Category Archives: timecontrol

Project Progress is so much more than just the number of hours

HMS Software started as consultants and distributor for project management software many years ago.  One of the first things we ever focused on was the importance of progressing projects.  It turns out this is still a subject that bears repeating today.

We measure progress in many ways.  TimeControl was created, in part, to track one of those methods, task effort.  But this is the simplest and often the most misleading tracking method.  Just knowing how much time you spent on something without knowing how that task is progressing otherwise can easily lead to misinterpretation.  Imagine, for example that you have spent 40 hours on an expected 80 hour task.  You’re half way done, right?  Well what if you’re not?  What if the work turned out to be harder than you thought.  Instead of being only half done, you estimate there is still 120 hours of work to.  Instead of this ending as a 40 hour task, it will probably be closer to a 160 hour task, double the original cost or expectation.

TimeControl was designed with this in mind too.  TimeControl allows each person to estimate the work required for them to finish their task right on the timesheet line by entering the estimated remaining duration on the line.

This is even more powerful when combined with the use of a project baseline in the project management tool.  Not only can you see the progress against the actual activity, you can also compare against what you originally promised it would be.

In some cases, there may be multiple resources on the same activity.  If this is the case, TimeControl can have a project manager or supervisor update an activity percent complete update for the entire task.  This is visible on the Activity Tab from the timesheet or the Charge Table or from the Project Manager Validation Screen.

Some organizations use weighted milestones to measure an activity’s progress. This is a popular method for large projects because it is so much less subjective.  Project management tools like Primavera support this method of progress and TimeControl does too.  When you look at the expanded timesheet line window you’ll see a tab called Steps.  Here, if you are the key resource, you can progress the steps associated to that activity.

In some organizations, activity progress is measured by units complete.  For example, if you are doing a pipe-laying project, then management only cares how many meters of pipe were installed this week.  It’s a powerful measurement method because it is very matter of fact.  TimeControl supports this too if you are using TimeControl Industrial and enter such a measure in the Material entry screen.

TimeControl has been designed from the start to have project progress in mind.  It’s so much more than just collecting hours.

To find out more about how to use TimeControl for updating project progress, talk to one of our specialists at info@hms.ca.

TimeControl on-premise is here to stay

Many people have asked us if the on-premise version of TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial will be phased out.

In a word: No.

While over 75% of our new sales are for TimeControl Online, TimeControl Industrial Online or TimeControl Project Online, all of which are delivered as subscriptions in the Cloud, we have many clients who have TimeControl implemented as an on-premise system.

There are many reasons an organizations will want to purchase a license and install TimeControl themselves.  It may be security restrictions or integration with internal tools at the database level.  Whatever the reason, TimeControl will continue to be available as on premise option for anyone who needs it as long as there is a demand.

For those clients who are already using TimeControl on-premise and who wish to switch to a subscription of TimeControl Online, HMS has the Evolve Program to help with that.  There are commercial and technical aspects to the migration but end users won’t experience any difference in functionality.  Only their URL for TimeControl will change.  Talk to HMS if this is of interest.

TimeControl website resources are always being updated

We update the resource collateral on the TimeControl.com website that it would be impractical to create notices for each thing that gets added or updated.  In the Resources area, you’ll find Webcasts, White Papers, Slide presentations, Factsheets, Online training and more.  We did just update the TimeControl Industrial overview webcast which can be found on the Webcast page.  If you’d like to get to it directly, you can find it at: TimeControl Industrial Overview.

Our President Chris Vandersluis is on TopEntrepreneurs podcast

Chris Vandersluis, HMS Software’s president is on Nathan Latka’s (@nathanlatka) Top Entrepreneurs podcast this week.  You can catch the interview at: https://geni.us/TopEntrepreneurs.  Chris has been interviewed once before by Nathan back in 2018 so there was lots to talk about. Nathan asked about corporate results, how to keep clients and staff happy during a pandemic and the future expectations for HMS and TimeControl.   It’s  high energy, 20 minute look at how private SaaS companies operate and succeed.  TopEntrepreneurs features almost 2000 interviews with CEOs of SaaS companies around the world.  Take a look at: https://geni.us/TopEntrepreneurs.  You can also catch the video version on YouTube at: https://youtu.be/QmmVu2GD0hA.

