HMS Software and Oracle extend their technical alliance for a 20th consecutive year

Our relationship with Oracle started from several places at once back in 1997.  HMS became an Oracle Technical Partner that year because of the then-new support of the Oracle database by TimeControl 3.  We were very excited that year to announce that TimeControl was officially a client-server product.  Ah, the good old days.  That same year in that same version of TimeControl, we announced our new link with Primavera’s project management product, P3.  Shortly after that Primavera released P3 for the Enterprise (P3e) and our timing was such that TimeControl was the first product of any kind to link to that new product.

In 2008 those extended relationships blended together when Oracle purchased Primavera.  By then we had other relationship with Oracle products as well with support for MySQL and links to JD Edwards and Oracle E-Business Suite.

Fast forward to 2017.  Oracle and HMS have announced that HMS will be an Oracle Gold Partner from 2017 to 2018 making this the 20th consecutive year of our technical relationship and we couldn’t be prouder.

“This relationship is an example of the win-win that technical alliances are supposed to deliver,” explained our President, Chris Vandersluis.  “Oracle is able to extend the functionality and expertise to their clients through HMS and HMS is, in turn, able to get privileged access to Oracle’s technology and staff.  The clients we have in common benefit from this relationship as do both companies.”

The evolution of TimeControl has been able to take advantage of this relationship with ongoing support of multiple database versions and products in the Oracle family as well as links between TimeControl and Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and, of course, Oracle-Primavera P6 Professional and Oracle-Primavera EPPM. Announcements have been made in just the last few weeks about new functionality in the links between TimeControl and Oracle-Primavera EPPM.

Some of TimeControl’s value-added benefits when linking with Oracle-Primavera include: multiple rates per employee, automated business rule validations, automated workflow, missing timesheet notification, simultaneous support for multiple versions of Primavera, both a browser and mobile/tablet interface and matrix timesheet approvals with HMS’s unique Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™.

HMS is delighted to be celebrating our twentieth year as an Oracle Partner and look forward to our relationship continuing for many years to come.

For more information about TimeControl and how it links to Oracle technologies, visit the TimeControl Oracle Solution Portal at: http://www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/oracle-portalor contact HMS at info@hms.ca.

TimeControl Case Study – March Consulting

Here at HMS we are blessed to have the clients we have. Our long standing relationships is one of the key motivators for our staff and there is little that will get our team more excited than hearing that a client is using our software in a way that has made a difference for them.

So it is great to see a new case study on the TimeControl website by one of our clients.

March Consulting is a Canadian engineering firm based in the province of Saskatchewan and they can be working on 20 or more projects at a time.

“I’ve implemented a lot of software throughout my career and now I use TimeControl as my gold standard,” Peter Smithen, Project Services said. “This was the best implementation I’ve ever completed.”

You can read the whole story at TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies/march or to see more case studies, go to: TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies

 

TimeControl fix for Google Chrome

On March 9th, Google released version 57.0.2987 of Chrome.  With the release of the new Chrome version, here at HMS we started to notice odd issues in different parts of TimeControl during our QA testing process.

In the last few days, the cause of those issues has become apparent.  The new version of Chrome caused one of our most-used control modules to display erratic behavior.  The control affected was our grid control and it is used all over TimeControl.  Users on other browsers never saw any of these issues, it was only with Chrome and only with the most recent version.  HMS has already identified and fixed the problem.  

If you are using TimeControl 7.1.0 or 7.0.0 and have current maintenance, you’ll find an update at TimeControl.com/support/updates.  

TimeControl 7.1 sites can update to 7.1.0.3.
TimeControl Industrial 7.1 sites can update to 7.1.0.3.
TimeControl 7.0 sites can update to 7.0.0.11.

If you are still using TimeControl or TimeControl Industrial 6
TimeControl 6.10 sites can update to 6.10.1.30.
TimeControl Industrial 6.10 sites can update to 6.10.1.30

Users experiencing these difficulties can switch to an alternate browser such as Internet Explorer, Firefox or Safari until their systems can be updated.

If you are not using Chrome in your organization, you do not need to update at this time.  If you have any questions about this update, please contact us at: support@hms.ca.

If you do not have a current technical support contract, please contact info@hms.ca.

What’s new with TimeControl’s link with Oracle-Primavera?

