Tag Archives: SaaS Timesheet

We’re delighted to receive this letter from HPS

Once again we’re proud to publish a letter from one of our clients.  In this case it is our UK-based friends at Hyde Part Solutions.  We’ve known the HPS for years so when they went looking for a timesheet, we were delighted to work with them.  The letter from Richard Jebb, the HPS Chief Technology Officer explains how the flexibility of TimeControl was a deciding factor. HPS has been growing at a rapid pace the last couple of years and we wish them continued success.  You can read the letter in its entirety at TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials/hydepark.

Our thanks to Richard and the whole HPS team for their kind letter!

Everything I know about TimeControl, I learned in the Sandbox!

In early 2018, HMS introduced a new service associated to TimeControl Online. Called, the TimeControl Sandbox, it is a parallel service that brings a separate instance of TimeControl Online and features to replicate the exact data from the production instance of TimeControl.  The purpose of the service is to provide TimeControl Online administrators a separate TimeControl for the testing of new features and the creation and testing of new Link definitions, Validation Rules and Accrual processes without affecting the main system.  The TimeControl Sandbox is also an ideal place for training.

The cost is a small fixed price per year regardless of the number of users on your TimeControl Online subscription.

Here’s how it works

HMS creates a second instance of your TimeControl Online environment and links this instance to your production instance of TimeControl.  At any time, the Administrator can restore the complete production database into the Sandbox. If you have multiple backups, you can choose which backup to restore.

Some key points

  • You can never restore the Sandbox database into the Production database. This prevents any possibility of damaging the production database.
  • To move configuration changes into the Production system, the Export Packages function exports packages such as Reports, Validation Rules and Filters from the Sandbox and the Import Packages function imports them into the Production system.
  • Scheduling in the Sandbox is turned off. This prevents any unexpected transfers to or from corporate or project management systems.

For more information on the TimeControl Sandbox or to find out pricing, contact HMS at TimeControl.com/contact or email info@hms.ca.

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.

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.

Scheduled Imports and Exports

TC610_import_250x221TimeControl was designed from its very first version in 1994 to be able to integrate with other applications.  We knew from the first timesheet we’d ever created 10 years earlier that timesheet data would be sought after by external systems for departments such as HR and Payroll as well as the project management needs we were already familiar with.  So these features have had continual improvement as TimeControl has evolved.  Did you know that as of version 6.10 of TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial you can now automatically schedule an import or an export of data for external systems?  Most ERP administrators far prefer the idea of scheduling an import of a transaction file from timesheets using the tools and controls already present in their finance system.  Prior to version 6.10, TimeControl administrators had to create these files on demand.  Now, however, you can schedule the creation of such files.  The new Schedule Export allows you not only to pick a time, format and definition of the file.  You can also choose the filter and even the naming convention.  The new Schedule Import allows you to not only import a file that has been dropped in place by an external system but also how to dispose of the file afterwards.  For example, you can move the file into a directory used for processed files.

You can see what else is new with version 6.10 at www.timecontrol.com/features/latest.

FAQ: Can we start with the Online version of TimeControl but switch to our own internal TimeControl when we get bigger?

online_or_onprem_300x144You certainly can, but you can do a lot more than that. We’ve designed TimeControl Online, our Timesheet as a Service (TaaS) to support the identical code-base as TimeControl on premises. This means that if you are using TimeControl Online as a service and you install the standard TimeControl locally (with the appropriate number of licenses of course) then you can download you backup from TimeControl Online and instantly have your system active on premises. You’ll need to use the same database of course, which is MySQL but technically the movement from Online to on premises is stunningly simple. We’ve made moving between the two environments commercially easy too. You can get a credit from your remaining subscription towards purchase of TimeControl licenses. As easy as it is to move from TimeControl Online to TimeControl on premises, the reverse is also true. You can move from TimeControl on premises to TimeControl Online and we’ll give you credit from what you purchased towards your first year’s subscription.  You can find out more about the choice of TimeControl Online vs. TimeControl OnPremises in the How to Buy TimeControl area of the website.

Talk to one of the TimeControl account specialists about how this can work for you .

