All posts by chris.vandersluis

Blog – Accrual Use Cases

TimeControl Banked Vacation, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisWe don’t talk often about the Accruals module in TimeControl since almost all of its work is in the background, yet it is one of the most popular features of the product.  Like everything in TimeControl, Accruals is incredible flexible so, rather than look at a whole list of how it works, let’s talk instead about a few example use cases of where you might want to use it.  There are 4 categories of Accrual Rules that you can create in TimeControl, and you can have as many rules as you wish.  An Accrual Rule can apply to all employees or only certain employees.  The four categories are:

  1. A rule based on the calendar and 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. A rule based on the values in the hours on the timesheet

The possible uses of these four categories is vast and we’ve seen some clients use them in highly innovative ways that we wouldn’t have ever thought of when we created the product.  Let’s consider a couple of real-life use-case challenges:

Earning Vacation every month

Let’s say your organization lets you earn your vacation on a monthly basis.  If, for example, you get 3 weeks of vacation a year, then every month you’ll earn 1/12 of those 15 days.  That works out to 1.25 days per month.  Simple enough.  In TimeControl, you’d make an Accrual Rule based on the calendar and a simple numerical calculation.  TimeControl would trigger the value on the last day of every month and then you would add 1.25 days to the Employee Field you have defined for Vacation.   If you do something similar for sick leave, you can do the same thing in a second rule.  Let’s say you get 6 days of sick leave per year.  Each month, you’d earn ½ a day of sick leave.  Once you’ve set this rule up, there’s nothing else to do about it.  It will continue on forever for any active employee.  If you have different rules for employees in different categories or different locations, you can create the rule multiple times and associate it to a filter of employees

What about taking vacation that an employee has earned.  Simple again. You create a charge code, let’s call it “Paid vacation” and in the Charge Code table, let’s flag that code against the same field we talked about above for vacation.  Now TimeControl will reduce the amount in that bank of time by the amount taken on a timesheet as it’s posted.

Once this process is established, it rarely needs to be touched again.  Hours will be earned and go into the bank, hours will be spent and taken out of the bank all in the background.  You can create validation rules that checks that people have enough hours in their vacation bank to ensure that everything stays within your policies for time off.

Banked Overtime

Let’s turn to another common business challenge.  Your organization allows employees to earn overtime but rather than pay that overtime out immediately, the company allows the employee to bank the overtime for use as vacation time later.  This is a very popular process.  Sometimes the time is banked at 100% of the overtime worked, sometimes it is at 150% or some other percentage.  In some cases, employees elect not to bank the overtime but would prefer that it appear on their pay.  All of this is accomplishable in TimeControl with a combination or Rate/Charge code combinations and Accrual Module rules.

In the Rate table, we make a rate code for banking the time.  Let’s call it “Bank-in. In the Accrual module, we make a rule that says “When you see “Bank-in”, put those hours at the defined percentage into one of the banks defined by in the Employee Table.  Now, when the timesheet is posted, the appropriate number of hours are added to that bank.

To take time out of the bank, we use the same process.  We name a rate field “Bank-out” and a vacation code called “Vacation from Bank” then someone can take vacation using the Bank-out rate and that will remove those hours from the bank associated to that charge in the Charge Table.

Employees can always see where their banked time is in reports and views right inside TimeControl.  TimeControl’s security never lets someone look at data they don’t have the rights to, so these views are often put right on the TimeControl dashboard.  A more detailed dynamic view is in the reporting area where employees can self-serve their banked and earned time in a view that shows every transaction in and out of the bank.

Special Condition Bonuses

We’ve had requests for things that don’t sound at all like vacation that are easily handled in the Accruals module.  Let’s say that sometimes an employee will have to do something out of the ordinary.  Perhaps it is climbing with special equipment or descending into a tunnel or diving underwater.  In those circumstances, the agreement from the company is to pay a particular type of bonus.  This might be an amount of money or might be something unusual such as replacement equipment or clothing if the employee worked in a haz-mat situation. The Accruals module can identify these kinds of conditions in the timesheet with a Rate code or Charge code condition and then create a specific entry in a banked field defined in the Employee table.  This would allow the specific bonus or money to be flagged by payroll or HR or whoever would be responsible for such bonuses.