Version 7.1 of TimeControl includes an additional link type that will be of great interest to those who use Primavera’s Enterprise Portfolio and Project Management (EPPM) system.

integration_puzzlepieceHMS has maintained links between TimeControl and Primavera since 1997 when we made the first link with P3.    Since we never throw anything away here.  We still have that link in TimeControl though P3 hasn’t been sold in some time.

The newer versions of Oracle-Primavera come in two flavors:

Primavera Professional

This version is designed to work in a stand-alone fashion for those users who must strap on a laptop and work in the field.  We often say that these Primavera users might not have access to the Internet because they’re building the internet out in the wilderness but, for whatever your reason, if you need to work independent of the corporate network, this is the version to install on your computer.  Primavera Professional installs with its own optional database system.

Primavera EPPM

This server-based version installs on a web server and is then accessed via your browser.  The server-based software integrates with the web server and corporate database to deliver integrated project management and portfolio management functionality.

TimeControl already includes links to both Primavera Professional and Primavera EPPM which work at the database level.  These existing links are highly effective and have been used by many organizations for years but the new version of TimeControl brings a level of capability that is beyond what is possible with older versions.

With the Web Services link, TimeControl will be able to make a link with Primavera EPPM using the Web Services provided by Primavera EPPM.  This link is highly configurable, just like the database-based link but because it using Web Services, it will also work just fine when your Primavera EPPM is not implemented on premises.  When organizations use TimeControl Online or subscribe to Primavera EPPM from an in-the-cloud service, TimeControl will still be able to create and maintain an automated link.

The availability of the TimeControl Web Services Link to Primavera EPPM does not mean we will be abandoning the database-to-database link.  This will be kept in the product for the foreseeable future to ensure we have a working link to Primavera Professional and to be used when TimeControl and Primavera EPPM are implemented together on premises and large volumes of data will be transferred.  A database to database link is always going to be a little faster.

So the TimeControl Web Services Link is a new extension to our many system links and one which holds great promise for those looking to work more with subscription service enterprise systems.

For more information on TimeControl’s links with external system, see the TimeControl Use-Case pages.

Creating your Rate Structure in TimeControl – an updated white paper

Rate functionality in TimeControl is so extensive that it can be overwhelming to the uninitiated.  TimeControl has the capacity for an unlimited number of rates, numerous rate values for each rate code, filtering to show some rates for some conditions and rate calculations that can be updated through Accruals and other mechanisms within TimeControl.  TimeControl Industrial includes additional functionality for Extended labor and non-labor rates.

There is a tutorial within the TimeControl Reference Guide and we have taken this content and turned it into a white paper on the TimeControl website so it is more easily accessed by existing and prospective users as they consider how they’d like TimeControl to cost the entries in the timesheet or materials and expenses areas.

TimeControl can serve to cost the same line in a timesheet one way for payroll, another for billing and yet another for project management.  Take a look at Creating your TimeControl Rate structure at TimeControl.com.

Design your Timesheet Approvals

TimeControl has the most extensive set of controls for creating timesheet approvals in the industry.  We created the term Matrix Approvals for timesheets over 20 years ago.  TimeControl’s approval mechanisms allow an organiztion to create numerous approval paths for the different aspects of their organiztion.  There are automated approvals using TimeControl automated Validation Rules and Workflow.  There are unlimited organizational approvals and even line-by-line approvals.  In version 7.1 of TimeControl even more rich functionality has been added to the approvals area with the new Line Item Approval mechanism.  If you are designing your own approval process you’ll want to look at the TimeControl white paper Creating Your Approvals Process which talks about all aspects of the approval mechanisms.  This paper has recently been updated to include information on the Line Item Approval Process.

Take a look at the updated Creating Your Approval Process white paper at: TimeControl.com/pdf/whitepapers/tc6_creatingapprovals.pdf.   For more information on our other white papers, check out TimeControl.com/resources/whitepapers.

HMS and BrightWork Announce Technical Alliance

We’re delighted to announce that HMS Software and BrightWork have reached an agreement to work together as technical alliance partners.  HMS Software CEO Chris Vandersluis and BrightWork CEO Éamonn McGuinness announced to their respective technical groups today that the two companies intend to work together to bring a BrightWork / TimeControl integration to market and to promote it through both firms.

I’m very excited about this announcement,” our CEO, Chris Vandersluis explained.  “HMS and BrightWork already have clients in common and Éamonn McGuinness and I agree that our clients will benefit from a bi-directional integration of our two systems.”

