What button do I push?

 

userprofiles71.jpgLike most modern technology companies, HMS spends a great deal of time working on search engine optimization and key word analysis.  Last week one aspect of a report from our marketing team said that a keyword phrase that ended up causing a visitor to our website was “I’m in my timesheet and I don’t know what button to push.”  Now that’s a pretty specific problem from someone who wasn’t a TimeControl user but it highlights one of TimeControl’s great strength.

From the start of the very first timesheet that HMS created back in 1984 for one of our earliest clients, we knew that we had a design dilemma on our hands.  On one side, management had a long list of highly complex features for the timesheet including complex approvals, table management of many tables, reporting, integration with other systems and system management.  On the other side, we had the vast majority of users, more than 95% of them, who would be looking at the timesheet for about 5 minutes per week.  So, on the one hand, we had complex features needed, on the other hand we had absolute simplicity needed.

That’s where User Profiles came from.  User Profiles is what lets TimeControl present one set of data and functionality and rules to one set of users and a very different set of data, functionality and rules to another.  Using User Profiles, Administrators can configure TimeControl to show only those menu items, data selections and options that particular users require.  So, a regular timesheet user who looks at TimeControl for 2 minutes a day or 5 minutes a week and has no commitment at all to mastering the flexibility or nuances of TimeControl will only see one or two tabs and three or four functions.  Even the default pages of how TimeControl starts can be defined so a user might even start their timesheet in the timesheet view rather than the default dashboard.

This functionality has been so successful that there has never been a training manual for end users.  Oh, there is a user manual of course and there are some 5 minute Online Training videos for people to look at but these are rarely an issue.  That’s because for end users there are very few buttons to consider and the presentation of data in the format it’s expected makes the use of the timesheet intuitive.

There can be an unlimited number of profiles because TimeControl is designed to serve many purposes at the same time.  So a super-user type of Administrator with access to all data and all functions is a must but there may be other specific types of Administrators or perhaps something specific for Supervisors or Project Managers or Crew Entry personnel with TimeControl Industrial or Payroll managers and so on and so on.

TimeControl ships with four template User Profiles to start with but they are always reviewed during deployment and it is would be quite unusual to find two organizations with profiles that are exactly the same.

Even though User Profiles has been one of the most successful aspects of TimeControl since its first version, and even though there are some aspects of User Profiles that have carried forwards since version 1, we continue to make enhancements as features of TimeControl evolve that we wish to have secured or made available only to certain user roles.

User Profiles will continue to play a prominent role in configuring TimeControl deployments to match the specific business challenges that clients are working to solve.

 

FAQ: How does one deploy a timesheet like TimeControl for both the company and its sub-contractors at the same time?

subcontracting_300x244.jpgThis is a great question and a common one.  First of all, many organizations already have a clause in their sub-contracts where the contractor has agreed to use company-specified or company-provided systems.  It’s quite a common aspect of a sub-contract and is needed for many reasons.  If you’re using access cards for your front door, for example, contractors absolutely must comply with having an authorized access card in order to work.  The same logic can be applied to other systems.  It is relatively simple to insist that contractors use your internal timesheet system.  That being said, there are two things you may find are immediate concerns and TimeControl can handle both of them:

  1. Can you separate the access to data by the sub-contractors so they only see things that are appropriate to them and they can’t see things from either the company or other contractors?   TimeControl’s User Profiles allows you to set filters for many purposes including this exact scenario.  You can isolate the data for the sub-contractor to see as much or as little data as desired.
  2. Can you create an approval mechanism for contractors that is distinct from other contractors and from the company?   TimeControl’s flexible approval mechanism allows you to design an approval for each sub-contractor so they can be involved in the approval mechanism and you can insert people such as a contract manager into the approval mechanism for them.

The benefits of having both your internal personnel and your contracting personnel on the same timesheet system can be significant.  There is a use-case section of the TimeControl website dedicated to this with a webcast, white paper and other resources located at: www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/manage-contractors.

Meeting your HR and Payroll requirements with TimeControl

Human ResourcesWe tend to talk so much about the project management aspects of TimeControl that we often overlook the much more common part of a business that is interested in timesheets and that’s Human Resources.

Unlike the timesheets that are included with many project management systems, TimeControl is designed to serve both Project Management and Human Resources at the same time.  Aside from project management needs, there are several aspects of the organization that will have a great interest in the timesheet data.  Some of those departments are combined and usually all of them will fall within the Finance group.

