Category Archives: timecontrol

Microsoft / HMS Software relationship turns 29!

Microsoft Partner Network, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisMicrosoft has renewed HMS Software’s membership in the Microsoft Partner Network for a 29th remarkable year.

The Microsoft partner system has changed names and directions in those 29 years but the work between HMS and Microsoft has been a constant.

HMS started its formal relationship with Microsoft as a solutions partner in 1995 and our primary objective was to integrate then new TimeControl system with Microsoft Project.  We integrated with Project version 4 and the just-released Project 95

“In 1995 it seemed like such a simple conversation,” explained our president, Chris Vandersluis.  “We would move data in and out of Microsoft Project and Microsoft could point to TimeControl if ever a prospective client asked where to find the timesheet. We quickly discovered that the integration required a more intimate understanding of how Microosft Project processes progress.  Given HMS Software’s history with project management software, that was right up our alley.”

Over the years HMS has adapted our relationship to keep up with so much more than one product link.

TimeControl can be tied to Microsoft 365, SQL Server, Azure 365 Active Directory, Microsoft Teams, SharePoint, Microsoft Dynamics, and of course, Microsoft Project, Project Online, and Project for the Web.  The ongoing relationships with Microsoft is at multiple levels both for business and on the technical side.  As Microsoft Project and other elements of Microsoft technology evolve, TimeControl is adapted to include them.

Microsoft technology is used to deliver TimeControl Online, HMS Software’s in-the-cloud subscription timesheet service and TimeControl on-premise.  Other technologies used can vary from client to client. Windows Server is the platform for the server and some clients will combine the TimeControl Online service with Microsoft Project, Microsoft 365, SharePoint, Teams, or Dynamics.

Using HMS Software’s TimeControl either in the cloud or on premise with Microsoft technologies allows clients to enhance their business processes to comply with numerous timesheet requirements such as simultaneous project tracking, billing, HR management, payroll, job costing and auditable governance such as R&D tax credits, DCAA or Sarbanes-Oxley requirements.

To help find HMS Software resources on the many different Microsoft technologies TimeControl interacts with, HMS has a free resources portal .  The portal includes numerous resources including white papers, webcasts, PowerPoint presentations and more.  The TimeControl Microsoft Technology Portal can be found at: Microsoft.TimeControl.com.

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.

 

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.

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.

Why is TimeControl so popular with the Payroll Department?

TimeControl Payday, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisWe often talk about TimeControl in association with project management tools but, because it is a multi-function timesheet system, TimeControl is often managed by the Payroll department.  What is it about TimeControl that makes it so popular with Payroll Departments?

First of all, let’s acknowledge that virtually every Payroll system has some kind of timesheet attached to it. We have nothing bad to say about any of them.  But Payroll timesheets are single purpose.  They’re designed to give that particular Payroll system what it needs to process employee pay.  The attractiveness of TimeControl is that it can be used not only for Payroll but also for updating Project Management, Human Resources, Billing, Job Costing and other internal systems and processes.  The benefit for Payroll is, that if the timesheet can do what they need, then everyone in the organization can be using one timesheet instead of several and that will create huge efficiencies in reducing reconciliation between disparate systems.  TimeControl was designed from its inception to meet the needs of Payroll.

So, what are some aspects of TimeControl that make Payroll happy?

It’s Auditable

If a project finance report is off by a hundred dollars or more, no one gets too excited.  But, if a paycheck is off by a single penny, there is all kinds of upset.  So, all entries, changes and approvals of time in the TimeControl timesheet is tracked and is completely auditable.  Even post posting changes are traced on a line-by-line basis.  This is an essential element of a Payroll system.  If the numbers are questioned, they can be recovered from the original entry and any changes will be immediately visible.

Approvals

If your timesheet is going to Payroll, then it almost certainly has to go through some level of approval.  It might be very simple or have multiple levels but knowing that the data that arrives into the Payroll system has passed the approvals required is a must.

Automated Validation Rules

When we explain this to prospective clients, the eyes of the Payroll staff light up.  TimeControl can have as many automated Validation Rules as desired.  A rule might be simple like “for salaried staff, no timesheet should be more than 24 hours a day” or “no salaried person can book more than 40 hours of regular (meaning paid-for) time in a week. Or a rule could be complex like “your timesheet cannot have more than 8 hours of sick leave on a weekday and no sick leave at all on a weekend”.  You get the idea.  Some clients have a handful of validation rules.  Some clients have dozens or more.  It’s all about catching potential and obvious errors at the point of entry rather than in a long cycle where someone has to start communicating from Payroll back to an employee about timesheet problems affecting their pay.

Validation Rules can be errors which must be corrected before the timesheet is released or they might just be a warning like “Be advised you have now used all of your paid-for sick leave.”  It’s up to the client to determine what rules are important to create in TimeControl.

Accommodating both Wage and Salary staff at the same time

Rules for Payroll for salaried employees and wage employees are often quite different.  Salary employees, for example, rarely are paid overtime.  Wage employees are often paid for overtime.  Some organizations want to pay overtime at different rates.  “Time-and-a-half” or “Double-time” are common requests.  Some organizations want to give employees an option to book their overtime into a bank to be used to take time off later.  All of these options and more are a part of TimeControl.  This means that both Wage and Salary staff are easily managed within the same system even if the calculations and rules are different.  Vacation time for example might be calculated at the end of each month as a number of days of vacation earned for the last 30 days for salaried staff.  Wage staff might have vacation accrued automatically by TimeControl also but calculated based on the number of hours worked that week.  Two different calculations, both handled in the same system.

