Perspective is so important

Depending on your point of view, how you look at your timesheet system can result in very different requests.  Over time we’ve gotten used to that.  We virtually always ask for a person’s role in their organization and their involvement in the business processes that may be a part of a TimeControl deployment.

One of TimeControl’s greatest advantages is to serve many parts of the organization directly.  Perhaps you are part of a group that focuses on Invoicing.  TimeControl’s ability to create the data for the invoice, adjust the data as need be to make sure the invoice is acceptable or approved and then getting the data into the invoicing system will be critical.  Perhaps you are part of the Payroll department.  Making sure that you know the hours for each person’s pay is correctly authorized, approved and calculated is critical so your focus may be on making sure that rates for overtime, part-time employees, sick leave and such are properly accounted for.  If you are part of the HR department, then it wouldn’t be surprising to see a focus only on time off that is earned and taken and making sure that TimeControl’s Accruals are properly accounted for.  If you are in the project management department then making sure the time that was accounted for is on tasks that are already planned and that projected progress is entered and transferred.

When one person on a team has only one of those perspectives in mind, we can end up with odd requests and it is up to our technical deployment team to help point out the impact.  It’s not uncommon for example to hear from a project manager than only the line-by-line project approvals are important and to forget about any other aspects to approvals in TimeControl.  “Let’s bring in someone from Finance to make sure they’re going to get what they need,” we’ll suggest.  Or “Let’s talk about what happens if the project managers reject lines resulting in a timesheet that doesn’t add up to a full week of work.”  It’s also common for us to hear from payroll that “The timesheet period should be bi-monthly just like the payroll is.”  We’re likely to reply with “Project Management reports that they will need more timely data.”

Someone’s perspective can skew an entire configuration if left unchecked.  When someone says “Perhaps we should just do our own thing.” We might ask how much they’ll like doing two timesheets or three each week to accommodate the different perspectives.

TimeControl’s remarkable flexibility is what makes it capable of serving multiple business process needs at the same time.  For some that may mean extending their perspective to include other points of view.   Let us know at TimeControl.com/contact if one of our TimeControl deployment specialists can help guide your organization through a multi-use deployment of TimeControl.

Create Exception Reporting with TimeControl Scheduled Reports

TimeControl’s reporting capabilities has always been a powerful aspect to the system and this continues to improve.  One area of TimeControl reporting that is remarkably powerful is the ability to create scheduled reports.

Just as with all of TimeControl’s automatic scheduled processes, Scheduled Reports allows the process to be set for a regular schedule such as hourly, daily, weekly or really any schedule you choose.  The resulting reports will be send to one or to multiple recipients.  The reports will be generated at the planned time by the TimeControl server in the background and then sent in PDF, Excel, Word or CSV format as you choose.  If the resulting file is too large to send via email, a link to the file will be sent instead and an encrypted copy of the report file will be kept on the server to be viewed when selected.

The use of TimeControl filters allows reports by exception to be created.  The impact of this can be significant.  A report showing only information that exceeds the exception parameters can be sent on the schedule.  If no data exceeds those parameters, then no report gets sent.  This could significantly impact how managers and more senior executives consume TimeControl information.  The full system is always there of course, but the ability of TimeControl to wake up regularly and send a report to an executive that asks for immediate attention is pretty powerful.

The TimeControl report designer is powerful allowing for simple column text reports or a mix of charts and text or just charts.  You can choose from existing report templates and adapt them to your needs or create a report from scratch.

For more information on reporting, consult the TimeControl Reference and the TimeControl Report Designer Guides or contact info@hms.ca if we can be of any further help.

HMS Software makes Latka top 250 SaaS companies

We’re very proud to announce that HMS Software has made the Latka 250 list of fastest growing SaaS companies.  Nathan Latka runs a very popular podcast at Getlatka.com and maintains a massive SaaS database that is updated annually.

Our President, Chris Vandersluis, was featured on a Latka Podcast.  The show has passed 13m downloads and our profile has been viewed over 30,000 times. You can listen to the last podcast on YouTube at: https://youtube.com/watch?v=HA_DL0l0MCs.

Of the 5,091 companies that Nathan Latka surveyed, only the top 250 made the list and our growth of 26% in 2020 was enough to put us onto the list.  We’re delighted to have made it to the list.  Thanks to all our clients and team members for the successful 2020 under trying conditions.

