Reporting for a Horizon 2020 project

Yes. I have been through an audit once. The last thing you want is to be asked “OK, what was THIS time for?” and not know the answer. And the audit will be centralized: the company will be asked the questions, whereas the staff won’t be in the room to answer.

This is not important, because we are aiming for human readability. An audit is the ultimate human reading.

The reason was discussed above:

I understand that. Easiest is to deal with it by introducing exceptions: this can be one such.

Not really. It will also be:

  • equipment (office supplies for workshops, …)
  • indirect (like costs to set up this process if we don’t want to associate it to Edgeryders Core)
  • non-eligible (which we can still reimburse to people if we’re generous with our 20% but the system must know to not include this into the reporting template)

But I will change it so that travel is assumed by default, making h2020_costtype=… optional. And hide the other options in the process manual behind [details=…]…[/details].

Then ok, let’s make the process as you propose. I’m just warning that this will be not a perfect solution: people will forget making comments on some entries and nobody will check. (To have a process that ensures proper data quality here, we’d again need the “Kamai v2 + approval + audit trail” solution from above.) Anyway, it will be much better than no solution, and each time entry is always associated with a work package already via the signed time records (and that is the minimum sufficient information as per EU guidelines).

I will check, and Noemi. Nobody gets paid until they have delivered the proper stuff: a bill and a timesheet, or a reasonably clear expenses claim. And yes, sometimes things will be unclear, especially five years down the line, but auditors know that too. :slight_smile:

According to the process as it stands, that signed timesheet only mentions project, work packages, and hours per work package. That’s the minimum required by the EC, and the maximum that can be managed for manual copy&paste in the (otherwise low-overhead) system with SignRequest.

The rest (the notes per time entry) will be in various files, all put into a folder. In my case, I’ll upload a single .json file as saved by my time tracker. And nobody will want to go through that kind of mess every month before making payments.

Ok, so if you indeed want to check all time entry notes before making a payment, we could mandate again that everyone uses FreeAgent to upload their worktime information. (It doesn’t matter that there’s no audit trail in FreeAgent for this information, as it’s not formally required. Only the signed time records are.)

Let me know if that sounds like the right thing to do. If so, I also recommend we have at least one cross-platform time tracker that can upload to FreeAgent by API, to cut down on the rather annoying form-filling there. I could ask my brother to add this to tom-ui.

Yes, of course you are right. But in practice, at least as we find our legs in this, it’s better to ask people to note what they have been doing. I decided to go back to OpenCare and look at a random bill. It turned out to be Owen’s, and he did proper time tracking (though I am not sure what “Pomodoro break” means).

Ok, then we’ll go with “record time use at least one level of detail below the Work Package level” in the instructions. And “record at least daily aggregates at that level” (which is what FreeAgent collects; it does not collect start and end times). People could either use sub-tasks or notes, depending on their time tracker software. More or less any time tracker will be able to do this, so our process is tool-agnostic.

And then once per year before our reporting deadline, they’ll have to upload their full timekeeping records, in the original format and all useful export formats which their time tracker provides. If they keep their time tracking data inside FreeAgent, they are settled already and don’t have to do anything extra.

We’ll then spot-check that data while doing the yearly reporting tasks, to make sure it is detailed enough and aligns with the monthly signed time records. But due to the mess of formats and numbers, there is no economic way to do a full check. So to a degree, we will have to trust users that they simply took over the data from their time tracker into the signed time records, as they should. But at least we’ll have detailed data in store for an audit, and we avoid more admin and copy&paste tasks around this.

It’s not “proper IT” this way, but any real solution would quickly get out of hand: Kamai v2 + approval process + audit log + sync with a desktop time tracker like tom-ui.

@alberto I adapted the manual at the top again, according to the results from the latest discussions. As far as I’m concerned, this can be considered the final version now.

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FYI I signed up for SignRequest Pro. We have a 7 days Free trial. Login data are on the usual wiki.

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FYI @marina and @alberto, I just updated the wiki above again to reflect the switch to the proper, monthly signing of time records.

Alberto was keen on including (1) “what did you do in this time slip” information into the time records and also to (2) have the time records attached to invoices. So I have kept in these two requirements, even though the authoritative source (with the damn auditable log) can only be SignRequest, still.

