Tag Archives: TimeControl

Integrating TimeControl with external clock systems

The first timekeeping systems were surely built around the idea of a punch clock.  These clocks would be placed near the entrance to a building and hourly workers would be required to insert a card into the clock to have it stamped with the current time.  The start and stop of the day would be used to calculate the hours present and thus the hours to be paid. 

As technology advanced, so did the entire idea of timesheets.  TimeControl has been around quite some time but even in 1984 when HMS created its first custom timesheet, there were already many clock-based timestamp systems on the market.  In fact, the very first timesheet HMS ever created was for Philips Information Systems in Canada and that timesheet included functionality to integrate with the building’s security access system.

When TimeControl became a commercial product in 1994, the lessons learned in the many customized timesheets were woven into it and the concept of integrating with external clock attendance systems remains.  But, by 1994 the number of companies in the time clock business was huge and we picked a different direction for TimeControl.  Our timesheet would be project-management based, we decided and yet flexible enough to be used for many purposes.  Still, just like that first timesheet we built, we expected to have some demand for integration with clock systems.

Clock systems now come in many flavors.  Some are biometric based, using hand prints, finger prints or retina scans to ensure that the person clocking in or out is the correct person.  Some systems are based on using an employee identification card which is swiped or held in proximity to a reader.  And, yes, I’m sure there are still old punch systems with the card and the analog clock.

The purpose of these systems can vary.  The original attendance for payroll is the most popular but other systems such as the one we originally used for Philips was for building security.  Other applications might be for workforce management such as a hospital or safety such as access to a hazardous area such as a mine or heavy industry facility.  We have seen such systems used in fabrication to identify when a new process is being kicked off by using a barcode scanner or an identity card swipe at a workstation.

Whatever the purpose, the end result of those systems records the person who activated the clock, the clock identification and the time.  This data ends up in a database and the application software that typically comes with the clock gives some ability to manage what to do with the clock’s time.  There are several typical needs of such systems.  Let’s take a look at them before we look at how they would relate to TimeControl.

First there are a number of different times to keep track of:

Actual clock time

This is the time associated to the person when it was accessed.  By using the clock’s identity, we can usually determine whether this was a clock access on the way in or the way out of the facility.

Schedule time

The actual clock time is almost meaningless if we don’t have a schedule time to compare it to.  This was the time that the person accessing the clock was expected to access the clock either in or out

Calculated time

This is heavily dependent on the organization’s rules.  If someone accessed the clock at 7:55am and their schedule was to start at 8:00am, then the calculated time is probably 8:00am.  But what if they’re 10 minutes late?  What if they’re an hour late?  The rules for how to calculate the time is based on whatever the rules are for arriving at times outside of the expectation.

Adjusted time

Perhaps the person arrived at 6:55am and they were expected at 8:00am.  The system then calculates an 8:00am start.  But, the person arrived an hour early at the request of their supervisor who now needs to adjust the 8:00am calculated time back to 7:00am.

Official time

Regardless of what the rules are, there is always a resolved time; the official start or stop of a period of work.

Whew!  That was a lot of time.  Let’s turn our attention now to TimeControl.

In the current TimeControl we use a Start/Stop panel in the timesheet to allow the recording of multiple starts and stops of each day for each employee.  This means that each employee can have numerous starts and stops of work and TimeControl will calculate the totals of those hours.

This does not replace the standard grid where employees are expected to enter what they did with their day but it does allow organizations to compare what was done with how much time the employee spent.  It is even possible to create validation rules to identify when the timesheet does not match the hours spent.  There can be many reasons for this of course.  For example, the person might have worked outside the office.  So these types of validation rules are most commonly warnings rather than errors.

While there is a facility to enter these times manually, the most common way this panel of information is used is to be integrated with one or several external clock systems.  TimeControl can easily link to the clock application’s database using either a direct data connection, scheduled import or the TimeControl API to move data from the clock system into this panel of the timesheet.  In this case, the panel is made read-only.

The data that is most commonly moved is the official date only with the remaining dates being kept in the original clock system for auditing purposes.

The advantage of integrating data from external clock systems includes having all the timesheet data in one place.  It’s extremely uncommon for such systems to have the extensive task, project and rate data that TimeControl includes but by integrating the clock’s start and stop data, the TimeControl reporting set becomes even richer and the source of the most detailed data is all in one place.

Integrating with a clock system means thinking through the process and flow and it’s not for everyone.  If you think there is a benefit for you to integrate your external clock system with TimeControl, then talk to someone on the TimeControl technical staff and we’ll do our best to help.