We’re hopeful that we’ll be on the list next year too as we add more clients to our TimeControl Online services and work on releasing updated and new products later in the year.

You can find out more about the rankings at: https://getlatka.com/saas-companies/fastest-growing/revenue/2020 and for HMS Software’s profile visit: https://getlatka.com/companies/hms.

OnPrem, Cloud or Private Cloud – how demands for TimeControl are shifting

Over the last year we’ve seen an acceleration of a trend that started about a decade ago.  When we first released TimeControl Online, our TimeControl Software as a Service in the Cloud, we were an early adopter.  Internally we debated over what kinds of companies might be tempted to subscribe to a corporate system like our enterprise timesheet as opposed to installing it internally in the cloud.

That debate is over.

It’s quite clear that virtually all kinds of organizations are prepared to shift from managing large internal data centers towards cloud-based services.  In the past year, the pandemic has made it even more challenging for companies to manage the logistics of their own data centers and internal servers.  Not all work on such servers can be done remotely and that has pushed even more organizations to see how their corporate systems could be delivered.

There are three main avenues that our clients ask us for to support TimeControl and TimeControl supports them all.  Those are on-premise (often shortened to On-prem), SaaS (which we often refer to as either Cloud or Online) and Private Cloud.  Let’s take a look at the licensing implications and logistics of each.

On-premise

TimeControl started back in 1994 as an on-premise solution and we are committed to continue to support this method of delivery for as long as clients request it.  There are still a number of industries including defense and high-tech R&D that want to manage their data internally for security purposes.  We’re fine with that.

Licensing

From a licensing standpoint, HMS will sell a license of TimeControl with pricing per active user and that includes access to our helpdesk and any updates, upgrades and new versions for the first year. Each year thereafter, we offer an annual support contract that continues to give access to the helpdesk, updates, upgrades and new versions.  For any client whose support contract lapses, they can renew it but it must be renewed to the date the contract lapses.

Logistics

From a logistics standpoint, HMS provides either an installable file or a complete DVD image file for download from our TimeControl client support area.  The client is responsible for installation and installation of any updates and upgrades.  The client is also responsible of course, for their internal environment including the server TimeControl will be installed on, the database server, malware protection and backups.

Private Cloud

This describes an environment where the client has decided to shift their internal servers to subscribed servers with an Infrastructure as a Service provider.  Popular providers include Amazon, Oracle and IBM as well as many, many others.  These virtual servers are maintained by the Infrastructure company and this is a more and more popular solution.

Licensing

From a licensing standpoint, this is just the same as an on-premise purchase of TimeControl.  HMS will sell a license of TimeControl with pricing per active user and that includes access to our helpdesk and any updates, upgrades and new versions for the first year. Each year thereafter, we offer an annual support contract that continues to give access to the helpdesk, updates, upgrades and new versions.  For any client whose support contract lapses, they can renew it but it must be renewed to the date the contract lapses.

Logistics

From a logistics standpoint, HMS provides either an installable file or a complete DVD image file for download from our TimeControl client support area.  This file will then be uploaded by the client to their virtual server and installed there.  The client is responsible for installation and installation of any updates and upgrades.  The client is also responsible of course, for their internal environment including management of the virtual server TimeControl will be installed on, the database server, malware protection and backups.

TimeControlOnline, our subscription Software as a Service in the Cloud

TimeControlOnline is our subscription service that has been in continuous service since 2011.  The service is used by TimeControl clients of all sizes and has enjoyed a 99.9% uptime since its first release.

Licensing

From a licensing standpoint, clients can subscribe for an annual license to TimeControlOnline for each active user.  Cost varies by volume but ranges between $2.50 and $9.00 per month per user.  All subscriptions are annual.

Logistics

From a logistics standpoint, HMS provides access to a fully functional TimeControl that is ready to use on the first day.  Clients are able to configure, load data, add reports, link to external systems such as a project management tool and use the free TimeControl Mobile App right away.  TimeControl Online and TimeControl on-premise are the same code-base so there is no functionality difference between having on-premise, private cloud or TimeControl Online.  HMS takes care of the server management, malware protection, 24×7 monitoring, database management, all hotfixes, updates, upgrades and new versions in the background so that is never something that has to be managed by the client.   While help-desk calls are rarely needed in this environment, TimeControlOnline subscriptions include access to the help desk.