Banking Personal Time Off for part-timers

We’ve talked about earning vacation and sick leave for salaried people but what about people who work irregular hours.  Can TimeControl calculate how much Personal Time Off (PTO) should be earned by a part-time or irregularly scheduled employee?  Of course.  The TimeControl Accruals Module would make a rule based on the values in the hours on the timesheet.  Let’s say that part-timers earn time off at the same 3 weeks a year rate we talked about earlier.  That’s a 15% earning rate.  Easy to calculate.  For every 100 hours worked, you’ve earned 15 hours of PTO.  These hours would be banked into either the bank defined as the regular vacation field or into a unique bank for PTO.  Then paid time off could be taken against that bank.

But of course, that’s not all

That’s just 4 possible use-case scenarios of the Accruals Module.  Combinations of flexible charge codes, flexible rates, the Accruals Module and other TimeControl functionality allows a virtually limitless number of business challenges to be modeled in the system.

With the flexibility of TimeControl underlying every feature we write, it only makes sense that you’ll find it in these human resources types of challenges too.

You can find out more about the Accruals Module at: www.timecontrol.com/features/accruals.  You can find out more about HR business challenges including an example of a detailed Banks report at: www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/human-resources.  If you’ve got a particular business challenge you’re wondering if TimeControl can handle, let us know what it is at: www.timecontrol.com/contact.

 

 

 

Oracle has confirmed that they have extended HMS Software’s technical partnership for a 27th year!

Oracle and HMS Software have confirmed that they have extended their technical alliance for a 27th consecutive year. Oracle Partner Network, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter Vandersluis

This technical alliance stands among a tiny few that have endured over a quarter century.  The partnership between HMS and Oracle started back in 1997.  Today the technical ties between the products and technologies of the two firms extend to a vast range.

Started originally to ensure a link between TimeControl and what we now call Oracle Primavera EPPM and Oracle Primavera Pro.  The work between the firms quickly extended to support first Oracle architecture such as the Oracle and MySQL databases and Java.

The integrations at the application level include JDE and NetSuite and numerous other touch points.

The real benefits of this long lasting alliance between HMS Software and Oracle has been what we have been able to deliver deliver to our mutual customers.

HMS and Oracle partner across multiple fronts. HMS Software’s TimeControl timesheet system supports Oracle databases, we also integrate with numerous Oracle Applications including Oracle-Primavera EPPM and Primavera Pro.

Some of the many TimeControl’s value-added benefits when linking with Oracle-Primavera include:

  • The multi-functionality and auditability of TimeControl that allows it be used for project management, HR, payroll, invoicing, job costing and government compliance all at the same time
  • Support for multiple rates per employee
  • Automated business rule validations
  • Automated workflow
  • Vacation management
  • Missing timesheet notification
  • Simultaneous support for multiple versions of Primavera
  • The free TimeControl Mobile App for smartphones and tablets supporting both iOS and Android
  • Matrix timesheet approvals with HMS’s unique Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™
  • With TimeControl Industrial, the Crew Timesheet and Materials and Equipment field data collection

To read the recent press release on this relationship, visit TimeControl.com/resources/newsroom/press-releases/2024-05-15. For more information on how Oracle and HMS Technologies work together, visit the Oracle/TimeControl Portal at: Oracle.TimeControl.com or contact HMS at info@hms.ca for more information.

 

HMS is celebrating a remarkable 40 years in business today. 

HMS Software 40th anniversary, TimeControl, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisThe statistics were not in our favor.  45% of companies don’t survive five years.  95% percent of companies don’t survive 30 years.  So we are delighted to be here to tell you that it is our 40th birthday and we could not be prouder.  We thought of how to share this news.  A cake of course, but how would we get it all to you?  A song and dance perhaps on social media, but we’re not that musically inclined.  We decided in the end to ask Gail Robinson who is known to many of you as the source of much of our marketing material to interview Chris Vandersluis.  We wanted our President and the founder of HMS Software to look back and tell us about how HMS has continued to be so successful over such a long period of time.

Gail: Mr. Vandersluis, can you bring us back right to the beginning in 1984 and explain the motivation for starting HMS?

