If only…

comingsoon.pngIf only the TimeControl timesheet had multi-line edit…

If only TimeControl had a calendar view to see pending time off…

If only TimeControl had a barchart view to see assignments…

If only the TimeControl report designer was multi-device enabled…

If only there were table-level validation rules in TimeControl…

If only…

If only” sometimes never arrives… but this time “If only” will be here next week!

Stay tuned.  TimeControl 7 is will launch next week!

Timesheets by exception

autofill1.pngNot every organization expects all their staff to fill in a timesheet every single week.  Instead, theses salaried staff are instructed to fill in a timesheet only “by exception” meaning only if they were not at their intended post for the entire pay period.  If the employee has an exception such as a sick day, vacation, a day when they left early, etc.  they must then enter only the exception.

TimeControl can be used like this of course because if that is what your payroll system expects, then TimeControl export to the payroll system will have only the expected exceptions.

Ah, but if life were only that easy.

Here’s a much more difficult scenario:  Imagine an organization where some of the staff who are project oriented must fill out timesheets to account for their entire week and other non-project personnel will be asked to only fill in timesheets by exception.  Must there then be two separate timesheet systems?

Not at all.

TimeControl’s AutoFill functionality is designed to fill in where the exception timesheet leaves off.  Here’s how it works.

First, define who will be entering timesheets by exception.

Next, create a process that allows people who have exceptions to enter them by a certain time in the timesheet period.  For example on a weekly timesheet perhaps exceptions must be entered by noon on Monday.

Now run the AutoFill functionality and have it “fill-up” the timesheets for the people defined to the total number of hours per day that you define.

In this manner TimeControl will create blank timesheets and automaticall fill them in or add to the exceptions that are already there to fill in a complete timesheet.  Now the project staff who enter a complete task-based timesheet every week and the non-project staff who enter a timesheet only by exception will end up with a completed timesheet that can be reported on together, exported or analyzed together and, if you still need to send only the exceptions to the payroll system, that too can be filtered to send only the appropriate data.

TimeControl’s AutoFill is one of the more popular features for HR and Payroll adminstrators for the enormous time it saves by automating a simple function and allowing a single timesheet to replace multiple timesheets.

You can see more HR related functions in the TimeControl and HR use-case area of the TimeControl.com website.

FAQ: TimeControl Reporting options

Question: What kind of reporting is available from TimeControl?

Answer: You have several options for TimeControl reporting thanks, in part, to its long legacy.  Let’s take the options in order of preference.

Report Interface

The first and most popular reporting tool in the system is the TimeControl Report Interface.  This What You See Is What You Get (WYSIWYG) report tool allows you edit existing example reports supplied with TimeControlUnposted Project_Employee Hours_300x294 or create your own reports from scratch.  It includes numerous abilities including being able to mix charts and table views, customizing fonts, logos, headers and footers, adding calculated fields and being able to sort, group, sub-group, total and, sub-total the data and even a dynamic pivot table view.

Once a report is created, it can be secured so that the report format is only visible to those who have permission for it.  Inside the report, TimeControl security is still in place down to the field level.  Even if a user has been given access to a report format that has a field in the format that the end user is not supposed to see, that field will become blank thanks to TimeControl Security.

At runtime, the data for the report can be selected according to available filters including TimeControl Dynamic Filters which ask for input at runtime.  For example, you might want to impost a date range for the report and you can do that by creating a Dynamic Filter that allows the user to enter the start and end date of the range at the time the report is executed.

The report interface is built in TimeControl’s multi-device, multi-browser architecture so it can be run from your PC in almost any browser, on your tablet or on your phone.  Once your report is on the screen, you can elect to print it or save it in one of numerous formats including PDF, Excel, CSV, Word, JPG and more.

Whew!  That should be enough, isn’t it?  Well it is of course, but you have other options as well.

The Drill Down Analyzer

This module is popular with Administrators because it allows tremendous flexibility in making data queries.  DDA_3_300x233Using the Drill Down Analyzer presents a selected amount of data which can be a small selection or a massive selection into a simple list. But, just like an Excel Pivot table, you can then drag a column header to the top of the screen and the data instantly reorganizes into sub-groups and sub-totals by that column.  Drag another column and another level of sub-grouping and sub-totaling appears.  It has to be seen to be fully appreciated (which you can do on the TimeControl.com Online Lessons page).

Using the Drill-Down Analyzer, you can answer a question like “how many hours did we spend on unbillable meetings last month) in seconds.