TimeControl support for Visual Reader software

We announced in version 8.3 that we had put some specific attention on TimeControl for Visual Reader Support.  Visual Readers are software packages that enable those with reading disabilities to have the software read what is on the screen for them.  There had always been some support in TimeControl for this but it had been sporadic in the past.  In version 8.3 we were more deliberate. First of all, we consulted a number of websites and got some great information in particular from the American Foundation for the Blind (AFB) website at www.afb.org.  After looking at several systems, we decided on using some freely available software called NVDA available from www.nvaccess.org.  This software is quite remarkable.  It picks up labels on objects like fields, graphics, text and reads it out loud.  We can’t recommend both the AFB and NVAccess enough.

In TimeControl, we had to make sure that all objects were labeled properly and within the timesheet grid, this took a bit more effort to make sure that each day and each line could be identified.  We concentrated on those areas where an individual user might go including the menus, the Timesheet List, the Timesheet Entry and, MyAccount.

Now in TimeControl as you over over an element of the screen, software like NVDA will read it to you out loud.  Like to see and hear it working?  We’ve got a video lesson showing it in action.  Just click here on Show me the Visual Reader or go to TimeControl’s Online Lessons.

OPAL-RT Case Study was 20 years in the making!

We’re always excited when a client decides to work with us to create a case study about their use of TimeControl.  Aside from the obvious value to everyone in the TimeControl community who can see a real-world application of our timesheet system, case studies are particularly empowering for our own team as they see their work being used to benefit a company.

In this case, the story of OPAL-RT goes a little further.  OPAL-RT is known worldwide as a high-tech supplier of real-time simulation systems.  The case study talks about how TimeControl benefits them. OPAL-RT has been using TimeControl for over 20 years.  That’s longer than most companies exist and we have maintained our partnership with OPAL-RT continuously during this time.  Next is that OPAL-RT has seen numerous versions and editions of TimeControl.  They started off with TimeControl version 4.1, moved up to our browser-based version 5 then upgraded through version 6, 7 and 8.  They migrated from the on-premise version of TimeControl to TimeControl Online our Software as a Service which is what they use today.

TimeControl has become part of the corporate fabric at OPAL-RT.  “TimeControl has become an integral part of OPAL-RT’s enterprise system.  It’s hard to imagine working without it,” explains Irene Peres, OPAL-RT Director, Metrics and Quality Department.

It’s been a great collaboration so far and we look forward to many more years of working with this great client.

You can read or download the story in its entirety on the TimeControl website.

It’s available in English at: https://www.timecontrol.com/why-timecontrol/case-studies/opal-rt

and in French at: https://www.timecontrol.com/fr/why-timecontrol/case-studies/opal-rt.

TimeControl 8.3 now available for download

We are delighted to announce the launch of TimeControl 8.3.

This version has numerous new features and some exciting enhancements that we think will be welcomed by both new and existing customers.

TimeControl and TimeControl Industrial for on-premise deployments are available for download immediately for existing clients with a current Support Agreement at TimeControl.com/support/updates.  TimeControl Online, TimeControl Industrial Online and TimeControl Project subscriptions will all be upgraded automatically in the Cloud in the next few weeks.  We will give existing subscription holders a one week notice before the upgrade.

This version has significant and enhanced features for both Online and On-premise TimeControl clients.

Here are some details on what’s new:

TimeRequest Wizard Update

We’ve done a major overhaul of the TimeRequest Wizard that will allow new employees to be onboarded and automatically adopt previous TimeRequest Wizard entires for them.overcome a challenge some administrators have had in the past.  In previous versions, having new hires be onboarded would not automatically add TimeRequest Wizard holidays to appear.  The result was a more cumbersome manual process for anyone new to make sure that their civic holidays were entered.  Now the TimeRequest Wizard will be able to do this automatically.

