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.

netlogx happy to have switched to TimeControl

We’d like to share a letter we just received from our client netlogx.

netlogx is a highly-awarded consulting company founded by Audrey Taylor that specializes in navigating through business change. They started using TimeControl over a year ago and have been using the TimeControl timesheet system to track hours against projects and charges and determine availability to work on other projects.

“We are happy we made the switch and have recently renewed our contract!” explains Tabatha Anderson the netlogx TimeControl Administrator.

We thank Tabatha and the entire the netlogx team for their letter and are looking forward to working with them in the months and years to come.

You can read Tabatha’s letter in its entirety at: TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials/netlogx.

Happy Holidays

It’s Christmas Eve here at HMS Software and we’d like to take a moment to wish you and yours a very safe and very happy holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year.
We are grateful for the relationship we have with all of our clients, colleagues and business contacts.
We will be closing at noon today and our office hours for the remaining holiday season are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) are as follows:
Today (Thursday), Dec 24: Closed at noon
Friday, Dec 25: Closed
Monday, Dec 28: Closed
Tuesday, Dec 29: Open
Wednesday, Dec 30: Open
Thursday, Dec 31, Closed at noon
Friday, Jan 1: Closed
Monday, Jan 4: Closed
Tuesday: Jan 5: Open and regular schedule restarts

API – the Ultimate in integration

TimeControl has long been known as one of the most flexible and integrate-able timesheet systems in the industry.

In virtually every TimeControl deployment we are called upon to weave the timesheet data into a much larger business process.  At one time we focused more on doing this from database to database but as more and more systems (including TimeControl) became available as in-the-cloud subscription services, we had to broaden our approach. In 2017 we released a full service RESTful API included with all TimeControl versions.

The ultimate in TimeControl integration is almost certainly the Application Programming Interface (API) which is included with both TimeControl Online and TimeControl on-premise.  This module allows data and processes to be access both for pulling information out of TimeControl and for putting information into TimeControl.  Within the API we have defined numerous end-points for accessing data and processes allowing literally hundreds of functions and objects to be accessed.

Using the TimeControl API lets you create a blended corporate environment where data from one system can be updated into another completely in the background without user intervention.

What can you do?

The API has a remarkable range of possible methods to access.  Data from all the tables holding your TImeControl data can be pushed or pulled at any time and the API will ensure that all of TimeControl’s data control rules are followed.  The API has extensive messaging and we provide numerous examples and startup code to get you started quickly.

Is it secure?

The API carries all the same security measures that TimeControl is famous for.  The API can be turned on and off for the entire instance in the System Preferences and then access is controlled through a TimeControl User Profile.  Typically a single user profile is created for API interactions and the data that is made available to the API or data which can be updated by the API can be controlled right in that User Profile definition.  That’s quite an advanced structure as it allows as much API access as you define regardless of what the programmer writes in code that access the API.

For an on-premise deployment you can even elect not to install the API at all though this means that not only the API but also the free TimeControl Mobile App will be disabled.

How is it accessed?

We provide dynamic API documentation that is actually generated by the API itself whenever you ask for it in the help menu.

The result is an always up-to-date exactly for the version you are in with information on each method as well as example code on how to connect to TimeControl and guidance on how to get your project started.

We’ve not eliminated any of the other methods of integrating TimeControl with your corporate systems but the TimeControl API represents the ultimate in blended system integration.

For more information on how the TimeControl API can help you create an integrated business environment, contact HMS at: TimeControl.com/contact.

Using TimeControl for owners and contractors at the same time

TimeControl is often selected by owners or prime contractors who are trying to get consolidated actuals for both categories of workers.  This can be a real challenge for a number of reasons but not meeting the challenge can result in a project being tracked by multiple labor tracking systems that are not in the same format, don’t automatically reconcile with each other and which cause enormous efforts every week and month to try to understand how the project is progressing and what the true costs are.

Some of the challenges we’ve heard from clients include:

Authentication

Clients report that to use their existing corporate timesheet solution, they would need to add all users from each contractor into the corporate authentication mechanism.  This can result in hundreds or even thousands of people having to get a Corporate ID, Corporate email and trigger all kinds of other onboarding processes even if that contractor will only be on a project or with the organization for a short time.  Using TimeControl can circumvent this challenge as corporate authentication for TimeControl is done per user.  So, some users can be using the LDAP or Active Directory for one company and other users can be using the LDAP or Active Directory of another company and still other users can be using TimeControl’s internal security password and protocols.  The corporate finance system can then be fed data from completed and approved timesheets without ending up with multiple timesheet entries.