The TimeControl / Primavera Alliance continues as Oracle names HMS a Gold Partner for the 21st year of their partnership!

Our technical alliance relationship with Primavera started back in 1997 when TimeControl 3 was about to enter the market.  HMS and Primavera had known each other well since the mid 1980s but as competitors selling project management software.  Now we had an opportunity to collaborate together as partners instead of adversaries and the president’s of HMS and Primavera struck the deal in a short phone call.

We’ve never looked back.

TimeControl 3 was released that year with a bi-directional integration with Primavera P3 and HMS has maintained the integration with Primavera since that time.

In 2008 Oracle would purchase Primavera but for HMS that only served to draw the two firms closer.  HMS already had a partnership with Oracle to enable integration of TimeControl with Oracle Financials and to support the Oracle database.

Now Oracle and HMS have extended their relationship and the relationship has never been stronger.  There are so many technical facets to the two firms working together that we’ve had to create a portal to keep track of them all.  The TimeControl integration now works in two ways, direct from database-to-datebase or through the Oracle-Primavera Web Services link.  The link works with multiple versions of Primavera including Primavera Professional and Primavera EPPM.

There are more Oracle products of course.  TimeControl has been configured to work with many different Oracle tools including Oracle EBS, PeopleSoft, JD Edwards and, MySQL.

Some of the many TimeControl’s value-added benefits when linking with Oracle-Primavera include:

  • Support for Multiple rates per employee
  • Automated business rule validations
  • Automated workflow
  • Auditable timesheet records suitable for Finance, HR, Invoicing or Payroll
  • Missing timesheet notification
  • Simultaneous support for multiple versions of Primavera
  • The free TimeControl Mobile App for smartphones and tablets supporting both iOS and Android
  • matrix timesheet approvals with HMS’s unique Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™
  • With TimeControl Industrial, the Crew Timesheet and Materials and Equipment field data collection

HMS is proud of our long standing relationship with Oracle and particularly with the Oracle-Primavera teams.  We look forward to a productive year working together as a Gold Partner.

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 7.3 has been released with some big new features!

We’re very excited to release this latest update to TimeControl. TimeControl 7.3 comes with some significant new features and many enhancements. This version is available in TimeControl, TimeControl Industrial and shortly in TimeControl Online.

Here’s some of what to expect:

Do your expenses in the free TimeControl Mobile App

The TimeControl Mobile App is a free App designed to work on both Android and iOS (Apple) devices. This version of the TimeControl Mobile App allows you to add expense items to any line in your timesheet. Each timesheet line item allows you to add an unlimited number of expense items and each item is associated to both the charge item and a non-labor resource type. You can also attach multiple receipts as photos or files to each expense item. The TimeControl Mobile App is available at no cost on the Apple Store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices.

Use your camera to add attachments to timesheets or expenses

The TimeControl Mobile App now lets you attach multiple items to your timesheet. TimeControl lets you use your device to select photos, videos, to take a picture from your camera or even access files that are available to your device on Google Docs, Dropbox, iCloud or OneDrive.

Schedule reports to be created automatically and sent via

TimeControl reports can now be delivered by email on a schedule. Choose from sending an email on a schedule of your choice with a PDF attachment or just sending a direct link to an encrypted server-stored file.

And much, much more…

There is so much more. We’ve made huge improvements in filtering, added new auditing functionality and reporting for time-off banks, added single-sign-on support to the mobile app, added new dashboards and reports, added budget controls for the Charge and Project tables, enhanced the link to Microsoft Project Online and enhanced performance.

If you are a TimeControl Online subscriber, your systems will be updated over the next couple of weeks.  If you are using TimeControl on-premise and have a current support contract, you can access this latest update at: TimeControl.com/support/updates.

For more information on TimeControl 7.3, go to TimeControl.com/features/latest.

HMS President Chris Vandersluis featured in Canada’s National Newspaper, the Globe and Mail

Chris Vandersluis, the President of HMS has been featured recently in Canada’s Globe and Mail. The article by Mr. Vandersluis is in the Globe’s Leadership Lab section where he discusses how niche operations like HMS Software have been able to win and keep customers many times their size.  You can read his article in its entirety on the Globe and Mail website.

HMS continues to update white papers and other free collateral

We work on updating the vast wealth of collateral on the TimeControl website on a continuous basis. The site is one of the longest standing websites in the world and the materials on it can become dated as technology advances. In the past year we’ve made updates to factsheets, slide presentations, online webcasts and white papers.