Chris: Sure.  I actually co-founded the company with a partner at the time.  He and I got it started.  We were a two-man consulting company with a lot of enthusiasm and some experience in project management systems.  Our first client was Philips Information Systems who actually designed and manufactured personal computers which were competitors to the IBM PC at the time.  The proliferation of personal computers was just picking up momentum and we were at the right place and the right time to be advisors and consultants about software.  Project Management software is everywhere these days but in 1984 that wasn’t the case.  There were only a few vendors who made such software and we picked one of them for Philips.  The deployment was complex but we were aided a great deal by the company having an established and experienced Project Management Office.  We would come to find out that wasn’t as common as we would have hoped.

The implementation required a timesheet along with the scheduling tool we had picked and Philips agreed to let us write it for them.  That was our first experience with creating a project-based timesheet system. 

My partner and I would work together for some 10 years before he decided to move onto other things but in that time HMS had become recognized as a leader in Canada in high-end project management systems. 

Gail: We call ourselves HMS Software but the full legal name of the company is Heuristic Management Systems. Inc.  Where did that come from?

Chris: That didn’t actually happen until 1987.  The company was continuing to expand and we were hiring our first employees.  We decided to incorporate HMS but we were told by the Canadian government that our “HMS Software” was too close to the names of other possible companies and we would have to expand the acronym.  The original “H” had been for the town my partner lived in so we decided that wasn’t going to work.  We knew the “M” would be “Management” and the “S” would be “Systems” but we struggled for weeks with what the “H” should be.  Finally in frustration, we sat down with a dictionary, committed to find a word in the “H” section we could live with.  We got to “Heuristic” and thought how appropriate it was for people interested in project management analysis. 

Gail: So HMS was primarily a consulting firm in its first 10 years?

Chris: Actually, we took on a product line from a company in Houston, Texas called Welcom Software.  They had the scheduling tool Open Plan that we had deployed at Philips and we became their Canadian distributor.  The combination of reselling Welcom Software’s products and our own consulting was our primary business during that time.  Apart from Philips we were also called upon to write two or three additional timesheet systems during that time which would all come in handy in 1994.

Gail: When did HMS expand from its Canadian focus to its worldwide servicing now?

Chris: In 1993 My partner and I started talking about going our separate ways.  It was an agreeable separation.  I wanted to keep the project management focus and he had other ideas that better suited him so we crafted a deal where I could buy him out of the business.  That culminated in 1994.  My thinking had been to shift from being a distributor and consultant to becoming a software publisher.  All our experience in project-based timesheets had given us some amazing background and experience in that domain and I decided that a timesheet would our first product.  All the timesheet systems we’d written until then had been DOS based interfaces, so character only screens.  We put together a new timesheet in that same mode and called it TimeControl version 1 but we were already hard at work creating a Windows version which would become TimeControl version 2.  That took off at a pace that surprised us and we never looked back. 

It’s HMS Software’s 40th anniversary but it’s also TimeControl’s 30th anniversary which we plan to celebrate later this year.

Gail: That’s a remarkable transformation.  What happened with your dealings with Welcom Software?

Chris: We continued to distribute their Open Plan and Cobra products for a few more years but TimeControl took up more and more of our time and we finally decided to end our distribution agreement.  Again, it was an amicable arrangement.  Welcom would later be purchased by Deltek.  Open Plan and Cobra are still products under the Deltek EPM product line and TimeControl has active links to those products even today, 30 years later.

Gail: Were your sales always done directly from the Montreal office?

Chris: There was a long time when products like TimeControl and other project management products needed local representation to be successful.  We embarked on a campaign of recruiting TimeControl dealers some of whom we have maintained business relationships with even today.  But the whole distributor, dealer paradigm started to shift in the early 2000s as Internet speeds increased.  Where once we would have expected a dealer to get in their car and go sell TimeControl to a local prospective client, now that client was asking us to video conference that demonstration so they could see it from the publisher.  It was quite a dramatic shift in the software business and it wasn’t unique to us.  At that time, you’d have had to be a massive company to be able to buy software directly from Microsoft but these days, armed with a credit card, you can sign up for their software in minutes.  Those changes weren’t even restricted to our industry.  Finding a travel agent or insurance broker is much less common as people book their own travel or sign up for insurance online.  So these days, yes, most of our sales are done in communication with our own staff in our Montreal and Toronto offices and the clients could be calling from anywhere.