Separate data but still together

Clients report that they wish to have a central repository for project actuals but that each contractor needs to collect time also so they can invoice and track their part of the project for their own needs.  TimeControl manages this by allowing users to be segregated by any criteria you wish and then allowing all the data to come into one place and be separated for each contractor company so they can download extracts for their own billing process.  This can make a massive impact on how data is reconciled between the different contractors and the owner/prime when the end of the month comes.

Central and Distributed approvals

TimeControl’s approval mechanism is extensive and known as the most flexible in the industry.  We often hear from clients that they need to create an approval flow that will involve both the contractor’s representative and the prime contractor or owner’s administration at the same time.  TimeControl is designed for this kind of challenge.  Using TimeControl’s line item approvals and Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™ approvals can be created for both streams at once and this can revolutionize the invoicing approval process at the end of the month because hours being invoiced have already been approved by the client.  We have seen client situations where invoice reconciliation drops from weeks to hours.  We’re not kidding about that.
From weeks to hours.

Flexibility is your friend

When you are merging the work of multiple contractors into the same system, clients often explain that the blending of corporate processes is a large barrier.  TimeControl’s remarkable flexibility makes the difference here.  TimeControl’s timesheets can appear one way for one group of workers and very differently for other groups of workers and, once entered, the data can be split, shared or divided up as need be in exports, reports and more.

HMS maintains a solution portal with questions and answers about how TimeControl can make a difference when you are planning to integrate the work of multiple contractors and internal workers at the same time.  You can find out more at: TimeControl.com/use-cases/manage-contractors.

 

TimeControl client EXFO marks 20 years with TimeControl

We were delighted this week to receive a letter from Andre Richard, the Director of Research and Development at EXFO a worldwide design and manufacturing company specializing in telecommunications.  You may not know EXFO yourself but your phone probably does.  EXFO  works with suppliers like Verizon, AT&T, Vodafone, Orange and many, many more on testing and service assurance systems.

While all letters of praise from clients are extremely exciting to the HMS Staff and TimeControl team, Andre’s letter is particularly heartwarming because of the long standing use of TimeControl at EXFO.  “We have used TimeControl for more than 20 years to capture the efforts of our R&D team,” Andre explains.

TimeControl has been used at EXFO as part of their research and development tax credit applications and has passed the test of audits more than one.

We’re very proud to count Andre and the entire EXFO team among our many clients and look forward to many more years of working together.

You can read Andre’s letter in its entirety at:
TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials/exfo.

TimeControl Technical Support FAQs

The TimeControl Technical team is often quoted by clients as a key reason for their satisfaction with the TimeControl timesheet system.  One of the ways we deliver on that is by organizing the HMS team so that the same personnel who do development, consulting, and implementation also answer technical support requests.  This makes the quality of responses for technical questions very high.  We thought it would be useful to share some frequently asked questions and answers about the support service.

Question: Who is entitled to TimeControl Technical Support?
Answer: Any client who is a subscriber of TimeControl Online and any client who uses TimeControl on-premise who is either in their first year after purchase or who has paid an annual technical support contract fee.

Question: What is included in TimeControl Technical Support?
Answer: In short, HMS is committed to fix TimeControl if it is not working the way we documented it to work.  But, when calls come in for assistance, they virtually always sound like, “TimeControl isn’t working.  Please fix it.”  Our technical staff triage all incoming calls to sort out urgent issues (for example TimeControl not able to start) from less urgent (for example, I’m not happy with the way a report looks).  Then they start to diagnose the issue.  Often just figuring out if TimeControl is, in fact, broken, they determine the cause of the issue and have resolved it.  Most TimeControl issues are usually data or configuration related a small minority result in a change or fix to TimeControl.

Question: Ok, so what is not included in TimeControl?
Answer: Anything that isn’t about fixing TimeControl.  So, with TimeControl on-premise, installations, upgrades, server configuration or upgrades, database configuration or upgrades would not be included. For TimeControl on-premise or TimeControl Online, Training or configuration of TimeControl including making filters, validation rules, reports or anything else that is client-facing are not included.  All of these are services that HMS can provide for a fee.

Question: How quickly are problems responded to?
Answer: HMS is committed to respond to an issue within 4 business hours of receiving it.  That may not mean that the fix or correction is available in 4 hours.  We focus first on any issues that have TimeControl not working at all and then on issues that are less severe.  We are committed however, to initiate the correction process within that 4 hours timeframe.  If you put in a support request first thing in the morning on a workday and haven’t heard back by 1pm that day, you should follow up.

