Project Progress is so much more than just the number of hours

HMS Software started as consultants and distributor for project management software many years ago.  One of the first things we ever focused on was the importance of progressing projects.  It turns out this is still a subject that bears repeating today.

We measure progress in many ways.  TimeControl was created, in part, to track one of those methods, task effort.  But this is the simplest and often the most misleading tracking method.  Just knowing how much time you spent on something without knowing how that task is progressing otherwise can easily lead to misinterpretation.  Imagine, for example that you have spent 40 hours on an expected 80 hour task.  You’re half way done, right?  Well what if you’re not?  What if the work turned out to be harder than you thought.  Instead of being only half done, you estimate there is still 120 hours of work to.  Instead of this ending as a 40 hour task, it will probably be closer to a 160 hour task, double the original cost or expectation.

TimeControl was designed with this in mind too.  TimeControl allows each person to estimate the work required for them to finish their task right on the timesheet line by entering the estimated remaining duration on the line.

This is even more powerful when combined with the use of a project baseline in the project management tool.  Not only can you see the progress against the actual activity, you can also compare against what you originally promised it would be.

In some cases, there may be multiple resources on the same activity.  If this is the case, TimeControl can have a project manager or supervisor update an activity percent complete update for the entire task.  This is visible on the Activity Tab from the timesheet or the Charge Table or from the Project Manager Validation Screen.

Some organizations use weighted milestones to measure an activity’s progress. This is a popular method for large projects because it is so much less subjective.  Project management tools like Primavera support this method of progress and TimeControl does too.  When you look at the expanded timesheet line window you’ll see a tab called Steps.  Here, if you are the key resource, you can progress the steps associated to that activity.

In some organizations, activity progress is measured by units complete.  For example, if you are doing a pipe-laying project, then management only cares how many meters of pipe were installed this week.  It’s a powerful measurement method because it is very matter of fact.  TimeControl supports this too if you are using TimeControl Industrial and enter such a measure in the Material entry screen.

TimeControl has been designed from the start to have project progress in mind.  It’s so much more than just collecting hours.

To find out more about how to use TimeControl for updating project progress, talk to one of our specialists at info@hms.ca.

TimeControl on-premise is here to stay

Many people have asked us if the on-premise version of TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial will be phased out.

In a word: No.

While over 75% of our new sales are for TimeControl Online, TimeControl Industrial Online or TimeControl Project Online, all of which are delivered as subscriptions in the Cloud, we have many clients who have TimeControl implemented as an on-premise system.

There are many reasons an organizations will want to purchase a license and install TimeControl themselves.  It may be security restrictions or integration with internal tools at the database level.  Whatever the reason, TimeControl will continue to be available as on premise option for anyone who needs it as long as there is a demand.

For those clients who are already using TimeControl on-premise and who wish to switch to a subscription of TimeControl Online, HMS has the Evolve Program to help with that.  There are commercial and technical aspects to the migration but end users won’t experience any difference in functionality.  Only their URL for TimeControl will change.  Talk to HMS if this is of interest.

The TimeControl Primavera integration link just turned 25

It’s quite a remarkable anniversary and in the busy-ness of the business it almost went unnoticed.  This summer, the anniversary of our integrated link between our TimeControl timesheet system and Primavera became 25 years old.

The first version of the integration was between TimeControl version 2 and Primavera P3 using the RA connector.  That’s some time ago.  When Primavera released TeamPlay/P3e, TimeControl was the first integration announced of any product to it.   With each version of Primavera and each version of TimeControl the link has grown.

When both products became browser-based, the TimeControl/Primavera link was there.  When Oracle-Primavera EPPM was announced, the TimeControl/Primavera link was ready.  When SOAP Web services were released, the TimeControl/Primavera link carried that new option.

TimeControl will release an updated link to Primavera in its next update that includes support for Primavera’s REST API link.

Most companies don’t last 25 years.  Not only have the Primavera and HMS team both survived, we’ve grown closer over time.  Now the TimeControl/Primavera link supports all versions of Primavera right up to the most current and, it can support multiple version and types simultaneously.  Support for Primavera Pro and Primavera EPPM can be included at the same time in the same TimeControl system.

To read the Press Release on the Primavera/TimeControl link, see: Primavera/TimeControl at 25.

To find out more about the link, see: Primavera.TimeControl.com.

TimeControl website resources are always being updated

We update the resource collateral on the TimeControl.com website that it would be impractical to create notices for each thing that gets added or updated.  In the Resources area, you’ll find Webcasts, White Papers, Slide presentations, Factsheets, Online training and more.  We did just update the TimeControl Industrial overview webcast which can be found on the Webcast page.  If you’d like to get to it directly, you can find it at: TimeControl Industrial Overview.

What is the TimeControl Client-Side Transfer?

Mostly when we talk about linking with TimeControl, we talk about it happening in the background.  Often Project Management systems are centrally managed and the link happens between the TimeControl or TimeControl Online server and the server-based Project Management system.

There is, however, a link option between TimeControl and TimeControl Online and your own desktop application such as Microsoft Project Standard / Professional or Primavera Pro P6.

These links are made possible by a part of TimeControl called the “Client-Side Transfer” App.  This app will automatically try to activate if you have created a TimeControl Interface definition between a TimeControl Project and a Desktop-based project application.

The Client-Side Transfer App allows TimeControl to reach your desktop application through the browser.  This is typically not permitted by a web browser which we why the Client-Side Transfer App must be installed on your desktop within the Microsoft Edge Browser.  Edge (and it’s older cousin Internet Explorer) allow such apps to be installed and activated specifically for this type of requirement.

