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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
TimeControl is so often talked about as a project management tool that we sometimes forget how important it is to manage hours that aren’t part of a project at all. One of the most powerful aspects of TimeControl is being able to be the timesheet that can track hours for tasks as well as all the non-project time. This allows a timesheet to be entered that is complete. It has all the hours spent in the organization for all purposes.
Unlike the timesheets that are included with many project management systems, TimeControl is designed to serve both Project Management and Human Resources at the same time. A TimeControl timesheet may have entries that are destined for updating tasks in a project but it might also have hours that are key for invoicing, for job costing, for vacation, sick leave and other entitlements and, of course, for payroll. Only an auditable timesheet is suitable for these multiple purposes at once and TimeControl is designed with this in mind.
Aside from the obvious time and attendance functionality, there are numerous functions within TimeControl to support these many non-project processes they include:
- TimeControl’s Banks management includes functionality to track time off, overtime, sick leave, banked overtime, vacation management, training time and more. This gives Human Resources powerful auditable tools for tracking entitlements that have been taken and time remaining for those categories.
- TimeControl’s TimeRequest™ lets timesheet users request vacation or personal time off in advance and once approved, have that time automatically inserted right into their timesheet on the appropriate day.
- TimeControl Accruals does automatic, auditable calculations of overtime, banked time, rate changes and keeps a traceable record of when time and extra earnings were earned.
- TimeControl’s TimeRequest™ Wizard lets an administrator pre-approve days off for such as holidays for large groups of users and have those timesheet entries automatically appear in user’s timesheets on the appropriate day.
- TimeControl’s business Validation Rules lets you configure the rules that are appropriate for using entitlements like vacation time or personal time off so that users don’t accidentally take sick leave on a weekend or vacation time that wasn’t approved or personal time off that exceeds the time in their bank.
The free TimeControl and Human Resources Portal has extensive information on the non-project use of TimeControl including white papers, webcasts, factsheets and video lessons to help you understand how TimeControl timesheets can play and important role far beyond your project management needs.
We are very excited to kick off blog posts for the new year with something we’ve been working on for some months. In the summer of 2021, AMD (Advanced Micro Devices) and HMS started working on a case study to showcase how the world renowned semiconductor company has deployed TimeControl to its employees around the world. That case study is now complete and you can read it here.
Our thanks to the TimeControl deployment team at AMD for their partnership as well as all the AMD staff who interact with TimeControl every day.
You can read or download the story here:
The holiday season is upon us here at HMS Software and we would like to takes this opportunity to wish all our clients, colleagues, partners and business contacts a safe and very happy holiday season and a healthy and happy New Year.
We look forward to working with you all in 2022.
We will be closing at noon on Friday, December 24th. Our office hours for the rest of the holiday season are in Eastern Standard Time (GMT-5) as follows:
- Friday, Dec 24: Closed at noon
- Monday, Dec 27: Closed for Christmas
- Tuesday, Dec 28: Closed for Boxing Day
- Wednesday, Dec 29: Open
- Thursday, Dec 30: Open
- Friday, Dec 31, Closed at noon
- Monday, Jan 3: Closed
- Tuesday, Jan 4: Closed
- Wednesday: Jan 5: Open and our regular schedule restarts
When looking at a timesheet used for a single purpose such as time and attendance, then timesheet approvals are straightforward. Who is responsible for this employee’s attendance? Were they working? Were they on vacation or sick leave? Ok, approved!
With remote work now much more common, there are more questions for time and attendance that can make approvals a bit more complex but the process is the same. Approvals for one purpose timesheets is essentially a one-dimensional matrix.
But, how do you handle approvals for a timesheet that was deployed for multiple purposes? That can be more complex. When you have a multi-purpose timesheet like TimeControl, it turns out that everyone would like a seat at the approvals table. The more purposes in use for the same timesheet data, the more dimensions to the timesheet approval matrix.
Let’s imagine a couple of scenarios
Timesheets used for Payroll plus Project Management updates
This was the first two-dimensional matrix that we ever confronted with TimeControl. Project Managers needed to approve work before it is accepted into the project management system. That might include hours of course but also non-labor resource usage, estimates to complete a task or indications that a task is done. A project manager might need updates weekly or even more frequently if in an industrial environment.
The Payroll Department isn’t interested in what was done at all. They need to know if the employee was working or not and if not, whether that was part of an entitlement like vacation or sick leave time or if it was an unpaid absence. The updates to Payroll might only need to happen every other week or twice a month or on some other schedule.
TimeControl’s approval design accommodates this perfectly with the overall timesheet approval happening at the organizational level with whoever is responsible for that employee’s attendance and then, once the timesheet totals are settled, at a line-by-line level for the project manager. It’s part of the Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals™ which we created in the 1990s.
Timesheets used for Project Management updates, Billing and Capitalization
Ok, let’s take something with three dimensions. Now we still need projects to be updated and we still need project managers to look at things line by line but we need other line-by-line approvals. Here the total amount for the timesheet could be locked in by an organizational approver or automatically as part of TimeControl Workflow. Then project managers would approve items line-by-line in the Project Manager Validation screen in TimeControl.
A billing manager could see something very similar in the Line Item Approval screen and approve or reject lines for invoicing from there. Then an automated transfer from TimeControl to Invoicing would include only those items marked as approved to invoice.
A similar exercise could be done by Finance for use in Capitalizing some work. Depending on the situation, some work could be invoiced and still capitalized. Some work might not be invoiced and still be capitalizable. The numbers are important particularly for Sarbanes-Oxley compliant firms as the numbers are auditable so having a trace of who approved these timesheet hours for Capitalization is important.
Timesheets used for Human Resources plus R&D tax credits
Let’s take a look at a different two-dimensional approval process. Here the HR department really needs to see who took time off and whether that time was an approved absence, whether that was part of an entitlement like vacation or sick leave that needs to be reflected in the bank of vacation or sick leave for that employee and what balance is left for those banks for the employee in the future. Here an organizational person who is responsible for the employee’s attendance and approved absences will review the timesheet and sign off on the totals. This process could be sped up using TimeControl’s Workflow functionality to automatically approve timesheet totals under certain conditions. For example, if the timesheet already has the expected total of 40 hours and there are no exceptions like sick leave or time off then the timesheet totals could get automatic approval right away. That leaves only the timesheets with exceptions to be reviewed.
Tasks eligible for R&D credits have to be approved line-by-line so that can be done in TimeControl’s Line-Item-Approval function. The accepted tasks end up in the R&D tax return for credits and rejected tasks are not considered for this purpose. This is usually distinct from project approvals or billing approvals as someone in Finance will have to be responsible for this portion of the tax return.
TimeControl’s remarkable approval functionality has been tested in countless scenarios and is so flexible that even if additional dimensions to the approval challenge arrive later, you can add these onto the process without having to restart.
TimeControl technical staff are experienced not just in TimeControl’s functionality but also in how to create a working process for different elements of the organization at the same time. That kind of skill and experience isn’t as common as you might think.
You can find out more about TimeControl’s approval functionality at TimeControl.com/use-cases/matrix-approvals. On that page you’ll find a number of different resources including the white paper “Creating your Approval Process in TimeControl” which covers more elements of the timesheet approval challenge.