Category Archives: timecontrol

TimeControl’s ability to be multi-national is unparalleled

Many products have the ability to be localized.  What this usually means is that the user installing or accessing the product can see the interface in their local language and other factors like how currency or dates are displayed is aligned to their country selection.

Different Languages

TimeControl’s abilities go well beyond this.  First of all, yes, we have multiple languages.  TimeControl ships with a number of different languages built in and a language editor to adapt those language definitions or to create your own.  Do you call a “cheque” a “check”? Fine.  TimeControl let’s you adapt that definition.  Does you organization call “Charge Codes” “Task Codes”?  No problem.  Use the TimeControl Manage Languages function to change that.  When TimeControl is upgraded to the next version, it will check any changes you’ve made and not erase them so your changes will be supported.

But, TimeControl can do more.  It will adapt to the user’s browser for some items such as the welcome message or how the calendar is displayed and other selections in TimeControl’s System Preferences and User Profile preferences can define how certain terms or fields are displayed but what might we do about something like different currencies?

Different Currencies

TimeControl’s rate system is extensive and you can use fields to define what currency is used for a particular rate type.  So, “US Labor” for Engineer might be $80 USD and “Canada Labour” for Engineer might be $110 CAD.  The field for currency can define whether the amount entered and then used for calculations is in US dollars or Canadian dollars.  The amounts can be reported on and kept distinct for reporting or exporting but you could do more with a bit of work.  You could use a daily API feed for currency exchange such as www.oanda.com to calculate the rate values right into TimeControl and use one of the extra cost fields to normalize all those costs into one currency for reporting.  Not everyone is going to need this sort of functionality.  Most of the multi-national organizations we’ve seen try to push everyone into one currency but not all.  When you get to a person-by-person data entry system like a timesheet, you may have some needs for reporting that are more local and other needs that are more global.

Different weekends.

TimeControl has the flexibility to have different timesheet periods for different users.  So, a group in the US might have a 7-day calendar with Saturdays and Sundays scheduled as weekend time off.  Within the same TimeControl, another in the Mediterranean might have a weekend that is Thursdays and Fridays.  Still a third group might have a bi-monthly timesheet that is submitted for the first 15 days of the month and a second timesheet for the balance of the month.  Once any of those timesheets are approved and posted, TimeControl is storing the results day-by-day so reporting and exporting aren’t really affected.

Not every multi-national organization has this kind of requirement but it’s nice to know that TimeControl’s flexibility can adapt to include all the users in the organization wherever they are and whatever their work structure is.

The Migration to SaaS timesheets continues

Nerd gets lost in cyberspace

Here at HMS we’ve seen a steady stream of new and existing customers migrating their timesheet process from on-premise deployments to our TimeControl Online timesheet subscription service in the Cloud.  With remote workers now becoming a much more long-term fact of business life, we anticipate this migration to continue.

There will, of course, always be a desire for on-premise or private cloud deployments of a product like TimeControl but this is now more likely to be associated to those working in high security environments such as Defense, Aerospace and ultra high-tech innovation where the desire to keep all data inside the building’s walls is a high priority.  These industries however, are seeing a much lower incidence of remote workers.

At HMS we are committed to support both our on-premise TimeControl and our TimeControl Online subscription service in the cloud indefinitely.

For organizations that are trying to come to terms with a movement of data and applications out of the office and into cloud services, there are some decided benefits to a TimeControl Online.

We started TimeControl Online back in 2011 with the intent that it be accessible by users anywhere in the world.  TimeControl had already been browser based for years and, by 2011, TimeControl was a well-established enterprise timesheet system with 17 years of experience in the market.  Moving to TimeControl Online provides no disadvantages for existing users.  All the functionality of TimeControl is identical in TimeControl Online.  In fact, we maintain a common code base for both systems.

With the Online Service in the cloud, HMS takes on some of the responsibilities that may be becoming harder and harder for remote workers to provide.

With TimeControl Online, HMS takes over all the technical responsibilities of managing the system including:

  • Maintaining and updating the servers and their operating systems
  • Maintaining and updating the databases servers
  • Managing disk space, logs and performance of the servers
  • All hot fixes for TimeControl are installed automatically
  • All upgrades to new versions of TimeControl are included and performed automatically
  • Security including malware production
  • Backups
  • Continuous 24×7 monitoring

All that’s left for the client is to actually use the system.

For existing clients who are considering migrating from TimeControl on-premise to TimeControl Online, ask one of our staff about the cross-over program that can give credit from any on-premise TimeControl licenses with a current support agreement towards a TimeControl Online subscription.  They can be reached at info@hms.ca.