HMS will become a BrightWork Solution Partner.  BrightWork will become an HMS Technical Alliance Partner under their respective programs.

Since 1995 BrightWork has become known worldwide as the publisher of its project management system based on Microsoft’s SharePoint and Office 365.

HMS is, of course, known around the world for our TimeControl enterprise timesheet system.  The combination of both products will make for a powerful project control environment.

TimeControl already has a link from SharePoint and this link can be used by BrightWork customers already.  In the coming weeks, the HMS development team will work with BrightWork technical personnel to complete a bi-directional link.

Further information on bringing this combination of best-in-class products to market will be released in the coming weeks as technical details and other collateral become available.

For more information on BrightWork visit www.brightwork.com.
For more information on TimeControl, visit www.timecontrol.com.

 

Best Practices for Upgrading TimeControl

With version 7.1 of TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial having just been released, we thought it was a good time to update our notes on the best practices for upgrading TimeControl.

For many of us, we have gotten so used to having our mobile devices update our applications automatically in the background that it takes a conscious effort to think of proper upgrading procedures for enterprise applications. When the application is a timesheet system like TimeControl, this issue can be compounded by the thought that so little of most users’ week is taken up by entering their time in the timesheet.  Yet the data in a timesheet system may be absolutely critical to many corporate policies that are essential such as payroll or invoicing.  Upgrading clients is not an automatic part of TimeControl technical support but HMS is often asked to assist with such upgrades as part of a consulting mandate.

An enterprise application like TimeControl is one that should be upgraded within a structured process. Here are some best practices we have learned at HMS on how to implement a TimeControl upgrade.  The advice is likely useful for any corporate enterprise application:

First, make a plan

Yes, the upgrade can be downloaded in a couple of minutes.  Yes, it’s easy to click on the installation package and have it start churning through files and processes.  But no.  Don’t get started until you have a plan.  When HMS does an upgrade on behalf of a client, we have a standard template of how the upgrade will go.  It looks like this:

  1. Backup existing system
  2. Install the new version as a separate instance or if it exists, install into the staging instance.
  3. Upgrade the staging instance and turn off any automatic scheduling so you don’t upload exports or links to project management twice (one from production, and again from staging)
  4. Review logs from the upgrade for any errors then review all data for any issues. Record how the errors or issues were resolved.
  5. Use the staging instance and duplicate a representative number of timesheets from the current system. Review reports and exports to ensure they are working correctly.
  6. Inform existing users when you intend to bring your production instance of TimeControl offline to perform an upgrade
  7. Production Upgrade day:
    1. Take TimeControl offline
    2. Backup the data and the application directory in case it is needed for a rollback
    3. Upgrade the instance
    4. Review upgrade logs. Using your notes from any corrections that were needed during that upgrade, perform the same corrections here if needed.
    5. Restart TimeControl
    6. Do a check of basic functions to ensure the system is working properly
    7. If everything appears in order, inform the users that TimeControl is back up and available.
    8. If there are major issues for some reason with the production instance, roll-back and speak with HMS about errors encountered.

Next – Back it up

You might think that everyone backs up their enterprise data but sadly that’s just not true.  No matter how confident you are that your particular deployment of TimeControl will be seamless and instant, back up your data.  We do.  We don’t start an upgrade on behalf of a client without backing up the data.  In some cases, organizations with virtual servers can actually back up the entire TimeControl environment include the database server, the database itself and even the TimeControl instance.  That’s fine.  But don’t get started on an upgrade without backing it up first.

Look before you leap

This advice is often given to swimmers venturing outdoors into an unknown area.  Diving into water that looks deep but turns out to be rock-filled or shallow can be dangerous.  In the case of TimeControl, take a look at the “Read-Me” files, any “What’s New in this version” files and even the installation and upgrade guide before jumping into a new version.  Just because a new version of TimeControl has an exciting new screen doesn’t mean that you need to upgrade right away.  If your current TimeControl is happily operating then there is a disincentive to go through the effort of upgrading.