The effect is that we cannot use the SignRequest Templates feature but need to sign different documents every month for every collaborator. And there is the manual work on the Edgeryders admin side of combining them with the bills and adding that to FreeAgent.

So in total we have a pretty awful process now and I don’t see a way to improve it (SignRequest attachments and team accounts do not make anything better). Still I propose we keep the process as it is, except @marina finds that the manual workload it creates is totally unacceptable.

In that case, if we really want a proper process with the current features and low manual workload, we could create a custom tool using both the FreeAgent and SignRequest APIs. But then, instead of investing that work and money into a special-purpose tool that connects two arbitrary SaaS solutions, we’d be better off to develop something based on the Kimai v2 open source time tracking platform that I looked into above. Expensive as well, but at least generally useful and cleaner.

I don’t mind doing extra admin work to comply with the EU rules and limits of the existing tools, let’s see how it will go. The cooperation of everyone would really help in the sense that we get used to the process and I don’t have to explain everything again each month to everyone individually :slight_smile:


Thanks. Yes, let’s see how it goes. And please have a detailed look at the wiki above. I added for example the need to link from FreeAgent to SignRequest documents, because the list in SignRequest (with all the different filenames, also signed contracts etc.) is already so messy that it would not serve us well in an audit.

Yes ok for the future invoices I’ll be doing that. Once we receive all the timesheets for the period January-April correctly dated and signed in paper, I should scan them and attach to the invoices already paid?

Also for all H2020 invoices by collaborators that have been paid already. The idea is to make things easy to audit. Sorry for that kind of work … it’s arguably of the worst kind …

Yes, exactly. That’s possible in FreeAgent as you can download, delete and re-upload attachments even for invoices that are already paid.

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This seems overkill. Just add a line to the explanation, like “signed paper version available”.

Some more changes done in section 3.2, relevant for @marina.

There are some Commission requirements for signed time records that are not met by the PDF reports generated by FreeAgent. That was solved by SignRequest Templates before, but since we want to add the full details now, we needed a copy & paste solution instead now … :frowning:

Edit: Actually, with that change this process is probably too complex / unusable now. It will probably save Marina 3 hours a month if we switch back to the SignRequest Template system where people enter some information into provided fields:

  • month
  • name
  • work hours per work package
  • total work hours
  • date and signature

But this time, we would also require them to add a PDF timesheet as an attachment, exported from FreeAgent or whatever tool they use. This is possible in SignRequest.

The problem with this is that it is not clear if attachments are legally part of what is signed, but we can add a line saying “I confirm that the attached time reporting details reflect my use of the reported working hours.” Also it is not clear if attachments can be changed or deleted after signing, and if this is part of the auditable log. But the attachments with the detailed time records are only additional information anyway, formally not required by the Commission. So it should be fine. It will be much better than the current mess of a process …

So, stand by please, I’ll create the SignRequest template tomorrow and update the instructions again again …

cc @alberto

@matthias stand by. Let’s try this first. We are still feeling our way around this, so do not waste any time unless we ask you to!

Oh, I already changed it. The process from yesterday was really unusable. Now it’s quite ok (I still have to document in the wiki above though).

Sorry for all the bogus SignRequests you got while I was having ever new ideas for improving the form. Only the last two e-mails with SignRequests (from abut 20-40 mins ago) are relevant to sign. The others don’t work anymore, anyway.

I just documented the final (? :smile:) version of the process in the wiki above. This affects the tasks for @marina in section 3.2.

For a change, this is good news. The process is much simpler and faster now.

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ok, so everyone keeps their time tracked in FreeAgent or using any other tool but when it comes to signing time records with signrequest they fill-in the template and only the template is signed. When it comes to invoices I attach then both the signed template and the pdf “detailed time reporting data” or just one of those two?

This new process with the template now means we need to re-do all the timesheets already signed for May?

@matthias, I don’t like this much. Reason: what you did is PURE FORM FILLING. If people write how they used their time we have a kind of management tool. What it gives us more is some redundant information like “natural person” and “supervisor name” (they should both be in the contract). So, now we show the Freeagent timesheets and your new templates, by way of comparison) to a couple of people in the know. If they approve them, we stay with them, and I hope this to be a closed matter.

@marina, can you proceed? Thanks.