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.

TimeControl allows for start and stop times to be input right on the timesheet

As a timesheet that is often used for project management tracking, TimeControl screens typically focus on putting in the duration of work with the total number of hours calculated per day and per line item.  But, TimeControl also has the capability to track the times of work as well.

The Start/Stop clock icon on the timesheet is visible or not depending on the TimeControl security settings created in the User Profile.  Once visible, you can display the panel and, depending on your configuration, you will see either one start and stop time entry per day or multiple lines.

The panel allows Start times and End times for each day or if you use multiple starts and stops, the starts and stops can control multiple starts and stops to the day for breaks like lunch or a split shift.  The time between the start and stop can be calculated.

Some clients have configured the Start / Stop times to be used for validation rules, with the indication being that the right-hand panel of the timesheet must account for all the time the user was at work.  For some clients, this is used more as an exception report as the calculations for the last day of the timesheet period is complicated by the request for users to complete their timesheet before they leave so the timesheet’s ending time for the day may not be clear  until the next working day.

Some clients use the Start / Stop panel but make it read-only and have the data populated by external attendance systems like door-access systems or punch clocks (ok, no one really punches a card anymore – but we still call them punch clocks).

However you need to use the Start / Stop panel, TimeControl can display it or hide it with a single click, leaving you with the flexibility to track this time or not as you require.

HMS Software’s timesheet best-practices portal

Did you know that HMS maintains a portal for timesheet best practices?  It’s true.  The TimeControl website has had a section dedicated to best practices for years and updates it on a regular basis.  In fact, the TimeControl website has a number of resource areas that may be of interest:

TimeControl Best Practices

This is not a list of features of TimeControl but rather how organizations, executives and individuals can get the most out of a timesheet system.  The portal is divided into those categories and each section includes resources that are targeted for that particular perspective.  In the Organization section, for example, there is an empty process guide template in Word that can be adopted to document timesheet practices on a per week, per month or per incident basis.  In the Individual’s section, you’ll find a webcast on how to get in and out of your timesheet as efficiently as possible.

The Best Practices portal is free and can be found at: TimeControl.com/resources/best-practices/organizations.

Use-Case Library

Aside from the Best Practices Portal, HMS also maintains numerous other free resources that can be of interest to those using TimeControl.  These include the Use-Case solutions area with the most common business challenges TimeControl solves.  Users can review the multiple use-cases at: www.timecontrol.com/use-cases

Resources Library

In addition to the many use-cases for TimeControl, additional resources can be found in the Resources section and the Support section including a bank of Frequently Asked Questions, webcasts, white papers, slides and factsheets.

Visit the Best Practices area of the TimeControl website and the Resources area for more information.

 

HMS is hiring a senior developer

HMS is expanding its technical department.  We are looking for a senior developer to join our team based in Montreal, Canada.  While work might be remote at this time, we ultimately will be returning our technical people to be co-located so applications from outside of the Montreal area won’t be considered.

You can find out more about this role and the benefits of becoming a part of one of the most dynamic development teams in our industry at: https://www.linkedin.com/jobs/view/2195166259/.

 

Integrating corporate systems in a mixed IT Environment

Many clients ask us how TimeControl can adapt to their changing IT environments.  It wasn’t so long ago that every mid to large-sized firm would have its corporate systems located on servers on-premise, inside their facility with databases, applications and networking all handled internally.  Advances in the stability, performance and security of Infrastructure in the cloud services from major vendors like Amazon, Oracle and Microsoft have shifted the computing load of many organizations to cloud providers.

One of the key advantages of having all your corporate systems on-premise is that integration between them can happen in the background at a database level.  Even if the ties between tools are done as an import/export of transaction files, having everything on the same servers makes that a little bit easier.

With the move of systems to the cloud, internal IT personnel are confronted with the question of, “How will our systems integrate?”  The most common environment is one where there are still some organizational systems working internally on premise, some systems which are subscribed to as a service and some systems which are hosted on external cloud servers in what is commonly known as a “private cloud”.  We think of these mixed environments as “hybrid”.  And, if that’s not enough, corporate environments are changing at a faster and faster pace.  The impact of the pandemic has had many IT departments reaching out to see how they can leverage cloud computing to better server their workers who are no longer co-located.

