Getting Started and Stopped into your timesheet

Sometimes just entering the number of hours per task in a timesheet is insufficient information for an organization. In some situations, knowing the time that an employee was doing the work is essential to knowing how to invoice and track that task and that employee. When that’s the case, TimeControl has functionality designed to start the start and stop times of an employee’s work day.

In User Profiles, A TimeControl Administrator can elect to make the Start/Stop button appear on the timesheet of people with that role.

Start-Stop-SingleOne start and one stop per day
There are two options in the Start/Stop area: Single and multiple start stops. If Single Start/Stop has been turned on, then clicking the Start/Stop clock icon on the timesheet makes a series of columns appear above the timesheet grid. Each column allows the user to enter the start time and stop time of the day. The total hours for that day are then automatically calculated by TimeControl. The entries can also be automatically pushed into these values from external sources such as a security swipe-card system.

Once there are entries in the timesheet, they can be used in automated Validation Rules and will be maintained in that timesheet. Validation Rules could check to ensure that all the hours in a day are accounted for or check that there is a start stop time for each work day or that someone must have been onsite in order to book the hours.

Stop-Start-MultiMultiple starts and multiple stops per day
There are some organizations that will have staff whose time in and out must be checked in more detail. They might have multiple shifts per day or they might need to check out when they take a meal break and check back in when they return. For those organizations, TimeControl provides the Multiple Start/Stops per period option.

By selecting the Multiple Start/Stop option, users with this profile who click the start/stop clock icon will see a panel open to the left of the timesheet grid. This allows an unlimited number of “intervals” to be created for each day. The time in and time out will result in a total number of hours which are then totalled for the day. Once again, these values can be used in automated Validation Rules and the times are maintained with the timesheet record.

Taking starts and stops a bit further
There are some TimeControl users who need to track even more detail. TimeControl’s flexibility allows the system to be configured so that every line has a start field and stop field on it. A start and stop field could even be made for each day of the week to track the starts and stops for each task.

TimeControl allows not just whether you were working and what you did with your time to be tracked but also when you did what you were working on!

If you’d like to see Starts and Stops in action on TimeControl, then take a look at the mini-lesson called Tracking Start/Stop times on the timecontrol.com website.

Managing multiple MS Project versions with TimeControl

With the imminent release of Microsoft Project and Project Server 2010 many organizations are strategizing their migration plans from earlier versions of MS Project. There are multiple scenarios for doing a version migration but one of the most attractive will be a phased roll out of the newest release; using it for the new projects while old projects are completed in the older version. This gets around the technically challenging aspect of physically migrating the data.

There’s only one major fly in the ointment with that plan and it has everything to do with timesheets. Since newer projects in Microsoft Project Server 2010, the system would expect to use the timesheet in 2010. That won’t connect to the older projects in 2007 or 2003. They will expect timesheets from their versions.

Will users have to do two or more timesheets? What about non project time? How will approvals work?

TimeControl provides an easy answer to this challenge. As a timesheet which is independant from the project management system, TimeControl defines its link to scheduling tools like MSP and Project Server at the project level rather than the system level. This means that TimeControl can support multiple versions of Project and Project Server at the same time.

This is good news for those scratching their heads over how to migrate smoothly from one version or even one product to another.

TimeControl’s design means that an employee’s timesheet can contain lines from different projects and whether those projects are managed in MSP Desktop, Project Server 2007, Project Server 2010, Excel or even just in TimeControl, the user will be insulated from having to worry about that. The tasks the employee must accomplish and report their time on will be listed simply on their timesheet like any other task.

As Project Server Administrators and Technical staff make plans to migrate to the new Project versions, many will look to TimeControl as not only the solution to supporting multiple versions simultaneously but also for the additional benefits of a timesheet that can manage the needs of HOUR, Payroll and Finance at the same time.

Knowing that TimeControl has had links with MS Project since 1995 and with Project Server since its inception will make TimeControl a logical choice for many organizations.

New Lessons in the Free TimeControl Training area

We continue to post new lessons in the free online TimeControl Training area. Each of these mini lessons last from 3 to 6 minutes long and it’s a great way to see some of the functionality of TimeControl working. Some of the newest lessons include:

The Drill Down Analyzer

One of the most powerful tools for TimeControl Administrators is TimeControl’s Drill Down Analyzer. This tool allows Administrators to group incredible volumes of TimeControl data very very quickly by a virtually unlimited number of criteria. It’s a perfect tool for answering ad-hoc questions that might otherwise require hours of design of a report or having to export and analyze the data in other tools. The Drill Down Analyzer allows you to simply drag colums of data into a hierarchical view and then see the result instantly. Duration, 4 minutes.

Delegation

Sometimes a person’s timesheet responsibilities must be completed by someone else due to an extended absence. For example, a supervisor might have to have someone else approve the timesheets for their department while they’re away for a couple of weeks on vacation. TimeControl handles this type of requirement very elegantly with Delegation of an Alternate User. In this case, the user assigns their rights within TimeControl to someone else and in the background TimeControl keeps track of who actually was in the system. Duration, 3 minutes.

Missing TimesheetsOne of the hardest things to do with timesheets is find them! TimeControl can track not only the timesheets that are missing from the system but also those which may be stuck in the approval process. Take a look at how to create the Missing Timesheet Report and the Automatic Missing Timesheet Email Notification. Duration, 5 minutes.

 
 

With 5.1.6 comes a bunch of speed!

A few months ago we released a build of TimeControl 5.1 that corrected some difficulties some clients were experiencing with a missing cursor when TimeControl was used in SharePoint. The fix was actually quite challenging and, as a result, we ended up reworking a whole range of code that included grids (that’s in a lot of TimeControl). It wasn’t immediately apparent but over the last couple of months reviews of the basic performance of TimeControl in certain situations resulted in some users experiencing much slower times doing fundamental operations. In some cases, the degraded performance was noticeable.

The good news is that with the release of TimeControl 5.1.6 we’ve gone back to those areas of code and worked them again. Now, you may not have even noticed some of this slower performance but we’ve made improvements in the following functions:
Posting: Twice as fast
Creating a new blank timesheet: Three times as fast
Creating a pre-loaded timesheet: Three times as fast
Importing a Project from Microsoft Project: Three times as fast.

There are a number of other areas and functions, but you get the idea. The performance isssues were not visible to all clients and, so you may not experience the improved speed if you hadn’t been affected by the changes one way or the other but, for those who did notice some functions running a bit slower, we hope you’re pleased. We’re hoping that all this speed saves users enough time to do things that are more fun that completing their timesheet!
Those with current support contracts for TimeControl can download the new version at www.timecontrol.com/support/updates.

Using Generic Resources with TimeControl

During a sales presentation of a project management software solution, the vendor typically speaks about resource management and resource assignments on an individual basis. In this scenario, the resource pool is comprised of individual, named people. In some cases the individuals have additional attributes such as a specific skill or be part of a larger resource group. For example, Bob may be an engineer and may be part of the Engineering resource pool. Kevin may be a designer and part of the Design pool. The intent is that Bob would be assigned to a task that requires Engineering and Kevin assigned to tasks involving design. TimeControl is very happy to work in the manor if desired. Each person making a time sheet within TimeControl has the option of being “related” back to a resource code in the supporting project management system. During the transfer between TimeControl and the PM system, resource information, including assignments is part of the data being shared. Once the timesheet has been completed, hours that Bob has entered for his Engineering tasks get transferred back to the PM software as actual resource hours for the Engineer / Bob code. In this scenario, the resource codes in the PM software represent an individual and match the TimeControl employees on a one to one basis as per the example shown in this screen capture.

clip_image002

In this example, and hours entered by the employee Sally Thompson resolves back to the individual resource code Sally Thompson in the schedule.

Recently I have spoken to several companies who are using their PM software with generic resources and wish to transfer the hours worked by an employee, from TimeControl back to the generic resources. Using generic resources is a very common project management practice in involves doing the planning at a group level such as Engineers, planners, programmers or similar. The resource pool in the PM software is comprised of group codes, and may or may not have individual codes. The project manager assigns tasks to the group code and the line supervisor decides who will actually do the work. The employee who works on the task enters their hours in TimeControl and that data is ultimately returned to the schedule as progress. If an employee in TimeControl is linked to a group resource code (also known as a resource pool code) the total hours for all of the employees who are linked to that resource code will be transferred back to the schedule as progress. An example of this type of reference is shown it this screen capture.

clip_image004

In this example hours worked by Tom Logan are resolved to the resource pool code Analyst in the schedule. In the case where an employee worked on a task and is a member of a resource group that was not originally assigned to the task, TimeControl can be set to create the resource assignment in the schedule as a part of the transfer process.

TimeControl can be used with employee specific resources or with generic resources or a combination of the two, depending on the requirement of the Project Office.

By: Ken Edwards

Importing legacy timesheet data into TimeControl

Some organizations have had timesheets for years and, when they implement TimeControl, they ask if they can import legacy timesheet data from their older systems into their new timesheet software.

The answer is yes. TimeControl is designed with an Import Timesheet feature that is described in the Reference guide. Unlike the imports for all the TimeControl tables, the Import Timesheet function is a fixed format of import. Several fields are required in a particular order. The TimeControl Import Timesheet function takes a Comma Separated Values (CSV) file which can be created in Excel to bring in the data.

The fields required are:

Field as described in the import tool

Database Field name

Example Value

Week Ending Date

TSH_WEDATE

20080321

Timesheet Header Type

TSH_TYPE

NORM

Timesheet Header Employee

EMP_CODE

GJ018

Timesheet Header Owner

USR_CODE

ADMIN

Project Name

TSD_PRJ_NAME

DATA

Charge Code

TSD_CHR_CD

Data.2.3

Rate Code

TSD_RAT_CD

STANDARD

Hours Monday

TSD_CMON

8

Hours Tuesday

TSD_CTUE

8

Hours Wednesday

TSD_CWED

8

Hours Thursday

TSD_CTHU

8

Hours Friday

TSD_CFRI

8

Hours Saturday

TSD_CSAT

0

Hours Sunday

TSD_CSUN

0

There are a few constraints to be aware of:

  • First of all each of the values that are being used to create new Timesheet Headers and Timesheet Details must already exist in the system. So if you are creating a timesheet for Employee code GJ018 then that employee code must already be in the Employee table. Same goes for the User, the Rate code, the Project name and the Charge code.
  • “NORM” is a normal timesheet. That’s distinct from a DBCR (Debit/Credit) entry that TimeControl might store internally.
  • The ANSI date type is year/month/day in the format 20080321 which is March 21, 2008.
  • Once the import is complete, you’ll need to check the log to make sure everything you were trying to import arrived.
  • The timesheets, once created, will be in draft status and owned by the “Timesheet Header Owner” listed in the import record. In the example above that’s user “ADMIN”.

For those who are keen to get started, the HMS Technical Support department (Thanks James!) has made a spreadsheet available as a template. To use the spreadsheet, first download the Excel file called tcimporttimesheets.xls from the TimeControl website. You’ll find the same data as is displayed in the table above. Enter your data into the appropriate columns then delete the first column and the first three rows which include descriptive header data and the one example record that is listed above.

Happy importing!

All-new TimeControl Online Training Center

It seems we’ve been talking about it forever, but over the holidays we have finally launched the TimeControl Online Training Center. This mini-training area lets users or prospective users see how to perform TimeControl functions through mini-lessons that are only 3 to 7 minutes long. Best of all, access to the TimeControl Online Training Center is absolutely free.

The Training Center includes a number of basic and advanced lessons to cover basic functionality. Lesson include:

  • Entering a timesheet
  • Adding a new user
  • Running TimeControl reports
  • Linking to a project management system
  • Adding a project
  • and more…

The TimeControl Training Center will be of interest to those using the TimeControl Hosted Evaluation site as well as being a good resource for existing users. Videos are displayed through a web browser using Flash technology. The data in the TimeControl Training Center lessons is the same as that found in the Hosted Evaluation site as well as the Hosted Trial sites that are made available from time to time to prospective users who are evaluating TimeControl.

