Category Archives: timecontrol

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.

TimeControl Handles Resource Assignment Progress in So Many Ways

One of the key advantages of TimeControl is its ability to update planned tasks with the actual progress.  Gantt_and_Phone_300x200We often think of managing the progress of resource assignments in the simplest of terms: I assign you to do something, you tell me when you’re done and how much time you spent.  Yet, real life presents us with so many different resource progress options.  We won’t cover the many aspects of resource assignment management here and will, instead, look at just resource assignment progress.  We’ll cover just a few of the many ways TimeControl deals with resource progress by looking at specific business challenge scenarios here.

It’s more than just hours

TimeControl has always had the ability to go beyond the hours.  In some cases, costing of resource assignment progress is critical.  TimeControl is excellent at that.  In some cases you will want to identify the work remaining (Estimate to Complete) as a percentage or hours.  In some cases you will want to distinguish the assignment progress with the task progress.  TimeControl manages that as well.  In some cases you will want to go into more detail than the task assignment and TimeControl allows for lower entries with a summarization to the task and the assignments.  In some cases, there are progress costs that are both for labor and non-labor.  TimeControl’s expense entries or, in TimeControl Industrial, materials entries can handle that.

When transferring data to a project system, the options include hours, assignment progress, task progress, and costs.

A person does the assigned work of someone else

An assignment is made in a project management system and assigned to a particular person.  It turns out that someone else now completes the assignment even though they weren’t assigned to it themselves.  How can TimeControl manage that?

This is something TimeControl has had to deal with since its infancy in 1994.  When data is transmitted back to the project management system, the project manager has a choice:

  1. Do they wish to reject actuals in this situation or;
  2. Do they wish TimeControl to create an assignment in the project management system.

The results are quite different and the best choice is dependent on your project management process and what your project managers are happiest with.

In option 1, the actuals which can find no assignment with that individual will be rejected and those rejections will appear in a log.  Then the project manager will have to go to the project management system and alter the assignments to remove the first person and insert the second person.  Then the transfer can be restarted and those previously rejected records will go through.  For some project managers this is ideal.

In option 2, there will be a new assignment created in the project management system in the associated task.  The result will be a task that has one assignment for person 1 with no progress and another assignment for person 2 with completed progress.  Project managers then have to create an exception report to highlight tasks with progress for the last week but with assignments that have no progress.  Then they will have to decide how to alter the assignments to best reflect what actually happened.

One of the things about TimeControl that is handy is that this is not a global setting.  One project manager may be more comfortable with option 1, the other with option 2.

A person does work at different rates at different times of the day

This is a common request and we are often asked why project management tools don’t offer more options with rates in their systems.  The short answer is that when you are planning, you typically don’t think of all the rate variations that are likely to appear in real life.  It’s not something that occurs because you plan for it.

Let’s say a person works on multiple projects.  On project #1, they are billed at $75 per hour. On project #2 they are billed at $60 per hour.  TimeControl handles that easily by having multiple rates.  But, you say, what if they are billed at those rates but we pay them the same internally.  Again, no problem.  Each rate code can have multiple values associated for things like Internal Cost, Billing Value, Project Average Cost, etc.

Ok, let’s say there is one project and someone is working at different rates for different situations.  For example, we cost them at one rate when the weather is good and at a hazard rate when the weather is bad.  TimeControl handles this easily.  It allows the same task to appear multiple times in the same timesheet so that you can enter values like the Rate Code or other User Defined fields for that same task.  When this information is sent back to the project system, the project manager has the option to send the costs as well or just to send the hours.   The choice depends on what the internal costing process is for the project manager and the company but TimeControl will maintain the auditable values at a detailed level no matter which option is selected.

A person works as part of a generic or role definition of resource

When looking at resource assignments in a project system, project management software vendors would love it if you only made assignments at the individual level.  This is largely due to the licensing advantage to those vendors as each individual will now have to look at the system to see their tasks and then those people will need to purchase an individual license.  That’s all understood but this method then disables one of the project management systems’ most powerful tools: resource leveling.  Resource Leveling at an individual level makes no sense.  The algorithms and concepts are most effective when we use generic or role-based resource assignments.  If we do that and leave individual assignments as a separate exercise for team leads, you can end up with a project/timesheet disconnect.

Not in TimeControl.

In TimeControl for each employee, there is an option to say what resource code that employee is associated to.  That can be an individual resource code.  That’s certainly the easiest.  But, it can just as easily be a generic or a role resource.  Then when progress from that person is recorded, it is sent to the project system not as an individual but rather as the role or generic resource, aggregated with all other employees who are defined to that role or generic resource.

A person works part of the day as one resource and another part of the day as a different resource

In this situation, we have people who have different roles in different parts of the day.  Perhaps someone is a designer in the morning and billed at one rate but will be working as a documentation specialist in the afternoon and billed at a very different rate.

TimeControl handles this with the optional “Line Item Resource”.  When activated, a user can select in their timesheet what resource code they would like associated to each line.  That leaves them as many choices as are appropriate to their situation as you wish.  When data is sent back to the project system, the resource progress will be sent back line-by-line, assignment-by-assignment with the resource codes that were chosen.

And…

Of course, we’re not done.  Sometimes it seems that there are as many resource management scenarios as there are clients and having a tool as flexible as TimeControl means we’re almost always able to adjust to accommodate a particular resource process.  Plus, for many, many, clients sometimes simplest is best and none of these more involved scenarios apply.  In this case, you can reduce or even remove resource assignment and progress management altogether.

Talk about Resource Progress are sprinkled all over the TimeControl.com site or, if you have a specific challenge you’d like to talk to us about, contact us on the Contact form.

