Much of TimeControl.com is about you building your solution

Scavenger-Hunt_iStock-185313527_300x200Since we first launched our first website in the mid 1990s we have focused on making knowledge available to others.  This tradition of sharing information continues in TimeControl.com.  The website contains information about our product of course, but it also contains collateral of interest to anyone involved in project management systems, timesheet systems and, in particular multi-function timesheet systems.  There has never been any fee for accessing this collateral.

We always knew people would come to our site with questions about the features of our products, but people don’t fundamentally shop for features.  They shop for a solution to their business challenges.  So we have made our thinking on how to solve business challenges with our products and services easy to access here.

Surfing the TimeControl website at first glance can be overwhelming for the sheer volume of information.  There are webcasts, online training, white papers, factsheets and slide shows but the site content is organized into several logical areas:

TimeControl prospects

For those stopping by because they are interested in buying TimeControl, then the TimeControl Features area and Why TimeControl? areas are the first stops.  They contain information specific about what TimeControl can do, who has bought it in the past, why it was successful and how to subscribe to or buy it now.

Solutions

For those who are interested in how a multi-function timesheet like TimeControl can be useful, the Solutions area looks at many different possible applications.  There is a section for using TimeControl for Human Resources, using TimeControl for Payroll, using TimeControl for tracking R&D tax credits, using TimeControl to integrate with Primavera or Microsoft Project and much more.  Each solutions area contains different collateral like webcasts, factsheets and screen shots to help answer questions about how to solve a particular business challenge.

Resources Library

We may have referenced some webcasts or white papers in different solutions areas but we have bundled access to all our major collateral in the Resources Library.  Here you’ll find different sections for Webcasts, White Papers, Factsheets, Slide Presentations, Online Training Videos and our Press Releases.  There’s even a section on best practices for using timesheets and deploying TimeControl.

Of course that’s not the end of our materials.  There is also this blog, articles we write for other sites and put into the public domain.  We hope this information is valuable for those who are considering our products and also for those who are just looking to educate themselves in the industry.

You’ll find the TimeControl Solutions area at: TimeControl.com/use-cases.

The TimeControl Resource Library can be found at: TimeControl.com/resources.

Why are there so many types of timesheets?

TooManyChoices_300x300If you do an Internet search for the word “timesheet” you’re going to find hundreds of thousands of timesheets.  That makes the search essentially useless.  If you start looking at what you might need in a timesheet you’re still going to find hundreds of options.  Why does the market support so many different timesheets?  Are they all the same?

They’re not.

One of the reasons so many timesheet systems survive in the market is that many of them are targeted at specific uses.  By far the most popular timesheet type is for time and attendance.  This tracks how much time each employee spends at the office and, if they’re absent, why.  This allows payroll to be calculated and for the HR department, allows banks of vacation, sick leave and time off to be update.

The next most popular type is almost certainly time and billing.  Popular with professionals like accountants, lawyer, engineers and consultants, time and billing timesheets need to track the company name for which work was done, the rate at which time was billed and enough description to justify the invoice later.

Project manager systems also have timesheets, they are designed to update the actual time spent against planned tasks.

And there are other timesheets for other purposes such as government programs that require particular kinds of timesheet reporting to be compliant.

The challenge with so many types of timesheet systems is that different parts of an organization can end up selecting something very different to meet their particular needs.  That can result in deploying multiple timesheets in the same place and in a worst-case situation, employees might have to fill in one, two or even more timesheets to complete their week.

We’ve recently updated our webcast and produced both a white paper and presentation on this phenomena and how TimeControl can be used to overcome the multiple timesheet challenge.

You’ll find the webcast at: TimeControl.com/resources/webcasts.
The White paper is at: TimeControl.com/resources/whitepapers.
And the Presentation can be found at: TimeControl.com/resources/presentations.

TimeControl integration with Project for the Web

TimeControl has included integration with every version of Microsoft Project since 1995 so perhaps it is no surprise that we recently announced integration capabilities with the new Microsoft Project for the Web.Links to MS Project

This latest edition to the Microsoft Project family was previously referred to as Project Service, the “New Microsoft Project” and in licensing terms, Project Plan 1.  It is built on the Microsoft Power Platform and is integrated with Microsoft Office 365.