Once you have a view of the data you like, you can immediately save the data in PDF, Word, JPG or other formats or save it directly into Excel to do further analysis or reporting from there.

The Legacy Report Writer

tc_legacy_reportFor users of TimeControl prior to version 6, they will be familiar with the spreadsheet-like reporting tool based on a FormulaOne component that was automatically installed by TimeControl.  Using this ActiveX control, you can organize your selection of TimeControl data into groupings, sub-totals and totals and then either print it directly or save the result into Excel for further reporting.  The Legacy  Report Writer is not viewed by default in new TimeControl systems.  It is visible in the Legacy menu area as it will be most attractive for clients who have created many reporting views in that report writer and wish to keep using them while they create new reports in the TimeControl Report Interface.

TimeControl Links

TimeControl’s Link menu includes a Table Export function which allows exporting TimeControl data with a virtually unlimited selection into numerous formats including Excel and XML.  When data is exported into XML, you can optionally attach an XML Stylesheet which can condition the view of the data to include an incredible variety of effects to make your own reporting view that is saved right into your browser in XML and from where it can be printed.

Whichever your preference TimeControl’s remarkable flexibility in reporting has you covered.

You can find out more about TimeControl reporting at TimeControl.com.

Would you like to join the HMS team?

HMS is expanding its TimeControl development department.  We are currently seeking one senior developer and intermediate developers to work in our Pointe Claire, Quebec headquarters.  The right applicants will be joining a dynamic team who work together to create the world’s most flexible timesheet system. If you or someone you know is interested to be part of one of the most dynamic development teams, then look at these links:

Senior Developer:  https://www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/169680610

Intermediate Developers:  https://www.linkedin.com/jobs2/view/169681468

 

FAQ: Tracking approvals

Question: We now have clients sign paper timesheets to show they were approved.  How would we deal with this requirement in an automated timesheet like TimeControl?

TimesheetAuditability_300x200.jpg This is a great question and one faced by any organization that is shifting from paper-based timesheets to an automated system.  Signature approvals are designed to have evidence that the person who signed the document actually saw the document they signed and their signature signifies their approval of the content.  There are two main areas of reluctance for auditors to accept an automated version of a signature in a computer-based timesheet:

  1. How do we know that the person whose name is now on the timesheet is actually the person who approved it? And;
  2. How can we be sure that the data in the view the person approved has not been changed.

In TimeControl, both of these concerns are dealt with in the way that TimeControl deals with auditability of the movement of timesheet ownership.

When a timesheet is created.  TimeControl notes in the database the user name and the date/time.  Then, whenever the timesheet changes ownership through releasing it for approval, the timesheet being rejected, updated re-released, approved and ultimate posted, TimeControl creates an entry in the Timesheet Release Log.

If a user is using the Alternate User function to log into TimeControl as someone else, TimeControl accommodates this also.  In this case the audit log will show both the person who had the responsibility of releasing or rejecting the timesheet as well as who the actual user was who performed the action.

Since this means that there is no reason to share one’s credentials to get into TimeControl, virtually all financial auditors HMS has encountered accept the user name entry in the audit log as equivalent to a signature on a piece of paper.  This has been tested in audits by authorities such as both Revenue Canada and the US IRS for R&D Tax Credits, Defense Contract Audit Agency audits, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance audits and countless other situations where timesheet data is part of an audit.

To be certain that this functionality will pass your own auditing standards, you should consult your Finance team and, if need be, have them speak to the technical experts at HMS.

 

FAQ: Can the TimeControl Menu be edited?

 

Yes you can.  Not only can you edit existing elements of the TimeControl Menu, but you can add to it also.  In the Administration Tab there is a selection called Menu entry.  Using this function, you can move menu items fromtcblog_menu tab to tab or add a new entry.  Imagine that you’ve created an internal project management tracking process manual and you’d like to make sure that all of your TimeControl users can access it from right inside TimeControl.  You can click Add in the Menu Entry module and add the URL and an icon for that selection.  Once you’ve added the new entry, it will immediately become visible in the User Profiles module in case you want to make sure it is secured for one user or another.

Or, imagine that you’ve created different manuals for different users perhaps for users in a particular country.  You could create manuals for each country and a menu item for each and then use User Profiles to only show the appropriate manual to someone in that country. tcblog_menuadd

The same goes for any other function you’d like to create.  The URL destination of a menu item could also be an external system.  This type of flexibility is powerful so you need to keep track of what you’ve added to your TimeControl so you can train people on finding the right function in the right place.