Stop by the new training center at www.timecontrol.com/resources/lessons.

TimeControl’s new Timesheet AutoFill

TimeControl 5.1.5 has a new feature that we think will be a hit with Human Resources Departments. We all know about TimeControl’s strength as a task-based timesheet system and its links to project management but not all personnel in an organization are project personnel. Many organizations use TimeControl to track the entire staff including those employees who only need their time and attendance tracked. For these users we are often asked if timesheets can be added only “by exception”.

By exception timesheet entry means entering a timesheet only when your weekly timesheet won’t be a complete week of working as per your salaried schedule. So, if you have vacation, sick leave, personal time off or some other exception, you’ll enter only those hours. But what about the rest of the hours that make up your complete week? That’s what AutoFill is for.
TimeControl’s Timesheet AutoFill allows an administrator to create or fill-up timesheets for a selected group of employees. It’s not for all staff. The project personnel should be filling out their timesheets with all their hours per task. Timesheet AutoFill is for those people who only need to track time and attendance.

The Timesheet AutoFill command is in the Tools menu and, when selected, lets the Administrator decide whether to Create timesheets, add to existing unposted timesheets or to already posted timesheets. The Administrator uses the options that are appropriate to their timesheet process.

Then they can determine what to fill the timesheet with, a preset list, a list that comes only from the Employee defaults or a list that comes from Employee defaults when available and Administrator selections when not. Finally, the Administrator chooses which group or filtered group of employees to include in the AutoFill and starts the process. A log identifies exactly what timesheet data was added.

We’re conscious of TimeControl’s auditability so, we have, of course identified the hours that have been entered through AutoFill in both the Timesheet Detail and Posted Lines tables.

If you’d like to see the new function in action, take a look at the TimeControl Timesheet AutoFill webcast.

Project Specific Rate Codes

Rate management is one of TimeControl’s most popular capabilities. Each hour worked on the timesheet can be calculated against a rate value according to the rate table. The end user selects a rate code on the timesheet and as the timesheet is posted, TimeControl calculates the costs.

Each rate code has two values, which are most commonly use for the internal or direct cost of the employee and the external or billable cost. TimeControl supports an unlimited number of codes which allows for many combinations. One of the most common requests is to track project specific costs.

Because there are an unlimited number of charge codes possible for each employee, the amount calculated for each hour of work can be different for each project and for each employee. For a client with a lot of projects, the number of possible rate codes that could be chosen by an employee, could become quite extensive. TimeControl provides a function that minimises the effort required to choose the correct rate code and that increases the accuracy of the entry. This function allows a project- specific rate code to appear when the project is chosen. This rate code will take precedence over any employee defaults that have been specified in the Employee table. To use this configuration, first add the project-specific rate code to the Labour Rate Table as a Global ate code type. This is a requirement for using the project-specific rate function. If you desire an employee-specific project costs, then add a rate with the same rate code value but as an employee specific rate. TimeControl will always select the most specific rate code applicable with that rate code value. So, for example, if the rate table has a rate code called “Std” for Standard rate and that is a Global Rate of $50 and a rate code called “Std” which is an employee specific rate for John, then when John does his timesheet, TimeControl will assume that the “Std” for John is the correct code.

Once the Global rate has been created, then go to the Project Table, and locate the project for which you’d like this rate code to be specified. On the Project Details tab select the project specific rate code.

Note that only global rates can be selected.
Selecting the “required” button will ensure that only this rate can be selected on a timesheet when this project is selected.

When the project is added as a line item to an employee’s timesheet the project specific default rate code will be automatically selected. If a matching employee rate type has been created, the employee rate value will be calculated. The project rate code will take precedence over the default rate code specified in the Employee Table.

In this example, the P_SPEC rate was added automatically to the DA Project line item.

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