All the world’s a stage

”All the world’s a stage…” said Shakespeare (in As you Like It).  In this case, I’m referring to staging your upgrade.  Every enterprise system should probably have both a production instance and a staging or development instance.  Your TimeControl licensing allows you to do this without extra cost.  Establishing an instance of TimeControl that has everything your production configuration has (easy to do by copying the production database back to the staging instance) means that you can test out new updates before they’re made available to the end-users.  That’s just a best practice for any enterprise system, not just TimeControl.  This allows not only new updates but any configuration changes such as new filters, new reports, new validation rules to be tested out in advance.  With a new version like TimeControl 6.0 where the architecture was significantly changed or 6.1 where core functions like table management underwent big changes, you’ll be able to ensure that your system will work just as it should before end users are exposed to it.

Do the whole upgrade

One of the most common upgrade problems reported to our technical staff from clients is finding that the client either skipped a step or didn’t finish the entire process.  This is particularly true when clients are trying to upgrade through multiple versions and the client doesn’t let the ensure that the Transaction Server has started or that the Scheduling Server is actually running and complete the update work in each version before moving onto the next.  So, make sure you’ve complete all the steps to the update!

Be prepared to advance to the rear

During the Korean War, General Oliver Smith was asked if the American Marines were retreating.  “We’re advancing to the rear,” he is reported as answering.  When we’re talking about software, it’s a fact that not every upgrade goes perfectly and for a wide variety of reasons.  When you do your update, be prepared to retreat, regroup and try again.  If you backed up not only your data but also your application directory, you should be able to roll back the upgrade with relatively little effort or time.  If that happens, talking to HMS Technical Support about what errors you encountered may help.  Make sure to have your error logs and the process you followed available

We’ve seen a lot of updates and full upgrades over the last couple of decades.  If you’d prefer, HMS Consulting services is always available to help you get the very latest version up and running or, if upgrades are just not for you, you can ask HMS about subscribing to TimeControl Online and we’ll take care of upgrading for you automatically.

TimeControl Industrial 7.1 now available

On the heels of the release two days ago of TimeControl version 7.1 we’re delighted to announce the availability of TimeControl Industrial 7.1 . You can find out all about the amazing updates and changes of TimeControl 7.1 on yesterday’s blog post.  All of the features mentioned in the release of TimeControl 7.1 are also available in TimeControl Industrial 7.1  so we’ll focus today on the significant changes in TimeControl Industrial in this version.

TimeControl Industrial’s last version was 6.9 so this is a major upgrade to the Industrial Edition that includes all of the changes in version 6.10 of TimeControl and the evolution in version 7 to the multi-browser, multi-device architecture.   So this upgrade will be a signficiant one for TimeControl Industrial users.

Here are the new and enhanced features in TimeControl Industrial 7.1 that go beyond what was already in TimeControl 7.1:

TimeControl Industrial Crew Timesheets

tci71_crewtimesheet_300x240TimeControl Industrial’s core is built around the Crew Timesheet.  This addition to the classic TimeControl interface allows field data collection to amass high volumes of production values and enter them in a single interface.  This version of TimeControl has a completely rewritten version of the TimeControl Crew Timesheet which is built in TimeControl’s multi-device, multi-browser architecture.  There is no longer any ActiveX to be installed or anything else that is required on the browser.  The Crew Timesheet now works with virtually any browser including Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Mozilla, and of course, Internet Explorer.  There are other tools within the TimeControl Industrial Crew timesheet including the timesheet worksheet, materials entry and much, much more.

TimeControl Industrial Crew Timesheets Material Entry

Within the new TimeControl Industrial Crew Timesheet is a completely new Material Entry interface.  This tab of the Crew Timesheet allows non-labor entries for Material consumed, Equipment used and Production accomplished.  This area of the Crew Timesheet has been completely rewritten in version 7’s multi-browser, multi-device architecture.  The Material Tab duplicates the functionality of the main Material Entry screens except that approvals for these non-labor entries will be part of this crew timesheet’s approvals.  This will be particularly attractive to organizations who wish to do crew labor and non-labor approvals simultaneously through the same approval path.

TimeControl Industrial Material / Equipment /Production Entry

Aside from the tab on the TimeControl Industrial Crew Timesheet, TimeControl also has the main Material Entry module which has been rewritten in its entirety into the TimeControl 7 multi-device, multi-browser architecture.  This module allows the field data collection of non-labor entries such as Material, Equipment and Accomplished Production to be entered separately from the crew timesheet and approved along its own approval path.  This allows non-labor data collection and approvals to happen at times that don’t match the crew timesheet which is often the situation.

