A couple of years ago, we did a customer survey of all our TimeControl clients. The results were fascinating and we wanted to share them with you as it might give you, our TimeControl dealers, a different perspective on how you view the TimeControl timesheet business. Just over 1/3 of TimeControl clients responded to the survey giving us a very significant statistical confidence in the numbers that we looked at.
When we first created a timesheet system , it was a customized project for one of our clients. The year was 1983 and the client was Philips. There were far fewer options on the market then of EPM products but we picked a scheduler and then wrote a timesheet which would be used by Finance for managing payroll and HR and by Project Management for variance analysis. What we learned in the design of that timesheet can still be found in TimeControl today.
Given our origins, it is perhaps no surprise then that our thinking of TimeControl was as part of the critical path scheduling process. Our vision was that:
Project managers would do their planning in one of the popular project management tools
They would then assign work to individuals
Those individuals would then do the work and report how much time it took on the TimeControl timesheet
The hours and costs would be transferred back to the schedule which would then be updated and the cycle repeated
You can imagine our surprise then to find out in our survey that 52% of TimeControl clients were not systematically linking TimeControl to any project scheduling tool. Some of those 52% were using a scheduler to populate the TimeControl charge table but not all. For many companies, they viewed TimeControl as their project management tool. For scheduling purists like ourselves, we were shocked. But, when you think about the challenges of the integrated scenario we’d envisioned, the results of the survey started to make sense.
TimeControl is typically deployed to all staff members. That includes those who are purely project personnel, those who have both project and non-project duties and those who have no project duties at all. Project scheduling systems typically look only at the work which is part of a defined schedule. Just to get that project work centralized into one project management tool as part of one centralized project management process is a hurdle many companies never get over.
Yet TimeControl can be providing information to management over where time is being spent regardless of how centralized the project management tools are.
Going back to our survey, 87% of clients were linking TimeControl to some internal corporate system such as Finance, Payroll or Human Resources. The link of TimeControl data to those legacy systems seemed to be a higher priority to our clients than the link to the project scheduling system.
Of the 48% of clients who linked TimeControl to a project scheduling tool, those linking to a project tool, 65% were linking to Microsoft Project, 40% were linking to Primavera, 20% were linking to Deltek and 5% were linking to Project Server. (In the intervening 2 years, we think the Project Server number may have risen somewhat.) And 10% were linking to “other” project management tools. If you’re counting, you can see that adds up to 140%. That’s because some organizations were linking to more than one tool at one time.
Here at HMS these numbers changed our thinking on how we perceive TimeControl. No longer do we just think of TimeControl as an accessory to a project scheduling tool. We tend to think of TimeControl as a tool on its own and this thinking is reflected in some of the comments of our clients. Several clients reported that the selection of project management tools had been influenced by having TimeControl already deployed. “We’re looking for a scheduling tool that will integrate with TimeControl,” reported one. This means, of course, that TimeControl was deployed before the client made a choice over a centralized project management tool and this too makes sense. The deployment time for TimeControl is typically measured in weeks. The deployment time for a centralized enterprise project management system in a mid-sized organization can easily be measured in months. Sometimes it’s easier to start with centralized tracking than with centralized planning.
What does this mean for you, if you’re using TimeControl?
I think a couple of things:
If you’re currently using a project management scheduling tool, you can think of TimeControl as an extension to it or just on its own
You can think of using TimeControl for project personnel or for both project and non-project personnel.
You can think of starting a TimeControl timesheet deployment within an organization before the deployment of a complete EPM system. The deployment of TimeControl is almost always faster than the EPM and can provide a quick win with the client while they work through the much more complex project management processes that must be aligned to make a centralized EPM system work. When the time is right, you can merge the TimeControl deployment and the EPM deployment to provide the completed vision of an integrated EPM.
Let us know at HMS if you have any questions about how TimeControl can be considered beyond the link to an EPM System.