Category Archives: timecontrol

Compatibility testing with MS Project Desktop 2019 is now complete!

We are delighted to announce that we have completed testing the integration of msprojpro_300x188TimeControl with Microsoft Project 2019 for the Desktop.  This continues an unbroken integration of TimeControl with every version of Microsoft Project since 1995.  Yep – 1995 when the Dow was at 5117 and you could get a new car for $15,000.  Ebay got started that year and a new revolution – the DVD was announced.  It’s not a trivial thing to say that the relationship between HMS and Microsoft is one of the oldest technical alliances in the software industry.

We believe that the integration between TimeControl and Microsoft Project is essential.  Many software companies focus solely on integrating with Microsoft’s Project Server.  We have that integration also but there are millions of licenses of Project Desktop in the market and delivering an integrated centralized timesheet that can link to them is how TimeControl is best known.

We’re proud that TimeControl has had the longest standing integration with Microsoft Project of any tool in any category in the industry.”

The integration between TimeControl and Microsoft Project has evolved over the 24 years it has existed.   The link currently supports Microsoft Project, Microsoft Project Online, Microsoft Project Server and many other Microsoft products like SharePoint and Excel.

Integrating TimeControl with Microsoft Project gives a single source of timesheet entry for multiple purposes.  TimeControl’s auditable, multi-purpose design means the timesheet can be used not only for updating Microsoft Project with hours, costs, material and equipment consumption and task progress but also for updating Payroll, HR, Billing, Job costing, R&D tax audit tracking, Defense Contract Audit Agency Compliance and much more.

The TimeControl website contains numerous resources to support organizations who wish to explore how the link between TimeControl and Microsoft Project can help make them more effective.

For more information on which Microsoft technologies can be advantageous when using TimeControl, visit the Microsoft TimeControl portal.  It includes numerous free resources including white papers, webcasts, PowerPoint presentations and more.  The Portal can be found at: Microsoft.TimeControl.com.

Line Item Approvals brings you beyond Project Approvals

Imagine this scenario… You have to review timesheets before sending them back to the LineItemApproval.jpgproject management system.  No problem.  TimeControl’s Matrix Approvals lets you do approvals both at the organizational level and task-by-task for the project.

Now you find out that you also need to review any timesheet hours and costs prior to being accepted by billing.  It’s very similar to the task-by-task exercise but it’s not for the project.  It’s for the client, not the project.

Enter TimeControl’s Line Item Approvals (LIA).  Line Item Approvals lets you add an additional line-by-line approval mechanism prior to sending the data to the billing system.

“But wait,” you say.  “We also need to have each contractor review their timesheet data in the field prior to acceptance!”

Line Item Approval once again has this covered.  This is one of the most powerful and extensible elements of TimeControl.  It essentially takes the Project Manager Approval concept; something that has been in TimeControl since version 1.0 back in 1994 and extends it as many different times as you wish.  The design of this feature is very elegant.  It is associated to the Interface Definition of a Table Export.  You might be using Scheduled Links or OnDemand Links or even pulling the information via TimeControl’s API but the Line Item Approval process flows through the interface definition.  If you turn this on, the export will not send lines of data through that export that have not been approved.

It’s hard to make a graphic for this because it essentially takes the two axis Matrix Approval Process and makes it into a 3, 4, 5 or as many as you want axes.

Worried this might slow your approvals?  No need.  Each and every Line Item Approval flow is completely independent of the others.  So, the Project Manager Approval might be weekly, the Account Manager Billing Approval might be monthly and the on-site contractor approval might be every two weeks.  You get to decide.

There are many more features in this remarkable function.  You can, for example, send automated emails when timesheet lines aren’t approved for a particular LIA approval process or filter the information that results from the approval process.

Setting up Line Item Approval takes only seconds but before you rush to do it, working through the workflow of what you’re trying to accomplish is worth taking some time on.

You can find out more about Line Item Approval in the TimeControl Reference Guide or ask your Account Manager if you’d like HMS Consulting Services to assist.

Read the new White Paper on Integrating TimeControl and Primavera

Oracle_GoldPartner_300x80Oracle-Primavera EPPM administrators know that a Primavera timesheet for task updates is already included when you purchase the EPPM Team Member license. But there are many business scenarios where using a third party timesheet will maximize your Primavera effectiveness.

TimeControl is a multi-function timesheet that is already integrated to both Oracle-Primavera EPPM and Primavera Pro.  It was created to bring timesheet functionality even further.

Imagine one or more of these scenarios:

You need a timesheet but you are using Primavera Pro on the desktop, not EPPM on the server or in the cloud

TimeControl already includes complete integration with both Primavera EPPM and Primavera Pro on the desktop. You can support as many desktop users as you wish and even have a mix of EPPM projects and remotely managed projects on Primavera Professional integrated at the same time.

Your rates are different per client or per project or per task

TimeControl has extensive rate management functionality allowing an individual to have an unlimited number of rate codes. An employee can have different rates for different projects, different rates for different roles on the same project or different rates for different tasks all on the same timesheet. Not only that, but for each of those rate codes you can maintain multiple values so tracking the internal cost, billing value and average project cost can be done all at the same time.

