Starting off your TimeControl year

It’s a brand new year and just like for many of us at home, there are some things that will need doing in TimeControl to make sure we close off our previous calendar year and are ready for the upcoming year.  Here are a few suggestions:

End of the Fiscal year?

If the end of the calendar year is the end of your fiscal year then this is a good time to be looking at your completed year of timesheet data to make sure it’s ready for Finance to get their year-end complete. A good start to this is to check for completeness.

  • Are there any timesheets which were not completed during the year for any employee? The Missing Timesheet Report may help locate these.
  • Did we close off the missing timesheet report for any employees who left the organization by entering a end-date in the employee table?
  • Are there any timesheets which never completed their approval either because someone left or there was a change in the approval path? Using the Change-Ownership may help with those.
  • Are there any more Debit/Credit corrections expected for the previous year?
  • Are your full-year reports showing everything you need in the data? Running draft reports and checking against expectations will help with that.
  • It’s a good time to check for end of year Accrual Rules to ensure they ran as expected. Some Accrual rules will use the end-of-year to automatically reset employee bank balances for things like vacation time.
  • While we’re talking banks, this is a good time for a Banked Time review. Did employees use the banked time they were supposed to? Did the appropriate amount of banked time roll over into the new year? Are there any manual adjustments needed? Using Banked Time reports and delving into the Employee Table’s Banked Time Tab should help with that.

Start of year clean-up

Whether this is your fiscal year end or not, this is a great time to be doing some clean up of the TimeControl tables.

  • Table clean up. Are there employees in the Employee table which are no longer with the organization? This might be a good time to either delete them or make them inactive. How about the Project and Charge tables? This might be a good time to be either deleting or marking tasks as Closed to filter them from view.
  • Timesheet Archive. If you won’t be using the timesheet data from 2 or 3 years ago in your most common reports, you can Archive the Data and then include those timesheet records only by specifically asking to include archive data. This may help with performance of certain drop down fields.
  • Rate Review. This is a great time to review your rates table and see if any rate values will change for the new year. Should you make new rates or just update the previous rate values? This depends on what will work best for your implementation.
  • Filter Review. Are your charge code, reporting and other filters doing what you need? Some organizations use date-specific filters. If that’s the case for you, reviewing your commonly used filters for reporting, exporting or screen display might be required.

With a good review of your data now behind you, you’re ready to face the year! We hope it’s a good one and we at HMS are very much looking forward to working with you as the year progresses.

Happy Holidays from the TimeControl Team

From all of us here at HMS Software, we wish you and yours the very best of the holiday season.  Thank you all for your support this year.
We look forward to serving you in 2017.

During the holiday season, HMS will be open during its regular hours for technical and presales support on the following schedule:

  • Friday, December 23 – open
  • Monday, December 26 – Closed for Christmas
  • Tuesday, December 27 – Closed for Boxing Day
  • Wednesday, December 28 – open
  • Thursday, December 29 – open
  • Friday, December 30 – open
  • Monday, January 2 – Closed for New Year’s
  • Tuesday, January 3 – Closed for all-staff annual meeting
  • Wednesday, January 4 – open and back to our regular schedule

 

 

A Letter from our client Entegrus

entegrus_300x120Sometimes we just can’t say it better than our clients do.  We received a letter recently from our client Entegrus.  Entegrus is a utility company based in Ontario Canada which brings electricity, renewable energy and water to over 40,000 customers.

They’ve been using TimeControl since 2014 and as a result have become more efficient in reporting on where their time is being spent.

We’d like to thank Chris Towne, the Director of Finance for Entegrus and the entire Entegrus team for their support.

You can read Chris’s letter in its entirety at www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials/entegrus.

Barcharting your progress in TimeControl

MyAccount_Gantt2Version 7 of TimeControl brought a completely new display type to our viewer.  A barchart or Gantt chart can show tasks or assignments in a barchart view similar to most project scheduling systems.  Invented by Henry Gantt in the 1910’s, this type of display shows activities horizontally across a range of dates.  It is, by far, the most popular display of task data.

In TimeControl, almost everything refers to a date so charting our information across a Gantt chart is somewhat natural for us.  HMS personnel have been working with project management tools since the 1980s.  We’re very familiar with barchart displays around here.

So the Gantt chart’s arrival to TimeControl is like welcoming home an old friend.  You can find the view in the Report tab and Resource Assignments tab of your My Account Area.

There are many options in the Gantt chart view but at their core, you have 3 options.  A Gantt chart can be based on the Project list, the Activity list or the Assignment list.  You can set filters to show only some of the information and make and save as many of each type of view as you wish.  Once you’ve created the view, you can export it to Excel, PDF or an image fit for printing or embedding elsewhere.

Given our familiarity with Gantt charts in general, we expect this aspect of TimeControl to evolve continuously in the coming releases of the product as we add more and more flexibility to creating views and reports in this format.

Get attached to things? Like receipts?

