Collect data for timesheet

I have never yet ventured into using MS Access for the web but now have a need and seek some direction as to whether the task I want is difficult or if I should look for an already developed app.

We have teams of electricians working in the field and I have been asked to create a system to monitor costs against each job so what I need is for the employees to be able to log in, record the start time and end time on each job, and a Job Number (free text field or preferably a combo box lookup) they attend. Most of them only attend one or two jobs each day but some of them will be attending multiple jobs. I then need to be able to download the data and import it into the main database. From there I can process it into a payroll file and do the job costings I need. Security is not a particularly big issue - I could probably handle that with a simple encryption function.

Is this going to be a feasible and difficult task for a MS Access web app or should I look for an off-the-shelf product and if so, any suggestions?
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Rob4077Asked:
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Ryan ChongBusiness Systems Analyst , ex-Senior Application EngineerCommented:
There should have some off-the-shelf products available or with minimal customization as it seems that your requirement to capture the data is quite general for most of the applications.

To make your end effectively collecting the data, going online is definitely a way to go, IF electricians are working at client's side and not manage to go back to office on time to enter the job.

Access or MySQL could be considered as the backend database, if you decided to build a web application.

To make such online database available to your local payroll system, you can either downloading the database via FTP (for Access) or using some integrated tool (for MySQL) to download the data (of course we not yet talking on how the downloaded data can be imported into your payroll system). As your web application could become matured, then you may consider to automate this process if necessary.

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Rob4077Author Commented:
Thanks Ryan. I was under the impression that the MS Access web option would allow users to access my local database without having to download via FTP. Sounds like doing it myself may be a big deviation from a standard MS Access application. I will wait to see if there's any more comments but in the meantime I will look for an off the shelf package that may do the trick.
PatHartmanCommented:
Rob,
If you go with an Access web app, you might consider a hybrid.  That will allow you to create a standard client/server Access app that links to Azure tables in the cloud and publish a few web pages to do the data collection.

Data collection is a good use for an Access web app.  it is when you get into other functions like reporting and batch processing and interfacing with other Office apps that web apps fall apart.

With this configuration, the data is collected directly into the main database.  You can have it go directly to the permanent tables or you can have it go to staging tables and then create a nightly batch process to validate it and move it but that is probably overkill.
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Rob4077Author Commented:
Thanks for the comments, Pat. Where would I go to find a sample web app for data collection linked to Azure. Totally new to me but if it's within my ability I would like to have a go.
PatHartmanCommented:
It's not quite that simple.  First you need SharePoint 2013.  Then you need to be authorized to create apps.  Then, you can use one of the templates from the Access start menu.
Rob4077Author Commented:
Sounds like it's getting too difficult. Maybe I revert to plan B and see if I can find some service provider who has already developed it and sells it.

Thanks for your comments. I should've learnt some dot net language years ago and then built all my apps internet ready.
PatHartmanCommented:
If this is strictly data collection, you can use Excel and/or Outlook and have folks send in their time that way.  Access can interface with Outlook to get the email and download and import the attachments.  If you do this, it is best to designate a specific data collection email account that only Access reads.  You could use Outlook forms but I've never built one so I don't know how they work.  You could also use InfoPath but I'm pretty sure that technology is being deprecated so check before you invest any effort in using it.
Rob4077Author Commented:
Thanks Pat for the extra suggestions. I will use those if necessary but would prefer to find something easier on line so I will continue my search. Thanks again.
PatHartmanCommented:
I think you will find the Excel/Outlook solution not too hard to implement.  Anything you find on line will be difficult or impossible to integrate with the existing application.
Rob4077Author Commented:
My main concern with an Excel solution is that I think all my users would have to have Excel on their mobile phones and I am not sure of the price.
PatHartmanCommented:
It would have been nice to know from the beginning that you wanted a phone app.

Look into what you can do with the free, web version of Excel.  Or, you might have to get an O365 subscription for each person.

I think your cheapest solution is having someone create an ASP data entry page.  Your Access app can then pick up new entries every day and process them.
Rob4077Author Commented:
Sorry I didn't make it clear that I wanted them to log in using a mobile phone. I knew what I meant but unfortunately it didn't translate to words correctly. I don't need a phone app, just a web page they can log into and record the data. I think you're right as far as best approach is concerned. I would guess that would be relatively cheap function to get done as long as I make the specifications very clear. The data needed is minimal - UserId Date, Start Time, End Time,  Job Name and a couple of other fields.

Thanks again for your ongoing help
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