Question: When is TimeControl Technical Support available?
Answer: Technical Support staff are available from Monday to Friday (Excepting Canadian/Quebec holidays) from 9am to 5pm Eastern time (GMT-5) but some of the staff are often working earlier than 9 and working later than 5 so there is never a bad time to send in a request.  If the HMS offices are closed for a holiday, we post that on our Twitter account and that feed is posted to the front page of the TimeControl.com account.

Question: What is the most effective way of contacting TimeControl Technical Support?
Answer: By far the best method is to either fill in a support request at: TimeControl.com/contact/tech-support or send an email to support@hms.ca.  Both of these methods trigger internal triage mechanisms for technical support and have the issue allocated to the most appropriate person to respond.  You can also call the office directly at +1 514-695-8122 but with the staff mostly working remotely, this is the least effective method.

Question: I have the email/phone# of one of the staff who I really liked, can’t I just contact them?
Answer: We would prefer that you do not unless you are already working directly with someone on a particular issue and they have asked you to be in contact with them.  Technical Support staff also rotate into development, design, implementation and consulting roles so sending a message to someone you had a good rapport with is the most likely cause of a delay in response.

Question: Where can I find out more:
Answer: Send us your question at:
https://www.timecontrol.com/contact/tech-support.

Did you know you can manage languages yourself in TimeControl?

TimeControl has had multi-lingual capabilities since it’s first release in 1994.  Over the years the functionality of the Manage Languages feature has expanded.  The function is part of the Maintenance Menu and so it’s never typically seen by most users.  Even for Administrators, managing languages is rarely thought of once a system is in production.

The TimeControl Manage Languages feature allows you to create, adjust or delete language selections and then even change the wording of menus, fields, messages and more to suit your own corporate lexicon.  There are a number of languages shipped with TimeControl but not all the languages have complete translations.  We do our best to keep the English, French and Spanish language files completely up to date for all terms.   There are other language files included which are more targeted at just the timesheet users.  What a client will often do is to make a copy of their main language, let’s say English to have their own version and then adjust the language to suit their own needs.  Perhaps the word Charge Code is better thought of as Task Code.  No problem.  Perhaps the error messages that TimeControl uses need to be adjusted for your own standards.  No problem.  Just make the changes and save them.

You can even create a new translation.  Let’s say you want to add Flemish to the language file for your Belgian users.  You can do so and add your own translation items.  Remember 95% of your users only need to see the timesheet and menus so the actual translation challenge you are facing is likely quite limited.

Ah, you say, but what about upgrades?  Will we lose all our work adjusting the text in TimeControl?  You will not.  The TimeControl upgrade process looks at the language definitions to see if any new translations need to be added but if it finds that you have made a change already, it will skip that item and move on.  So, any translation work you do for any of the existing TimeControl language translation definitions are unaffected.

The Manage Languages function in TimeControl is just one more way we make the product flexible for users.

Managing banked time, overtime and cost calculations – all with the Accruals Module

TimeControl’s Accruals functionality was designed to manage a tremendous range of business situations where calculations and management of timesheet data needs to be done once a timesheet is entered.  The Accruals module, despite its power, is almost never seen by individual users as it is configured by administrators usually when TimeControl is implemented and then only changed when there is a change in business practices.

The Accruals system is a part of every TimeControl version and has four categories of Processes that can be created:

  1. A rule based on the calendar based on a static value
  2. A rule based on the calendar but calculated on values in the timesheet
  3. A rule based on the Rate code
  4. And a rule based on the values in the hours on the timesheet

There is no limit to the number of rules that can be created and a rule can apply to everyone or just to some personnel or just for some timesheets under certain conditions.  Let’s think about a couple of business situations where the Accruals module is used:

  • We need to show the vacation, sick leave or personal time earned by an employee at the end of each month. Perhaps we have a rule where at the end of each month, regular salaried employees earn 1.25 days of time off to add up to 15 days of time off at the end of the year but earned only month by month.  In this case a “Calendar Rule based on a Static Value” works best and the rule can then put the 1.25 days of earned time off into each regular salaried employee’s bank for using in the future.
  • We need to calculate a set number of hours earned for vacation per employee each month based on the total number of hours accumulated during this period to their personal time off bank.  In this case the rule is applied at the end of every month, but the calculation must take into account the number of hours they have completed. If you had some employees who were part time or hourly pay this would be ideal as a “Calendar Rule based on timesheet values”.
  • We have a situation where we manage banked overtime. Employees can elect to bank their overtime as future vacation time at a 1:1 ratio or get paid for the overtime at a 1:1.5 ratio.  That’s a lot of potential calculating but the Accruals module handles that easily by checking the Rate code value and then the rate amounts and then entering the right amount of overtime to be paid or banked overtime into the appropriate bank for that employee.  A “Rule based on the Rate Code” is the appropriate type of Accrual for this situation.
  • We want to add to the employee’s overtime bank an amount calculated at 1.5 times the hours for any time spent over 40 total hours but below 50 total hours and 2 times the hours for any hours above 50. In this case a “Rule based on the values in the hours on the timesheet” is the best fit as these kinds of calculations based on values can be entered here.