You use Roles rather than individuals in Primavera for Resource Scheduling

TimeControl supports the notion of work at the role level, the generic resource level and the individual.

You are working at a different level than the project tasks

TimeControl allows you to summarize Primavera activities into higher level TimeControl Charge Codes or to summarize TimeControl Charge Codes to Primavera activities. This lets the timesheet function at a different level than the project schedule.

Same timesheet for Primavera and Payroll and HR and Billing and R&D Tax Credits…

This is TimeControl’s key design feature. It is an auditable timesheet that is designed to be multi-purpose.  TimeControl fulfills multiple timesheet requirements from the same timesheet at the same time.  It’s perfect for Finance, HR, Payroll, Billing, and governance as well as integrated with Primavera.

You need to enter timesheets for a whole crew at a time not just individuals

Need to enter a high volume of timesheet data for field personnel who don’t even have access to a computer? TimeControl Industrial is our field data collection version which allows you to enter Crew Timesheets, Material consumption, Equipment usage and even production accomplished and integrate that information with Primavera.

TimeControl 6 / Primavera 6 Solution Portal

We have just published a new White Paper in our free TimeControl / Primavera Resource Portal where you’ll also find webcasts, factsheets, white papers, slide presentations and other information. You will see how integrating TimeControl and Oracle-Primavera allows a single timesheet to be used for multiple purposes.  You can read the new White Paper at: Integrating TimeControl and Primavera. or, go to the Portal at: Primavera.TimeControl.com.

Happy Holidays

We wish you and yours the very best of the holiday season from all of us on the TimeControl team.  During the holidays our hours (all in EST) will be:

Monday, December 24: 9am-12:30pm
Tuesday, December 25: Closed
Wednesday, December 26: Closed
Thursday, December 27: 9am-5pm
Friday, December 28: 9am-5pm

Monday, December 31: 9am-12:30pm
Tuesday, January 1: Closed
Wednesday, January 2: Closed
Thursday, January 3: Regular hours recommence

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.

TimeControl 7.4.1 is now available!

We’re delighted to tell you that TimeControl 7.4.1 is now available for download.  This version updates TimeControl, TimeControl Industrial, TimeControl Online and the free TimeControl Mobile App.  TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial clients with a current support and maintenance agreement can download the new version immediately at TimeControl.com/support/updates.  HMS is preparing for the upgrade of TimeControl Online which will happen automatically in the next 2-3 weeks.  TimeControl Online customers will be notified a week in advance of the update.

There are many new features to be excited about.  Here are some of the highlights:

Charge Hierarchy

TimeControl now supports multiple methods of displaying a hierarchy of charge codes.  TimeControl has long been recognized for supporting hierarchical charge structures but the new functionality takes this to a new level.  Field hierarchy permits hierarchy to be built from multiple user defined fields in the Charge Table and you can create multiple breakdowns then switch them on the fly when you’re searching for charge codes in the timesheet!

Numerous new API methods

We have made extensive additions to the TimeControl API making it even easier to integrate TimeControl as part of an overall corporate environment.

Mobile Debit/Credit Adjustments

The TimeControl Mobile App now allows Debit/Credit update Adjustments.  This allows supervisors and administrators to open a Posted timesheet and apply adjustments to that timesheet and release those adjustments to Posting.

Mobile Posted Expenses and Attachments

The TimeControl Mobile App now includes the ability to view the expenses that are attached to a posted timesheet in the past as well as any attachments that might have been associated to the timesheet or expenses.

Assignments

We have made major changes to the Assignments Table.  Assignments can now be made as part of a person’s full time availability so one person could be put on two tasks simultaneously at 50% of their availability each.  You can also now have the assignment start and finish be dates other than the charge start and stop so assignments that were meant to occur only during part of the charge can be defined that way.

Administrator configuration enhancements

We have taken numerous elements of the TimeControl configuration and moved them from the TimeControl.INI file into the Administrator System Preferences and User Profiles functions.  This will make a huge difference for TimeControl Online environments where some of these features had to be managed at the server level.

New User Profile Features

There are numerous new settings in User Profiles that allows TimeControl’s configuration to be tailored to the person or group with that User Profile setting.  These changes include all-new Super-User reject and Modify rights .  You can also change how the Timesheet List appears, allowing only a certain number of weeks in the past or future to display.  A new Highlight feature helps when adding a timesheet by highlighting the current week or the last missing week for a new timesheet.

Control Period Create Times

When creating timesheets, TimeControl allows the number of periods in the past and the future to be constrained to avoid accidentally creating a timesheet in the wrong period or in a period when Finance is not expecting it.

Copy Hours

We’ve made it possible to control who is allowed to copy hours when creating a new timesheet using the Copy Timesheet function and activated the ability to copy hours.