Timesheets costs can be a complex conversation that TimeControl is ready for

One area of functionality that has made TimeControl so popular is the level of flexibility in the Rate structure. It’s a necessary element for TimeControl because of the multi-functional nature of the product and how costs might be thought of one way for one part of the company, (for example Billing) and very differently by another part of the company (for example, Payroll).  The options for how rates are selected and then calculated are extensive and designed to fulfill as many business scenarios as possible.  Let’s look at just a few of these options:

Rate Code Types

TimeControl Rate codes are created as either Global, Resource, Individual or Non-Labor types.  For labor resources a Global-type could appear for any employee’s timesheet, a Resource-type would appear only when that employee is part of the resource referenced in the Resource code and an Individual-type could appear only for the employee specified.  Already that’s a lot of options!

Rate Codes per line item

TimeControl allows an unlimited number of rates per employee and per timesheet.  You are even allowed to have the same charge code entered more than once with each line having a different rate code.  So this can easily accommodate an employee who might fulfill one function in the morning on a task and a different function to be billed at a different rate in the afternoon.

Project Rates

Some organizations want a default project rate for each employee.  While the rate code might look like the same selection to the employee when filling in their timesheet, it could still be an individualized rate code definition because you can have more than one rate code with the same name in the Rate Table so long as it is unique by being associated to a unique employee or resource code.  Default Project Rates can be defined in the Project Table and can be constrained in the Employee Record in the Filter section.

But we don’t want to see all those rates

In each employee record, filters can be used to define which rates should appear and for which conditions.  This can define showing only certain rates at certain times.  The technique can be used to easily define rates that change at a certain time of the year or to define different rates being available for different projects or charges or other data conditions.

Calculating Rate Values

So far we’ve only talked about how you can define many rates and how to select them but what about how rate values are calculated.  For labor rates, each rate code can have multiple values.  Up to 9 values per rate are available by default.  This allows different values for different purposes to be used.  Let’s say that we define Value 1 for Internal Actual Cost.  Then we expect to pay that person that amount per hour completed.  Then we can use Value 2 for External Billing Cost.  That would allow us to calculate an invoice amount for that same value very differently.  We can use this technique to also handle things like “unbillable time” where the Billing Cost is zero but the Internal Cost is still paid for.  We can use the same techniques for Banked Overtime where the internal cost is zero but the billing cost is still invoiced.

That’s just 2 of 9 values.  Perhaps you might want to define a 3rd value as an Average Project Cost to match the cost capabilities of your project system so that costs sent by TimeControl to the project system match the values that were used for planning.

Accruals and more…

We haven’t even talked about how the Accruals Module can take timesheet data it encounters and assesses values to each employee for that time.  In this way, overall overtime or banked time or earned vacation time can be calculated and stored.  There are also options in TimeControl Industrial to cost materials consumed, equipment used and production accomplished.  TimeControl Industrial’s rate selections also supports extended rates which look through combinations of timesheet line fields to select the right rate for you.

There are so many options on how to create your own Rate definitions that we’ve made a white paper on the subject called: Creating your Rate structure in TimeControl. The same information is available in the Appendices of the TimeControl Reference Guide. You’ll find other resources on designing your TimeControl environment to suit your needs in the Resources area of the TimeControl website.

 

The integration of TimeControl timesheets to Primavera is highly configurable

When you are looking to integrate TimeControl with Primavera you have many possible options to employ to make sure you get the actuals you need into however you’ve configured Primavera.  TimeControl has had a link with Primavera since 1997 and we are very familiar with both the technical architecture and functional specifications of the system.  All versions of TimeControl: TimeControl, TimeControl Industrial and TimeControl Online include Primavera bi-directional integration.  Here are some ways the integration can be configured.

Integration with either Primavera EPPM or Primavera Pro P6

First of all TimeControl includes the ability to integrate with either Primavera’s EPPM centralized system or Primavera Professional.  Linking with EPPM is usually done using Primavera’s Web Services but can alternately be done directly with the database.  Linking with Primavera Pro on a desktop or using a network file share for the data is done directly between the TimeControl and Primavera databases.  This is set up in the Link Definition area of TimeControl.