Most recently, we have made updates to several white papers including the old Buy it or Write it has become a much more current Buy it, Subscribe to it or Write it. The paper includes a financial analysis that outlines the costs of all three options.  It is available for free for anyone considering this decision.  These main three architectural choices come down to:

  1. Buy timesheet software
    The main considerations for buying timesheet software and deploying it on premise is usually to have it work within existing security architecture or to have the underlying database available for integration with other systems.
  2. Subscribe to timesheet software
    The main reasons organizations elect to subscribe to timesheet software is for lower overall costs of ownership and to avoid the costs and complexities of internal technical support for maintenance and updates.
  3. Write your own customized software
    For those who have timesheet software requirements that are so unique that they cannot be met by commercial off the shelf software, they may need to consider the most expensive of options and write their own software.

We’ve outlined the major advantages and challenges of each of these three options and have given some cost comparisons.

We’ve also just updated the popular Research and Development Tax Credits with TimeControl.

For a complete list of free resources such as these, visit the TimeControl Website Resources area: TimeControl.com/resources.

Evaluating Timesheet Software

If you are here on the TimeControl blog, there is a possibility that you are evaluating timesheet software and have found TimeControl among your possible solutions.  We have resources that will make your evaluation of TimeControl and any other timesheet systems a little easier.  HMS has been in the business of providing timesheet systems since 1984 and we have an appreciation for how challenging it is to select a timesheet that will meet your needs. We have created a number of tools that are available to anyone seeking to select a timesheet for their own needs regardless of whether that timesheet is our own TimeControl or not.

“Why?” you ask?  It’s pretty simple really.  There’s nothing less productive for us than to sell TimeControl to someone who really needed something else.  It is far preferable to not make a sale if the product isn’t the right fit.

So, on the TimeControl website, you will find all kinds of resources that you may find of interest if you are evaluating timesheets.  Some of those tools are specific to evaluating TimeControl but many are generic in nature and are designed to help researchers evaluate any timesheet.

Here are just a few:

Timesheet Buyer’s Guide

HMS maintains a portal of resources and information on how to evaluate timesheets. It includes white papers, calculators, factsheets and more. There is no cost or obligation to access the Timesheet Buyer’s Guide which can be found at: TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/buyers-guide

Free TimeControl Evaluation

For those who wish to evaluate TimeControl further, HMS provides free access to TimeControl for a renewable 2 week period. Prospective users can get access to a system complete with pre-poulated data so they can try any of the functionality they wish.  The evaluation system can be accessed at: freetrial.timecontrol.com.

TimeControl Evaluation Guide

When users log into the free TimeControl trial, they are given a link to a simple-to-follow evaluation guide that takes the user through some of the basic functionality of the system. That guide has recently been upgraded and can be accessed directly at: TimeControl.com/pdf/whitepapers/tc_evalguide.pdf

Timesheet Evaluation Grid

When creating a list of requirements for a new timesheet system, it is best to start off with the business challenges that are generating the interest in the new system. However, many organizations prefer to look at a list of key functionality. We’ve created such a list to ask as a starting point for your own requirements. We’ve already checked off what TimeControl can do so and there are additional columns to use for evaluating other systems under consideration. The spreadsheet can be downloaded from:  TimeControl.com/docs/timesheet_eval_checklist.xlsx

TimeControl Benefits Calculator

One of the biggest challenges often faced by evaluators is trying to justify the benefits that could be realized by implementing a timesheet system. We’ve put together a calculator you can use for your own evaluation that shows how quickly you could realize a return on investment from deploying a timesheet like TimeControl. The calculator is available from: TimeControl.com/docs/tc_roi_calculator.xlsx.

For more information, see the Timesheet Buyer’s Guide on the TimeControl website.

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.

That was an awesome 2017… now bring on 2018!

Our TimeControl team turned in a year of remarkable accomplishments in 2017.  Here are just a few of the highlights…

In our development department, we released 2 major releases of TimeControl in versions 7.1 and 7.2. Interim versions 7.1.1 and 7.2.1 updated several features as well. The features released this year have propelled TimeControl further forward than in any period since its original release in 1994!

Among other spectacular features, were the free TimeControl Mobile App and the TimeControl API as well as:

  • Line Item Approval
  • No more ActiveX’s in TCi
  • Primavera Web Services link
  • BrightWork link
  • Link to Project Online
  • SharePoint bidirectional link
  • Grouped timesheets
  • Scheduled Autofill
  • Language support for TC Mobile

For more information on what’s new with TimeControl, visit TimeControl.com/features/latest.