At HMS we are asked how to support these kinds of shifting environments all the time.  The short answer to the question, “Can we integrate our hybrid systems with TimeControl is, “Yes”.  But given that’s not too useful, here are some basic points to understand about why we say so:

Both on-premise and in-the-cloud

TimeControl started as a on-premise solution back in 1994.  There were no cloud computing offerings then.  In 2011, we released the TimeControl Online subscription service in the cloud.  That service has continued and expanded since that time.  To this day, TimeControl is still offered for on-premise and in-the-cloud use and our understanding of both environments makes us particularly well suited to help integration in a mixed hybrid environment.

One Code-base

One decision we made early on was that we would maintain a single code base for both TimeControl Online and TimeControl on-premise.  This would ensure that any features or improvements we made for one environment would work for the other.  That kept a sharp focus on being able to support not just TimeControl but anything linked to it no matter what environment it was in.

Many ways to integrate

As part of creating the TimeControl Online service, we had to look at how we would continue to empower the integration abilities of TimeControl.  One method we’d used sometimes in the past to integrate two systems was database-to-database.  That was clearly not going to be available in the online service.  So we worked on expanding one existing method and adding another.

Scheduled Imports and Exports

We extended existing functionality in TimeControl for importing and exporting transaction files in several ways.

First, we made the imports and exports scheduleable so they could happen automatically in the background.  With corporate systems like ERP environments, there was an overwhelming desire to not push data programmatically into the Finance system but rather to deliver a properly formatted set of data to be imported by the ERP tools.  That left CFOs more confident that their ERP tool had validated the data with whatever rules had been established for the organization.

Second, we made it possible for imports and exports of those transaction files to support FTP connections, so the resulting files didn’t have to be on a network server that TimeControl had access to but could rather work through encrypted FTP protocols to move data to and from servers that were under the control of the client whether they were on-premise or private cloud.

Application Programming Interface (API)

The ultimate tool in integrating seamlessly in the background of TimeControl is our RESTful API.  This bi-directional programming interface allows data to be pulled from TimeControl for use by other tools and allows data to be pushed from corporate systems like HR, Payroll, Finance, Cost control to populate the data that TimeControl needs for users to function.  The API is extensive and can interface with other tools whether they are database-based or API’s themselves or middleware environments that are used to tie multiple systems together.

If you’d like to find out more about TimeControl’s flexible architecture and support for your own IT environment, visit: TimeControl.com/features/flexibility or contact HMS to talk to a product specialist at info@hms.ca.

 

TimeControl is popular in both the public sector and the private sector

When we think of project management systems and enterprise timesheet systems, most of the literature is oriented around the private sector.  Benefits are thought of as “time to market” and “profitability”.  TimeControl certainly has many private sector clients but it is also very popular in the public sector.

While profit may not be a key performance indicator, there is much more focus these days in the public sector on transparency, and good governance in the use of taxpayer funds.  Time and Attendance in the public sector has always been a common business case for timesheets but more and more public sector operations are now project or results oriented and this has brought many public sector organizations to look at tracking time on an activity-by-activity basis for many of their staff.

Key performance indicators in the public sector may not be revenue oriented (although they can) but might include instead speed of delivery, citizen satisfaction and cost to implement new laws.

As a result, some elements of tracking labor actuals that public sector clients look for include a high degree of flexibility, speedy deployment and ease of use.

The TimeControl website includes a free Public Sector Solution Portal which caters more to public sector use cases.

 

Track Expense Reports, Freeform Notes along with hours in a TimeControl timesheet

We tend to talk a lot about timesheet entries and timesheet hours in TimeControl along with anything associated to them like project and billing values but there are many more options to data entry in the system.

