One element of TimeControl we are always sensitive to is that end-users are not usually excited to do a timesheet. We don’t have illusions about this. But we do see how we can make timesheets the least intrusive and the least interruption possible for end-users.
One way we do this is to optionally pre-load the timesheet with work that is expected. There are some rules about pre-loading that are important to know so let’s go through the pre-loaded options and constraints here.
The most common type of pre-loading are for resource assignments. We take information that is taken either from an import of assignments from an external project management system or from internal assignments in either TimeControl or TimeControl Project. Then we present those assignments into the relevant timesheets at the moment the timesheet is created. Filters are often used to avoid loading a week’s timesheet with every assignment for an entire project. Filters usually incorporate start and finish dates and take into account the assignment status so closed charges don’t appear.
This has the effect of loading all the work that an employee was expected to do in the relevant timesheet for the week.
In addition to the resource assignments that will likely change from week to week, each users can also set personal preferences in their My Account area. These personal-preloads can insert charge codes into a new timesheet that would typically always appear. Perhaps “Meetings” is virtually always on someone’s timesheets but it is not a project management assignment. Having this as a personal pre-load means not having to pull up a list of internal charge codes and finding “Meetings”.
TimeRequests for time off
When a user creates a TimeRequest for time off in the future such as for vacation, their supervisor can approve that time. Once approved, TimeControl will treat the TimeRequest as a preloaded task and unlike other types of preloads will also insert the time. This line item can be overwritten or even deleted if it turns out the employee actually came into work that week despite their approved vacation.
Autofill is most typically used at the end of the timesheet cycle and can create timesheets and load them with entries that include charges and hours for a particular group of people. Then the timesheet can remain in draft or be posted or moved along the approval cycle. This is particularly useful when there are non-project personnel who only enter timesheets “by exception” for example to only track sick leave or personal time off. However, the functionality doesn’t have to be used at the end of the cycle. The function can be created to load new timesheets in advance of the timesheet cycle. In this case, the timesheet can be optionally preloaded with default tasks and even time.
Why don’t we load the expected times for resource assignments?
These days, one question we’re asked is why we don’t use AI to preload all the expected times based on the schedule of the project management system. While we certainly have the capabilities to do this, we will not. The problem with using any automated algorithm to preload the timesheet with values is that the algorithm will become responsible for the values, not the person. Not only will that make the timesheet unauditable but it violates numerous standards for timesheet entry by people like the tax department for research credits, the DCAA and others. Remember, TimeControl is often used for payroll or for billing purposes. Turning that functionality over to an algorithm would be a huge concern.
“But just present it and employees will only click ‘Ok’ if they approve it,” we’ve been told. Even this is problematic. The temptation to just click Ok will be overwhelming and we’ve refused to add such functionality as a result. Ultimately, while, we’re keen to have the process be as easy as possible, having the data be of good quality is a higher priority.