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.

 

Oracle and HMS extend their alliance for a 19th consecutive year

HMS and Oracle have renewed their technical partnership for a nineteenth consecutive year.  Oracle has just named HMS as an Oracle Gold Partner for the 2016-2017 season.  Oracle_GoldPartner_300x80We’re delighted with our long standing and evolving Oracle relationship.

The alliance between HMS Software and Oracle dates back to the mid-1990’s.  HMS initially joined the Oracle partner program in 1997 because of the development of TimeControl version 3 so we could properly support the Oracle database. That year marked the start of another technical alliance, this one between HMS and Primavera.  We joined the Primavera Partner program to properly support the integration between HMS Software’s TimeControl’s and Primavera’s project management software.  When Oracle purchased Primavera many years later, these two initiatives blended together to form a much richer relationship with deep and enduring ties.

The TimeControl timesheet system now supports many different products that have become part of the Oracle family including the MySQL database and links between TimeControl, Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft and JD Edwards. We work regularly with Oracle to support our clients.

The Oracle Partner program in which HMS has been named as a Gold Partner again this year allows software publishers such as HMS to work directly with Oracle to more effectively bring products and services to each other’s clients.  Thanks to our status in the Oracle Partner program our integration with Oracle-Primavera P6, for example, can be tested on pre-release versions.

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 Oracle Primavera, both a browser and mobile/tablet interface and matrix timesheet approvals with HMS’s unique Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™.

We are proud to be an Oracle Gold Partner once again this year and look forward to our relationship evolving for many years to come.

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

 

FAQ: Saving time in TimeControl with Best Practices

Let’s be honest: We don’t know anyone who wakes up early on Friday morning and excitedly shouts, “Yay! It’s Timesheet Day!”. bestpractices.jpg

Most of us do our timesheets because we have to and because the result of doing our few minutes of work entering data pays back bigger dividends to both ourselves and to the organization we’re doing the timesheet.  Here at HMS, our technical staff are asked often about the best practices for timesheet use.

HMS maintains a portal of materials that will help you get the most out of timesheeting with TimeControl.

The resource center is divided so you can focus on practices for the whole organization or individual best practies.  The Timesheet Best Practices Portal has tips, techniques and materials that are identified as being more useful from the organizational or individual perspective.

One of the more popular areas is the Timesheet Best Practices Q & A page.  Ever wondered just how much time is too much to spend on entering your timesheet?  Do you question just how much detail is productive in a timesheet?  Or, perhaps you’re wondering if it makes sense to track the start and stop times of the day along with the durations for each task? You’ll find answers to these and other questions in the portal.

There are many materials in the Best Practices Solution Portal including white papers on how to increase resource capacity through better timesheet practices, guidance for executives on how a timesheet system can benefit the organization, webcasts of how to be effective with your timesheet system and even a blank timesheet process template for creating your own timesheet process.

Access to the Timesheet Best Practices Solution Portal is free.  Some materials may require registering and logging into the timecontrol.com website which is also free.

To access the Timesheet Best Practices website, visit www.timecontrol.com/resources/best-practices.

 

What happened to that multi-currency article?

multicurrencyLast week we inadvertently published an article titled Multi-Currency Project Management here on the TimeControl blog that was supposed to be destined for Chris Vandersluis’s EPMGuidance blog. But, if you caught sight of the article, don’t worry, it hasn’t gone far. The article is still available, on the EPMGuidance.com blog in its entirety at: www.epmguidance.com/2016/04/16/multi-currency-project-management.

FAQ: Timesheets by Exception

autofill.jpgCan TimeControl support timesheets entered only by exception? We have some operational staff who do the same thing all the time and are on salary so the only time we need their timesheet is when they need to book sick leave or vacation.

You can do timesheets by exception.  But, more importantly, you can do timesheets by exception for some staff while doing positive-entry timesheets for everyone else.  A positive-entry timesheet is one where an employee is expected to enter the timesheet with what they did with their time each day.  An exception timesheet is one where the employee typically does the same task each day so tracking their day-to-day activities is not important.  In their case, we’d like to default their timesheet to a standard week (for example: 40 hours of “in attendance”). Those employees would only have to make an entry for an “exception” such as vacation or sick leave or personal time off.