Gail: Where has TimeControl been sold?

Chris: It’s all over the world.  TimeControl is in use on every continent but Antarctica.  In fact, there was a bid to provide timesheets for the US base in Antarctica many years ago and I would have loved to have closed that deal but the timing was all wrong and we weren’t able to participate.  Having clients worldwide is both a privilege and a challenge.  We have users in all or almost all time zones.  We have users who speak many different languages and have many different devices.  We’ve tried to ensure that TimeControl is highly flexible and highly responsive to different types of users.  It supports multiple languages but the module for creating a new language definition file is included too.  So, if there’s a language we didn’t support or we supported a dialect that the client doesn’t prefer, the client themselves can translate perhaps just the timesheet or as much of the interface as they wish.  Localization also carries to things like currency symbols and the way a date is displayed.

Gail: It’s a pretty remarkable team here.  How long have they been together?

Chris: The staff are all amazing at HMS.  Of our current employees we have three people who have been in the company since the 1980s and have seen the entire evolution of TimeControl from version 1 through today’s 8.5.  It’s not common anymore for people to say they’ve made a career at an IT company but it’s been true here and I find it humbling.

Gail: It’s a remarkable story so far.  Is 40 years enough?

Chris: We’re showing no signs of slowing down.  Last year was our biggest year ever.  The year before was until then the biggest year ever.  We’re both profitable and growing and for any software publisher, that’s as good as it gets.  We’re working hard on the next version of TimeControl and all its iterations including TimeControl Project.

As for myself, I’m not going anywhere.  I’ve been privileged to be part of something that has impacted so many organizations.  Our clients have put things into space and have created incredible engineering marvels.  They’ve made medicines to cure disease.  What else could I do that would have that kind of impact?  It’s been 40 years so far but I can see HMS growing for years to come.

TimeControl remains in the news

TimeControl, Gunnison, TimeControl Industrial Online, SuperbCrew, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisIt’s always fun to see TimeControl mentioned in the news. In this case, it’s the folks over at SuperbCrew who loved our recent case study with Gunnison.  You can see their articles on their three publications at:

Superb Crew: www.superbcrew.com/hms-software-partners-with-gunnison-to-enhance-timesheet-solutions/.

TechCompany News: www.techcompanynews.com/hms-software-partners-with-gunnison-to-enhance-timesheet-solutions/

and

Daily Company News: dailycompanynews.com/hms-software-partners-with-gunnison-to-enhance-timesheet-solutions/

The original Gunnison / TimeControl Case Study can be found on our main website at: www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies/gunnison.

 

TimeRequest Validation Rules are a powerful TimeControl function!

TimeRequest Conditional Approval Paths, TimeControl, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisOne of the most popular features ever released in TimeControl has to be the automated Validation Rules.  This function allows an administrator to define what makes a valid vs. non-valid timesheet.  The feature isn’t global.  It’s typically defined by group or by role but it can be very granular and some rules might apply in one geographic area while other rules might apply elsewhere.  Some rules might work for certain employees, salaried employees for example, while other might work for part-time employee or contractors.  The rules can be very simple like “no more than 24 hours in a day” or much more complex like “no overtime unless a) you get overtime and b) you’ve done more than 40 hours of regular time this week and c) none of that regular time was for sick leave or personal time off” etc.  There is no limit to the number of rules you can create.

So you might wonder what, if automated timesheet validation rules were so popular, we took so long to introduce the notion of validation rules for TimeRequests.  We’re sorry to admit we don’t have a great answer.  But, at last in the current version 8.5 of TimeControl we’re delighted to say that TimeRequest Validation Rules are now a part of the regular TimeControl system.

TimeRequests are, of course, a method of getting approval for time to be put on your timesheet in the future and they are most commonly used for vacation requests for requests for personal time off.  This too is a highly popular function so when we turned our attention to how we would implement automated TimeRequest Validation Rules we wanted to make sure we did it right.  The request came out of a simple business process challenge.  What if the approval process for vacations wasn’t the same as for timesheets?  This wasn’t a strange question for us.  At HMS, the approval patch for vacations isn’t the same as it is for timesheets so our first instinct was to follow the same structure as the Timesheet Validation Rules but there were more questions to be answered here. The resulting design and implementation is quite impressive.