 

 

How many TimeControl Modules can you buy? (it’s a trick question)

From time to time we’re asked how many modules TimeControl has and what modules are required for a particular requirement. allinclusive_300x197It’s not a strange question because so many timesheets on the market sell in exactly this manner.

The short answer to this question is very simple. There are no extra modules to but in TimeControl.

We know that there are publishers who sell you the timesheet for time and attendance and then say “Oh, you also need to do vacation approvals, that requires our add-on Vacation Approval Module” and others who say “Oh, you need a link to a project management tool? There’s a module you can purchase for each link you want to use.” And yet others who say “Oh you want to create your own custom reports. Of course you can with our add-on report designer module.”

The industry calls it “up-selling” and we don’t like it any more than you do.

So, we decided a long time ago to include everything in TimeControl that you’ll need. There are two editions of TimeControl, one designed for industrial situations like heavy construction or mining or EPC projects and the the other for everyone else.

Inside each TimeControl is the timesheet of course, the links to the many project management tools and versions we support, the report designer, the vacation approvals, our Matrix Approvals, the Accruals functionality that HR needs, the import and export modules to link to ERP and other corporate systems and even the mobile interface. Once you pay for your TimeControl license, there’s not much else we can sell you unless you’d like some implementation assistance (not everyone takes that and not everyone needs it) or ongoing maintenance and support contracts. If you’ve decided on subscribing to our TimeControlOnline timesheet in the cloud, you’ll be paying your subscription service each year and that’s about it.

We have even structured upgrades to be something you never buy. If you have TimeControl or TimeControl Industrial now, the only way to get a new version is to simply keep your maintenance contract current. We’ll make the new version

We believe this makes our relationship with our clients easier to establish and easier to make richer over time. But, there is one specific issue that can arise from this all-in-one thinking. Because we’re not constantly calling our clients trying to sell them on the next module or version, some new clients can put time into deciding why they wanted TimeControl in the first place and then never revisit what TimeControl could be doing for them to accommodate other business requirements.

For example, a few years ago, we got a lead from a company interested in TimeControl because it had a link to Microsoft Project. The company was already a client so we asked the caller if he knew about our timesheet. He looked at his own weekly timesheet and, sure enough, it was already TimeControl! “But my TimeControl doesn’t have a link to Microsoft Project. Did we not buy that module?” the caller asked us. “It was hidden during the original deployment because your firm was focused on time and billing when you rolled the system out,” we answered.

The feature was easily turned back on by the TimeControl Administrator and the caller didn’t have to go purchase another timesheet or another module. He already had everything he needed and shortly thereafter he was linking TimeControl to his project files.

So we make a point of talking about TimeControl features in the blog and in email blasts that include our current client because we never know when someone will suddenly realize they already own the solution to a business requirement they’re already looking for.

To look at different business-use-case scenarios of how you can use TimeControl, go to the Use Case gallery at: www.timecontrol.com/use-cases.

To catch up with the main TimeControl features, go to the Features area of the website at: www.timecontrol.com/features.

Of course you can always just contact us at info@hms.ca and one of our account managers or technical staff will help you find out how TimeControl can be configured for your particular business challenge.

Microsoft names HMS software a certified partner with dual competencies

 

silver_comp_2015We’re delighted to bring you exciting news.

HMS and Microsoft have announced a renewal of their long standing technical alliance.  HMS has been a Microsoft partner for over 20 years and will, once again be a certified partner in the Microsoft Partner Network.

part_comp_2011HMS became an inaugural member of the Microsoft Project Solution Partner program when it was first created in 1995.    The relationship between Microsoft and HMS has focused on HMS Software’s TimeControl timesheet system and its ability to integrate with Microsoft Project and Microsoft Project Server. The Microsoft Project development team and HMS have worked together ever since.

TimeControl has had an integration with every version of Microsoft Project on the Desktop since 1995 and with every version of Microsoft gold_comp_3Project Server since 2002.  It has already been ten years since Microsoft named HMS a “First to Market” partner for the work done by HMS to integrated TimeControl and Project Server.

Gold_2For the 2016-2017 partner season, HMS has qualified for dual certifications in both
Application Development and Project and Portfolio Management.  To qualify for these programs, HMS demonstrated success integrating TimeControl with Microsoft Project and Project Server through actual client testimonials has had several HMS personnel pass Microsoft certification testing.  Microsoft also ensured that TimeControl successfully passed external 3rd party testing for technology and standards compliance with Microsoft Technology.

ms_cert_1There’s no way to display all the partner logos HMS has qualified for in the last 20 years but on the right you’ll find just a few.