Human Resources

This department focuses on employee attendance and participation in HR related tasks such as training.  HR will usually manage statutory holidays, vacation approvals, sick leave and other benefits.  Their interest in timesheet data is usually the exceptions.  When did someone take the day off and was that associated to some bank of benefits to which the employee was entitled?  HR may also manage time employees are expected to take for training, certifications, safety briefings and other compliance time.  Data collected from the timesheet can be key for tracking this type of effort.

Payroll

Well, of course everyone wants to get paid and for some organizations this means collecting timesheets with each hour identified.  Payroll may have to collect timesheet data even if everyone is on a salary.  There are many exceptions for which Payroll must be able to identify whether someone worked overtime, was absent or worked in conditions that would affect their pay (such as while travelling).

Other Finance

There are other Finance areas outside of the interests of which may also have an interest in timesheet data for such things as including Billing, labor costs for R&D tax claims, and labor cost of assets that will appear on the balance sheet for Sarbanes-Oxley compliance and more.

What do these departments need?

One thing that is common to all the areas above is the level of data quality and control that they required.  Approvals for payroll will almost certainly be different and more stringent than the approvals for project management.  We often explain that if the budget vs. actual for project management is off by a hundred dollars, no one will get excited.  But, if someone’s paycheck is off by one single cent, they will feel compelled to complain.  The level of attention to the data is different from the HR perspective.

The TimeControl.com site has an area with numerous resources of interest to HR and Payroll departments.  These pages include webcasts, white papers slide shows and more.  Here are a few links that may be of interest:

If you need more help with determining how TimeControl can fulfill your HR and Payroll requirements, you can also contact HMS and we’ll set up a call with one of our implementation specalists.  Just go to TimeControl.com/contact and let us know you want to talk about your HR/Payroll needs.

 

Best Practices

Whether you are new to TimeControl or have used it for years, getting the fiscal year underway is a good time to review your timesheet practices to look for improvements.  bestpractices_300x168.jpgThe TimeControl website has numerous resources for this.

Organizational Best TimeControl Practices

When we think of best practices for timesheet use from the administrator or organization perspective, we think of processes, how to improve efficiency of the organization overall.  The TimeControl website includes a section in the Best Practices area called Timesheet Best Practices for Organizations. At: http://www.timecontrol.com/resources/best-practices/organizations

Personal Best TimeControl Practices

Timesheets are an application which may be used by every employee in the organization.  If we can save each person only a few minutes each week, the combined savings can be enormous.  The TimeControl website has a section called Timesheet Best Practices for Individuals at www.timecontrol.com/resources/best-practices/individuals which includes presentations and materials which show how each user can shave time off their timesheet entry effort.

Additional Use Case Scenarios

It is very common for us at HMS to receive calls asking how to use TimeControl for a particular use-case scenario.  This is often because TimeControl was originally implemented to solve a particular set of business challenges and now that it is a stable part of the organization’s culture, we don’t pause to think of what else it might be able to accomplish for us.  Take a look at the TimeControl Use Case Scenarios at www.timecontrol.com/use-cases to see the most common business challenges TimeControl solves and see if any of these can be applied in your own organizations.

Missing Features

You might not keep track of all the functionality that TimeControl offers.  Once you have deployed the functionality you originally designed into your timesheet process, it is quite common to ignore any new functionality which may have been added in the meantime.  So, take a moment and peek at the TimeControl Features overview at www.timecontrol.com/features which shows the most popular aspects of the TimeControl system.

FAQs – Frequently Asked Questions

We use the TimeControl blog itself to archive answers to the most frequently asked technical questions.  You can go to the search function of the blog and enter “FAQ” or just click on this link at:  blog.timecontrol.com/?s=FAQ.

For more about TimeControl Best Practices, go to: www.timecontrol.com/resources/best-practices.

Pontoon case study showcases TimeControl Online

HMS has published a case study written in collaboration with its clipontoon.jpgent Pontoon.  Pontoon is a global HR outsourcer managing resources in nearly 100 countries.  In 2012, Pontoon selected TimeControl Online as its method of tracking project time and payroll time.

The case study demonstrates how Pontoon has leveraged the flexibility of TimeControl Online to accomodate Pontoon’s variable workforce.

“Our time tracking needs vary,” explains Stephen Nosek, Director of Global Corporate Systems at Pontoon.

HMS is delighed to have worked with Pontoon on creating the case study and in how satisfied they are with TimeControl Online.  You can read the case study in its entirety at: www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies/pontoon.

To see the case studies and testimonials from some of our other clients, please visit: www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol.

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.

 

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