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.

All new Solutions area for those using Excel timesheets

excel_tc_cover_250x317HMS has just released an all new Solutions Portal for those who are using Excel timesheets and know it’s time to graduate to a full timesheet system like TimeControl.  Thousands of organizations every year create their first timesheet in Excel.  And, why not? It’s easy to do, there are numerous free Excel templates available for download and The new solutions area contains a number of resources that will be of interest to those currently using Excel for timesheets and are considering a move to a timesheet application.  Among the collateral on the portal is included:

  • Moving from Excel timesheets to TimeControl Webcast
    This webcast shows the benefits of moving from an Excel timesheet system to TimeControl and how easy and familiar TimeControl will be to those who have used Excel for timesheets in the past.  The webcast shows TimeControl in action and discusses how TimeControl can import and export data directly with Excel.
  • Excel to TimeControl PowerPoint presentation
    This slide presentation shows various free Excel templates and some of the benefits of moving from an Excel-based timesheet to TimeControl.
  • Excel to TimeControl factsheet
    This all-new 4-page factsheet describes the ease of moving from Excel timesheets to TimeControl timesheets and highlights some of the functionality that may be missing from an in-house Excel-based timesheet system that can be found in TimeControl.

The Solutions area is free of charge and can be found at www.timecontrol.com/solutions/excel/.

Getting 2 copies of TimeControl going at once

imageIn older versions of Internet Explorer, you used to be able to keep two copies of TimeControl running at a time. For supervisors and administrators this can be very attractive.  They might want to be looking at charge code items in the table as one user for example while in another screen they do approvals. In IE8 and other more recent versions, this doesn’t at first seem to be possible.  This is because Internet Explorer caches sessions to be more performant in displaying a website.
Not to worry, the old capabilities are still there.  What you need in IE is a “New Session’ rather than just a new tab or new window.  A new session looks like a new window but is, in fact, a whole new instance of IE running at the same time.
To do this, start up your first instance of TimeControl then go to the File Menu (You might need to press ‘Alt’ to see it.  Now select “New Session” and a new window of IE will appear and allow you to relogin as someone else to TimeControl at the same time.

We’ve updated our Free Hosted TimeControl timesheet trial site

We’ve made some changes to the free TimeControl timesheet Trial site that we think will make trying our timesheet system that much easier.  First of all, the dashboard on the main page has been updated to show some readily accessible online learning resources such as the TimeControl Online Learning Center.  We’ve updated some of the data and the flow of the system once new users log in to make it more intuitive.
The biggest news though is the new Evaluation Guide that guides a user through basic functionality of the hosted trial from the registration right through adding a timesheet, adding a vacation request using TimeRequest and doing some reports click-by-click.  Now anyone who wants to see just how easy TimeControl is to use can be guided through those steps screen by screen.  The Evaluation Guide was based on the hosted trial site itself and describes what the user should see at every step and where to click or type next in order to put TimeControl through its paces. 
The TimeControl trial site has its data refreshed nightly but users who register for the system will have access to it for 2 weeks.  There are no restrictions on functionality though users are cautioned not to upload any information that is confidential or sensitive as the data is open-access.  There is no cost to users to access the Free TimeControl timesheet trial.
To see the new Free Hosted TimeControl Trial Evaluation Guide, click here.
To access the updated Free Hosted TimeControl Trial, click here.
To visit the TimeControl Buyer’s Guide where there are numerous resources for evaluating timesheets, click here.

Have you seen the latest TimeControl case study?

EXFO has been a TimeControl client since 1999 and recently they were gracious enough to allow us to interview them and do a case study on their use of TimeControl.  EXFO wasn’t a publicly traded company when we first sold them TimeControl but they sure are now.  The company has expanded enormously since our first visit there years ago.  The case study is on our website and available in both French and English.  Our thanks to Andre Richard who took time out of his busy schedule to do the interviews for us and to review the final copy.  We invite you to read how EXFO has been able to enjoy some of TimeControl’s key benefits and see how the timesheet links to multiple systems for multiple purposes within the EXFO environment.
To see the EXFO case study in English, click here.
To see the EXFO case study in French, click here.

Installing TimeControl 6 on a 64 bit server with Oracle 11g+

We’ve encountered an unusual condition when clients are installing TimeControl 6 on a 64 bit server with the very latest Oracle 11g.  Most 64 bit installations go forward without incident but, if you are installing your TimeControl on a 64 bit server and you are using Oracle 11g or later
Because TimeControl’s architecture now includes elements that are both in 64 bit and 32 bit.  When TimeControl is installed on a 64 bit server and the Oracle 11g or higher driver is installed, you will need to do some specific configuration in order to have the TimeControl Transaction Server (TTS) (in .Net) connect through the 64bit Oracle supplied driver and the TimeControl Administration Transaction Server (ATS) connect through the 32bith Oracle supplied driver.
Do this you will need to create multiple Oracle homes by installing Oracle 32bit and Oracle 64 bit client. For more information on installing and configuring multiple homes please refer to Oracle documentation.
First, install both the:
*
Oracle 32 bit Client Software (minimum Runtime installation) and the; * Oracle 64 bit Client Software (minimum Runtime installation)
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Next, create an environment variable called TNS_ADMIN to point to the location of your tnsnames.ora file. For more information on creating environment variables, refer to your Oracle documentation.
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Now update your tnsnames.ora file to have the connection information for your Oracle data.

Now you’re ready to install TimeControl or run the TimeControl database configuration tool.

Seen the new R&D Tax Claim white paper?

As part of our new R&D Solution Portal, we’ve created a brand new white paper that you may find of use.  The extensive paper covers an overview of how R&D tax claims work.  We cover something we call the “Triangle Audit” which describes how most government tax agencies go about doing an audit of Research and Development tax claims.  There is a section on how TimeControl timesheets work in an R&D setting and even instructions on how you can configure your own TimeControl to comply with auditing requirements.  There are screen shots of individual TimeControl tables and example reports.  The paper covers an overview of R&D claims in the regions we know best which includes: The US, Canada and within Canada, the province of Quebec where HMS Software’s headquarters are located.  HMS has extensive experience with doing our own R&D claims. 
For those who want to do more research, there are links to appropriate areas of websites at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) in the US, Revenue Canada (for the SRED program), Revenue Quebec, HMRC in the UK and in the EU. 
You can download the R&D white paper for free at HMS Software’s Research and Development Tax Credit Solution Center.

Take a look at the new TimeControl R&D Tax Credit Solution Portal

HMS has just published a collection of new tools and resources for those organizations which do Research and Development Tax Credits.  R&D tax credit programs are offered by governments all over the world including the US, Canada, the UK, Australia and throughout the EU.  Virtually all R&D tax credit programs require documenting what eligible work was done and who did it and that’s one reason TimeControl is often part of the R&D reporting environment.  If your organization does an R&D tax claim then our new Research and Development solution page includes a range of new tools that you may find of interest:
There’s a new white paper on how R&D tax claims work and how you can configure TimeControl to help overcome the “Triangle Audit” that is often how R&D tax claims are reviewed by the particular jurisdiction.
There’s a new webcast talking and R&D tax claims and a demonstration of TimeControl 6 already configured to do R&D reporting.  The reports we used in that webcast are available for download from the MyTimeControl Plugin library on the timecontrol.com website in the Support area.
There is a new case study of how TimeControl is being used at EXFO in Canada for their R&D reporting requirements.
There are slides, links to online resources in numerous countries, slide presentations, other white papers and fact sheets.  You can even try TimeControl for free on our Free Hosted TimeControl Trial site.
The new TimeControl R&D Tax Credit Solution Portal is at www.timecontrol.com/solutions/randd.

It’s the holidays–Here’s how to deal with absences in TimeControl

With the holiday season approaching, it’s a good time to talk about how to handle timesheets for people who will be away. TimeControl has several options for dealing with absences whether they are planned in advance, or unplanned.

Unplanned absenceTimeRequest_Add If an employee is absent and the timesheet for the week in question has not been started, the employee’s supervisor can create the timesheet and enter the time data on their behalf. The supervisor uses the Add Timesheet function and selects the employee from the Employee List in the Create Timesheet dialogue box. TimeControl is designed to allow supervisors in an employee’s approval path to enter timesheets for them.
If the timesheet has already been started, we have a couple of choices, a supervisor or designated replacement can log in on behalf of the employee by using the alternate log in function. An alternate log in can be specified for any employee from the User Table / Other Information tab. This allows someone to be the delegate of someone else. When setting an alternate log in, you also must set an expiry date. When a user logs in as an alternate for an employee, the audit trail records that the alternate has made the entries, as opposed to the original employee. This function is an easy way for a supervisor to complete a timesheet for an employee who has an unplanned absence or for another supervisor to approve the timesheets of a supervisor who is absent.
There is another option to managing timesheets that are already underway. A supervisor or administrator can use the Change Ownership function to move the control of a timesheet from one user along the approval path to their supervisor to have the timesheet completed and approved.
Planned absence If the absence is planned, TimeControl’s new TimeRequest function allows users to request approval for various types of time including vacation or time off. The employee enters the type of time-off, dates and hours requested and then submits the request to the supervisor. Once the TimeRequest has been approved, it is maintained in a queue and will automatically appear in that employee’s timesheet when it is created.

The official blogsite of TimeControl