HMS leverages Microsoft technology to deliver both TimeControl and TimeControl Online, HMS Software’s in-the-cloud timesheet service. Windows Server is the platform for the server and some clients will combine that with Microsoft Project or Project Server, SharePoint or SQL Server.

HMS is highly committed to the Microsoft relationship and how it enables us to provide the best possible solutions to our clients.

To see how TimeControl and Microsoft’s technology work together, visit the TimeControl Microsoft Technology Portal where you’ll find numerous HMS resources including white papers, webcasts, PowerPoint presentations and more.  The portal can be found at: www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/microsoft-portal.

The relationship between TimeControl and Excel

We often get questions here at HMS about how TimeControl and Excel.  Answering appropriately requires knowing why people are asking.  timecontrolexcel.jpgFor those who are interested in knowing if they should migrate from an Excel timesheet to TimeControl, there are numerous resources on the TimeControl website identifying the benefits of going to a centralized data-driven timesheet model.  But, there are so many other ways that the two systems are tied, we’ve created a special solutions portal to help

Let’s take a look at some of the different ways you might be thinking that TimeControl and Excel are related:

Migrate from an Excel timesheet to TimeControl

Many organizations create their first timesheet using Excel. It’s a natural fit. The Excel format is infinitely flexible and perfect for designing a grid that has to use calculations to total up the week’s time and even costs.  But, as an organization grows, the need for the functionality of a full timesheet system grows also. Maintenance and the management of an Excel timesheet when an organization is a handful of employees is relatively simple. When the number of people grows, that maintenance becomes more complex, more costly and a bigger challenge.  That’s where TimeControl’s centralized data structure becomes much more attractive.

Importing and Exporting data between TimeControl and Excel

TimeControl includes complete support for importing and exporting data in an Excel format.  If you maintain some data now in Excel, then moving that into TimeControl is a matter of moments.  If you use Excel for analysis of data, then sending TimeControl’s source data to Excel is very simple.  You can even schedule exports to Excel or imports from Excel to happen automatically on a schedule you determine.

Integrating Excel Services dashboards into TimeControl

Some people like using Excel’s server-based charting capabilities to create analysis of timesheet or project management data.  TimeControl supports displaying Excel views in the dashboard.  Need an Excel pivot report?  No problem. Need an Excel traffic light dashboard?  No problem.

Displaying Reports in Excel

Every TimeControl report including those created in our TimeControl Report Designer or with the TimeControl Drill Down Analyzer can be saved as Excel files so you can do more extensive analysis and reporting in the tools you are familiar with.

You can find out more about how TimeControl and Excel can work together to help your organization become more efficient on our TimeControl/Excel Use-Case portal at: www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/excel-to-timecontrol.  On the portal you’ll find webcasts, factsheets and slide presentations explaining some of your options and potential benefits.

 

FAQ: How do I control vacation entries?

We are often asked if TimeControl supports a method to ensure that employees don’t take more vacation time than they’ve been approved for.vacationtime_300x150.jpg

This is controlled in TimeControl two ways:

TimeRequest™
First, the approval of the timesheet is managed in the TimeRequest™  feature.  TimeRequest let’s employees request vacations in the future.  If the vacation is approved, the employee will be able to see that in the TimeRequest screen.  They can also be optionally notified by email through TimeControl and that email can automatically include a calendar notification to load into their Outlook or other calendar system.

TimeControl can then be configured to include a Validation Rule that says “You cannot enter vacation without a matching approved TimeRequest.”

Employee Banks
TimeControl also uses banks which can  be loaded for the entire year or loaded as time goes on through the TimeControl Accruals module to show vacation, personal time off, banked overtime, etc. that has been earned by this employee.

TimeControl has numerous banks created by default in the system which can be used for this purpose so different types of banks can be defined by the TimeControl Administrator. A TimeControl Validation Rule can then be created that generates an error if the amount of vacation taken in the current timesheet exceeds the amount in the bank for the vacation category.  Different organizations have different rules for this.  Some will allow only vacation that has been completely earned.  Others will allow an employee to be up to a week “negative” in their vacation bank.  Whatever the rule is, it can be defined for this in the Validation Rule.

 

The official blogsite of TimeControl