Have your TimeControl rules changed?

For many organizations in the past weeks, employees have changed their working conditions.  changesahead_300x223For TimeControl, this may warrant relooking at your timesheet and project progress capture processes.  This is a common occurrence when an organization merges with another or brings on a new department.

For most TimeControl clients, when they implement TimeControl, a process guide is created that covers all the different practices and procedures for events such as onboarding new staff or adding new projects or doing timesheet and project approvals.

In the last few weeks many clients have been shifting staff from working at the office to working at home or working at different hours in order to facilitate social distancing.  This might affect your regular TimeControl processes in a number of ways.

Perhaps your regular office hours are now flexible for anyone working from home.  Perhaps you have new sick leave procedures for your remote workers.  If someone has been tested positive for Covid-19 do you have new timesheet charge types for that person?

There are a number of TimeControl functions that processes that might need checking:

Filters

Filters are used throughout TimeControl to enable features such as restricting what projects are visible to what employees or how a validation rule should work.  If your business has been changed with some people now working from home or taking on new responsibilities, then these filters might need a review.  In particular:

Validation Rule Filters

Validation Rules can changed when working conditions change.  Perhaps you now have more staff working flexible hours or perhaps your current policies on personal time off have altered.  A review of the filters that are the building blocks of Validation Rules can help you adapt.

Employee Table Filters for Projects, Charges, Rates

In the TimeControl Employee Table, there are places to implement filters for each employee.  These filters determine what projects, charge codes and rate codes can be viewed by that employee.  If your situation has changed the way that projects and tasks are being completed, then looking at these filters to see if changes are needed makes sense.

You can find out all about Filters in the TimeControl Reference Guide.

Validation Rules

Have your Validation Rules changed?  You can deactivate a Validation Rule or change it to be a warning only instead of an error if your business conditions are in flux.  This can be done for each rule.

Projects and Charge Codes

Are you still creating projects and charge codes in the same way you done traditionally?  Also, are you creating certain project and charge code entries to identify the specific costs of the change due to Covid-19?  Being able to identify these costs specifically might become important in the near future because of insurance claims or government recompense for such expenses.

Assignments

With people not co-located, you may be rethinking how tasks are assigned. TimeControl’s Assignment function lets you assign or re-assign tasks and create budgets for them.  Perhaps your tasks and assignments should be rethought also in terms of your target completion.  It may take more (or less) time to get certain types of tasks completed.

Dashboards

While most organizations use email effectively to send out news, the Dashboard area of TimeControl is an ideal place to put persistent notices and relevant news in the Announcements area.  Announcements can have as-of and expiry dates and can be fine-tuned to be visible only to certain roles so not all announcements need to be seen by all employees.

TimeControl Mobile App access

Finally, the free TimeControl Mobile App may be more attractive than ever.  If you are using TimeControl Online then you already have everything you need to activate the Mobile App.  The App is enabled in the Administration Area for TimeControl overall then per Profile in the User Profiles area.  Users can download the App for free from Google Play for Android devices and the Apple Store for iOS devices.  If you are using TimeControl OnPremise, then you may have to configure TimeControl to be enabled for the Mobile App.  Contact HMS Support if you have questions about how to do that.

And more…

Aside from actual changes to configuration, what about your approval process and allowances for people who are not in their normal roles.  You may want to investigate delegation through the Alternate User functionality as well as how you are doing your approvals for both the timesheet as a whole and line-item approvals for projects.

What about new processes from HR for onboarding or offboarding?  Are there employees who might be temporarily not doing timesheets?  Are there any new rules from Payroll?

Typically such changes are quick to do in TimeControl but it is important to keep track of what you change because you are likely going to have to change it back sometime soon.

If you need assistance with changing your TimeControl, TimeControl Industrial or TimeControl Online configuration, talk to the HMS Technical staff at info@hms.ca.

 

 

SEFA is helping us start your week with some good news

sefa_300x65Here at HMS, whenever we receive a testimonial letter from a client, we get very excited.  This most recent letter from thee people at SEFA is no exception.  Bret Harris, SEFA’s Chief Financial Officer has written to us explaining how the TimeControl Industrial version has replaced a manual timesheet system for project tracking.

SEFA has deployed the Crew Timesheet option of TimeControl Industrial as well as the TimeControl Mobile App for some of their users’ phones and tablets.

The implementation of TimeControl at SEFA has streamlined numerous processes and they have also integrated TimeControl’s data into Microsoft’s Project Server as well as other corporate systems.