One feature that was added to TimeControl some time ago was enhanced in TimeControl 7.  The ability to attached documents within the timesheet relates to a couple of very important features.

Attachments to the timesheet
Some people have scanned documents or pictures or other files that are relevant to their entire timesheet.  Just above the timesheet grid on the right-hand side of the screen is a button called “Timesheet Attachments”.  Clicking on it will allow you to add an unlimited number of files from your device to attach to your timesheet.

expenseattachment

Attachments to Expense Items
A more popular area of the timesheet where attachments are made is within Expense Entries.  If you add an expense item to any timesheet line, you are able to add an unlimited number of attachment files to each expense item and an unlimited number of expense items to each timesheet line.  Whether you take a photograph of your receipt or scan it into a PDF file, the file is easily uploaded into the TimeControl database and associated to that item.

In TimeControl 7, this ability to add files was improved in both the Expense dialog and the timesheet header area, making it easier to browse and post files in both sections.

 

TimeControl Online Security Architecture white paper updated to version 7

tconlinesecurity_wpcover300x387Now that TimeControl Online has migrated up to version 7, we have rewritten our TimeControl Online Security Architecture white paper which is now available on the TimeControl.com website.  The paper responds only to the security of the TimeControl Online in-the-cloud subscription service.

Like the TimeControl On-Premise Security Architecture white paper, there were many changes.

The focus of the paper is to give prospective and existing TimeControl Online subscribers the information they require to be safe in their use of TimeControl Online and covers:

  • Physical security
  • Authentication
  • Functional security
  • Testing criteria
  • Other architectural security elements

Obviously we don’t share all aspects of the security structure as to do so would compromise the very security we’re trying to implement.

You can read the TimeControl Online Security Architecture white paper now at TimeControl.com.  For those more interested in the security architecture of TimeControl for an on-premise installation, we recommend looking at the TimeControl On-Premise Security Architecture white paper.

TimeControl Online makes the move to version 7!

Following the announcement in August that we had released TimeControl 7 for on-premise installations, we are thrilled to tell you that TimeControl Online has now been migrated to the version 7 architecture!

TimeControl Online is HMS Software’s Timesheet-as-a-Service in-the-cloud subscription service and includes everything that you’ve come to love about TimeControl.

Everything we’ve been talking about in the new version 7 architecture is here in TimeControl Online 7 as the code-base is the same for both on-premise installations and the online service.  So TimeControl Online users are now starting to enjoy the many new and enhanced features of TimeControl 7 including:

Multi-line edit timesheettimesheet.jpg

The TimeControl 7 timesheet has been completely rewritten to allow all cells in the timesheet to be edited simultaneously. For those with timesheets that have a large number of pre-loaded tasks, this will be a welcome change.

Gantt ViewsMyAccount_Gantt2.jpg

TimeControl 7 now allows you to view projects, tasks or assignments in graphical Gantt charge views. The view is highly configurable and is accessed from either the Reporting tab or the MyAssignments tab of each user’s Options page.

Calendar Views

TimeControl 7 introduces a brand new view into assignments with a calendar view. The view can include assignments and/or calendar_viewTimeRequests™ and can be accessed from either the reporting view or from right inside the TimeRequest Approval screen.

 

There’s lots and lots more!

There are more than 40 more exciting new and improved features in TimeControl 7 that we haven’t even listed here.

But, those using TimeControl Online didn’t have do the upgrade or worry about being on the latest version because that’s all part of the service when you subscribe to TimeControl Online.

For a more complete list, see the Latest in TimeControl page on the website.

 

TimeControl on-premise security architecture white paper rewrite

tc7secure_cover_300x389.jpgWith the launch of TimeControl 7, we are gradually working through updating the vast array of TimeControl resource that are available online.  This week saw a rewrite of the TimeControl On-Premise Security Architecture white paper which is now available on the TimeControl.com website.  Rewriting such material gets everyone thinking about the subject matter so security turns out to be one of our most popular internal conversations this week.

To be fair, security has been a topic of conversation for the TimeControl developers since long before the first version of TimeControl was released.  The first ever timesheet that HMS created was 10 years before TimeControl.  Our client, Philips Information Systems in Canada needed a timesheet that would integrate with both the Payroll system and the Project Scheduling system.  Security was a huge element of the design as the data for Payroll was, of course, very sensitive and the costing information in the project system was information that would have been terribly damaging to the company if it fell into the hands of competitors.

That original HMS timesheet was very secure for its time and there are elements of that design that live in TimeControl still.  But times have changed and the threat of data and systems compromise has become ever more sophisticated each year since that first timesheet system.