HMS and Microsoft developers worked together on this integration to ensure that clients who are using this latest member of the Project family are able to integrate it into TimeControl.

Project for the Web currently has only exporting capabilities through a Web Service and in our talks with Microsoft it appears that there is work underway by Microsoft to have bi-directional integration possible.  At the moment, the capabilities we can take advantage of allow us to pull new projects and tasks from Project for the Web into the TimeControl Project Table and Charge Table so that these items can appear in a TimeControl User’s timesheet.

While integration to push actuals back to Project for the Web would be great, this level of integration is still tremendously useful as it allows all work being defined by project personnel to be accounted for in one place.  TimeControl can become your center for all actuals regardless of their source and reports from TimeControl can make their way back to Office 365 via the TimeControl API or other integration means.

Links to MS ProjectTimeControl’s tremendous flexibility in links with project management systems allows multiple systems and versions to be supported at the same time.  So, you can have some projects being managed in Project Professional, some in Project Online, some in Project Server and some in Project for the Web all at the same time.  TimeControl will dutifully keep track of all the different links, project-by-project and move data back and forth either on demand or on a schedule as needed.   The end-user doesn’t need to stress about which tool a project manager is using, all they need to do is look at their timesheet and add in the time on the tasks they worked on.  TimeControl takes care of  the rest in the background.

For more information on all the integration solutions possible with TimeControl, go to TimeControl.com/use-cases.

 

Managing what isn’t there – missing timesheets

Nerd_Lost_iStock-906654482_300x200.jpgOn a Monday morning, sometimes the tougest thing to deal with is what isn’t there at all.  Anyone who has ever been a supervisor, timesheet administrator or team leader knows that the most challenging thing on a Monday morning can be locating and managing any missing timesheets.

TimeControl has features and functions to deal with missing timesheets and we’ve just released a new White Paper to help you navigate your many options.  The white paper is organized into three sections:

1. Avoiding Missing Timesheets

That should be the first step of course.  If we didn’t have any missing timesheets we wouldn’t need to manage them!  This section looks at Reminder Emails, TimeControl Reminders, Notifications of Missing Timesheets, Validation Rules and Individual’s Dashboards among other features.

2. Locating Missing Timesheets

If timesheets still turn up missing, TimeControl has numerous methods of locating them and informing users that they’re missing.  This section covers the Missing Timesheet Notifications, Missing Timesheet Reports, Supervisor Dashboards and how to be notified once the missing timesheets are on the way.

3. Managing Missing Timesheets

Timesheets can be missing for many reasons and depending on the cause and the particular situation, TimeControl has tools for managing the timesheets and ensure they get created or completed and released to the appropriate authority.  This section covers Alternate Users and the Change Timesheet Ownership tools.

The White Paper: Managing what you can’t See.  How to manage missing timesheets with TimeControl is available now on the White Paper page of the TimeControl website.

For a complete list of TimeControl White Papers, visit: TimeControl.com/resources/whitepapers.

TimeControl 8.1 now available!

TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial version 8.1 are a major update to the TimeControl 8 family of editions with significant new and enhanced features.    We’re delighted with the new version.  You can find out more details on the website at TimeControl.com/features/latest.

Mobile Materials

tci_mobile_materials.jpg_350x281For TimeControl Industrial Users we have now added the ability to enter non-labor data from the field using the free TimeControl Mobile App.  Along with the already existing Timesheet and Crew Timesheet functionality, this version now allows material consumption, equipment usage and production accomplished to be entered into TimeControl using a mobile device.

The free TimeControl Mobile App is available on Google Play for Android devices and the Apple Store for iOS devices.

Enhanced Calendar View

Calendar_View4_300x162We’ve rewritten the Calendar View to be more useful as an operational tool as TimeControl expands with more project planning and control functionality.  The Calendar View now allows for multiple tasks per row.  Also, items which span more than one day are now made into a longer bar which we’re loving in the office!

Integration with Project for the Web

ProjectForTheWeb_300x189In TimeControl 8.1 we have added integration with Microsoft’s newest addition to its Project Family “Project for the Web” with import only integration (Microsoft doesn’t support sending data back yet).