FAQ: How do you decide whether to purchase and install on premises or subscribe online?

onlineoronpremise_300x240This is a great question and very current as so many systems are now offering hosted online options. With TimeControl, you fundamentally are able to access all the functionality in our TimeControlOnline subscription as you do with the on premises installation. So the decision on whether to install TimeControl at your premises or subscribe to TimeControlOnline in the cloud should not be based on functionality.

Here are some of the key decision points that you may wish to consider:

Do you already have an infrastructure and personnel to support in-house applications? Do you already have servers, databases, technical staff who can ensure the application’s system requirements are maintained and that maintenance of the servers such as backups and security updates are kept up to date? If you don’t have such an infrastructure or the people to support it then going to a subscribed service might be better.

Do you have other enterprise applications that are installed at your premises? If you already have other applications that use commercial databases, web services and application servers, then you already have all the building blocks of an on-premises installation of TimeControl and the additional effort and costs to install TimeControl will be negligible.

Are you intending to do deep integration with other systems? If you are thinking of doing extensive integration of TimeControl data with other corporate systems, then an on-premises installation may be more attractive. When installing at your location, you will have direct access to the TimeControl data in its database and can take advantage of advanced reporting techniques such as mash-ups and data-level systems integration.

You can find out more about whether to choose an onsite or online deployment of TimeControl in the How-to-buy section of our website where there are webcasts, factsheets and other materials that will help you make the right choice.

Finally, if you’re really not sure, then ask us. Our implementation experts at HMS can walk you through all the advantages and disadvantages to each of these options allowing you to make an informed decision.

FAQ: When is the best time to implement a timesheet?

idealtimeInvestors get asked a similar question: “When is the best time to invest?” They always answer with: “The best time would be at birth, the second best time would be today.”

Ok, kidding aside, there are some rules about when would be a good time to invest in a timesheet system like TimeControl and they have everything to do with the cost/benefit perspective. If you are an organization of 4 or 5 people, then you probably know what everyone is doing with their time already. Getting the benefits from a formal timesheet system is more complex.

Once you get to a size where that kind of information isn’t as readily available, you’ve got to start thinking of a timesheet. Another way to look at this is to think of where the timesheet data will be used. If you’re going to claim R&D tax credits from the government, then formal documentation of the expenditure of time is a must regardless of your size. So, the value of the tax claim has to be factored into your decision and the return on investment is easy to see.

Same thing goes for those doing formal project management. If your business is such that you need to do better tracking of how the tasks are being progressed, then a formal timesheet system makes more sense.

If you are thinking of your cost/benefit from an efficiency perspective, we’ve created a Return on Investment calculator that lets you factor in some of the cost and benefit numbers and show you the break-even point of going with TimeControl.

The spreadsheet is downloadable by clicking here or by visiting the TimeControl Buyer’s Guide area of our website.

We’ve been updating our FAQ

keyboardfaq_300x225We’ve been updating our Frequently Asked Questions this year but it occurred to us that people who check the Blog for the many technical answers that are included here might not think to look there.  So we’ll be cross-posting the FAQs onto the blog here over the coming weeks.

You can see the FAQs at www.timecontrol.com/support/faq and we’ll continue to keep that section of the support database up to date even while we cross-post here.

MCAP’s IT department is using TimeControl Online for cost tracking

As anyone who uses TimeControl knows, we’re highly committed to our client’s satisfaction so you can probably imagine how excited we get here in the office when one of our clients shares mcap_150x150how  TimeControl is making a difference in their organization.  We’ve just published a case study done by our clients MCAP who deployed TimeControl Online in 2011.  MCAP is a large independent financing company based in Canada. MCAP was considering upgrading a large internal project and portfolio system but instead made a strategic decision to implement TimeControl due to its flexibility.

Previous systems seemed inappropriately sized for MCAP’s needs but TimeControl was able to focus attention on the aspect of project controls that MCAP needed most.  With multiple projects, multiple locations, multiple project managers, a flexible time tracking tool that could adapt as MCAP evolved was a must.

MCAP elected to subscribed to the TimeControlOnline service in the cloud rather than install TimeControl internally which allowed MCAP’s IT department to avoid making their own chargeback timesheet another internal system they’d need to manage.

You can read the story that came from the interview of Barbara McDonald, MCAP’s Senior Director of IT in the MCAP case study at: www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies/mcap.

To see other case studies on how organizations are becoming more effective by implementing TimeControl, go to www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies.