Being more effective with TimeControl

TimesavingTipsWe confess that here at HMS, there are some people who actually have happy dreams about timesheets… but then we don’t expect that of normal people!

The truth is, no one likes having to do a timesheet at the end of the day or the end of the week when you’d like nothing better than to be in your car on your way home so we put our heads together to see if there were ways we could share that would save a minute here and a minute there on doing your Timesheet.  Here are the top 8 of our favorite tips on saving time when using TimeControl:

  1. Make a timesheet icon on your desktop
  2. Set tab defaults for the home page
  3. Copy last week
  4. Personal preloads
  5. Resource preloads
  6. Set defaults for Rates and Projects
  7. Hide fields you don’t use
  8. Click Append or Insert rather than Save and then Append

We’ve made a webcast showing how to implement each of these 8 tips called Timesaving Tips in TimeControl.  We hope you like it.  You can find this webcast and other great lessons in the TimeControl Online Learning Center.

TimeControl now available as a hosted service with TimeControlOnline

TimeControl is open for business in the cloud with TimeControlOnline! We are delighted to announce the availability of our Timesheet as a Service (TaaS) hosted subscription. This new service brings all the power, flexibility and ease of use of one of the world’s most popular timesheets to a hosted subscription model. TimeControl_InTheCloud

TimeControlOnline culminates a development initiative that began in 2007 and lets clients who are interested in a hosted timesheet service start with TimeControl instantly.

The new hosted service brings a remarkable set of TimeControl features and benefits to the online subscription model. TimeControl and TimeControlOnline include functionality for time and attendance, time and billing, project-tracking, linking to project management tools, vacation approvals and even a mobile interface all in the same package. And, with TimeControlOnline, there is no hardware to purchase, nothing to install, nothing to maintain and nothing else to purchase. Everything is included in one competitive subscription price.

TimeControlOnline Features include:
Multi-browser/Multi-lingual interface
TimeControlOnline’s interface is designed to be easy to use. We know that end-users will spend only a few minutes a week entering their timesheet so the interface must be both simple and intuitive. TimeControlOnline is multi-browser compatible and multi-lingual.
TimeControlMobile Smartphone interface
TimeControlOnline now includes a mobile interface designed for smartphones like the iPhone, Blackberry as well as Android and Windows 7 Mobile devices.
Vacation approvals with TimeRequest
TimeRequest is TimeControl’s vacation approval system. It is a simple easy-to-use screen to enter requests to take time off in the future and once approved, the time will automatically appear in the appropriate future timesheet.
Matrix timesheet approvals
TimeControl has an extensive approvals system including automated validation rules, multiple levels of approvals and individualized approval paths. The unique Matrix Approval Process for Labor Actuals was designed to allow both work-based approvals and organization-based approvals to occur at the same time.
Email notifications for missing timesheets
On Monday morning the hardest thing about timesheets can be finding them. TimeControlOnline makes this easy with automatic scheduled email notifications.
Links to Project Management
TimeControl supports more project management links than any other timesheet on the market. Whether you use Microsoft Project or Project Server, Oracle’s Primavera or Deltek’s Open Plan or Cobra, TimeControl can help create an integrated Enterprise Project Management environment.
Government compliance
TimeControl enables organizations to comply with many different government standards including the DCAA, R&D tax credits, the FMLA, California Wage Laws, the European Time Directives and Sarbanes Oxley.

Pricing for TimeControlOnline starts at a highly-competitive $12/month/user with a minimum of 10 users. Discounts are available for volume subscriptions. Prospective clients can request pricing for their particular configuration at www.timecontrol.net/contact/pricing.  TimeControlOnline is available immediately. Additional information and pricing can be found at www.timecontrol.net.

TimeControl is your SharePoint timesheet

Did you know that TimeControl can be deployed right inside the SharePoint interface? For organizations that have adopted the Microsoft SharePoint environment as their Intranet or Corporate Portal software,  TimeControl is the perfect fit because it allows end-users to enter their time in TimeControl without ever leaving SharePoint. 

SharePoint is a  powerful collaboration environment which is used by over 85 million people around the world.  TimeControl is one of the first timesheets anywhere to completely support the SharePoint interface (versions 2003, 2007 and 2010) and provide SharePoint end-users with an uninterrupted user experience!

The following video-presentation shows how you can integrate your TimeControl 6 environment with SharePoint in a couple of ways. First, the demonstration in this webcast shows TimeControl provisioned into a SharePoint worksite. The webcast also shows how SharePoint lists can be saved so they can be imported and implemented right into TimeControl and then shows a timesheet with those SharePoint tasks available as charges on an employee’s timesheet.

To find out more about how TimeControl can be implemented within SharePoint, consult our TimeControl and SharePoint Solution page.

If you are interested in extending your collaborative experience by adding Microsoft Project to the TimeControl / SharePoint mix, be sure to also visit the TimeControl, SharePoint, Microsoft Project Solution Portal.

Free Solution Portal: Collaborative Project Management

HMS Software has released a new solution area for those who wish to create a collaborative project management environment and who have already adopted SharePoint for their collaboration platform and Microsoft Project desktop as their scheduling tool. This portal contains numerous resources showing how to link TimeControl, Microsoft Project and SharePoint.

clip_image001The combination of SharePoint and Microsoft Project desktop already gives much of the functionality that a collaborative project environment requires. The combination of functionality allows for planning, scheduling, issue tracking, team communications, document management and more. There is, however, a gap when it comes to tracking tasks as they move forward:

Time

HMS Software’s TimeControl is already integrated with both Microsoft Project desktop and SharePoint. TimeControl’s integration with Project dates back to 1995 making it one of the longest standing relationships with Project in the world. TimeControl’s interface can also be provisioned directly into a SharePoint site. The product’s design has catered to this functionality since SharePoint 2002. TimeControl also integrates with Microsoft Project Server for those organizations which eventually graduate to Microsoft’s EPM solution.

This new solution area on the www.timecontrol.com website contains numerous resources that showcases TimeControl working with both SharePoint and Project.

Resources on the website include Webcasts, Factsheets, PowerPoint presentations, a White Paper, screen shots, and links to other online resources. There is even a link to the free TimeControl Hosted Trial site.

The new TimeControl Solution Portal is available for free at: www.timecontrol.com/solutions/projectsharepoint/.

Manage your vacations with TimeControl

It’s summer time and the vacation schedules are just about to get underway. Here at HMS we thought it would be a good time to share with you a free guide on how to use TimeControl to better manage vacations in your organization. TimeControl is one of the most recognized timesheet systems for organizations who need a single timesheet interface to fulfill the multiple requirements of payroll, human resources, project management and finance.

vacations webcast 2 We’ve created a free webcast narrated by HMS Software’s President, Chris Vandersluis. It’s only a few minutes long and you can see some key functionality demonstrated that helps organizations manage vacations whether from an end-user or administrator perspective. Included in the webcast are discussions on:

The TimeControl Dashboard
The TimeControl dashboard includes a module by default which shows Vacation, Sick Leave and Personal time banks with indicators of how much time the employee has available in each bank, how much they’ve taken and how much is remaining. Just knowing how much time is left available to them lets employees plan their vacations better.

Managing Banked Time
TimeControl can also control banked time in a number of ways. TimeControl can be configured to accrue vacation as its earned so the bank of time increases each month. You can also track banked overtime if your organization has such a policy and track deposits of overtime into the bank and withdrawals of time off from the bank.

Vacation Approvals with TimeRequest™
TimeControl’s TimeRequest feature let’s the employee request approval for vacation right inside the timesheet itself. Then, once approved, the vacation is automatically inserted into the employee’s future timesheet.

Validation Rules
TimeControl’s Validation Rules let administrators determine what vacation rules are acceptable. You can restrict an employee from taking time that they’re not entitled to or, if you allow it, permitting time to be taken before it’s earned. These business rules have everyone who enters their vacation timesheet already complying with the organization’s policies.

Alternate User Functionality
We’ve thought of supervisors also. After all, managers and supervisors take vacation too! TimeControl’s Alternate User function lets a supervisor delegate their approval responsibilities to someone else while they’re away. (TimeControl still tracks who has actually done the approvals for proper auditing.)

TimeControl Mobile
Finally, if the vacation is going so well that you’d like to keep it going for another week, TimeControl Mobile is a part of every TimeControl implementation. Use your Smartphone to log into TimeControl from wherever you are and add a week’s vacation in your timesheet!

To see the free webcast, visit the TimeControl HR Solutions page at http://www.timecontrol.com/solutions/hr/. The webcast is available in the Webcasts area at the bottom of the page.

TimeControl 6.2 now available

HMS has released TimeControl 6.2 for both new and existing clients. 
This version continues the 6th evolution of one of the world’s most popular timesheet systems. Since its initial release in 1984, TimeControl has been one of the most recognized timesheet systems for organizations who need a single timesheet interface to fulfill the multiple requirements of payroll, human resources, project management and finance.
Enhancements in TimeControl 6 new features, enhanced functionality and feature updates including the following:
TimeControl Mobile™ BBerry_TS
TimeControl Mobile is designed to work on popular smartphones like the Blackberry and iPhone. This is a web application that works with TimeControl as an extension of your existing implementation. As a mobile web-application there’s nothing to install. The user simply points their smartphone browser to the new /mobile directory of their TimeControl implementation and they are directed to an interface specifically created for the mobile device.
TimeControl Mobile includes functionality for adding, editing and deleting a timesheet, adding, editing and deleting timesheet lines. Even changing values for user defined fields is supported.
iPhone_Landscape_TSJust like the full web-based TimeControl, users who have pre-loading turned on or have defined personal pre-loaded charges will see them appear automatically in TimeControl Mobile when they create a new timesheet. This makes adding data very easy in the mobile device.If your TimeControl implementation is tied to a project management system like Microsoft Project or Primavera, your assignments could automatically appear when you create a new timesheet so you can update your activity hours in the field.
TimeControl Mobile works in both Portrait and Landscape mode. When the user flips their device from one orientation to the other, TimeControl immediately resizes the screen to take advantage of whatever space is available.
We’ve tried TimeControl Mobile on iPhones, Blackberry’s, Android and Windows 7 Mobile devices. Whatever your smartphone, there’s a good chance that TimeControl Mobile will work on it.
Filter details in Report headers
TimeControl now allows an option where the report headers will show the details of the filter you’ve selected. This means that selecting a date range or a particular range of data will be apparent from the values in the filter thus making it easier to ensure you’re looking at the right report data.
Improved table performance
We’ve made some huge improvements in table performance some of which have improved some table functions by as much as 500%!
Improved customized branding
TimeControl has allowed the client to insert their own image into the TimeControl login screen for some time. Now we’ve enhanced the ability for customized branding by providing a new image in the header of each TimeControl page.

Improved links with Microsoft Project Server
We’ve improved our TimeControl to Project Server link to take advantage of some of Project Server 2010’s capabilities. Now enterprise fields can be put into the charge code definition when linking and TimeControl will support the transfer of Sub-projects.
And lots, lots more…
There are improvements and other minor enhancements across the system including in logs, reporting fonts, the timesheet list, the timesheet interface and drop down field descriptions.
TimeControl 6.2 is available immediately. TimeControl customers with existing current support contracts can download the new version from the Support/Updates area of the TimeControl website.

TimeControl goes Mobile!

ip_l_list_200x106TimeControl is now available for your smartphone.  Included with the regular TimeControl systems is now an all new interface that is designed for use with iPhones, Blackberrys, Android and Windows7Mobile devices.
There’s nothing to install and nothing special to manage when using the new TimeControl Mobile interface because it has been designed as a web application.  Simply point your browser to the special URL that is available with all TimeControl versions from 6.2 and up and the mobile interface is immediately available.
bb_ts_100x177TimeControl Mobile brings the flexibility and power of one of the world’s most popular timesheets right to your hands wherever you are.  The system supports the creation and editing of timesheets in the field as well as automated validation rules, approval including release and reject.  The interface, like all of TimeControl is multilingual and even supports user defined fields for timesheet entry.
TimeControl Mobile can flip from horizontal to landscape orientation and the interface will immediately reorganize itself to take advantage of the screen real estate that’s available.
There’s no additional cost for TimeControl Mobile.  It’s included.
There’s also nothing special to do during the installation or upgrade to make the mobile functionality available to the users.  Users will simply point their mobile browsers at their usual URL plus /mobile and there it is.
TimeControl Mobile is available as of TimeControl 6.2 to all new clients and automatically part of the 6.2 upgrade to existing clients.  Any client with a current support contract has access to version 6.2 on the regular support site.
For more information on TimeControl Mobile and to see a webcast of it working on a Blackberry and iPhone, go to www.timecontrol.com/timesheet/mobile.

Leveraging TimeControl reports with Dynamic Filters

TimeControl is designed with a very powerful reporting system that works in conjunction with other elements of the system to allow many possible results from a simple configuration.  The first area to think about when making reports available to users is within User Profiles where the data that this role of user can access is defined and if necessary constrained.  Also, the Report security will determine what report formats or templates will be visible for each user.  The combination of available reports, data and even fields defined in the User Profile will ensure that no one sees information in a report that they shouldn’t.
Once you’ve defined a report however, it’s a common request that the report only show a subset of the timesheet data.  For example showing only the timesheets for a particular project, department or range of dates.
This is easily done using TimeControl’s “Dynamic Filters”.  In a dynamic filter, we choose a field or combination of fields but instead of entering a value for that field, we use square brackets: [].  This tells TimeControl to request the filter’s value at the time it’s used for a report or an export.  Let’s say, for example, that you want to create a dynamic filter that only selects timesheet. We create a filter on the Posted Time Detail table that selects the Date Work Performed field, the Between operator and uses the square brackets to denote the value:
Select_a_Date
Now we save that filter and run a report on Posted timesheets.  TimeControl asks us to fill in the value which we can do by double clicking the empty field or clicking the ellipses to the right of it.  If the field is a date as in this example, we get a calendar.  If it’s a possible list of values, the TimeControl shows the list:
Report on Select a Date
Let’s take a more complicated example.  Let’s say we want users to be able to select a project and a range of dates.  We create the filter again on the Posted Time Detail and add both the Project Name and the Date Work Performed fields.  For the values, we use again the square brackets []: 
Select_Project_and_Date
When we run this report, we’re asked now to fill in all 3 of those values at the time the report is created:
Report on Select Project and Date
We can make any combination of values, dynamic requests and macro-type field values in a single filter.  For example, we could create a filter which automatically shows data for all of this year but asks only for the project value by using the [YEARSTART] value for Date Work Performed and the square brackets [] for the Project Name.  The TimeControl Reference Guide contains examples of how to make such a Parameterized filter with a list of the parameter values.
Using combinations of these features makes for an easy to use system with a tremendous amount of power working for you in the background.

TimeControl 6.1 released

employee_table_generaltab_multi-browserWe’re very excited here at HMS to announce the release of TimeControl 6.1.  This version extends the TimeControl 6 family into its next evolution with a range of new features and an even more options in the configuration and architecture
In the architecture department, TimeControl now embraces MySQL along with the existing support for Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and Sybase as possible databases.  In addition, support for mixed 32/64bit support has been improved.  There are also updates to improve our link to Microsoft Project Server 2010 and in particular for mixed environments where both Project Server 2007 and Project Server 2010 must be linked to simultaneously.
The table functionality has been rewritten in its entirety to follow the TimeControl 6 multi-browser interface architecture.  That’s right, you’re no longer required to use only Internet Explorer to manage your tables but can also use Chrome, Safari, Firefox or Mozilla.  Of course, if you like Internet Explorer, we haven’t forgotten you as IE9 is now part of our testing cycle.
There is a whole new feature called “Personal Pre-load” which we think end users are going to love and updated features for emails, releasing timesheets, tools like charge delete and timesheet audit logs and much, much more. 
To see more details on what’s included in TimeControl 6.1 go to What’s the latest on the TimeControl website.  If you have a current TimeControl support contract or if you’ve purchased in the last year, then you can download the current version from the Updates area of the website.

Upgrade best practices

Upgrade_TimeControlThe HMS Software technical department gets calls almost every day from existing clients asking questions or for assistance in doing an upgrade.  For some of these organizations, we find that upgrade practices are ad-hoc.  These organizations don’t have a standard procedure for managing upgrades and are making their best effort to get to the lastest and greatest TimeControl version.
Here are a few lessons about upgrades that we have learned over the years that are common to almost all TimeControl users whether you are moving from version 6.0 to 6.1 or 4.6 to 6.1:

Back it up
You might think that everyone backs up their enterprise data but sadly that’s just not true.  No matter how confident you are that your particular deployment of TimeControl will be seamless and instant, back up your data.  In some cases, organizations with virtual servers can actually back up the entire TimeControl environment include the database server, the database itself and even the TimeControl instance.  That’s fine.  But don’t get started on an upgrade without backing it up first.

Look before you leap
This advice is often given to swimmers venturing outdoors into an unknown area.  Diving into water that looks deep but turns out to be rock-filled or shallow can be dangerous.  In the case of TimeControl, take a look at the Read-Me files, any What’s New in this version files and even the installation and upgrade guide before jumping into a new version.  Just because a new version of TimeControl has an exciting new screen doesn’t mean that you need to upgrade right away.  If your current TimeControl is happily operating then there is a disincentive to go through the effort of upgrading.

All the world’s a stage
”All the world’s a stage…” said Shakespeare (in As you Like It).  In this case, I’m referring to staging your upgrade.  Every enterprise system should probably have both a production instance and a staging or development instance.  Your TimeControl licensing allows you to do this without extra cost.  Establishing an instance of TimeControl that has everything your production configuration has (easy to do by copying the production database back to the staging instance) means that you can test out new updates before they’re made available to the end-users.  That’s just a best practice for any enterprise system, not just TimeControl.  This allows not only new updates but any configuration changes such as new filters, new reports, new validation rules to be tested out in advance.  With a new version like TimeControl 6.0 where the architecture was significantly changed or 6.1 where core functions like table management underwent big changes, you’ll be able to ensure that your system will work just as it should before end users are exposed to it.

Do the whole upgrade
One of the most common upgrade problems reported to our technical staff from clients is finding that the client either skipped a step or didn’t finish the entire process.  This is particularly true when clients are trying to upgrade through multiple versions and the client doesn’t let the Administration Transaction Server start and complete the update work in each version before moving onto the next.  So, make sure you’ve complete all the steps to the update!

Be prepared to advance to the rear
Not every upgrade goes perfectly and for a wide variety of reasons.  When you do your update, be prepared to retreat, regroup and try again.  If that happens, HMS Technical support will be available to answer questions on what the issue was.

With a product that is in its sixth generation and 17th year on the market, we’ve seen a lot of updates and full upgrades over the years.  If you’d prefer, HMS Consulting services is always available to help you get the very latest version up and running in your office!

Happy upgrading.

The official blogsite of TimeControl