In TimeRequest Validation Rules, an administrator can define what TimeRequest Charge Codes will cause what validation path.  This is done on the TimeRequest screen for administrators who have security access to it.  We imagined several scenarios.  Let’s say that the Technical Department vacation approvals had to go to one supervisor but the rest of the company had to go to someone else.  Or, let’s say that vacation approvals had to take one approval path but personal time off took another.  TimeRequest can be used for many things.  Let’s say that out-of-office training had to be approved by someone completely different than vacation or personal time off.  TimeRequest Approvals can even check how much time is left in an employee bank such as the bank of already earned vacation time.  The new Automated TimeRequest Validation Rules cover all these types of scenarios.  The Administrator chooses one or a series of charge codes (e.g. paid vacation plus unpaid vacation) then determines which filter of employees this rule will apply to and then creates the sequential approval path of who will makes those approvals.  From there, it works just like TimeRequest Approvals always has except that who is receiving and approving the requests might be quite different.

After saying all of that, it’s also not uncommon for TimeRequests to be approved by the very people who approve timesheets in which case, there’s nothing new to set up and TimeRequest Approvals will work as they always have and, once approved will appear on the end-users timesheet automatically in whatever timesheet period they were approved for.  End users can even click on a calendar entry to add the approved time right into their calendar app.

Flexible TimeRequest Approval Paths are an important and powerful aspect to TimeControl and are describe in detail in the TimeControl Reference Guide.

Gunnison Case Study of TimeControl Industrial Online

Gunnison Company, TimeControl, TimeControl Industrial Online, TimeControl Online, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisWe’ve all experienced a power failure, sometimes in the middle of miserable weather.  But, we don’t always think of the army of workers clearing the power lines to get our lights back on.  They’re trimming branches, cutting trees, moving fallen trees and sometimes just doing the maintenance of all that vegetation so we don’t experience that power failure in the first place.

For Gunnison Company, that’s an everyday focus.  More than 1,000 strong their personnel, bucket trucks and a vast array of equipment fan out across the Southeast to help keep us safe or help us in the worst of times.

In 2022, Gunnison made the decision to deploy TimeControl Industrial Online to manage how the time of all these workers was being spent.  Following their configuration and design, they extended their implementation to also track equipment in the field using TimeControl so both crews and equipment could be managed.

Gunnison Co. have generously shared their experience in deploying TimeControl in our latest Case Study which you can read online.

We appreciate our partnership with Gunnison Company and their being a part of the TimeControl family.  Read more about their TimeControl implementation experience at www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies/gunnison.

 

 

TimeControl named one of the 3 most popular multi-purpose timesheets in 2024

TimeControl, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisWe’re very excited to announce that TimeControl has been named one of the 3 Most Popular Timesheet Software in 2024.  On the heels of being recognized as a Top 50 Innovative Company to Watch in 2024 which we blogged about a couple of weeks ago, this award comes from the Best Design 2 Hub.

“TimeControl is one of the most versatile and powerful time-tracking software tools across the globe.” Says the article which highlights numerous features and characteristics of TimeControl.

You can read about this recognition of TimeControl at: www.bestdesign2hub.com/most-innovative-time-tracking-software/.

TimeControl and Microsoft Project Futures

Microsoft Project, Project and TimeControl, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisWe are getting an unusual number of requests regarding our support of the link between TimeControl and Microsoft Project.  This isn’t a huge surprise as Microsoft has made a number of announcements regarding the future of Microsoft Project in the coming months and years.

Project started as a single license per computer product over 30 years ago.  By the time TimeControl 1.0 was released in 1994, Project was already up to version 4.  We became a part of the Microsoft Partner Network in 1995 and when we released TimeControl 2.0 in early 1995, it included support for Microsoft Project 4.11 and Project ’95.  The Microsoft Project line has expanded since then but in each iteration, TimeControl has evolved to support the new versions of Microsoft Project.  I’ll go through all the current Microsoft Project versions and iterations below, but let’s take a look at the news out of Microsoft first.

Microsoft Project Server 2019 is the on-premise version of Project Server and it came to its official End of Mainstream Support on January 9, 2024.  That means that no new fixes or enhancements will come to this version.  There will continue to be security fixes only for this product until July 14, 2026.  (https://learn.microsoft.com/en-us/lifecycle/products/project-server-2019).  Clients who are still using Project Server on premise have been advised on numerous occasions by Microsoft personnel to shift to Microsoft Project Online.