TC Mobile App

The release of the free TimeControl Mobile App on the Apple App store for iOS devices and Google Play for Android devices marked a milestone for TimeControl. TimeControl introduced one of the first mobile interfaces many years ago but the TimeControl Mobile App has to support the incredible flexibility of TimeControl along with its powerful centralized auditability. We’re very proud of the App we released. It is on an independent yet coordinated development stream so new updates of the App are released separately and are designed to always be backward compatible so the TimeControl Server and App are not required to be updated simultaneously.

TimeControl API

TimeControl has long been acknowledged as the most flexible and integrateable timesheet in the industry thanks to the many ways external applications such as HR, Payroll, ERP, Finance and Project Management systems can be linked to it. The release of the TimeControl API gave a quantum boost to an already robust suite of integration options. Now programmers can pull from or push data to TimeControl to create an even more intimately integrated system.

Case Studies and Testimonial letters

Happy TimeControl clients continue to be our strength in the industry.

Over the last year we’ve collaborated with our clients on 3 case studies and have received more testimonial letters.

You can read case studies published in 2017 from:

and testimonials published in 2017 from:

and next week a brand new one received late in the year from Otonabee.

We appreciate each and every one of our clients and are delighted when they share their TimeControl experience with others.

Coming in 2018… 

There is so much more from last year but let’s look into our crystal ball ahead to the year to come. Looking forward to 2018 promises to be even more exciting.

A major release of TC during the year will be 7.3 with a slew of new and improved features. We expect that to be released by mid-year and we’re already working on a major new version of TimeControl which we’ll be able to talk about more near the end of 2018.

Our development staff have also started research on something completely new for the project management community that we think will be of great interest to many of our TimeControl users. That we will be talking about by summer time.

We are working on new material and elements of the TimeControl website. Already there are new factsheets, slide shows web sections and online training. We’ve got lots more of that to come. Online training will be greatly expanded this year to include more extensive courses on things like report writing and customizing TimeControl. We’ve also got more collateral coming on using the new TimeControl API so stay tuned!

We’ll keep you up to date on developments this year in our quarterly newsletter by email and the blog at blog.timecontrol.com along with our Twitter feed @HMS_TimeControl.

 

Let us introduce the free TimeControl Mobile App!

We’re so excited about the new TimeControl Mobile App, that it’s hard to talk about almost anything else around HMS these days.  The new TimeControl Mobile App brings TimeControl right to the palm of your hand on your SmartPhone or Tablet.

The TimeControl Mobile App connects your device directly to your TimeControl or TimeControl Online system. All your timesheet configuration, profile security, data selections and customizations are all already there so what appears on your screen matches what you would see on a full browser when connecting to TimeControl.

You log in with the same credentials you use for TimeControl and you can now create a new timesheet, update one in progress, or complete your week and release your timesheet. If you are a supervisor, you can do your approvals right from your phone or tablet!

TimeControl supports both Android and Apple (iOS) phones. The screen functionality is highly responsive and will adjust to the resolution available to it in both portrait and landscape modes.

Timesheet entry
The TimeControl Mobile App includes a number of different views to see or update your timesheet. You can view current and past timesheets, update an existing timesheet or create a draft timesheet and add projects and charges from the selections that are available to you.  A simple tap where you see the hours and you can update hours and minutes for that line in an instant.  The TimeControl Mobile App supports the same timesheet durations as TimeControl so whether you are working in weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, monthly or custom periods, the date range at the top of the screen lets you scroll to the relevant day and date and update the information you need.

Approvals
Supervisors can use the TimeControl Mobile App to review, approve, or reject a timesheet. Automated Validation Rules work just as they do in the full-sized web version. If a user tries to release a timesheet that doesn’t follow one of the timesheet business rules defined in TimeControl, then the user is immediately prompted with the error and asked to correct it.

What do you mean it’s free?
We mean there is no additional cost.  None.  When you download the app from Google Play or the Apple App store, you don’t pay a thing.  All you need to do is connect to your existing TimeControl system.

The TimeControl Mobile App functions with all versions of TimeControl 7.2 and higher.

You can find out more about the TimeControl Mobile App at: Mobile.TimeControl.com.

You can download the TimeControl Mobile App from Google Play or the Apple App store.

HMS is in The Twin Cities this week

Our HMS team is in Minneapolis/St-Paul this week for the Minnesota PMI’s Professional Development Days.  Our own president will be speaking at the symposium and we will have a booth with staff at the show so attendees can get their questions about TimeControl answered.  We’ll be showing the upcoming version 7.2 of TimeControl with the all-new TimeControl Mobile app.

If you are attending the symposium, please come by the TimeControl booth and say hello.  For more information on the Minnesota PMI’s Professional Development Days, visit: pmi-mn.org.