Tag Archives: timesheet

A timesheet, is a timesheet, is a timesheet… Isn’t it?

A timesheet is just a timesheet, isn’t it?

Not so much.

What we’ve found here at HMS since 1984 is that timesheet requirements seem to be all the same until you put different departments who need them into the same room. Suddenly, the requirements seem quite different.

In 1984 when we were working on the very first mandate as HMS Software, we had to create a timesheet that would encompass the requirements of payroll and project management at the same time. The design requirements were so different, we ended up almost doubling the effort we had estimated in doing the work originally.

We needed a Time and Attendance timesheet for payroll with numerous requirements from the Finance department.

We also needed a task-based project tracking timesheet with the ability to update the project management schedule.

And, that was complex enough. The project was delivered successfully but the seeds had been planted for what would ultimately become the commercial TimeControl 10 years later.

As we did design on the out-of-the box multi-function TimeControl we realized there were more types of timesheets than just those two.

How about Time and Billing? What about Job Costing?  How about timesheets for R&D tax credit compliance and so on.

We’ve created a short white paper identifying some of the timesheet types that we are most commonly asked about but this is not a theoretical exercise. If no one intervenes in what kind of timesheet to select, the most likely result is that multiple timesheets will be implemented.  Payroll and HR will want a Time and Attendance timesheet.  Finance may require a Time and Billing timesheet or a Job Costing timesheet or both.  There may be requirements from Sales or Contracts to comply with government regulation timesheets in order to successfully comply with a new order or contract.

In some organizations we arrive to find 2, 3, 4 or even more timesheets all deployed at the same time. In a worst case scenario, employees must fill in 2 or 3 timesheets every week to accommodate all the requirements.

The best solution for this dilemma, as we discovered over 3 decades ago, is to create a multi-function timesheet that has a single interface in the front end so it is easy for end users, yet has all the controls that each of these requirements demands in the back end so Administrators can fulfill the different needs from a single source.

You can read the Timesheet Types and TimeControl white paper at: TimeControl.com/pdf/whitepapers/tc_timesheet_types.pdf.  To see our complete list of white papers, visit TimeControl.com/resources/whitepapers.

We’re so pleased to have received this letter from RN Engineering

A company is only as good as its clients and at HMS, this is no exception.  We received a letter a few weeks ago which we’re delighted to have now put on our website in the Testimonials area.

The letter is from Mark Simpson a Project Manager at RN Engineering and talks about how they have been able to blend 3 separate business processes into one much more effective process using TimeControl.  You can read the letter in its entirety at RN Engineering Letter.

To Mark and his entire team at RN Engineer, we say a big Thank you!  We appreciate our partnership with the RN Engineering team and we look forward to many more years of working together.

TimeControl Online is 6 years old and better than ever!

TimeControl Online is TimeControl’s Software as a Service subscription offering which launched in 2011.  At six years of age, it’s looking better than ever.

“HMS is committed to offering TimeControl both as a purchase for installation on-premise and as a subscription service in the Cloud,” explains HMS Software president Chris Vandersluis.

The online TimeControl service provides all the functionality loved by the on-premise version.  The code that is deployed for both situations is identical.

When subscribing to TimeControl Online, clients avoid having to purchase or configure hardware, networking, databases or worry about security, monitoring or anything other than simply using the timesheet.  HMS Software’s technical team handles the rest.

TimeControl Online started in 2011 as version 6.2.  It has gone through continuous updates and upgrades and is now in version 7.

For those who are using TimeControl on premise and are interested in switching to TimeControl Online, they can speak to their TimeControl representative at info@hms.ca and ask about a transfer credit towards their first year’s subscription.

For those who are considering TimeControl and aren’t sure whether to purchase for an on-premise deployment or subscribe online, our President, Chris Vandersluis has recently released a series of mini-webinars on the subject.  You can find them on his blog EPMGuidance.com.

For more information on TimeControl Online, visit timecontrol.net.

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.