Moving data into TimeControl

Once you’ve defined the link to your Primavera, data can be updated from selected Primavera projects into TimeControl either on demand or on a scheduled basis.  You can even configure TimeControl to automatically update the TimeControl Project Table with new projects in Primavera which you flag there to be ready to be transferred to TimeControl.  You have a number of options on updating the TimeControl project and charge code list with information from Primavera.  This includes deciding whether or not to bring in the milestones, whether to bring in Activity Steps, whether to bring in tasks even if they haven’t had a change and whether to bring in tasks which are already closed.  You can also decide if only the Primavera Primary Resource can update the ETC and TimeControl will respect that choice in the timesheet.  You can decide whether to bring in Resource definitions, Role Definitions or both and even decide if you want to work in TimeControl at a more summarized level of the project than is in Primavera.

Moving data back to Primavera

Once data has gone through the Matrix Approval Process in TimeControl, it can be used to update the Primavera project.  There are a lot of options here.

Link Configuration

First, decide if you want to send back the ETC as hours remaining, days remaining or percent complete.  Then tell TimeControl if you’d like to send back actuals in days or hours and how many hours make up a day.  Then decide if you’d like to group all the timesheet hours into one entry per timesheet period (handy for super long multi-decade projects) or on the date you did the work (much more common).  If TimeControl can’t find an assignment for the work it is trying to update, decide if TimeControl should create an assignment with a budget of zero or create the assignment budget equal to whatever the timesheet data is.

Resource Assignment Options

TimeControl can determine what resource an employee should be counted as either in the employee definition or from each timesheet line.  We call that line-item-resources.  Not everyone configures TimeControl this way but this allows an employee to log their time as one type of resource for part of the day and as other types of resource for other parts of the day.  So if you’re being an engineer in the morning and a project manager in the afternoon, TimeControl can update Primavera’s assignments and costs properly.

Rate Options

TimeControl allows an unlimited number of rates per employee and even multiple timesheet lines on one timesheet with different rates for each.  For each possible rate code, there are multiple possible rate values.  So, for example, an employees “Standard” rate code might have one value for actual salary, another for billing, another for average project value and so on.  You can decide in this link definition, which of the Rate Values to transfer to Primavera if you elect to transfer costs.  For more information on Rates, we recommend looking at the White Paper: Creating your Rate Structure in TimeControl on the TimeControl.com website.

Material Transfer Rate Option

If you are using TimeControl Industrial, you may be collecting more than timesheet hours and timesheet costs.  If you are collecting material consumption, equipment usage or even production accomplished in TimeControl Industrial’s material entry module, then the same concept of rates and costs exist there.  This means you might have an internal cost of purchase for materials along with a billing cost and a project committed price which are all distinct.  The Materials Transfer Rate Option lets you decide which rate value to use when calculating the cost as it is transferred to Primvera.

PMV Transfer Options

TimeControl’s Project Manager Validation functionality lets the project manager execute a line-by-line approval once the overall timesheet is approved.  This allows a project manager to hold back on transferring some data to Primavera due to project updating reasons even though it might be just fine on the timesheet for the individual.  The PMV Transfer Options allows you to define whether all data is being pushed back to Primavera or only that data which the project manager has approved in the PMV screen.

Data Options

Finally, the data options has numerous options on what to send back to Primavera and how including.

    • Transfer Resource Actual Hours
    • Transfer Resource Actual Cost
    • Transfer Expenses. This refers to the expenses associated to each TimeControl timesheet.
    • Transfer Resource ETC. This will transfer the assignment estimate to complete based on the definitions above.
    • Transfer Resource Complete Indicator. This is the complete checkbox on the timesheet.  When selected, TimeControl will mark the task as complete in Primavera with no remaining duration.
    • Transfer Line Notes to P6. This transfers the notes from the TimeControl timesheet line item to notes in the Primavera activity.
    • Transfer Activity ETC. This is the Activity Estimate to Complete that is on the Activity tab of the timesheet not the assignment estimate to complete.
    • Transfer Activity Complete Indicator. This is the estimate to complete for the overall activity, not each assignment.  This can be updated within the Project Manager Validation Screen when doing line item approvals.
    • Transfer Project Steps. These are activity steps that can be updated in the timesheet.  Updates to this may have been restricted to the (Primavera Primary Resource if you selected that option above).
    • Transfer to Financial Periods. You can elect to move data into Primavera’s Financial Periods rather than to the task summary. There are implications to this which you’ll see discussed in the TimeControl Reference Guide.
    • Transfer Materials. This moves the TimeControl Industrial Materials usage and costs.
    • Transfer Expected Finish Date. This can be updated on the timesheet if you make the field visible.