 

 

 

The free TimeControl Mobile App makes your timesheet feel natural even when you are working remotely

The free TimeControl Mobile App is designed to bring the power of your TimeControl timesheet and project progress updater right to the palm of your hand no matter where you are.  Designed to work with TimeControl on premise, TimeControl Online and TimeControl Industrial, the Mobile App works on both Android and Apple devices.

The free TimeControl Mobile App takes advantage of whatever screen resolution it finds to make the system as effective as possible for any device.  For timesheet functionality, the Mobile App takes your existing TimeControl configuration, profile security, data selections, language and customization so what appears on your mobile screen matches what you are used to whenever you use TimeControl!

All you have to do is log in as you normally would to your TimeControl system and you can create a new timesheet, edit an existing timesheet, approve or reject timesheets and even edit posted timesheets right in the App.  Have expenses to post in your timesheet?  The TimeControl Mobile App is ready for that too.  You can add expenses to each line and even take a picture from your mobile device of receipts and attach those to your expense report.  That’s even easier than it is on your desktop! All the permissions you have in your TimeControl system are taken into account in the TimeControl Mobile App.  The TimeControl Mobile App also supports your single sign on corporate authentication.

TCi_Mobile_CrewTimesheet3_300x237When linked with TimeControl Industrial, the Industrial functionality of Crew Timesheets is also available.  You can edit who is on a crew and create a new Crew Timesheet, edit an existing timesheet or submit the Crew Timesheet for approval.  If you are using a tablet, the TimeControl Mobile App will take advantage of the extra screen real-estate and present easier to tap-and-go entries for the Crew data.

TC_Mobile_Views_PolarArea_300x237Make decisions while away right from what you see on your phone.  With the free TimeControl Mobile App, data visioning is included.  The app includes many ways for you to display selections of data and then save that view for later use.  The ability of the mobile app to present data makes on the fly decision making easier than ever.  There are numerous formats including pie charts, bar charts, histograms and more so you can envisage your data in whatever format you need for instant decision making.

The TimeControl Mobile App has asynchronous support.  If you are working with the TimeControl Mobile App and you lose your Internet connection, there’s no need to fret.  The App will keep track of any changes you make and once your Internet is restored, it will automatically synchronize to make sure the App and the centralized system are both up to date.

What do you mean it’s free?
We mean there is no additional cost. None. When you download the app from Google Play or the Apple App store, you don’t pay a thing. All you need to do is connect to your existing TimeControl system.  The TimeControl Mobile App supports TimeControl on premise version 7.2 and higher, TimeControl Industrial on premise version 7.2 and higher, TimeControl Online or TimeControl Industrial Online.

You can find out more about the TimeControl Mobile App at: Mobile.TimeControl.com.

You can download the TimeControl Mobile App from Google Play or the Apple App store.

Contact HMS for more information on how the TimeControl Mobile App can help your remote workers get connected.

Tracking costs for special purpose accounting

costtracking_300x240We’ve been asked lately about how to configure TimeControl to track costs for specific short term purposes for situations that were unexpected.  A couple of recent use-cases include a manufacturer who has been asked by the government to do research and retooling to make medical grade equipment that they have had little experience in.  The government has promised to reimburse certain elements of this work.  Another case involves an organization that will do research then delivery of services that the government will reimburse.

As one of the most flexible timesheet systems in the industry, TimeControl is designed for such challenges.

First you need to determine what conditions you need to track for.  In situations where there might be government or tax incentives such as we are seeing with Covid-19, then you must determine if the incentives are simply objective based so that you can track them at the project level or type of work related so that you must track them at the task level.  Also, is there a requirement that the people doing the work be located in a particular jurisdiction?  For R&D type of work, it’s often the case that the workers must be located in a particular area in order to qualify for tax incentives.

Let’s take the most likely scenario given the challenges of today.  We’ll figure that all our staff are located locally or at least in the country and that the type of work is important, so we need to identify the hours that will go against certain types of tasks.  So, for example, if the project includes some effort by HR to transfer people from one department to another, that might not be eligible for government reimbursement but if the work is about re-engineering one of our production lines for the expected new product, that is eligible.

In this case the best configuration method would be to either use one of your existing user-defined fields or just add a new one.TC_AddNewFielda

If you have configuration rights as an Administrator, just click “Add a New Field” at the bottom of the Charge Table and TimeControl will ask you what type of field to add.  In this case a text field seems appropriate and you can create a description such as “Special Cost Type”.

TC_AddNewField2croppedNow the field appears in the list of User Defined fields.  We can make a drop down list by clicking the gear icon on the right and asking to add a Link list.  Then we click it again and ask to Edit the Links.

TC_AddNewField3cropped

Let’s add two possible entries for now.  One for Covid19 eligible for reimbursement and another for Covid19 non-eligible.

TC_AddNewField4aThat’s all there is to it.  There’s no special instruction for end-users. They just keep doing their timesheets on tasks they’ve been assigned.  The ability to group those hours is all in the background for administrators and Finance personnel.  That means there’s nothing special to do in order for this work also with TimeControl Mobile.

Now all charges against tasks in this project or any other that has this field set will be able to immediately be pulled out in reports and exports and making a costing of how much this project has cost should be relatively simple.  TimeControl will report any hours in timesheets against tasks with this flag set along with the appropriate rate values in reports that you create or in the Drill Down Analyzer.  If you aren’t using rates at all, you’ll still be able to get the total number of hours and then use an average cost rate to make the reports you need.

You can use this field in the future if there are any other use-case scenarios or, if you choose, you can always hide the field if you have no further purpose for it.

For more help on configuring your TimeControl, contact HMS Technical Services at support@hms.ca or speak to your account manager at info@hms.ca.