TimeControl Industrial is supported in all three of these environments as well so clients who need Crew Timesheets, Field Data Collection for Material consumption, Equipment usage and production accomplished can choose the environment that works for them.

TimeControl Mobile is designed to work in all three of these environments as well but for on-premise, and private cloud installations, security configuration to ensure the Mobile App can reach the TimeControl server is the responsibility of the client.

Adjusting to how our clients need to function is the keystone of how HMS has operated since we founded the company.  Making sure TimeControl can support a client’s environment is just one of the ways we do that.

Contact HMS if you have questions about shifting from one environment to another or need help on configuration.

Changing how TimeControl searches for things

We don’t think a lot about basic functionality like searches in TimeControl but the way the search function appears to users at different times can be dramatically affected by administrator options.

The Searchable Interface is located in the Maintenance section and typically only visible to Administrators.  Adding fields changes what fields will appear in the search dialog

Let’s say that we have decided to have users be able to see if a Charge Code is Billable or not or if it is an eligible R&D charge or not.  If we go to the Charge table options we can add those fields to the default Charge Code and Charge Description:

Now when any user goes to the timesheet, they will see those additional fields and be able to sort by them just by clicking on the header of that field:

The changes will affect changes will affect all users and adding many, many fields could make the search dialog too cluttered and harder to navigate so make your choices carefully.

The Searchable Interface is just one more way that TimeControl flexibility help TimeControl adapt to each client’s needs.

 

 

 

 

TimeControl’s ability to be multi-national is unparalleled

Many products have the ability to be localized.  What this usually means is that the user installing or accessing the product can see the interface in their local language and other factors like how currency or dates are displayed is aligned to their country selection.

Different Languages

TimeControl’s abilities go well beyond this.  First of all, yes, we have multiple languages.  TimeControl ships with a number of different languages built in and a language editor to adapt those language definitions or to create your own.  Do you call a “cheque” a “check”? Fine.  TimeControl let’s you adapt that definition.  Does you organization call “Charge Codes” “Task Codes”?  No problem.  Use the TimeControl Manage Languages function to change that.  When TimeControl is upgraded to the next version, it will check any changes you’ve made and not erase them so your changes will be supported.

But, TimeControl can do more.  It will adapt to the user’s browser for some items such as the welcome message or how the calendar is displayed and other selections in TimeControl’s System Preferences and User Profile preferences can define how certain terms or fields are displayed but what might we do about something like different currencies?

Different Currencies

TimeControl’s rate system is extensive and you can use fields to define what currency is used for a particular rate type.  So, “US Labor” for Engineer might be $80 USD and “Canada Labour” for Engineer might be $110 CAD.  The field for currency can define whether the amount entered and then used for calculations is in US dollars or Canadian dollars.  The amounts can be reported on and kept distinct for reporting or exporting but you could do more with a bit of work.  You could use a daily API feed for currency exchange such as www.oanda.com to calculate the rate values right into TimeControl and use one of the extra cost fields to normalize all those costs into one currency for reporting.  Not everyone is going to need this sort of functionality.  Most of the multi-national organizations we’ve seen try to push everyone into one currency but not all.  When you get to a person-by-person data entry system like a timesheet, you may have some needs for reporting that are more local and other needs that are more global.

Different weekends.

TimeControl has the flexibility to have different timesheet periods for different users.  So, a group in the US might have a 7-day calendar with Saturdays and Sundays scheduled as weekend time off.  Within the same TimeControl, another in the Mediterranean might have a weekend that is Thursdays and Fridays.  Still a third group might have a bi-monthly timesheet that is submitted for the first 15 days of the month and a second timesheet for the balance of the month.  Once any of those timesheets are approved and posted, TimeControl is storing the results day-by-day so reporting and exporting aren’t really affected.

Not every multi-national organization has this kind of requirement but it’s nice to know that TimeControl’s flexibility can adapt to include all the users in the organization wherever they are and whatever their work structure is.