We deeply appreciate our partnership with SEFA and Bret’s kind letter.  You can read it in its entirety at: Timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials/sefa.

 

 

HMS / TimeControl Covid-19 update

As we told you last week, HMS capabilities of working remotely have been well established for years.  In fact, our staff already work from 3 separate locations.   To better ensure we can continue serving you without interruption, starting Monday, March 23rd, HMS will be instituting a work from home directive.  HMS staff will largely be out of the office and only necessary in-person visits to the office will occur for a minimum of personnel.

As a TimeControl or TimeControl Online client, you probably won’t even notice.  For those seeking technical support, using the support@hms.ca email or going to the TimeControl.com website support contact page at: https://www.timecontrol.com/contact/tech-support is the best way to get your request into the proper queue and responded to quickly.  If you are used to calling into the office directly on the phone, you may find that this is somewhat slower than you’re used to.  Using Email or the Website will be as effective as it always is.

For those seeking information from our sales, administration or operations department, using email or the TimeControl contact form at https://www.timecontrol.com/contact or sending email to info@hms.ca is the most effective way for us to determine who you need to talk to and make sure they are getting back to you promptly.

We anticipate no interruption of service for TimeControl Online or service for our TimeControl on-premise clients.  HMS remains committed to making sure we are serving you with the same high-quality standards that we have been known for for over 35 years.

HMS Contingency Plans for the Coronavirus

For clients who are concerned about HMS Software’s plans in case of a Coronavirus outbreak in the Montreal area or any interruption in our services, we’d like to let you know our contingency plans for any such eventuality.

First of all, HMS is already set up for critical workers to be able to work from home in case any of our staff would require at-home quarantine.  We set up secure access for our key staff to be able to do this some time ago and keep the capabilities current.  Our servers for TimeControlOnline are located with Amazon in different data centers and this combination of factors ensures that we are able to maintain all TimeControl Online services uninterrupted regardless of where our staff need to be located.

Our technical support is similarly equipped to handle requests, and then deliver fixes and updates to our clients as required.

New sales can be taken care by our account managers working remotely as well.

Payments we expect and payments we need to make from an administration standpoint are largely done electronically now so any requirement to physically go to the office to retrieve a payments or sign and mail payments is reasonably rare.  We have made arrangements so that this too can occur off-site.

Our current prevention plans have curtailed any international travel for our staff and any staff who already work remotely are going to delay coming or going to the office for the moment to increase our ability for readiness if there should be any reason for concern.

As a result of this planning and preparation started years ago, HMS is confident in being able to maintain operations without any interruption of services to our clients.  Should there be a change of status at HMS, we will announce that on the TimeControl Blog,. the TimeControl website and our Twitter account.

If you have specific questions about our contingency readiness, please let us know on the TimeControl website at: TimeControl.com/contact.

Capitalization and why it matters to project management

If you work in the Finance department Cap-Ex and Op-Ex are terms that are often used to differentiate between capital expenses and operational expenses.  That can matter to a project manager when trying to find the correct type of funding for a project.  There is, however, an aspect to capital management that is much more significant for most high-tech organizations and that is the notion of capitalization of project work.

Ever since the Y2K period when we saw IT firms going public with balance sheets that would vary greatly from one firm to the next, the US Federal Government has made rules about how assets are calculated.  When an organization invests in an asset such as a piece of software they are developing or a process or equipment they are inventing, they can have a line-item on their balance sheet that refers to the item’s value as an asset and is likely called “Intellectual Property”.  The concept makes common sense.  Let’s say a high-tech company invents something like a piece of software.  The software has some intrinsic value so if you ever sold the company, the value of that software would have to be taken into account yet how do you determine the exact value?

Capitalization targets that exact question and if your firm is or is about to be publicly traded, the concept is even more important.

Years ago, when proposals were first made to the US Financial Accounting Standards Board (FASB) I was asked by Strategic Finance Magazine to write an article about how this would promote activity-based-costing for project managers.  I’ve written about what would become Sarbanes-Oxley several times since.

The Sarbanes-Oxley law says that you have to be able to account in an auditable fashion anything you put in your balance sheet.  The penalties for failure can be significant.  The law has teeth and the CFO’s of firms traded on US exchanges know it.

One way that follows “Generally Accepted Accounting Principles” (GAAP) of calculating the value of an asset is to define the actual cost of it.  That cost includes the labor of the inventors, the indirect costs of their work as well as any equipment and materials they needed.  If you know what people are being paid and you know what they work on, then this amount can be calculated.  But, that requires tracking activity-based-costing.  In the TimeControl world, this is one of the goals of many of our clients.