Microsoft has made that migration decision a little more challenging by saying, “Going forward, all innovation will occur in Project for the Web…  there is no date to limit the functionality of Project Online at this time, but we encourage customers to plan their transition as soon as possible.”
(https://support.microsoft.com/en-us/office/project-for-the-web-and-project-online-6569170c-5c8e-474e-a7f0-642872f62f8a) That doesn’t mean that this is an end-of-life announcement for Project Online, in fact, there have been several communications from Microsoft to say that clients can expect continued support for Project Online for the foreseeable future and that no official end-of-life announcement has been made for that product.  But, if you’re a client facing the decision of where to migrate your project environment, it may feel like you are confronting conflicting messages.

So, all of that being said by Microsoft, where does HMS Software stand with the link between TimeControl and Microsoft Project?  We are committed to continue to support the TimeControl/Project integration as long as the iteration of Project functions and is still in use by our clients.  That being said, in some cases we might have to insist that a client not upgrade in order to support an older Microsoft product.

Here are all the Microsoft Project products to which TimeControl has and continues to support a link:

Microsoft Project Standard

This is the individual computer license to which TimeControl can link directly.

Microsoft Project Professional

This is an individual computer license but also has the ability to communicate with Microsoft Project Server or Microsoft Project Online (3 or 5).

Microsoft Project Server

Even though mainstream support for this product has ended, our link continues to function with Project Server.

Microsoft Project Online

Project Online is sold in three separate subscription plans:

Microsoft Project Plan 1

This is the license given to people who are updating Project Online and includes a subset of functionality allowing users to update their project progress, collaborate and participate in the project but not do the planning.  TimeControl links with Microsoft Project Online but since this Plan is only functionality if you have Plan 3 or Plan 5, there’s no TimeControl link that only supports Plan 1.

Microsoft Project Plan 3

This subscription is akin to Project Server but online. It has all the Project Server functionality plus new enhancements made only to Project Online that were not ported to Project Server 2019 on premise.  It does not include Portfolio Analysis.  TimeControl integrates directly to this product.

Microsoft Project Plan 5

This is Project Online but also includes portfolio analysis.  TimeControl integrates directly to this product.

Microsoft Project for the Web

This is the most recent addition to the Project family.  The integration functionality provided with Project for the Web allows TimeControl to pull data from it but not to push data back to assignments in the same way Project Online does.  With improvements coming to Project for the Web all the time, we’re looking forward to being able to link back to it in the same way we do with other Project products.

We’re not Microsoft, of course, so we encourage you to get the most up to date details about their products and their intentions from them (https://project.microsoft.com).   From the perspective of TimeControl, we continue to be committed to support the integration of TimeControl with all versions of Microsoft Project that are made available just as we do with all the other project management tools to which we have integrations.

Let us know if you have questions about the integration of TimeControl and Microsoft Project and how we can help with your own project environment plans.  You can reach us at (https://www.timecontrol.com/contact).

TimeControl named one of the top 50 most innovative companies to watch!

HMS named one of the Top 50 most innovative companies to watch in 2024 by CEO Views. Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisWe are very excited here at HMS.  Our TimeControl division has been named One of the Top 50 Most Innovative Companies to Watch in 2024 by The CEO Views Magazine!  Our work with TimeControl has led CEO Views to categorize HMS as a “Disruptor” in our industry.

Here’s just a short quote from the article: “Solve your real-world business challenges from a single timesheet with powerful built-in integration.”  How could we not like that?

The full CEO Views Magazine will be published shortly and we’ll let you know how to see the whole magazine but the article and analysis of HMS and TimeControl can be seen now on the CEO Views Magazine site.

Write your own timesheet or subscribe to one?

Subscribe Online or Write it yourself.  Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisYou need to update your timesheet or your project management system.  A host of potential developers are pitching for your business often with low-cost overseas developers.  It might sound tempting.  You could commission exactly the features you’re looking for and, after all, it’s a timesheet. How hard could it be?

