some cases miss the end date for the grant.
The Project to be entered on each line on the timesheet is selected from a drop-down list. This list has two sections: first the user's "favourites list" (see below) and then a list of all the currently active projects belonging to all the Groups of which the user is a member. In the case of a technician working in a workshop, their Group will be that workshop. Those with a number of different aspects to their job are likely to be a member of more than one group.
Selecting the Appropriate Project
In most cases users will have a default Project based on their PD33 job description to which their time can be charged but this will usually necessarily be fairly non-specific in terms of the work involved, e.g. "Div X Infrastructure Support" and will be charged to an internal cost centre, e.g. a 4000 series job number.
Whilst it would clearly be easy just to charge all activities to this default Project (it does after all have a fairly catch-all title), it would defeat two of the main aims of Centaur: cost recovery from external funding sources, e.g. research grants; and accumulating better management information to help the Department understand which activities are more/less resource intensive and plan accordingly. It is therefore important that if some piece of work can be charged to a Project with external funding, and the project has funds for this kind of work, it should be; and that more specific Projects are used in preference general catch-all ones when these exist. That said it is clearly also important that people do not spend the majority of their time creating lines on their timesheet and filling these in. As a general guideline, if less than 20 minutes of your time is likely to be spent on some Project in the forseeable future (say this week or next), it is unlikely to be worth creating a line on the timesheet specially for it. Knowing which Project to charge work to can be complicated, so, if in doubt, seek advice from your manager/supervisor in the same way that you might when choosing a job number for ordering goods; in many cases there may be local policies which apply.
The above advice is necessarily somewhat vague since local circumstances vary and managers and supervisors are likely to want to draw up their own more precise guidelines to explain which Projects are to be used in each case.
The Task box allows text to be entered describing the particular activity being performed. For those, mainly IT Staff, who use the RT ticket system the Task text can refer to a single RT ticket by writing #nnnnn anywhere in the task text (but only once), where nnnnn is the ticket number. This provides a useful way of linking into RT and reducing duplication of information.
The amount of information entered in the Task box and the need to create separate lines on the Timesheet for different activities within the same Project varies depending on the type of Project. For Projects charged to grants the information in this field may be required to provide the level of detail needed to satisfy the auditors. In other cases, the level of detail required may be less allowing a number of Tasks for a single Project to be combined on a single line. When used to link to RT, there will necessarily be a separate Timesheet line for each ticket.
Requester CRSid and Cost Centre
Normally, when a Project is set up, the cost centre to which the time is charged and the person asking for the work to be done are specified as part of the project and all that you need to record on the timesheet is Project, Task and the number of hours that you have worked on the project each day. However some projects are set up to be used to record time being spent doing much the same thing for different people, and/or to be charged to different cost centres, and in this case extra boxes will appear on the Timesheet line to record this information. Consequently a separate line on the Timesheet will be needed for each different requester/cost centre.
A Requester CRSid is generally required for Projects like divisional support where the Division may want to be able to identify whether some people are making undue demands on general divisional support cost centre when they maybe ought to be charging this to a particular grant instead. Where it is not possible to identify the requester, a hyphen (-) can be entered in this field but such entries shouldn't account for significant total amounts of time or the whole purpose of the exercise is lost. If the work is on your own initiative, then enter your own CRSid.
In the relatively small number of cases where a cost centre is needed, you will generally need to ask the person the requesting the work for this information.
The Leave page is used in place of the Timesheet to request and record time spent away from work, either on leave (including flexitime and sick leave) or on day release and similar training. Different staff groups will use this page in different ways, e.g. only some have flexitime, leave entitlement is calculated in different ways, etc. Further details are provided in the separate staff group guides.
Projects - Favourites Tab
The favourites tab allows you to select your most used (i.e. "favourite") Projects so that these appear at the top of the pull-down list for the Timesheet. The page provides facilities to add and remove projects from the favourites list and to control the order in which they appear on the list.
Projects can be selected from those belonging to any Group of which the user is a member, i.e. the same set which appears in the pull down list on the Timesheet. This facility is therefore likely to be most useful to those who belong to a large number of groups or whose group(s) are large but it may also be helpful if there are a few Projects which regularly need adding to the Timesheet, perhaps with a different requester each time. In order to make it easier to find projects in the main list, this can be filtered by Group, Title, Description, etc.
Cost centres are either specified as a 4 digit Department Job Number or in full as a CUFS code NMZx/nnn - where x is A-Z and nnn is a number, plus potentially a work package within this. The choice of cost centre for a Project is important since it determines whether the time can be externally charged, e.g. to a research grant, and it forms the top level for aggregating entries so that those responsible for budgets can see the overall picture. Some Job Numbers, e.g. 4000 series, are used purely for internal accounting and monitoring purposes and there is no actual transfer of funds. The following special job numbers are used solely for Centaur-based time accounting and represent time which cannot be charged to any more specific cost centre:
|4957||Div A Internal Support|
|4958||Div B Internal Support|
|4959||Div C Internal Support|
|4960||Div D Internal Support|
|4961||Div E Internal Support|
|4962||Div F Internal Support|
|4963||Div S Internal Support|
|4964||Div T Internal Support|
|4965||Div V Internal Support|
|4966||Div W Internal Support|
|4967||School of Technology Internal Support|