All Accrual rules feed into the Employee Banked audit trail and the Employee Banks Detail Report can show the changes line-by-line.  You can see an example of these reports at: TimeControl.com/features/reporting.

You can find out more about TimeControl Accruals at: TimeControl.com/timesheet/accruals.

TimeControl’s greatest hits (as told by our technical department)

The HMS Marketing Department is often who gets to write the many web pages, emails, blog posts and press releases that are made public.  We thought it might be good to ask our Technical Services department what they see as the best parts of TimeControl from an implementation perspective.  There’s no way to survey everyone who is a part of TimeControl’s development so we’re focusing on our most experiences TimeControl technical staff.

So, in their own voices, here are TimeControl’s Greatest Hits as told by our technical staff:

Stephen Eyton-Jones

Director of Technical Services

“For me the most powerful aspect of TimeControl when thinking of an implementation,” he explains,” “is the open-architecture way we’ve integrated support of the database.  It’s quite remarkable.  We support numerous database formats and we’ve taken efforts in every version of TimeControl to be able to make SQL definitions of things that have the capacity to define far beyond what we could ever do in a menu-only structure.  This includes how we work with security, reporting, filtering, business validation rules and so much more and this is true for both the on-premise product and the TimeControl Online Subscription service.  From my perspective, this is the single-most powerful aspect to TimeControl’s ability to adapt to the needs of the client in an implementation.”

Carl Duguay

Senior Developer

“I believe the TimeControl API is one of the product’s most powerful features,” Carl reports.  “The RESTful Application Programming Interface allows the client to create integrations with other corporate systems both for populating TimeControl and for pulling information out of TimeControl.  The number of endpoints to the API is extensive and the depth of integration is beyond anything we’ve encountered in products in our industry.  For TimeControl implementations, I cannot think of anything more impactful than the API functionality.”

Mark Corbin

Senior Developer

“From my perspective, reporting has always been one of the most focused areas of TimeControl,” Mark tells us.  “With each version of TimeControl, reporting functionality has expanded and the functionality that we include now with the product is multi-faceted.  Not only do we ship report templates that can be edited and adapted by the client, there is a fully-functional report writer built right in and it allows such an extensive list of features, that we had to make a user manual just for report designers.  The reporting includes both text and chart options and we haven’t found a reporting requirement yet that it could not fulfill.”

“As if that’s not enough, TimeControl also includes other reporting tools such as the Drill Down Analyzer which can be used for more tactical purposes almost like an Excel Pivot Table to look at data, sub-group, sub-total in almost any way and then report on the results.  To my mind, reporting is one of the greatest aspects of TimeControl.”

Ian Ozturk

Developer

“If I think of TimeControl from an implementation perspective,” Ian says, “the ability to personalize the configuration in so many ways is the most flexible aspect of matching TimeControl to the client’s needs.  I tend to think of the configuration of TimeControl from a top-down perspective.  I think of the client’s overall requirements then move down a level to think about a division or department at a time then down a level more to think about a group of users in a TimeControl User Profile and finally at the user-level for an individual’s experience of the product.  At each level there are so many options which can tailor TimeControl to the client’s particular needs.  Clients are typically shocked at how much TimeControl is able to flex around their particular requirements.  So, the flexibility of TimeControl’s configuration is the key element for me.”

Storm Leutner

Customer Success and Engagement Manager

“As the Engagement Manager for TimeControl, I rarely do the technical work myself,” says Storm Leutner who has seen TimeControl grow from its very first version, “so my focus is somewhat different.  From my perspective, the greatest hits for TimeControl are the way it can generate satisfied customers.   Our customer base is vast.  It covers many different industries in both the private and public sectors and in countries all over the world but what is so noticeable about the TimeControl clients is how long they stay with the product.  We have clients who have been active TimeControl users for 12, 15, 20 years.  The case studies and testimonials on the TimeControl website are a testament to how the flexibility of TimeControl and the great service our technical people deliver can keep a client satisfied in what is otherwise a highly changeable technical world.  So, TimeControl’s greatest hit is customer satisfaction as far as I’m concerned.”

We’re delighted to hear from our technical personnel and we know that many of our clients interact with our technical people on a regular basis.  If you’d like to read more about our testimonials and case studies, go to: https://www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies and https://www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials.

The official blogsite of TimeControl