Here at HMS we hear this quandary on a regular basis.  Sometimes we hear that the prospective client has, indeed gone off to create their own customized development of a timesheet or combined timesheet and project system.  We often hear back from them 2 or 3 years later as they look at TimeControl again.

Here are a few things to think about if you’re considering writing your own system.

Writing it yourself

Here are some of the things you’ll need to think about as you embark on your writing a timesheet project.

Internal Design

Internal design isn’t a given.  Do you have personnel with the expertise to design such a system?  Even with our deployments of TimeControl, we sometimes find it difficult to get all elements of the client to agree on exactly what the functionality and process should be.  Are you able to consider everyone who is involved in the project?  How difficult will it be to get sign-off on your design.  What will be your process for accepting changes to the design after the project is underway or even after it’s delivered?

Creating it

Ok, you’ve fought through the design and you’re ready for those programmers to get busy.  Now you’ve got to create it.  You’ll need to make sure that the outcome matches the design and then testing, testing, testing to make sure what you’ve created matches your process.  Are there regulatory requirements?  What about financial requirements? Have you got a dedicated programming team or might some of the team change over time.  Did you think to make test case data for testing?

Effort

It can be surprising how much time it takes to create a timesheet system and even more a project system to the commercial standards you see online.  The interface that you see on screen is the least of the work.  What happens once that data is saved is the hard part.  So total effort can be deceptive.  Think in terms of several person-years of work to get the job done.

Congratulations! You’re now a timesheet publisher!

You might not have thought about it, but now you have become a timesheet publisher, maximum clientele: 1

With a commercial system like TimeControl, we get to amortize all the effort we’ve put in over the last 30 years across hundreds or thousands of clients.  That won’t be the case for an in-house written system.  Plus, in becoming a timesheet publisher, there may be some sideeffects you might not have counted on.

  • Your people will be distracted from your core business. These might be some of your best core people.
  • You’re not just responsible for writing it, but also adapting it to changing technology. Whenever an operating system or a database or a browser or malware protection or any integrated technology changes, you’ll need to check to see if upgrades are required.  It’s continuous work.
  • You’re responsible to secure it, monitor it, and upgrade it. Plus, are you developing for in house, in the cloud, in a private cloud, in a hybrid cloud?
  • What about requested changes? As soon as your system is delivered, it’s a guarantee that someone will ask for something additional.

Delays until the investment in writing it pays returns

You’ve created it, tested it and deployed it and how long did that take?  Every day you spent on the project is a day you weren’t receiving the benefits of having delivered it.  With a system that you buy or subscribe to, those delays don’t occur.

Subscribe to TimeControl Online in the Cloud

If you are comparing the challenges of writing your own timesheet or project management system, here are some of the considerations for our TimeControl Online Software as a Service in the Cloud.

HMS manages the entire environment

First of all, HMS is responsible for:

  • The infrastructure including the servers, databases, database servers, operating systems, configuration of those servers, malware protection and more.
  • The installation of the software itself along with any updates, upgrades, hotfixes or anything else the application requires.
  • Security including physical security and the safeguarding of the infrastructure, the application and the data.
  • Data backups
  • 24×7 monitoring.
  • We do all of this in cooperation with our partner Amazon and Amazon Web Services where the services are extensive.
  • ROI is almost instant. The system is there right now.  The only time between subscribing and going into production is any configuration you elect to do

The return on investment is almost instant

All the functionality is there already and with a system like TimeControl, there is so much flexibility to have it adapt to your needs that writing something on your own with similar levels of functionality should be somewhat daunting.

And, there’s so much more.

  • The free TimeControl Mobile App
  • Pre-existing links with numerous project management tools like Primavera, Microsoft Project and Project Online, BrightWork, JIRA and more.
  • Crew timesheets Material/Equipment usage collection in TimeControl Industrial
  • TimeControl Project
  • TimeControl BI
  • Vacation Approvals with TimeRequest™
  • Expense reporting
  • Extensive reporting
  • A complete bi-directional API

If you’d like to see more, trying reading the white paper Buy it, Write it or Subscribe to It? which you’ll find in the White Papers area of the TimeControl Website. You might also want to look at the white paper TimeControl Online Security Architecture on the same page.

Or, feel free to contact one of our TimeControl experts at: TimeControl.com/contact and we can talk about the differences in writing it yourself or subscribing to it online.