Whew!  It’s a lot right?  If you’re using Primavera and are feeling a bit overwhelmed, don’t worry.  The important thing is that these options are all designed to allow you to adapt TimeControl’s integration to whatever elements of Primavera you are using however you have configured Primavera.  When creating your link between TimeControl and Primavera, the TimeControl technical staff are always ready to help you figure out how to configure the system to suit you best and, once it’s configured most organizations don’t have to touch the link definition again.

For more information on the Link between TimeControl and Primavera, go to the TimeControl/Primavera solutions portal at: TimeControl.com/use-cases/linking-with-primavera-p6.

Research and Development Tax Credit season is upon us

With the New Year now behind us, many organizations are turning their attention to closing the year-end and starting R&D Tax Credit calculations.  Many governments at the federal, state, provincial and regional level have tax credits available under certain conditions.  TimeControl is often used for R&D Tax Credit tracking because of its ability to track people and tasks at levels that will pass an R&D Tax Credit audit.

When creating an R&D Tax Credit tax return, several elements are almost always required.  There must be a plan that outlines what is intended, when it should occur and what type of resources are used.  There must be timesheets to track the time spent on the tasks of the R&D projects along with who did those tasks, where those resources are based and how they are paid.  Finally, there must be an accounting of the value of the work that matches the timesheets, the payroll and the job costing, and which can be associated back to the original plan.

TimeControl is ideally suited for this role.  With links for popular project management tools like Microsoft Project, Primavera, BrightWork and more and to ERP systems like SAP, Oracle and Microsoft Dynamics, TimeControl can be the auditable trail of project actuals that serve both the Project and Finance processes within the business.

We keep an R&D Tax Credit Resource Portal on the TimeControl.com site at TimeControl.com/use-cases/r-and-d-tax-credits. It includes recently updated White Papers, Slide presentations and screen shots of TimeControl reports which can be requested from HMS Support.

Find out more on the TimeControl.com site or contact us at info@hms.ca to see how TimeControl can help with your R&D Tax Credit reports moving forward.

netlogx happy to have switched to TimeControl

We’d like to share a letter we just received from our client netlogx.

netlogx is a highly-awarded consulting company founded by Audrey Taylor that specializes in navigating through business change. They started using TimeControl over a year ago and have been using the TimeControl timesheet system to track hours against projects and charges and determine availability to work on other projects.

“We are happy we made the switch and have recently renewed our contract!” explains Tabatha Anderson the netlogx TimeControl Administrator.

We thank Tabatha and the entire the netlogx team for their letter and are looking forward to working with them in the months and years to come.

You can read Tabatha’s letter in its entirety at: TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials/netlogx.

Happy Holidays

It’s Christmas Eve here at HMS Software and we’d like to take a moment to wish you and yours a very safe and very happy holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year.
We are grateful for the relationship we have with all of our clients, colleagues and business contacts.
We will be closing at noon today and our office hours for the remaining holiday season are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) are as follows:
Today (Thursday), Dec 24: Closed at noon
Friday, Dec 25: Closed
Monday, Dec 28: Closed
Tuesday, Dec 29: Open
Wednesday, Dec 30: Open
Thursday, Dec 31, Closed at noon
Friday, Jan 1: Closed
Monday, Jan 4: Closed
Tuesday: Jan 5: Open and regular schedule restarts

API – the Ultimate in integration

TimeControl has long been known as one of the most flexible and integrate-able timesheet systems in the industry.

In virtually every TimeControl deployment we are called upon to weave the timesheet data into a much larger business process.  At one time we focused more on doing this from database to database but as more and more systems (including TimeControl) became available as in-the-cloud subscription services, we had to broaden our approach. In 2017 we released a full service RESTful API included with all TimeControl versions.

The ultimate in TimeControl integration is almost certainly the Application Programming Interface (API) which is included with both TimeControl Online and TimeControl on-premise.  This module allows data and processes to be access both for pulling information out of TimeControl and for putting information into TimeControl.  Within the API we have defined numerous end-points for accessing data and processes allowing literally hundreds of functions and objects to be accessed.

Using the TimeControl API lets you create a blended corporate environment where data from one system can be updated into another completely in the background without user intervention.

What can you do?

The API has a remarkable range of possible methods to access.  Data from all the tables holding your TImeControl data can be pushed or pulled at any time and the API will ensure that all of TimeControl’s data control rules are followed.  The API has extensive messaging and we provide numerous examples and startup code to get you started quickly.

Is it secure?