 

A new wave of reports

TimesheetImages_240x162We’ve included numerous new reports in this version which are all templates that you can adapt to your own needs.

 

 

And so much more.

Find out all about the new version at TimeControl.com/features/latest.

If you are a TimeControl or TimeControl Industrial on premise client with a current support and maintenance agreement, you can download the new version at no additional charge at: TimeControl.com/support/updates. TimeControl Online subscribers will be notified about their updates in the coming weeks and will then be updated automatically.

Timesheet Data can be the center of your data universe

When you publish a multi-functional timesheet like TimeControl, it should be no surprise to see a conceptual data diagram that includes all the places timesheet data might be used or which might integrate with other corporate systems.  We see such diagrams virtually every week. TimeControl at the Center

For many organizations, becoming more effective requires integrating systems from many sources.  Big ERP vendors will promote doing everything under their umbrella but that’s not always practical for operational systems.  As soon as you must consider a project or estimating or cost control or government compliance system, you have to think about the timesheets that will drive the actuals.

The worst-case scenario is finding an organization that is trying to support more than one timesheet system at a time.  It’s hard enough to get people to fill in one timesheet in a week, imagine having to fill out two or three or more.  We encounter this worst-case nightmare all the time.  The challenge that TimeControl answers is having a single source of auditable timesheet data that can be used for multiple purposes and multiple systems at once.

That’s why the integration and interface abilities of TimeControl are such an important aspect of its functionality.  TimeControl is known for having pre-built integration to more project and cost control systems than any other timesheet in the industry but the integration doesn’t stop there.  Here are some of the tools that you can consider when building TimeControl into the center of your data universe.

Import and Export Transaction Files
Transaction File Interfaces are the most popular method of linking to or from a Finance or ERP system as CFOs can be reluctant to direct connect their Finance system with direct input or output.  TimeControl can create a transaction file in many formats and then place that file in a place where the Finance, Payroll or ERP system can consume it and ensure that any data coming in is going through their systems business rules.

TimeControl can consume transaction files in just the same way.  So, new employees can be added directly from the HR system by bringing in a transaction file.  There are many file formats supported including CSV, XML and Excel formats among others.  Not only can transaction files be consumed or generated on demand but TimeControl can schedule these links to occur at any time or as often as you require in the background.  Files can be transferred to or from a network location, a laptop or to and from an FTP site to which you and your external corporate systems have access.  This makes Transaction File integration as efficient on our subscription service, TimeControl Online as with TimeControl on premise.  With this integration occurring in the background, the effect on users is to make the integration completely transparent.

Programmable Integration
The ultimate in integration is often considered to be through an Application Programming Interface (API) and TimeControl includes an API with bi-directional abilities to both send information out to or receive information from external systems.  The RESTful API is extensive and highly secure.  The API works in both the Online and on premise versions of TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial.  Programming integration to the API takes more work but the level of integration is complete.  Clients can weave TimeControl into as many other systems as are required to make an overall control environment.

Database to database direct connection
For clients who have TimeControl installed on premise, connections can even be made directly to and from the TimeControl database.  TimeControl on premise can be installed on MySQL, SQL Server and Oracle databases and HMS provides the schema to allow for a direct SQL link to or from the database.  There are rules, of course, when pushing data into TimeControl but our technical services can help with that.

Project Management and other Systems

TimeControl include direct pre-configured links to Project Management systems either on demand or on a schedule. With Microsoft Project Online, BrightWork and Primavera EPPM you can even have the link into TimeControl notice when a new project appears in the project system and import it automatically. Pre-configured links to other systems include:

TimeControl supports all of these connections simultaneously. You can have multiple project links, multiple corporate system links and using multiple techniques. This is why TimeControl is often the center of data flow diagrams in an organization as links may be used for any combination of bidirectional updates with project management, payroll, HR, billing, R&D reporting, job costing, presence management systems, contractor management and more.

To find our more about specific links, go to.

For more information on how TimeControl integrates with other systems, go to TimeControl.com/use-cases or contact us at TimeControl.com/Contact for help on integrating many requirements into a timesheet single system.