The Migration to SaaS timesheets continues

Nerd gets lost in cyberspace

Here at HMS we’ve seen a steady stream of new and existing customers migrating their timesheet process from on-premise deployments to our TimeControl Online timesheet subscription service in the Cloud.  With remote workers now becoming a much more long-term fact of business life, we anticipate this migration to continue.

There will, of course, always be a desire for on-premise or private cloud deployments of a product like TimeControl but this is now more likely to be associated to those working in high security environments such as Defense, Aerospace and ultra high-tech innovation where the desire to keep all data inside the building’s walls is a high priority.  These industries however, are seeing a much lower incidence of remote workers.

At HMS we are committed to support both our on-premise TimeControl and our TimeControl Online subscription service in the cloud indefinitely.

For organizations that are trying to come to terms with a movement of data and applications out of the office and into cloud services, there are some decided benefits to a TimeControl Online.

We started TimeControl Online back in 2011 with the intent that it be accessible by users anywhere in the world.  TimeControl had already been browser based for years and, by 2011, TimeControl was a well-established enterprise timesheet system with 17 years of experience in the market.  Moving to TimeControl Online provides no disadvantages for existing users.  All the functionality of TimeControl is identical in TimeControl Online.  In fact, we maintain a common code base for both systems.

With the Online Service in the cloud, HMS takes on some of the responsibilities that may be becoming harder and harder for remote workers to provide.

With TimeControl Online, HMS takes over all the technical responsibilities of managing the system including:

  • Maintaining and updating the servers and their operating systems
  • Maintaining and updating the databases servers
  • Managing disk space, logs and performance of the servers
  • All hot fixes for TimeControl are installed automatically
  • All upgrades to new versions of TimeControl are included and performed automatically
  • Security including malware production
  • Backups
  • Continuous 24×7 monitoring

All that’s left for the client is to actually use the system.

For existing clients who are considering migrating from TimeControl on-premise to TimeControl Online, ask one of our staff about the cross-over program that can give credit from any on-premise TimeControl licenses with a current support agreement towards a TimeControl Online subscription.  They can be reached at info@hms.ca.

Timesheets costs can be a complex conversation that TimeControl is ready for

One area of functionality that has made TimeControl so popular is the level of flexibility in the Rate structure. It’s a necessary element for TimeControl because of the multi-functional nature of the product and how costs might be thought of one way for one part of the company, (for example Billing) and very differently by another part of the company (for example, Payroll).  The options for how rates are selected and then calculated are extensive and designed to fulfill as many business scenarios as possible.  Let’s look at just a few of these options:

Rate Code Types

TimeControl Rate codes are created as either Global, Resource, Individual or Non-Labor types.  For labor resources a Global-type could appear for any employee’s timesheet, a Resource-type would appear only when that employee is part of the resource referenced in the Resource code and an Individual-type could appear only for the employee specified.  Already that’s a lot of options!

Rate Codes per line item

TimeControl allows an unlimited number of rates per employee and per timesheet.  You are even allowed to have the same charge code entered more than once with each line having a different rate code.  So this can easily accommodate an employee who might fulfill one function in the morning on a task and a different function to be billed at a different rate in the afternoon.

Project Rates

Some organizations want a default project rate for each employee.  While the rate code might look like the same selection to the employee when filling in their timesheet, it could still be an individualized rate code definition because you can have more than one rate code with the same name in the Rate Table so long as it is unique by being associated to a unique employee or resource code.  Default Project Rates can be defined in the Project Table and can be constrained in the Employee Record in the Filter section.

But we don’t want to see all those rates

In each employee record, filters can be used to define which rates should appear and for which conditions.  This can define showing only certain rates at certain times.  The technique can be used to easily define rates that change at a certain time of the year or to define different rates being available for different projects or charges or other data conditions.

Calculating Rate Values

So far we’ve only talked about how you can define many rates and how to select them but what about how rate values are calculated.  For labor rates, each rate code can have multiple values.  Up to 9 values per rate are available by default.  This allows different values for different purposes to be used.  Let’s say that we define Value 1 for Internal Actual Cost.  Then we expect to pay that person that amount per hour completed.  Then we can use Value 2 for External Billing Cost.  That would allow us to calculate an invoice amount for that same value very differently.  We can use this technique to also handle things like “unbillable time” where the Billing Cost is zero but the Internal Cost is still paid for.  We can use the same techniques for Banked Overtime where the internal cost is zero but the billing cost is still invoiced.