The API carries all the same security measures that TimeControl is famous for.  The API can be turned on and off for the entire instance in the System Preferences and then access is controlled through a TimeControl User Profile.  Typically a single user profile is created for API interactions and the data that is made available to the API or data which can be updated by the API can be controlled right in that User Profile definition.  That’s quite an advanced structure as it allows as much API access as you define regardless of what the programmer writes in code that access the API.

For an on-premise deployment you can even elect not to install the API at all though this means that not only the API but also the free TimeControl Mobile App will be disabled.

How is it accessed?

We provide dynamic API documentation that is actually generated by the API itself whenever you ask for it in the help menu.

The result is an always up-to-date exactly for the version you are in with information on each method as well as example code on how to connect to TimeControl and guidance on how to get your project started.

We’ve not eliminated any of the other methods of integrating TimeControl with your corporate systems but the TimeControl API represents the ultimate in blended system integration.

For more information on how the TimeControl API can help you create an integrated business environment, contact HMS at: TimeControl.com/contact.

Using TimeControl for owners and contractors at the same time

TimeControl is often selected by owners or prime contractors who are trying to get consolidated actuals for both categories of workers.  This can be a real challenge for a number of reasons but not meeting the challenge can result in a project being tracked by multiple labor tracking systems that are not in the same format, don’t automatically reconcile with each other and which cause enormous efforts every week and month to try to understand how the project is progressing and what the true costs are.

Some of the challenges we’ve heard from clients include:

Authentication

Clients report that to use their existing corporate timesheet solution, they would need to add all users from each contractor into the corporate authentication mechanism.  This can result in hundreds or even thousands of people having to get a Corporate ID, Corporate email and trigger all kinds of other onboarding processes even if that contractor will only be on a project or with the organization for a short time.  Using TimeControl can circumvent this challenge as corporate authentication for TimeControl is done per user.  So, some users can be using the LDAP or Active Directory for one company and other users can be using the LDAP or Active Directory of another company and still other users can be using TimeControl’s internal security password and protocols.  The corporate finance system can then be fed data from completed and approved timesheets without ending up with multiple timesheet entries.

Separate data but still together

Clients report that they wish to have a central repository for project actuals but that each contractor needs to collect time also so they can invoice and track their part of the project for their own needs.  TimeControl manages this by allowing users to be segregated by any criteria you wish and then allowing all the data to come into one place and be separated for each contractor company so they can download extracts for their own billing process.  This can make a massive impact on how data is reconciled between the different contractors and the owner/prime when the end of the month comes.

Central and Distributed approvals

TimeControl’s approval mechanism is extensive and known as the most flexible in the industry.  We often hear from clients that they need to create an approval flow that will involve both the contractor’s representative and the prime contractor or owner’s administration at the same time.  TimeControl is designed for this kind of challenge.  Using TimeControl’s line item approvals and Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™ approvals can be created for both streams at once and this can revolutionize the invoicing approval process at the end of the month because hours being invoiced have already been approved by the client.  We have seen client situations where invoice reconciliation drops from weeks to hours.  We’re not kidding about that.
From weeks to hours.

Flexibility is your friend

When you are merging the work of multiple contractors into the same system, clients often explain that the blending of corporate processes is a large barrier.  TimeControl’s remarkable flexibility makes the difference here.  TimeControl’s timesheets can appear one way for one group of workers and very differently for other groups of workers and, once entered, the data can be split, shared or divided up as need be in exports, reports and more.

HMS maintains a solution portal with questions and answers about how TimeControl can make a difference when you are planning to integrate the work of multiple contractors and internal workers at the same time.  You can find out more at: TimeControl.com/use-cases/manage-contractors.

 

TimeControl client EXFO marks 20 years with TimeControl

We were delighted this week to receive a letter from Andre Richard, the Director of Research and Development at EXFO a worldwide design and manufacturing company specializing in telecommunications.  You may not know EXFO yourself but your phone probably does.  EXFO  works with suppliers like Verizon, AT&T, Vodafone, Orange and many, many more on testing and service assurance systems.

While all letters of praise from clients are extremely exciting to the HMS Staff and TimeControl team, Andre’s letter is particularly heartwarming because of the long standing use of TimeControl at EXFO.  “We have used TimeControl for more than 20 years to capture the efforts of our R&D team,” Andre explains.

TimeControl has been used at EXFO as part of their research and development tax credit applications and has passed the test of audits more than one.

We’re very proud to count Andre and the entire EXFO team among our many clients and look forward to many more years of working together.

You can read Andre’s letter in its entirety at:
TimeControl.com/why-timecontrol/testimonials/exfo.