Visual Reader support

We have added support for Visual Readers for the Visually impaired into this version of TimeControl.  Following products listed in the American Foundation for the Blind (afb.org) we picked the open source application NVDA as our test bed.  Now users of TimeControl can log-in, access the menu, their personal preferences and enter and submit their timesheets or TimeRequests with greater ease.  We have focused on support for individual profiles in this version rather than all tables and other administrative functions.

SAML IdP-Initiated authentication

TimeControl has had support for SAML authentication for some time.  In previous versions however, we have asked that a Service Provider (the client or service used by the client for SAML) do the authentication (SP-Initiated).  In this version we have provided Identity Provider-Initiated (IdP) SAML support which means that TimeControl can now act as the Service Provider to initiate the SAML authentication request.

Default Table Templates

An Administrator can now create a template for table entries and use that default for new entries.  This can save a bunch of time when new table entries often have the same data in certain fields.  Default templates will pre-enter the data for those fields automatically when a new entry is made or can apply the template on an existing record.

TimeControl Project Copy Tasks to Charge Codes and vice versa

In TimeControl Project we’ve created new functionality to copy Charge record based Views and their associated records to Task Views and records and Task-based Views and records to Charge-records and the associated Viws.

And… there’s so much more.

Improvements in performance and capacity, interface changes to improve the user experience, TimeControl Industrial Extended Rates Options, Crew Onboarding, Enhanced Logging and Event Viewer Changes, brute force login prevention, automatic password recovery and, enhancements to the TimeControl / InEight Estimate Integration

For a more complete list of new and enhanced features in this version, please visit, 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. We will notify TimeControl Online subscribers about their update and their access to the new TimeControl Project in the coming weeks. TimeControl Online will be updated automatically.

TimeControl Auditability a brand new white paper

From the very beginning of TimeControl’s design, we knew we needed a timesheet system that would pass the stringent controls the Finance department need for processes like Payroll and Invoicing as well as the activity-based-costing and progress tracking requirements of project management. This is what has TimeControl be simultaneously a highly flexible system and a highly auditable system.

The design and functionality that is used to make TimeControl auditable is so woven into the fabric of the product that we often don’t think to highlight it until someone asks about some specific aspect.  So, we’ve never made a document outlining how TimeControl is auditable.

Until now.

In our new white paper “TimeControl Auditability What do we mean when we say auditable”  we discuss what we mean when we say TimeControl is auditable.  You’ll find it in the TimeControl Resources WhitePapers area of our TimeControl website.

TimeControl Project Launches!

We’re very excited to announce the release of TimeControl Project.  TimeControl Project is a premium version of TimeControl Online and TimeControl Industrial Online that delivers a unique set of Views, Analysis and Data to enable Project Management and Project Execution.

Now the power and flexibility that TimeControl is known around the world for extends its functionality from project actuals to project planning and execution.  We have taken a unique approach to providing project management functionality within TimeControl.  Instead of thinking of project management as a big bucket of tasks that automatically roll up from level to level from the most detailed task in the organization to the portfolio selection at the executive, we have created data, analysis and displays that are appropriate to each level.  Data can be integrated or it can be distinct depending on what you need.  It doesn’t seem to make sense that every task that changes at the most tactical level will be instantly displayed in summary charts and projections.

Sometimes it’s better to look integrated than be integrated.

TimeControl includes tools at the Strategic Level for executives that might include Sheets Spreadsheet Views and summary GANTT barcharts.  At the Operational Level, project managers and resource managers might prefer GANTT Views and decision making Board Views.  At the Tactical Level, team leaders, team members and, scrum masters might prefer Board Views for an Agile approach.  TimeControl Project keeps these distinct when needed and integrated when that makes more sense.

TimeControl Project is available only as a premium edition of TimeControl Online and TimeControl Industrial Online subscriptions in the Cloud.

For more information about TimeControl Project, visit project.timecontrol.com or contact your HMS account manager.