All TimeControl Industrial interface now in new Architecture

All remaining elements of the TimeControl Industrial interface have now been moved out of the old ActiveX controls and into the new TimeControl 7 multi-browser, multi-device architecture.  This means that users are no longer tied to only using Windows and Internet Explorer devices but can now use Firefox, Safari, Chrome, Mozilla or other browsers on their preferred devices to perform all of the TimeControl Industrial functions.  This includes Crew Management Crew Posting, Material Posting, Extended Rates management, Approvals and more.

And so much more…

Aside from these changes, there are also so many more that are now part of TimeControl Industrial from versions 6.10 and 7.0 TimeControl including: Sheduled Imports and Exports, Enhanced Reporting, Flexible Periods, the new Calendar View, the new GANTT view, Table Validation Rules, P6 Role support, Pay Periods, Windows Single Sign On and more.  There are also many more changes under the covers including performance improvements for high capacity or high volume implementations, ergonomic improvements to many of the screens, and improvements to the table interface which makes it faster to perform most functions.

You can get it now!

TimeControl Industrial version 7.1 is available immediately.  Find out more about the new features at Industrial.TimeControl.com/features/latest.  Existing users with a current support contract can access the upgrade at no charge at Industrial.TimeControl.com/support/updates.  For more information about your support status or to speak to HMS Technical services to request assistance with your upgrade, contact info@hms.ca.

Industrial users of TimeControlOnline users will be updated automatically in the coming weeks.

TimeControl 7.1 now available

Late last night we released TimeControl 7.1 and we couldn’t be more excited.  TimeControl Industrial 7.1 was also released but we’ll do a post and more notes on that edition of TimeControl tomorrow. TimeControl 7.1 includes numerous new features and many improvements on features that are already a part of the TimeControl 7 family.  The features we’ll mention here are shared by both TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial:

Line Item Approval

tc71_lia_300x240One aspect of TimeControl that has been a constant has been the multi-faceted way that approvals are handled.  We coined the term “Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™” (Yes, that’s our trademark).  TimeControl has had both an organizational approval aspect and a project management line-item aspect of approvals since its very first version but now we go much, much further.  The new Line Item Approval mechanism allows additional parallel approval paths to progress as part of an approval design.  Imagine one stream of approvals for HR and Payroll, another for Project Management, yet another for Account Management or even another for Onsite Client approvals.  The implications of how flexible approvals have just become is so vast, we’re still wrapping our heads around it and will share our insights in a white paper in the coming days.

Web Services link to Oracle Primavera EPPM

primaveralogo_300x76TimeControl now has two ways of linking to Oracle’s popular project management product.   The existing database-to-database link will remain but for some environments this was not enough.  With the new TimeControl Primavera Web Services link, TimeControl takes advantage of the Web Services API within Primavera EPPM to create a bi-directional link with the same functionality as the existing link.  TimeControl has had an integration with every version of Primavera since 1997 and with this new architecture, it looks like that integration will continue for decades to come. For users of Primavera Professional or EPPM users who need intimate database-level integration in an on-premise implementation, the existing links will remain in TimeControl.

Batch Debit / Credit

TimeControl Industrial had a feature in the past used for doing Debit / Credit adjustments for many employees at the same time.  In the high-volume world of TimeControl Industrial, it was a must but it was also so popular that we’ve rewritten Batch Debit / Credit and have made it part of the regular TimeControl.  Administrators are likely to love this easy to use method of making adjustments for multiple timesheets and even across multiple employees in a single interface.  For organizations with many adjustments to make each period, this will be welcome news.

Employee Banks Report

We didn’t talk about this much in the last version of TimeControl because it was new even to us but the Employee Banks Report is a new dynamic interface that allows administrators to view, aggregate, group, sub-group and analyze the status of all data in the Banked areas of the employee records.  For larger organizations this view is tremendously powerful and allows HR managers to get a handle on what time off has been taken, what categories it’s in and what is still to be taken for any selection of staff.

And so much more…

These are just the more visible changes available as part of TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial 7.1.  There are so many more changes under the covers including performance improvements for high capacity or high volume implementations, ergonomic improvements to many of the screens, and improvements to the table interface which makes it faster to perform most functions.

You can get it now!

TimeControl version 7.1 is available immediately.  Find out more about the new features at TimeControl.com/features/latest.  Existing users with a current support contract can access the upgrade at no charge at TimeControl.com/support/updates.

TimeControlOnline users will be updated automatically in the coming weeks.

The official blogsite of TimeControl