Expense Reports

Associated to any timesheet line item, you can add an unlimited number of expense report items.  Each expense report is linked to a resource code and allow for a value, currency type, two taxes and more.  With each expense item, you can add an unlimited number of attachment files.  These can be something like a scanned receipt in PDF format or almost anything else.  The exact list of acceptable file types is managed by the Administrator.  If you’re using the free TimeControl Mobile App, you could, for example, attach a photograph from the camera or photo library.  This can mean you can easily associate a picture from the field to a given timesheet.

Freeform notes

You can add freeform notes either to the timesheet itself or to each line item.  Because TimeControl supports having the same charge code multiple times, you could even have different notes for each day of a particular task.  If you have optionally turned on the notes icon on the timesheet line, you will see it filled in if there are notes on that line.  Entering these freeform notes is also supported in the free TimeControl Mobile App.

Project Progress

This has been part of TimeControl from the very start.  You can enter the estimate to complete for each task or just mark it complete.  In the activity tab you can also enter the task completion if there are multiple resources on the same task. Entering project progress is also supported in the free TimeControl Mobile App.

Material Consumption, Equipment Usage and Production Accomplished

If you are using TimeControl Industrial, the Material Entry screen allows you to enter several kinds of non-labor entries including the Material Consumed, the Usage of Equipment and even how much production was accomplished.  These entries can be done with a timesheet creating a LEMS (Labor/Equipment/Materials) entry or they can be added in their own entry screen and approved separately.  The free TimeControl Mobile App supports these features as well.

Find out more about Materials entry at: industrial.timecontrol.com/features/material-entry.

You can see a lesson in Expenses in the Online Lessons area:

TimeControl.com/resources/online-training/timecontrol-8.   

 

TimeControl maintains a Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ) Index

Saving answers to our Frequently asked Questions save our technical and sales people a lot of time.  When we get questions over and over we try to have an answer appear either on the TimeControl Blog, the Solutions Area of TimeControl.com or in Frequently asked questions.  The best plan is often just to do a search of your question on both the blog and the website.

This week a frequently asked question was answered about where notes can be added in TimeControl.

You can, of course, add notes in TimeControl and not only can you add notes to the timesheet, you can add them to each line of the timesheet and to each expense item and to tables throughout the application.

You can see the complete index of TimeControl FAQs at: TimeControl.com/support/faq.

TimeControl Online enjoys its 9th anniversary!

With quite a busy August here at HMS we completely forgot an important anniversary.  TimeControl Online, our Timesheet Software as a Service in the cloud was launched in August of 2011.  It became an instant hit and is now used by organizations around the world.  Tens of thousands of users are on the TimeControl Online platform.  Subscriptions of the online service now eclipses on-premise sales and that has only accelerated this year. We’ve been fortunate to enjoy a 99.9% uptime performance over the 9 years of TimeControl Online’s life and we continue to focus new efforts on features, performance and capabilities of the online system.

We’ll make a much bigger celebration for the 10th anniversary next year but for now we thank all our TimeControl Online clients, some of whom have been subscribers since the first release!

For more information on TimeControl Online, visit TimeControl.com/features/timecontrol-online.

TimeControl Flexibility lets you actually add functions to the menu

TimeControl is known in the industry as the most flexible timesheet available and that’s true in so many ways.  The ability to add extra fields or validation rules or make the display of the timesheet vary depending on your role are all remarkable features.

But did you know that you can even add functions to the timesheet?

It’s true.

In the Maintenance area of the TimeControl Menu the Edit Menu function allows you to add a completely new function.  This is often used by our own staff to add extra documentation to a client’s menu with a PDF or other file that is specific to the client.

But you can add anything you have a URL for.  As an example, we’ve created an Online Lesson in the TimeControl Online Lessons area that shows how to add Online Lessons to the Help menu!

Once a menu item is added, it becomes part of the TimeControl structure and is controllable in the Security Profiles area just like any other menu function.  And when TimeControl is upgraded, these menu items will upgrade automatically at the same time.

It’s just one more way that TimeControl is adapting to how you want to function.

The official blogsite of TimeControl