TimeControl includes a function called “Autofill” that automatically fills a timesheet for any employee in this category to the maximum per day required.  If there are no entries for that person, a complete week is filled in.  If there are some exception entries, only the gaps are filled in.  In this manner we can accommodate both exception timesheet employees and positive-entry timesheet employees.  More on this and other HR-related functions can be found at: http://www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/human-resources

FAQ: Dealing with approvals when supervisors are absent?

Question:
How do you deal with approvals when supervisors are absent due to vacation or if a person changes departments?

Answer:
It is a common occurrence for a person to be absent and this is just as
true for managers and supervisors as it is for any other employee.  TimeControl includes an “Alternate User” function that is designed to manage the situation where a supervisor or administrator will be absent and someone else must assume their duties.  A user can set their own Alternate in their Profile area and can define when the privileges of that alternate will expire.  alternate_login.jpgAn Administrator can set an alternate for any user in the User Table.  The Administrator can also determine who should receive email notices from TimeControl for things like missing timesheets.  They can go to the original user, the alternate or both.  In the example at the right, Joe Gardner has logged into TimeControl and is told that he has been assigned as an alternate for Tom Logan.  He can now log in as himself or as Tom.

When the alternate logs into TimeControl, they will be presented with a new intermediate screen after their login which asks who they would like to access the system as.

If alternate_headerthey select the Alternate, then TimeControl will indicate that at the top of the screen. In the example on the right, Joe Gardner has logged in as Tom Logan.

While the Alternate is logged into TimeControl they will see the menu and data selections that the absent person would see but TimeControl always keeps track in the background of who really did approvals or data changes for auditing purposes.

TimeControl Administrator Management

7276253TimeControl is a centralized timesheet system and requires administration as any other centralized system would.  In smaller deployments of 100 users or less, all the responsibility typically falls to one person who helps design the TimeControl implementation and then manages it ongoingly.  But what happens when the deployment is more complex?  Let’s talk for a moment about the Administration Roles and how this work can be distributed to more than one person.   First of all, there are several types of Administrators that are possible:

Technical Administrator

If you have installed TimeControl on premises, you will almost certainly require a Technical Administrator.  If you are subscribed to TimeControlOnline, HMS Software takes care of this responsibility.
The Technical Administrator is typically from the IT department and is responsible to keep the TimeControl system functioning.  They will be responsible for the server TimeControl is installed on, the database that TimeControl is using and technical responsibilities that include the following:

  • System Monitoring
  • System Usage
    • Database storage
    • Log file storage
  • Technical Support
  • Testing and Installing new Upgrades

TimeControl may have been installed with multiple instances to provide a production instance that everyone uses as well as a staging or development instance that is used for testing new updates prior to giving access to the update to everyone.

Main Administrator

Whether you are subscribed to TimeControlOnline or are using TimeControl on premises, you will want a Main TimeControl Administrator who will take charge of the centralized aspects of the system.  This includes being responsible for:

  • Documenting and Maintaining the System Processes
  • Table Maintenance of the Employee, User, Charge, Project, Resource and Rates tables
  • System Preferences
  • Management of User Profiles
  • Archiving of old timesheet data
  • Routine Data Cleanup
    • Deleting or hiding old projects, employees, users, pop-up values etc. so that current users don’t need to go through them as they use the system.

Secondary Administrators (optional)

Larger organizations may divide up some responsibilities to different people in the organization.  It is not unusual in larger deployments for example, to have an HR administrator who will deal with onboarding and offboarding employees who join and leave the company.  They will be responsible to add or remove these employees from TimeControl as part of the overall process of a new employee or one who is leaving.  Some common Secondary Administrators include:

  • HR Administrator
    • Users
    • Employees
    • Internal Rates
    • TimeRequest Wizard
  • Project Administrator
    • Project Table
    • Charge Table
    • Resource Table
    • Assignments
    • Project Rates
  • Costing/Billing Administrator
    • Rate Values

Training for these secondary administrators must ensure that the multiple roles don’t conflict so ensuring that one aspect of the data is the responsibilty of one person is critical.

