Tag Archives: enterprise timesheet

Choosing between Subscribing Online or Purchasing for OnPrem

A few years ago, we’d have thought that online subscriptions of Software as a Service for enterprise software was something destined for more modestly sized clients.  If you were a few dozen or a few hundred users, then your organization might not have had a full-blown IT team or a comprehensive data center.  The promise of completely managed software in a service business would have been more attractive to such organizations we’d have thought.

That was then, and this is now.

In today’s IT world, organizations of all sizes are rethinking how they look at the On-Line vs. On-Premise decision.  The efficiency of online services and the infrastructure organizations that support them mean that software of all sizes can be attractive in a hosted environment plus the security attached to many Software as a Service (SaaS) infrastructures is often daunting for an internal IT department to compete with.

There are compelling reasons however to select either Online or OnPrem.  Let’s consider a few:

Why install on Premise?

There are many potential reasons for installing a product on your own premises.

Integration

Many Software as a Service systems including TimeControl have API modules that allow programming access to many of the functions.  No system however, opens every single possible function into their API.  It’s not because programmers don’t want to but there is a cost/benefit consideration when creating such functions.  In TimeControl for example, you can use the API to populate all the major tables.  But there are other functions such as those for maintenance that are not accessible programmatically.  That’s because they’re only used once or rarely from time to time and therefore the cost of creating programming access to them delivers little or no benefit.

But it is certainly possible that someone might have a compelling reason to integrate with TimeControl at such an intimate level and then direct access to the database might be preferable.

Another Integration attraction is for high volume integration.  When we have 500 users, the speed of the transfer of data from one system to another is so fast it’s not worth talking about.  When we have 5,000 users, perhaps it is.  There are some clients who might have such a high volume of data transfer that direct access to the data for moving data in or out is attractive.

Security

The security of many subscription services is a key preoccupation of providers.  It certainly is for TimeControl.  We’ve written numerous white papers on the subject and also leverage the security.  But security systems inside of an organization can be made even more secure.  For example, an internal TimeControl instance can be made wholly inside the firewall and not be outward facing towards the Internet.  Then potential attacks on it could only originate by either hacking the firewall or from inside the organization itself.  In-the-cloud services including TimeControl Online are, by their very nature, accessible through the Internet.

We really, really like this version

Some clients prefer to stick with a version of software and not upgrade until they are left with no choice at all.  This isn’t for everyone but in organizations where many other systems and processes depending on this system or many systems are integrated, there can be additional work implied in upgrading that may be problematic for the organization.  If you install on your premises. You decide when to and if to upgrade.

Why go with Online?

Regardless of whether you are a small or large organization, there are many reasons that subscribing to an online service could be attractive.

No maintenance

Included in your subscription fee is the cost of updating, maintaining, securing and monitoring your system.  That’s not just the maintenance for the system you are subscribing to but also all its infrastructure including the operating system, the database, malware protection, disk space, hardware performance and more.  That can take a big load of work off your internal IT department.

Updates

When you are subscribing to an in-the-cloud service, your system is virtually always up to date.  That’s because all the updates are done centrally by the provider.  In most cases there is no cost to the upgrade or work other than internal training.

Support is easier

When you call for technical support for an in-the-cloud system, there are a couple of things that are easier for you.  First of all, technical challenges like an actual malfunction of the system is much more rare because the system is shared among many clients and even more users.  Plus the provider’s testing of that system happens in what is for them a perfect environment.  They chose the operating system.  They chose the database.  They chose the network settings.  They chose the anti-virus and anti-malware software.  That helps make the system much more stable out of the starting blocks.

A second implied advantage for support is that you are always speaking to the support department about the same version of the product.  There is never a “What exact version and build are you on?” conversation because everyone is on the same version and build.  That makes tracking down a problem and determining the cause much easier for the technician and gets you back on track much faster.

What about mixed environments?

It’s possible to have some of your systems in the cloud and others on your premises.  TimeControl is often deployed in a mixed environment.  In some cases, TimeControl has been installed on premise and has to link to ERP and Project systems that are hosted in the cloud like Project Online.  In other cases, clients are using TimeControl Online in the cloud and have to link to an internally installed project management system, BrightWork for example.  With TimeControl’s flexibility that hasn’t been a problem for us thus far and there are many combinations of on-premise, in-the-cloud, and hybrid environments you might envisage.

What about the future of TimeControl?

HMS is committed to maintaining both TimeControl Online in the cloud as a service and TimeControl for purchase for on-premise installation for the foreseeable future.  We want the product work how the client needs to.

TimeControl Resources

We have numerous resources discussing the options of subscribing Online or Purchasing for installation on premises.  You can find factsheets, webcasts and more at: TimeControl.com/how-to-buy.  There is also a series of seminars on the subject on our President’s blog at: EPMGuidance.com.

There are so many possible combinations of environments that it goes well beyond what we can discuss here.  If you have questions about what structure would work best for your TimeControl deployment, you should contact HMS at info@hms.ca.

Otonabee Region Conservation Authority goes TimeControl

Otonabee Region Conservation Authority is an environmental agency working in the Peterborough area of Ontario Canada. They are responsible for ensuring that the Otonabee Region watershed area is healthy and environmentally diverse.  HMS applauds them for this important work.

Otonabee have been using TimeControl since 2016 and reently their manager of corporate services, Denyse Landry sent us a letter expressing their satisfaction.

“We have been very satisfied with TimeControl and the level of support provided by HMS Software,” says Denyse. “We highly recommend it.”

We believe that every TimeControl client should be a satisfied referenceable customer and we strive for this every day.

Our thanks to the Otonabee Region Conservation Authority for their trust in TimeControl to make them more efficient. We look forward to a productive relationship for many years to come.

You can read the letter from Denyse in its entirety in the TimeControl Testimonials area.

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

 

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.

 

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 now available!

We are so excited to announce that we have released an exciting new version of TimeControl. TimeControl version 7 is a major upgrade to the product we launched the first version of over 20 years ago and we are sure it will be welcomed by both existing and new customers.  There are over 40 major new features or enhanced features that you’ll be seeing as the new version is released.  Here are only a few:

Multi-line edit timesheettimesheet.jpg

The TimeControl 7 timesheet has been completely rewritten to allow all cells in the timesheet to be edited simultaneously.  In previous versions, a single line had to be edited at a time due to the many customizable validations that are tracked on each cell and each line.  We have determined methods to accomplish the same thing while allowing all the lines to be changed at once.  For those with timesheets that have a large numer of pre-loaded tasks, this will be a welcome change.

Gantt Views

TimeControl 7 now allows you to view projects, tasks or assignments in graphical Gantt charge views.  MyAccount_Gantt2.jpgThis gives users an easier perspective into data they have access to and to highlight potential assignment challenges in the coming days.  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 TimeRequests™ and can be access from either the reporting view or from right inside the TimeRequest Approval screen. Now a supervisor with multiple requests for vacations in a given period can quickly pop up a calendar to see them graphically displayed and can distinguish between draft, released for approval, approved and rejected requests by using different colors for each type.

There are more than 40 more exciting new and improved features in TimeControl 7 that we haven’t even listed here.  For a more complete list, see the Latest TimeControl page on the website.

TimeControl 7 is available for download right now for clients who have an active support agreement at TimeControl.com/support/updates.  If you are an existing TimeControl client and need to renew your support agreement, please email info@hms.ca.

 

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.

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.