While the TimeControl On-Premise Security Architecture reveals many of the elements of the TimeControl deign that lend themselves to a safe and secure system, it is primarily a document that lets prospective clients review TimeControl against their own security standards.   Yes, we use the latest in many technology designers in TimeControl and we test against the OWASP standards (owasp.org) looking for potential threats and ensuring we protect against them but there are risks that you can implement at that are beyond the security architecture we designed for TimeControl.  Here are a couple of basic tips you can think about regardless of your size:

  1. Have a security plan for your key systems and data and choose someone to be accountable for it.
  2. Authentication is key.  How do people authenticate to your network, to your applications and even to your building.
  3. Outward facing or inward?  Does TimeControl need to be accessible to the Internet or will it serve your purposes just as well being available only within the corporate firewall?  Inward implementations aren’t as easily accessible and that can mean they’re safer.
  4. Don’t forget physical security.  If someone can get physical access to the servers, they can get access to your systems.
  5. Monitor.  Make sure you take advantage of the many technologies available to monitor unauthorized access or out of pattern use of your applications, your data and your network.
  6. Functional and Data restrictions.  In TimeControl, User Profiles determine what users can see which data and which users can use or perform which functions.  Think about who needs access and don’t be scared to start with less access and later ease up on your restrictions.
  7. Disaster Recovery.  Make a plan for your data and systems being compromised and how you’ll recover from it.  Then do an actual practice to make sure your plan works.  Iterative and redundant backups and a plan for restoring them is something that makes security officers sleep better.

This is not a comprehensive list of course.  There are many aspects to a complete security plan that are better explained by specialists in that field.  We’ve been talking about TimeControl for an On-Premise implementation.  Next month as we upgrade TimeControl Online to version 7 we’ll be updating our Security Architecture white paper for TC Online and we’ll be sure to talk about that here in the blog.

You can find the TimeControl 7 On-Premise Security White paper at: TimeControl.com/resources/whitepapers

TimeControl 7 introduces the multi-line timesheet… again!

Years ago with the release of TimeControl 6, we moved from a Windows-based ActiveX timesheet to a multi-device, multi-browser version.  It was an essential move.  The world is no longer all PC/Internet Explorer-based.  So TimeControl 6 was a complete rewrite of much of TimeControl.  But in making the TimeControl timesheet work on tablets, SmartPhones and browsers like Chrome, Safari and Firefox meant a change.  multi-line-timesheet.jpgIn order to be able to evaluate the content of each timesheet cell and do all the validations that TimeControl is known and selected for, we had to move to a one-line-at-a-time edit.  For new users, this was just fine but some users of the Windows-based interface felt that editing each line at a time was slower than they were used to.

In TimeControl 7, technology caught up to us in a way that we can bring back something old that’s new again.  The technology built into the multi-device, multi-browser TimeControl timesheet now allows us to be both performant and functional and to allow all lines to be edited at once.  For users who enjoy the efficiency of pre-loading, this will be a welcome change.  Each timesheet with multiple lines has all lines editable at the same time.  Users can just click on any cell and they are instantly editing that cell.  Just like TimeControl has always done, when the focus of editing moves off of a cell, TimeControl evaluates that line and warns the user if there are any issues with that cell or conditions other data on the timesheet as required.  So cascading user defined fields and resource filters are all in place just as they always have been.

calendar_config_444x572Multi-line edit isn’t the only change in the timesheet.  The new Options screen allows a number of new selections.  For example, users can now decide if they wish to word-wrap header rows.  This allows dates and the day of the week to be displayed on two lines but also allows the field to be narrow.  Each column can also be defined to be word-wrapped.  If you have longer project descriptions or charge descriptions, just click on wrapping that column.  You can also define which fields on the left of the screen will be frozen in place in case you scroll to the right.  This is particularly important if you have defined longer timesheet periods.  If you have monthly periods for example, you’ll certainly want to freeze the project/charge descriptions on the left to be able to fill in columns far to the right!

All the other timesheet functions are still there but many have been enhanced.  Attachments can still be made at the timesheet level or the expense line item level so if you have receipts to photograph or scan, they can be attached here.  There is a new Views tab that will be of more interest to administrative users who have to check timesheets with a large number of lines.  The Views function works much like the Drill Down Analyzer, allowing the user to drag and drop timesheet columns to see data summarized and grouped by each field selected.

We think you’ll like the new multi-line timesheet.  It will form the core of this wave of TimeControl for the foreseeable future.

HMS in Minneapolis / St Paul this week

minneapolisHMS is in Minneapolis/St-Paul this week where we are the gold sponsors of the Minnesota PMI’s Professional Development Days event.  HMS Software’s President, Chris Vandersluis will be speaking on two topics and HMS will have a booth to show off the latest version of TimeControl.  The Symposium part of the week is Thursday September 15th and we’ll be auctioning off a big screen TV to one lucky attendee.  Stop by the booth and speak to us about TimeControl 7 and how it might help solve your timesheet challenges.

If you’re going to the Professional Development Days, please make a point of saying hello.

To find out more about the Minneapolis PMI’s Professional Development days, go to: www.pmi-mn.org.

To find out more about TimeControl 7, visit: www.timecontrol.com/features/latest.

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