Some other notes

  • Share the knowledge
    One thing we see often at HMS is a call from a client informing us that their long standing and very knowledgeable TimeControl Administrator has just left and they need to retrain someone “right away”.  While HMS often does such training, it’s important to remember that complete training requires intimate knowledge of your internal processes.  It’s much more effective to have more than one Technical and Main TimeControl Administrator trained and active so that if there is someone missing even for a short time, there is no loss of continuity.
  • Document your system
    No one loves this responsibility but it is important nonetheless.  HMS does system documentation as a matter of course but process documentation is also critical and this is often left to the client to produce.  The more documentation you have for your centralized system, the easier it is to update and to train new people when required.
  • Don’t miss out on what’s new
    When new versions of TimeControl are released, take the opportunity to see what new functionality will be of benefit to your particular deployment.  It is common to skip an update or even if the Technical Administrator updates the system to just keep using it the way you always have without pausing to see if any new or enhanced functionality would be of use to you.  So, take a few minutes, look over the new features and see if there is something there that will make your life easier!

If you need help with Administrator Training, talk to HMS Technical Services at info@hms.ca.

See us at PMI Westchester April 2nd!

pmiwestchester_300x34.pngWe’ll be on the road next week at the PMI Westchester’s Professional Development Day which takes place April 2nd at the Holiday Inn in Mt. Kisco, NY.

HMS is this year’s Platinum sponsor so attendees will get a chance to talk to HMS personnel about their timesheet needs and see the latest of TimeControl, TimeControlOnline and TimeControl Industrial.

For more information on the conference, see pmiwestchester.org and if you’d like to make an appointment to speak to HMS personnel while you’re at the conference, contact info@hms.ca.

What is the difference between TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial?

industrial_300x180.jpgBoth products are part of the TimeControl family. TimeControl Industrial includes everything that the regular TimeControl has but adds modules and functionality to extend TimeControl in ways that are more appropriate for construction or industrial situations where end users will not be filling in their own timesheets.

Imagine a situation such as a construction site where there might be hundreds or even thousands of workers in the field working on our project today.  They are all managed by supervisors and may even have a time and attendance system to make sure they get paid properly.  But, management is having a terrible time trying to figure out what the exact cost of each project tasks is.  Yet these carpenters, welders, pipefitters and drivers aren’t expected to sit down at a PC and fill out a timesheet.  This is the world that TimeControl Industrial was designed for.  TimeControl supports high-volume entries by supervisors or data entry clerks who enter the timesheet data in crew timesheets on behalf of the employees who have finished their shift.

TimeControl Industrial is popular in industries like mining, heavy construction, utilities and infrastructure operations.  The additional modules in TimeControl Industrial include:

  • Crew timesheet entry
  • Non-Labor entry for materials, equipment and production accomplished entry
  • Extended Labor Rates
  • Extended Non-Labor Rates
  • Crew Management
  • Crew Approvals
  • Non-Labor Approvals

You can find out more about TimeControl Industrial and see it in action at industrial.timecontrol.com.

FAQ: How do I make corrections in a closed timesheet?

balance_debit_credit_dice_250x250Question:
If I need to make a correction in an already closed timesheet, can I do so? And, if so, can I see what was changed?

Answer:
Yes. This has been a part of TimeControl since version 1.0 and it is something that HMS has spent a lot of time on. The function allows you to both remove hours and add hours as you adjust and you can force those changes to balance so we’ve called the function Debit/Credit just as you would in an accounting system. The Debit/Credit function occurs only once the main organizational approval has completed. You can identify every line that has been adjusted and as it must comply with the Defense Contractor Audit Agency, TimeControl must be able to re-create a timesheet as it was first entered at the time by the employee and for each change that occurs. Using the optional balanced Debit/Credit, you can ensure that any adjustments to the timesheet result in the same total that was approved by the supervisor. This allows project managers to redistribute hours from one task to another or even one project to another but not to affect the timesheet totals that may have already been sent to payroll and HR.

Debit/Credit is one of the functions that makes TimeControl completely auditable. For more information about Debit/Credit and how it is used in the Matrix Approval Process, see www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/matrix-approvals.

In the historical timesheet, TimeControl optionally shows the source user of each line and, in the background, we can see the time-date stamp for when the line was saved and posted. When you look at adjustments you can instantly see any reversed lines and their corresponding adjusting lines.

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