That’s just 2 of 9 values.  Perhaps you might want to define a 3rd value as an Average Project Cost to match the cost capabilities of your project system so that costs sent by TimeControl to the project system match the values that were used for planning.

Accruals and more…

We haven’t even talked about how the Accruals Module can take timesheet data it encounters and assesses values to each employee for that time.  In this way, overall overtime or banked time or earned vacation time can be calculated and stored.  There are also options in TimeControl Industrial to cost materials consumed, equipment used and production accomplished.  TimeControl Industrial’s rate selections also supports extended rates which look through combinations of timesheet line fields to select the right rate for you.

There are so many options on how to create your own Rate definitions that we’ve made a white paper on the subject called: Creating your Rate structure in TimeControl. The same information is available in the Appendices of the TimeControl Reference Guide. You’ll find other resources on designing your TimeControl environment to suit your needs in the Resources area of the TimeControl website.

 

The integration of TimeControl timesheets to Primavera is highly configurable

When you are looking to integrate TimeControl with Primavera you have many possible options to employ to make sure you get the actuals you need into however you’ve configured Primavera.  TimeControl has had a link with Primavera since 1997 and we are very familiar with both the technical architecture and functional specifications of the system.  All versions of TimeControl: TimeControl, TimeControl Industrial and TimeControl Online include Primavera bi-directional integration.  Here are some ways the integration can be configured.

Integration with either Primavera EPPM or Primavera Pro P6

First of all TimeControl includes the ability to integrate with either Primavera’s EPPM centralized system or Primavera Professional.  Linking with EPPM is usually done using Primavera’s Web Services but can alternately be done directly with the database.  Linking with Primavera Pro on a desktop or using a network file share for the data is done directly between the TimeControl and Primavera databases.  This is set up in the Link Definition area of TimeControl.

Moving data into TimeControl

Once you’ve defined the link to your Primavera, data can be updated from selected Primavera projects into TimeControl either on demand or on a scheduled basis.  You can even configure TimeControl to automatically update the TimeControl Project Table with new projects in Primavera which you flag there to be ready to be transferred to TimeControl.  You have a number of options on updating the TimeControl project and charge code list with information from Primavera.  This includes deciding whether or not to bring in the milestones, whether to bring in Activity Steps, whether to bring in tasks even if they haven’t had a change and whether to bring in tasks which are already closed.  You can also decide if only the Primavera Primary Resource can update the ETC and TimeControl will respect that choice in the timesheet.  You can decide whether to bring in Resource definitions, Role Definitions or both and even decide if you want to work in TimeControl at a more summarized level of the project than is in Primavera.

Moving data back to Primavera

Once data has gone through the Matrix Approval Process in TimeControl, it can be used to update the Primavera project.  There are a lot of options here.

Link Configuration

First, decide if you want to send back the ETC as hours remaining, days remaining or percent complete.  Then tell TimeControl if you’d like to send back actuals in days or hours and how many hours make up a day.  Then decide if you’d like to group all the timesheet hours into one entry per timesheet period (handy for super long multi-decade projects) or on the date you did the work (much more common).  If TimeControl can’t find an assignment for the work it is trying to update, decide if TimeControl should create an assignment with a budget of zero or create the assignment budget equal to whatever the timesheet data is.

Resource Assignment Options

TimeControl can determine what resource an employee should be counted as either in the employee definition or from each timesheet line.  We call that line-item-resources.  Not everyone configures TimeControl this way but this allows an employee to log their time as one type of resource for part of the day and as other types of resource for other parts of the day.  So if you’re being an engineer in the morning and a project manager in the afternoon, TimeControl can update Primavera’s assignments and costs properly.

Rate Options

TimeControl allows an unlimited number of rates per employee and even multiple timesheet lines on one timesheet with different rates for each.  For each possible rate code, there are multiple possible rate values.  So, for example, an employees “Standard” rate code might have one value for actual salary, another for billing, another for average project value and so on.  You can decide in this link definition, which of the Rate Values to transfer to Primavera if you elect to transfer costs.  For more information on Rates, we recommend looking at the White Paper: Creating your Rate Structure in TimeControl on the TimeControl.com website.