And…

There’s so much more.  We’ve done a lot of work on high volume capacity, improved performance, added more revision auditing, and improved usability across the application.

Find out more at TimeControl.com/features/latest

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.

TimeControl Multiple Timesheet Length Support

Here’s the challenge:  You have one group of personnel who need to collect timesheets every day.  Another group needs to collect them every week.  But, you are determined to use the same timesheet system.  Do you need two timesheets?  If you have two systems, how will you reconcile data into one system for reporting and analysis?

Perhaps the challenge is different.  One group of personnel will need to collect timesheets every week for project management purposes.  Another group will only enter timesheets monthly for exceptions such as sick days and vacations.  Yet a third group needs timesheets weekly but the week isn’t the same because of the country they are working in.   Can we reconcile all of these together?

HMS faced this challenge when we first introduced TimeControl Industrial.  Many people who do field data collection in industrial or construction projects do so daily.  Yet, many personnel who work on those same projects are not working in the field and have more of a weekly cycle for timesheet updates and approvals.

Overcoming that challenge with TimeControl was done with a very specific structure in early versions when the choices of a timesheet were either daily or weekly.  But, TimeControl now supports many timesheet durations.  TimeControl now supports multiple timesheet periods simultaneously in the same TimeControl instance.

In the Manage Periods module, Administrators can create multiple calendars for timesheets.  Supported options are: daily, weekly, bi-weekly, bi-monthly, monthly and custom length.  Then in the Employee Table, Administrators assign one of these calendars to an employee.

That’s it.

The employee now sees a timesheet associated to the calendar periods assigned to them.

TimeControl goes yet further in the area of calendars.  Once the data is collected, there may be multiple services that need reports or extracts of the data.  Even though some users are entering daily timesheets, some are entering weekly and some are bi-monthly, perhaps the Payroll department needs a list of timesheet data only on a bi-monthly schedule where the first part of the month goes from the 1st to the 15th and the second part of the month goes from the 16th to the end of the month.

No problem.

TimeControl’s External System Calendars are designed to be used for exports and reporting to handle just such a requirement.  You can have as many of these as you need.  So if there is another system, HR for example, that requires TimeControl data to be transmitted on a 13 month per year schedule, you can absolutely do that with these extra calendars.  You can create external system calendars in the TimeControl Period Generator Pay Periods module located in the Maintenance section of TimeControl.

Line Item Approval can also be associated to these calendars so if you have line item approvals for each of these external systems, you can ensure that the data has gone into an additional approval cycle before being transferred to that system.

Support for multiple timesheet lengths and external system reporting calendars is just one way that TimeControl’s flexibility empowers your existing corporate systems.

HMS and Microsoft extend a remarkable relationship

We’re delighted to announce that Microsoft has renewed their technical partnership with HMS for the 2018/2019 season.  This relationship is one of the oldest technical alliances in the industry.

This will be the 23rd year that the two firms have had a formal technical alliance partnership.

It can be easy to take a such a long standing technical alliance for granted, but this relationship with Microsoft is remarkable.   We started our relationship with Microsoft in 1995 in what was then called the Microsoft Project Partner Program to help with the link between the first version of our TimeControl timesheet and the early releases of Microsoft Project.  The relationship between HMS and Microsoft has grown stronger every year since.”

HMS Software’s TimeControl timesheet has had an integration with every version of Microsoft Project on the desktop since 1995.  The integration has evolved with new versions of Project.  The link currently supports Microsoft Project, Microsoft Project Online, Microsoft Project Server and with many other Microsoft products like SharePoint and Excel.

Microsoft has announced that HMS Software has qualified as a partner this year in two Microsoft Partner Network “Competencies”: the Application Development and Project and Portfolio Management categories.  To qualify for these programs, HMS submitted TimeControl to Microsoft’s rigorous 3rd party product testing process to ensure it meets Microsoft’s architecture and support standards and provided numerous client references who provided examples of where TimeControl successfully integrated with Microsoft Project, Project Server and Project Online and how that integration had provided benefits to the clients.  In addition, HMS has had a number of staff members pass Microsoft Certified Professional certification.

Microsoft technology is used to deliver TimeControl, TimeControl Industrial and TimeControl Online, HMS Software’s in-the-cloud subscription timesheet service.  Other Microsoft technologies used can vary from client to client. Windows Server is the platform for the TimeControl middleware server and web services and some clients will combine that with Microsoft Project, Project Server, Project Online, Excel, Office 365, SharePoint, SQL Server or Microsoft Dynamics ERPs.

Using TimeControl with Microsoft technologies allows clients to enhance their business processes to comply with numerous timesheet requirements such as simultaneous project tracking, billing, HR management, payroll, job costing and auditable governance such as R&D tax credits, DCAA or Sarbanes-Oxley requirements.

We have created a resources portal to help identify which Microsoft technologies can be advantageous when using TimeControl.  The portal includes numerous resources including white papers, webcasts, PowerPoint presentations and more.  The TimeControl Microsoft Technology Portal can be found at: Microsoft.TimeControl.com.