This may sound similar to Research and Development Tax credits that we’ve written about on the TimeControl site often.  But the rules are somewhat different.  R&D tax claims are designed to promote companies and employees in the country to work on inventing new things.  Capitalization focuses on calculating the value of the thing created.

Here’s an example.

Let’s say we write some software and we pay the salaried staff in our own firm who are working here in our country $100,000 to invent it.  That $100,000 cost includes only those activities which are R&D eligible so inventing time, coding time, testing, even documentation.  But it doesn’t include marketing efforts, sales efforts or services such as technical support.  The $100,000 of costs can be applied to a research tax credit wherever it is available.  We can capitalize $100,000 of those costs and make the value of that software equal to the costs.  The timesheets that show the inventing, coding etc. tasks all count towards the capitalization of that project.

In TimeControl terms we configure the timesheet to code the tasks which are R&D eligible and then the staff by location and payment type to be able to report these amounts simply at any time.

Now, imagine we have a second similar project.  Our costs were also $100,000 but instead of using all of our internal staff, we outsourced half of the work to a contractor in another country.  We make both staff and contractors fill out our timesheets configured just as we did above.

But the results at the end of the year can be different.  The total that is capitalizable would still be $100,000 as that is the intellectual equity value that we’ve added to the company.  But, the Research Credits almost certainly don’t include the contractors from another country.  So if half the work was done outside the country then it’s entirely likely that our Research Credit is only $50,000.

For project managers and Finance Directors, we can often find conflict in being able to get to that auditable intellectual equity calculation for R&D or for Capitalization or both at the same time.  Finance is looking to accomplish what they need from their own tools and Project managers are just looking to finish projects as quickly as they can but when both parties collaborate, the benefits to the company can be significant.

Finance may find that just a payroll timesheet isn’t enough as they need the activity-level data.  Yet using a project-only timesheet such as Project Management might want isn’t enough because we need auditable results and those are always easiest when we are looking at 100% of time accounted for.

Using a multi-function timesheet like TimeControl makes this type of decision much easier.  It is common for TimeControl to be configured to achieve multiple corporate goals at once.  TimeControl’s extensive rate functionality is able to track multiple rate values simultaneously so for the same hour of work, we are able to calculate a billing cost, an actual or payroll cost, an average project cost or other cost types.  This allows us to use one of these many rate values to track the actual cost to us for capitalization.  Next we need to make sure we are only calculating those capitalization tasks that are eligible.

The TimeControl task lists that might start in a project management system can arrive into TimeControl with Capitalization codes already established or they can be added by Finance after the tasks enter TimeControl.

The coding for staff as contractor vs. employee or country-of-origin can also be coded directly in HR or added to TimeControl later.

The beauty of the system is that end users don’t have to care.  This kind of background coding and decision making between Finance and Project Management allows the timesheet process to continue unimpeded and results in different parts of the organization getting the detailed financial or project information they need when they need it.

For organizations already using TimeControl for other purposes such as project tracking or HR or payroll, configuring the system for an additional purpose takes very little effort.  For those who haven’t yet started using TimeControl, adding the tracking of capitalization just becomes part of the basic configuration when the system is deployed.

There are processes to create and follow of course.  There will need to be someone in Finance who is responsible for following and reviewing the Capitalization data and reports that come out of TimeControl.  In addition, there will probably need to be some level of communication between Finance and Project Management to make sure that both parties understand what defines a capitalizable task or not.  But that kind of additional communication is probably a healthy addition to your regular process.

The advantage of using a multi-function timesheet like TimeControl is that a) different parties such as project management or Finance don’t have to compromise and not get the data they need and; b) end users don’t have to start filling out more than one timesheet.

Talk to HMS if you are interested in using TimeControl for capitalization, R&D tax credits and project management tracking as well as all the other aspects of timesheet collection that can be managed by TimeControl from the same system at the same time.

 

 

Managing Banked Time in TimeControl

banked_vacationMany organizations start using TimeControl because of its tremendous power as a project tracking tool.  But, TimeControl has been designed from its inception to serve many purposes at once.  For HR departments, one of the areas of functionality that is often asked about is how TimeControl manages “banked time”.

“How much time is in my vacation bank?” is a common question for many of us.  TimeControl can tell how much time is left in the vacation bank as well as how much time was earned, how much time was taken and audit that information for each transaction.  But the Banks functionality of TimeControl goes quite a bit further.  For those who much track not only project time, but also time spent on non-project tasks, TimeControl includes a number of abilities that will be of interest.