Rates for Payroll, Billing and Project Management at the same time

Payroll’s perspective on rates is what will result in an employee’s paycheck.  But the Billing department looks at Rates differently.  First of all, the values of what we bill at vs. what we pay are almost always different and secondly, there will be hours counted for Payroll that might not be counted for Billing.  Project Management usually uses an aggregate or average rate to keep their reporting simpler.  TimeControl handles all of this and much, much more by allowing distinct values for each rate code.  So, for a particular employee, TimeControl might record their pay rate as $40, their billing rate at $60 and their project rate at $50.  Plus, security in TimeControl goes all the way to the field level.  Employees are almost never shown the values associated to their timesheet and individual pay rates are almost always restricted to only the limited number of Payroll staff who are allowed to see them.

Batch Transfer

Once the timesheets are complete in TimeControl, the data usually needs to go somewhere else; sometimes to several somewhere else’s.  TimeControl’s export mechanisms can track the batch of exported records so that a timesheet line is never accidentally sent twice.  Even after adjustments and corrections, only the new changed records are sent.  Batch Transfers are kept in TimeControl so a batch could be recreated if necessary.  The ability to know what was sent to the Payroll system and when and know that those records won’t ever be sent twice to inadvertently doubling someone’s pay is a favorite with Payroll.

What about Contractors?

As we’ve described in recent blog posts, TimeControl can accommodate both employees and contractors within the same time.  These records can be flagged distinctly so the contractor hours don’t go to Payroll, but rather to Accounts Payable and the hours of both employees and contractors can go to Billing.  Sound confusing?  It’s nothing compared to keeping separate systems and then trying to reconcile them later.  TimeControl was built for this.

What about timesheets that are only by exception?

Some employees do the same thing every day and are not tracked by Project Management, or Billing.  Imagine a receptionist for example.  They don’t even really need to do a timesheet except when there’s an exception such as a vacation day or a sick leave day.  TimeControl handles this with a function called Autofill.  If there are no exceptions, TimeControl will created an fill in an automatic timesheet for that employee with the appropriate number of hours per day.  If someone took a half-day of personal time off, then they can enter that and Autofill will just “top-up” the hours to the expected total for the day.  It can save enormous amounts of time making sure we have complete records for all the staff but not make people do work that creates no value to the company.

Is that it?

Goodness no.  There’s lots more in the TimeControl functionality that Payroll will find of interest.  Here are a couple of areas of the TimeControl website that will have more information that includes webcasts, white papers, slide shows and more:

You must balance the desire for flexibility with the associated responsibility

balance flexibility and responsibility, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisCorporate Memory is an almost forgotten concept but we encounter clients who see it as a challenge on a regular basis.

We often say to our TimeControl clients that the tremendous flexibility that is provided with TimeControl comes with an equal share of responsibility.  There are so many ways that TimeControl can be configured and then, once configured, can be altered, updated, re-thought and re-imagined by the client that makes it so popular.  It’s rare when a client asks for something within TimeControl where we have to say “no”.  That flexibility was part of our original intent with the product from the very first version back in 1994 and remains core to our philosophy of how an enterprise timesheet and project management product should be constructed.

But, with great flexibility comes great responsibility.  When we work with a client in the earliest days of their deployment we make a point of saying that the client themselves are responsible for the documentation of their own process that involves TimeControl and the changes or configuration that was requested.  When we are asked to assist with the implementation, we have always created a technical deployment document where we describe the client requests for certain configuration choices and then put in the filters and field definitions that could, in theory have been done by the client themselves.

Fast forward a few years and it is extremely common for a client to report that their TimeControl Administrator is no longer in that role or no longer with the organization and a new person is having difficulty understanding why a filter behaves the way it does or why an export for payroll exports certain fields but not others. “Can you locate your internal process and TimeControl configuration documentation?” is usually our first response.  You may not be surprised to find out that this is often not to be found.

“Would you like a copy of the technical documentation we created when we deployed?” we’ll ask.  Oh yes, that’s very desirable and it certainly can be of help but like many internal systems, if there is no process guidance then a new administrator or new technical administrator could find themselves at a tremendous disadvantage.

This is true whether the client is using TimeControl on-premise or has a TimeControl subscription to TimeControl Online or TimeControl Industrial Online in the cloud.

It’s a truism to say that “things change”.  In an enterprise system like TimeControl that’s especially true.  TimeControl almost never lives in a vacuum.  It feeds billing or payroll or project management or all three.  It is fed by HR and by contracts and more.  If anything in any of those systems change (such as a new version or a new understanding of how those systems should work then the integrated solution that was once designed may start to hit some bumps.

At HMS we have learned over the years to take as many notes along the way as we support a client to be able to understand requests later but on a regular basis, we find that our notes have become the client’s corporate memory.  To be fair, some clients, including some of our largest have been exemplary at how they keep corporate records of how TimeControl was deployed and why.  Making changes for those clients is always easiest and least stressful.

For all of us, balancing the amount of flexibility you want to take advantage of and the responsibility of documenting and managing what you did with that flexibility is a challenge that is important to manage.

Find out more about TimeControl flexibility at: TimeControl.com/features/flexibility.