Tag Archives: activity based costing

Project Progress is so much more than just the number of hours

HMS Software started as consultants and distributor for project management software many years ago.  One of the first things we ever focused on was the importance of progressing projects.  It turns out this is still a subject that bears repeating today.

We measure progress in many ways.  TimeControl was created, in part, to track one of those methods, task effort.  But this is the simplest and often the most misleading tracking method.  Just knowing how much time you spent on something without knowing how that task is progressing otherwise can easily lead to misinterpretation.  Imagine, for example that you have spent 40 hours on an expected 80 hour task.  You’re half way done, right?  Well what if you’re not?  What if the work turned out to be harder than you thought.  Instead of being only half done, you estimate there is still 120 hours of work to.  Instead of this ending as a 40 hour task, it will probably be closer to a 160 hour task, double the original cost or expectation.

TimeControl was designed with this in mind too.  TimeControl allows each person to estimate the work required for them to finish their task right on the timesheet line by entering the estimated remaining duration on the line.

This is even more powerful when combined with the use of a project baseline in the project management tool.  Not only can you see the progress against the actual activity, you can also compare against what you originally promised it would be.

In some cases, there may be multiple resources on the same activity.  If this is the case, TimeControl can have a project manager or supervisor update an activity percent complete update for the entire task.  This is visible on the Activity Tab from the timesheet or the Charge Table or from the Project Manager Validation Screen.

Some organizations use weighted milestones to measure an activity’s progress. This is a popular method for large projects because it is so much less subjective.  Project management tools like Primavera support this method of progress and TimeControl does too.  When you look at the expanded timesheet line window you’ll see a tab called Steps.  Here, if you are the key resource, you can progress the steps associated to that activity.

In some organizations, activity progress is measured by units complete.  For example, if you are doing a pipe-laying project, then management only cares how many meters of pipe were installed this week.  It’s a powerful measurement method because it is very matter of fact.  TimeControl supports this too if you are using TimeControl Industrial and enter such a measure in the Material entry screen.

TimeControl has been designed from the start to have project progress in mind.  It’s so much more than just collecting hours.

To find out more about how to use TimeControl for updating project progress, talk to one of our specialists at info@hms.ca.

Tracking costs for special purpose accounting

costtracking_300x240We’ve been asked lately about how to configure TimeControl to track costs for specific short term purposes for situations that were unexpected.  A couple of recent use-cases include a manufacturer who has been asked by the government to do research and retooling to make medical grade equipment that they have had little experience in.  The government has promised to reimburse certain elements of this work.  Another case involves an organization that will do research then delivery of services that the government will reimburse.

As one of the most flexible timesheet systems in the industry, TimeControl is designed for such challenges.

First you need to determine what conditions you need to track for.  In situations where there might be government or tax incentives such as we are seeing with Covid-19, then you must determine if the incentives are simply objective based so that you can track them at the project level or type of work related so that you must track them at the task level.  Also, is there a requirement that the people doing the work be located in a particular jurisdiction?  For R&D type of work, it’s often the case that the workers must be located in a particular area in order to qualify for tax incentives.

Let’s take the most likely scenario given the challenges of today.  We’ll figure that all our staff are located locally or at least in the country and that the type of work is important, so we need to identify the hours that will go against certain types of tasks.  So, for example, if the project includes some effort by HR to transfer people from one department to another, that might not be eligible for government reimbursement but if the work is about re-engineering one of our production lines for the expected new product, that is eligible.

In this case the best configuration method would be to either use one of your existing user-defined fields or just add a new one.TC_AddNewFielda

If you have configuration rights as an Administrator, just click “Add a New Field” at the bottom of the Charge Table and TimeControl will ask you what type of field to add.  In this case a text field seems appropriate and you can create a description such as “Special Cost Type”.

TC_AddNewField2croppedNow the field appears in the list of User Defined fields.  We can make a drop down list by clicking the gear icon on the right and asking to add a Link list.  Then we click it again and ask to Edit the Links.


Let’s add two possible entries for now.  One for Covid19 eligible for reimbursement and another for Covid19 non-eligible.

TC_AddNewField4aThat’s all there is to it.  There’s no special instruction for end-users. They just keep doing their timesheets on tasks they’ve been assigned.  The ability to group those hours is all in the background for administrators and Finance personnel.  That means there’s nothing special to do in order for this work also with TimeControl Mobile.

Now all charges against tasks in this project or any other that has this field set will be able to immediately be pulled out in reports and exports and making a costing of how much this project has cost should be relatively simple.  TimeControl will report any hours in timesheets against tasks with this flag set along with the appropriate rate values in reports that you create or in the Drill Down Analyzer.  If you aren’t using rates at all, you’ll still be able to get the total number of hours and then use an average cost rate to make the reports you need.

You can use this field in the future if there are any other use-case scenarios or, if you choose, you can always hide the field if you have no further purpose for it.

For more help on configuring your TimeControl, contact HMS Technical Services at support@hms.ca or speak to your account manager at info@hms.ca.