 

HMS Software has updated its Microsoft Technologies Portal

The relationship between HMS Software and Microsoft dates back a quarter century.  The two companies started working together in 1995.  This is one of the most enduring technology relationships in the IT industry.

TimeControl leverages many elements of Microsoft Technology and each point of connection between TimeControl and Microsoft makes our relationship stronger.

In TimeControl version 8.1 which will be available in the next couple of weeks, we will be releasing our latest link to Microsoft Project Technology – the “New Microsoft Project”.  This is part of Office 365 and is sometimes referred to as “Project on the Web” or in licensing terms as Project Plan 1.

HMS is a certified Microsoft Partner in the Project and Portfolio Management category.

HMS maintains a Microsoft Technologies Portal to highlight the many relationships TimeControl has with Microsoft Technologies.  Access to the portal is free.  It can be found at: Microsoft.TimeControl.com.

What do the version numbers mean?

We’re often asked what the significance of our version numbers are and how often we release a new update, upgrade or version.  Here is an extract from the TimeControl Installation Guide explaining our 4-part version number:

HMS releases updates to TimeControl in three different levels:

Updates

An update to TimeControl is identified by the 3rd level of the version number.  For example, in version 8.0.1, “1” would be an update.  An update to TimeControl includes fixes to existing functionality and while it may have small additions to the data structure it has no changes to the existing data structure.  An update may include minor enhancements to existing functionality and, less typically, new functionality.

Upgrades

An upgrade to TimeControl is identified by the 2nd level of the version number.  For example, in version 8.1.0, “1” would be an upgrade.  An upgrade to TimeControl may fix existing functionality and will contain enhancements to existing functionality as well as new functionality.  An upgrade may include some changes to existing data structures as well as additional data structure elements.

Versions

A new version of TimeControl is identified by the 1st level of the version number.  For example, in version 8.0.0, “8” would be a new version.  A new version of TimeControl represents a change in the underlying architecture.  This may mean a change or an increase in the types of platforms supported, in the technology layers such as database connections or communications protocol and in the fundamental interface design and architecture.  A new version typically includes new functionality and enhanced or changed existing functionality.  In some cases, functionality in a new version is deprecated.  Data structures may undergo significant change in a new version compared to an old version.

Build

In addition to new updates and upgrades, you may find a 4th digit in your version.  For example, in version 8.0.1.4, “4” would be a new version.  This is a “Build” number and this may change over time.  A new build is usually made when we identify a hotfix that is required but only for a limited circumstance so a complete new Update isn’t required.

Where to find your version number

Click on your profile logo at the top right of the screen and select “Support Info”.  You’ll see a screen like the one here.  The version numbers is in the Web Information area.  You can see the version is 8.0.1.0.  That’s Version 8, Upgrade 0, Update 1 and build 0.  You can ignore the “a” as this is sometimes used for internal systems.

What’s new in TimeControl 8.0.1?

We’ve just released an update to TimeControl.  Version 8.0.1 is available for on-premise download right now and we will be updating TimeControl Online in the next few days.  This version has a number of improvements:

Performance for very large implementations

We’ve made some underlying architectural improvements for clients with more than 50,000 users.  TimeControl is now more performant in situations where up to 150,000 users in a single system are deployed.

Incremental Filtering

When you are now searching for a project or charge code in the timesheet, we’ve implemented incremental filtering.  Instead of clicking on the ellipsis (…) and then selecting a charge, just start typing the code and TimeControl will attempt to fill in the rest.  This can be a big time saver!

Improvements to TimeRequest

We’ve updated TimeRequest to support more columns in the TimeRequest Header which we know will be useful for many users.

OpenID for Azure

Azure support for OpenID has some quirks that are unique to that environment.  TimeControl’s OpenID support now supports Azure OpenID more fully.

New Security Options

You’ll find some new security options in the Administrator/System Preferences screen.  This goes with a complete security audit of TimeControl where we added some additional screening and protection of the system.

While this just an update.  We’re preparing for a new TimeControl Upgrade in June with numerous new features. Stay tuned to these pages for news in the coming few weeks.

To download TimeControl version 8.0.1, go to timecontrol.com/support.

The official blogsite of TimeControl