Here’s the workflow of the TimeControl Client Side Transfer App
(Click to expand)

When you initiate a Client Side Transfer, if you haven’t ever done so before or if the Client Side Transfer App has been updated, you’ll be asked to install it.  This Client Open to start the installation process.  The result will be an installed app within your Edge Browser.

You must be using the Microsoft Edge Browser (Or the older Internet Explorer if you still use that) which allows for such apps and add-ons to be added to the browser. You’ll see the app is signed by HMS Software. You may see our full legal name in English as Heuristic Management Systems Inc. or the french version as Systemes de Gestion Heuristic Inc.

The app then completes its installation.

Once installed, you won’t see the installation request again for future link requests, TimeControl will perform the link with the requested application on your desktop.
Once you’ve used the App a few times you may forget that it’s even there. The link between TimeControl and your desktop-installed project management tool will just keep updating on a regular basis.
Desktop links with TimeControl are almost never schedule-able because of the nature of the desktop project management system.

TimeControl Project tips

Did you know that TimeControl Project security extends past that of TimeControl itself?

It’s true.

TimeControl Project has security that is much more granular than TimeControl, allowing those who have permission to create a View to include anyone that they have access to either as a profile or by name.

This allows a project manager to easily include his or her team in the View of task or charge-code based Board Views or GANTT Views and both the View and the data are related in that security.  In this View we can see that the User Profile “Project Managers” has been given access along with Joseph and Tom.  Below you can see that they have all been given modify rights.  Even more, if they don’t have rights to modify the View, we can further restrict the access to that person to only show tasks that were assigned to them.

Of course TimeControl’s extensive security model is still running in the background.  The security listed here won’t accidentally give users access to data they haven’t been given access to.

For those who haven’t seen it yet, TimeControl Project is part of a premium version of TimeControl Online and TimeControl Industrial Online.  You can find out more at TimeControlProject.com.

The TimeControl / Primavera Link continues to evolve

The Link between TimeControl and Primavera comes from a long partnership.  In 1997, HMS and Primavera worked together to make the first link between TimeControl 2.1 and Primavera P3.  As each product has evolved, the TimeControl Link has too.  In virtually every version of TimeControl there has been some improvement or some extension of the Primavera Link.

There are numerous advantages of blending the TimeControl auditable timesheet functionality with the power of Oracle-Primavera’s project management functionality.  Key features of the link include:

  • TimeControl’s Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™
  • Uploading not only hours but also Material consumption, Equipment Usage and Progress achieved (using TimeControl Industrial)
  • Missing timesheet management
  • Automated business validation rules
  • Extensive rate management with unlimited rates per resource
  • Management of vacation, sick leave, and personal time banks
  • Management of banked overtime and;
  • The free TimeControl Mobile App.

The TimeControl Link can support multiple Primavera editions and even multiple versions at one time including Primavera EPPM and Primavera Pro.  The integration to and from Primavera can be run on demand or on your own schedule.

There are numerous resources on the TimeControl.com website talking about how to integrate with Primavera and the benefits of combining Primavera with TimeControl.  Start at primavera.timecontrol.com to discover white papers, slide presentations, webcasts and more.

TimeControl’s TimeRequest Wizard is truly magical

TimeControl has long had the ability to allow employees to request time off in the future using the TimeRequest feature.  Employees make a request for time off for an event such a vacation or expected sick leave and that goes to their supervisor for approval much like a timesheet would.  Then, once approved, that timesheet entry including the number of hours involved, the charge code and the rate code are automatically inserted into the appropriate timesheet.  If, for some reason, the employee goes to work on that day, they can just overwrite the entry with other timesheet lines.

An extension to the TimeRequest function is the TimeRequest Wizard.  This module allows an administrator to add pre-approved TimeRequest timesheet lines to many employee’s future timesheets at once.  It is most typically used for entering statutory holidays such as New Year’s Day or Christmas.

The TimeRequest Wizard has recently been enhanced with some great new features.

Administrators can set up different TimeRequest Wizard entries and then save them for later updating.  This means that one TimeRequest Wizard entry could be made for example for all the holidays in the US and associated with a filter for US-based staff then a different TimeRequest Wizard entry could be made for all Canadian holidays and associated with a filter for all staff based in Canada.

Since TimeRequest Wizards are now saved, they can also now be recalled and edited.  This provides an easy way for TimeControl administrators to onboard new staff with future holidays and to offboard staff so there is nothing still pending for their timesheets in the future.

The TimeRequest Wizard is an easy way for administrators to save a ton of time.  You can see the online lesson of the TimeRequest Wizard in action on the TimeControl Online Training page at:  timecontrol.com/resources/online-training/timecontrol-8.

Our President Chris Vandersluis is on TopEntrepreneurs podcast

Chris Vandersluis, HMS Software’s president is on Nathan Latka’s (@nathanlatka) Top Entrepreneurs podcast this week.  You can catch the interview at: https://geni.us/TopEntrepreneurs.  Chris has been interviewed once before by Nathan back in 2018 so there was lots to talk about. Nathan asked about corporate results, how to keep clients and staff happy during a pandemic and the future expectations for HMS and TimeControl.   It’s  high energy, 20 minute look at how private SaaS companies operate and succeed.  TopEntrepreneurs features almost 2000 interviews with CEOs of SaaS companies around the world.  Take a look at: https://geni.us/TopEntrepreneurs.  You can also catch the video version on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/QmmVu2GD0hA.

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