Bank values in employee table

The results of transactions for Banks end up in the Banks Tab of the Employee Table.  This area of the product is typically viewed and managed by someone from the HR department though there are many ways this element of TimeControl would be of interest to others.  At first glance, it is apparent that there are a total of twenty different Banks available by default for each employee.  When delivered, TimeControl includes banks for Vacation, Sick Leave and Personal Time off but these banks can be re-named and re-purposed to leave many different places that banked time can be stored and spent.  For some organizations, they will want to store banked overtime in one of the banks.  Other organizations will want to see how much training time was banked or certain kinds of training like safety training for each person.  There may be requirements for each employee to spend a certain amount of time on these kinds of activities.

In each bank, there is the concept of Starting Balance, Amount Earned, Amount Spent and Ending Balance or Amount Remaining.  For smaller organizations, the banks can be set manually with amounts per year input for each person.  For other organizations, the banks can gradually earn time in the banks through several methods.  The TimeControl Accrual module can help earn time into areas like Vacation or Sick Leave by calculating either just on time-served or by calculating the amount of time in each timesheet and then placing that new time earned into the proper bank.  For some organizations, they might already do those calculations externally, perhaps in the Payroll system.  For those organizations, simply importing the new values is most effective.  Regardless of how new entries into the bank are created, TimeControl creates an audit trail of them which is visible in the Employee Banks Report.

When an employee takes time in their timesheet, the charge code they use can be flagged as time that is counted against one of the banks.  This configuration is visible in the Charge Table screen.  For example, a Vacation Charge, would typically be flagged against the Vacation Bank.  This means that any time that is posted against that charge code, will remove time from that bank.  This flexibility also allows you to create other types of charges such as “remove time from my overtime bank” or to use vacation time from any other bank that you’ve created.

Employee Banks Report in Report Menu

This dynamic view looks at the banks records from the audit trail of time entered and time taken in each bank for each person.  The view is hierarchical to keep it uncluttered but you can quickly find the employee that is of interest to you and then display all details for all banks for that person including each hour put in and each our taken out of any bank.  This view is one of the most popular with HR personnel.

Employee Banks Detail Report in Report List

The Employee Banks Detail Report in the Report List gives a more static printable view of the details of each employees transacations in each bank.  Just like all other TimeControl reports, this report can be scheduled to be emailed to certain people based on changing conditions and the report’s results can be saved in Excel, CSV, Word, or image formats.

Accruals earns values into banks

TimeControl’s Accrual Module allows you to create earning formulas in four different ways.  Each formula can focus its earning rules to work for only certain employees or only certain employees under certain conditions.  There is no limit to the total number of accrual rules created.  The four methods are:

  • Calendar Accrual Based on Static Values
    This method is designed for a set number of hours to be posted in a bank based on just the passage of time. For example, 1.25 vacation days are earned each month.
  • Calendar Accrual Based on Posted Time Values
    This method depends on the values within the timesheet that is being posted. This might be more appropriate for a wage employee who earns a certain amount of vacation time for every certain number of hours they’ve worked.
  • Calendar Accrual Based on Rates Codes
    This method is designed to be activated when certain Rate Codes are used. For example, using an Overtime Rate banks 1.5 times the hours into a Banked Overtime Bank.
  • Timesheet Accrual based on Timesheet Hours
    This method looks at the total number of hours in the timesheet. It would be an excellent choice to tackle a rule where any hours over 40 per week is banked at 1.5 times into a Banked Overtime Bank and any hours over 60 per week are banked at 2 times the hours into the Banked Overtime Bank.

The Accrual Rules follow the TimeControl philosophy of being tremendously flexible and there can be rules for some groups that are different from others.

End of year procedures

At the end of each year, most HR departments do a review of the status of bank values and make sure that any adjustments are made at that time.  TimeControl banks can be configured to zero themselves at the end of your fiscal year or to just keep running year after year.  Some banks will be better with one configuration, others not.

Validation Rules

All other elements of TimeControl are “bank-aware” so if you need to make Validation Rule Warnings or Errors or Workflow emails, all of this can be done while using the values in the banks.  For example, you might make a Validation Rule that says that employees cannot book more time on vacation than they have in their vacation bank.  Or, perhaps you have a rule that says that employees can use up to one week of next year’s vacation in advance.

All of this and much, much more is possible with TimeControl’s banks functionality.  For more information on getting the most out of TimeControl’s Banked Time functionality, consult your TimeControl account manager at info@hms.ca.