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: Can we get access to TimeControl’s database to use with our reporting tools?

reporting_charts_300x200Absolutely. If you have installed TimeControl on premises, we publish the database schema design so that if you have the appropriate rights from your IT department, you can link directly to the database. We do not encrypt most of the data with the exception of authentication information. TimeControl does, however, include its own WYSIWYG report writer with extensive functionality. The TimeControl Report Designer includes capabilities to make both graphical and text-based reports, to save reports into PDF, Excel, JPG and other formats and to mix and match report formats within the same page. In addition you can control fonts, headers, footers, grouping, summarizing and even create formula fields. But if your heart is set on using another commercial reporting tool, then have the IT department give you read-only access to the data and you’re ready to go.  If you are using TimeControlOnline, you can also download a complete data backup in MySQL format every week and again use your own reporting or analytical tools on the data.

You can find out more about TimeControl’s internal reporting functionality on the TimeControl website at: www.timecontrol.com/features/reporting.

FAQ: Do we need to standardize on a single project management system before integrating TimeControl?

RubicStandardize_300x225No you do not and TimeControl is ideally suited for this type of challenge.  The pre-defined links to project management tools can link a TimeControl Project and associated charge codes to project information in Microsoft Project 1995 and up Microsoft Project Server 2002 and up, Oracle Primavera P3 through P6, Deltek’s Open Plan, InEight’s Hard Dollar HD and VersionOne.  And, it can link to all of those systems simultaneously.  TimeControl is designed to make as many project system connections as you wish and then each project can be linked through that connection to a project in that system.  This allows TimeControl to not only link some projects to Microsoft Project and some to Primavera P6 but TimeControl can link to multiple versions at the same time.  Imagine a situation where some projects are being managed in Microsoft Project Server 2010 and some are being managed in a separate instance of Microsoft Project Server 2013.  TimeControl could link to both systems at the same time and a TimeControl user wouldn’t have to worry about it.  They would just enter their complete timesheet in TimeControl and the data will go to the right project system and the right tasks in the background!

Find out more about TimeControl and Project Management tools on the Project Links page.

FAQ: How much internal effort and resources will I need to make a timesheet work?

internaleffortFirst, let’s talk about the effort to implement TimeControl when it is first deployed. This is highly dependent on several factors including the number of users on TimeControl and the number of external system to which TimeControl will be integrated.

The TimeControl QuikStart program was designed for a mid-sized organization doing a basic deployment of TimeControl with only a couple of interfaces to create.

This is a 5-day effort by HMS and requires internal support of a TimeControl Administrator for 3-5 days prior to making the timesheet available to the end-users.

If you are deploying TimeControl for 10-200 people and making a simple link to a project management tool and another export link to a finance tool, then this is probably sufficient.

Of course some people have much more complex environments and wish to integrate TimeControl to numerous internal processes and tools. Depending on the level of complexity, a multi-thousand person deployment covering numerous countries systems, internal payroll rules and more could take a team several months to complete the deployment.

Next, let’s talk about time to administer and support TimeControl once it is in use. The technical time to support TimeControl is negligible. You have to make sure data is being backed up, but that’s probably being done anyway as part of the DBA’s responsibilities.

Upgrades and updates take very little time and are done only a couple of times a year typically.

Administrators are often not full-time on TimeControl unless it is a system with thousands of users.

The work each week Administrators focus on is making sure new employees are onboarded and that employees who have left are made inactive and looking to do regular clean ups of old data.

FAQ: Is your timesheet DCAA certified?

dcaa_300x103For those wondering, DCAA stands for the US “Defense Contract Audit Agency”. The DCAA has set a number of standards for contracts paid for by the US government which include standards for timesheets. These criteria are used not only by the US Defense Department but also by Homeland Security, NASA, the Department of Energy and other public sector organizations who find the criteria to contain good business practices.

However, the DCAA is very clear that it does not endorse or “certify” any product. It has a required process and a range of required criteria which some timesheet products might be able to fulfill and others not.

TimeControl does fulfill the DCAA standards and we keep up to date on the criteria when they are changed. You can find more on this on the TimeControl site in the DCAA Use-Case solutions portal.