Material Transfer Rate Option

If you are using TimeControl Industrial, you may be collecting more than timesheet hours and timesheet costs.  If you are collecting material consumption, equipment usage or even production accomplished in TimeControl Industrial’s material entry module, then the same concept of rates and costs exist there.  This means you might have an internal cost of purchase for materials along with a billing cost and a project committed price which are all distinct.  The Materials Transfer Rate Option lets you decide which rate value to use when calculating the cost as it is transferred to Primvera.

PMV Transfer Options

TimeControl’s Project Manager Validation functionality lets the project manager execute a line-by-line approval once the overall timesheet is approved.  This allows a project manager to hold back on transferring some data to Primavera due to project updating reasons even though it might be just fine on the timesheet for the individual.  The PMV Transfer Options allows you to define whether all data is being pushed back to Primavera or only that data which the project manager has approved in the PMV screen.

Data Options

Finally, the data options has numerous options on what to send back to Primavera and how including.

    • Transfer Resource Actual Hours
    • Transfer Resource Actual Cost
    • Transfer Expenses. This refers to the expenses associated to each TimeControl timesheet.
    • Transfer Resource ETC. This will transfer the assignment estimate to complete based on the definitions above.
    • Transfer Resource Complete Indicator. This is the complete checkbox on the timesheet.  When selected, TimeControl will mark the task as complete in Primavera with no remaining duration.
    • Transfer Line Notes to P6. This transfers the notes from the TimeControl timesheet line item to notes in the Primavera activity.
    • Transfer Activity ETC. This is the Activity Estimate to Complete that is on the Activity tab of the timesheet not the assignment estimate to complete.
    • Transfer Activity Complete Indicator. This is the estimate to complete for the overall activity, not each assignment.  This can be updated within the Project Manager Validation Screen when doing line item approvals.
    • Transfer Project Steps. These are activity steps that can be updated in the timesheet.  Updates to this may have been restricted to the (Primavera Primary Resource if you selected that option above).
    • Transfer to Financial Periods. You can elect to move data into Primavera’s Financial Periods rather than to the task summary. There are implications to this which you’ll see discussed in the TimeControl Reference Guide.
    • Transfer Materials. This moves the TimeControl Industrial Materials usage and costs.
    • Transfer Expected Finish Date. This can be updated on the timesheet if you make the field visible.

Whew!  It’s a lot right?  If you’re using Primavera and are feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry.  The important thing is that these options are all designed to allow you to adapt TimeControl’s integration to whatever elements of Primavera you are using however you have configured Primavera.  When creating your link between TimeControl and Primavera, the TimeControl technical staff are always ready to help you figure out how to configure the system to suit you best and, once it’s configured most organizations don’t have to touch the link definition again.

For more information on the Link between TimeControl and Primavera, go to the TimeControl/Primavera solutions portal at: TimeControl.com/use-cases/linking-with-primavera-p6.

Research and Development Tax Credit season is upon us

With the New Year now behind us, many organizations are turning their attention to closing the year-end and starting R&D Tax Credit calculations.  Many governments at the federal, state, provincial and regional level have tax credits available under certain conditions.  TimeControl is often used for R&D Tax Credit tracking because of its ability to track people and tasks at levels that will pass an R&D Tax Credit audit.

When creating an R&D Tax Credit tax return, several elements are almost always required.  There must be a plan that outlines what is intended, when it should occur and what type of resources are used.  There must be timesheets to track the time spent on the tasks of the R&D projects along with who did those tasks, where those resources are based and how they are paid.  Finally, there must be an accounting of the value of the work that matches the timesheets, the payroll and the job costing, and which can be associated back to the original plan.

TimeControl is ideally suited for this role.  With links for popular project management tools like Microsoft Project, Primavera, BrightWork and more and to ERP systems like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics, TimeControl can be the auditable trail of project actuals that serve both the Project and Finance processes within the business.

We keep an R&D Tax Credit Resource Portal on the TimeControl.com site at TimeControl.com/use-cases/r-and-d-tax-credits. It includes recently updated White Papers, Slide presentations and screen shots of TimeControl reports which can be requested from HMS Support.

Find out more on the TimeControl.com site or contact us at info@hms.ca to see how TimeControl can help with your R&D Tax Credit reports moving forward.

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