I’ll be on the Peggy Smedley Show later today

I’m delighted to have the chance to talk to Peggy Smedley later today on her radio show.  The Peggy Smedley Show has been a source of expertise in the world of digital transformation.  At 1:40pm Eastern Time, Peggy and I will be discussing the impact of voice-assisted systems on construction and industrial software such as the recent announcement we made of our partnership with EasyVoice and how being able to enter information into TimeControl by voice alone can make a big impact on efficiency.  You can find out more about the TimeControl/EasyVoice link at: TimeControl.com/use-cases/easyvoice.

You can listen to the broadcast yourself by going to the Peggy Smedley Show website at: https://peggysmedleyshow.com/.

 

Have you seen the latest letter sent to us from Sinope?

We are always delighted to get input from our clients. This month brings us a lovely letter from Sinope Tech. It’s especially exciting for us as it comes to us from a client in Quebec, Canada in the same province where HMS Headquarters is located. Sinope is a manufacturing company specializing in innovative smart home products.

Cassandra from Accounting at Sinope explains in her letter that their team is using TimeControl for employees to track project and non-project hours and this allows Sinope to use reports from TimeControl for Research and Development Tax Credits.

Cassandra is also highly complimentary about our services:

TimeControl also offers an exceptional support service! Quick and clear answers are always given to us.

We’re delighted to be working with Sinope and proud to be a part of their project control environment.

You can read Cassandra’s letter at: TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials/sinope.

De-centralized Project Management and Centralized Timesheets with TimeControl

wp_decentralized_centralized_300x383The most common notion of Enterprise Project Management (EPM) systems means that all users access a single centralized system for all related functions.  This concept became popular in the late 1990s with the rise of ERP systems.  Project Managers have been asked to store their data and adopt the centralized project management system.

Yet there are still millions and millions of individually run project management tools running on desktops or even as services in the cloud but not part of a centralized project management process.

That might be fine for each project manager but when it comes to a process that needs to be centralized like timesheets, we run into a bigger problem.  The result is that one aspect of the enterprise such as Finance insists on a timesheet for payroll for all personnel.  Another department insists on a timesheet for all users for HR to track time off and another department needs a billing timesheet for all users who contribute to billing time.  Each project manager might need to deploy their own timesheet system for their teams.

It can become chaos in a hurry.

We’ve just released a white paper that deals with this exact business challenge.  It’s called “De-centralized Project Management and Centralized Timesheets with TimeControl”.  It’s free to access and it’s available right now as part of our ongoing efforts to show how to realize the benefits of TimeControl. If you are interested in having project managers continue to use multiple systems but need to have one timesheet to bring all the actuals together for different purposes, you’ll find this paper of interest.  The white paper can be downloaded from: https://www.timecontrol.com/pdf/whitepapers/centralized_decentralized.pdf.

For more free resources on enterprise project management and enterprise timesheet systems, go to: TimeControl.com/resources.

TimeControl timesheets and Primavera project management make a winning combination

TimeControl and Primavera have a long history together.  First paired in 1997, HMS Software has ensured it’s TimeControl has had a continuous link to every version of Primavera since.  For those users who need a Primavera Timesheet that supports both financial and project processes simultaneously there is no better selection.

TimeControl includes links using direct database-to-database connections for Primavera Professional and Primavera EPPM and a Web connection link for Primavera EPPM so all the basis are covered whether Primavera and TimeControl are in the cloud or on premise.  The bi-directional link moves projects, tasks, resources assignments and progress to TimeControl then sends back hours, costs and progress.

Primavera clients who need a single timesheet to update not only the task progress in Primavera but also Payroll, Billing, Finance, Job Costing or HR use TimeControl to provide multi-purpose timesheet functionality that will allow a single point of timesheet entry and multiple corporate uses at the same time.

Some of the benefits of integrating TimeControl as your Primavera Timesheet include:

  • Automated Business Validation Rules
  • Expense tracking
  • Extensive Rate Management with unlimited rates per person and multiple values per rate
  • Management of Vacation, Sick Leave, Personal time banks
  • Crew Timesheets (with TimeControl Industrial)
  • Material consumption, Equipment usage and Production accomplished (with TimeControl Industrial)
  • Management of Banked Overtime
  • Included integration with Oracle-Primavera Pro, EPPM and many other project systems
  • The free TimeControl Mobile App for tablets and smartphones
  • Missing timesheet management
  • Multi-lingual interface
  • The Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™

TimeControl is available as a subscription in the cloud or for on-premise deployment or.

HMS has a free information portal with white papers, video lessons, slide presentations and factsheets on our website at: http://primavera.timecontrol.com.

 

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