Tag Archives: enterprise timesheet

How many TimeControl Modules can you buy? (it’s a trick question)

From time to time we’re asked how many modules TimeControl has and what modules are required for a particular requirement. allinclusive_300x197It’s not a strange question because so many timesheets on the market sell in exactly this manner.

The short answer to this question is very simple. There are no extra modules to but in TimeControl.

We know that there are publishers who sell you the timesheet for time and attendance and then say “Oh, you also need to do vacation approvals, that requires our add-on Vacation Approval Module” and others who say “Oh, you need a link to a project management tool? There’s a module you can purchase for each link you want to use.” And yet others who say “Oh you want to create your own custom reports. Of course you can with our add-on report designer module.”

The industry calls it “up-selling” and we don’t like it any more than you do.

So, we decided a long time ago to include everything in TimeControl that you’ll need. There are two editions of TimeControl, one designed for industrial situations like heavy construction or mining or EPC projects and the the other for everyone else.

Inside each TimeControl is the timesheet of course, the links to the many project management tools and versions we support, the report designer, the vacation approvals, our Matrix Approvals, the Accruals functionality that HR needs, the import and export modules to link to ERP and other corporate systems and even the mobile interface. Once you pay for your TimeControl license, there’s not much else we can sell you unless you’d like some implementation assistance (not everyone takes that and not everyone needs it) or ongoing maintenance and support contracts. If you’ve decided on subscribing to our TimeControlOnline timesheet in the cloud, you’ll be paying your subscription service each year and that’s about it.

We have even structured upgrades to be something you never buy. If you have TimeControl or TimeControl Industrial now, the only way to get a new version is to simply keep your maintenance contract current. We’ll make the new version

We believe this makes our relationship with our clients easier to establish and easier to make richer over time. But, there is one specific issue that can arise from this all-in-one thinking. Because we’re not constantly calling our clients trying to sell them on the next module or version, some new clients can put time into deciding why they wanted TimeControl in the first place and then never revisit what TimeControl could be doing for them to accommodate other business requirements.

For example, a few years ago, we got a lead from a company interested in TimeControl because it had a link to Microsoft Project. The company was already a client so we asked the caller if he knew about our timesheet. He looked at his own weekly timesheet and, sure enough, it was already TimeControl! “But my TimeControl doesn’t have a link to Microsoft Project. Did we not buy that module?” the caller asked us. “It was hidden during the original deployment because your firm was focused on time and billing when you rolled the system out,” we answered.

The feature was easily turned back on by the TimeControl Administrator and the caller didn’t have to go purchase another timesheet or another module. He already had everything he needed and shortly thereafter he was linking TimeControl to his project files.

So we make a point of talking about TimeControl features in the blog and in email blasts that include our current client because we never know when someone will suddenly realize they already own the solution to a business requirement they’re already looking for.

To look at different business-use-case scenarios of how you can use TimeControl, go to the Use Case gallery at: www.timecontrol.com/use-cases.

To catch up with the main TimeControl features, go to the Features area of the website at: www.timecontrol.com/features.

Of course you can always just contact us at info@hms.ca and one of our account managers or technical staff will help you find out how TimeControl can be configured for your particular business challenge.

FAQ: How do I control vacation entries?

We are often asked if TimeControl supports a method to ensure that employees don’t take more vacation time than they’ve been approved for.vacationtime_300x150.jpg

This is controlled in TimeControl two ways:

TimeRequest™
First, the approval of the timesheet is managed in the TimeRequest™  feature.  TimeRequest let’s employees request vacations in the future.  If the vacation is approved, the employee will be able to see that in the TimeRequest screen.  They can also be optionally notified by email through TimeControl and that email can automatically include a calendar notification to load into their Outlook or other calendar system.

TimeControl can then be configured to include a Validation Rule that says “You cannot enter vacation without a matching approved TimeRequest.”

Employee Banks
TimeControl also uses banks which can  be loaded for the entire year or loaded as time goes on through the TimeControl Accruals module to show vacation, personal time off, banked overtime, etc. that has been earned by this employee.

TimeControl has numerous banks created by default in the system which can be used for this purpose so different types of banks can be defined by the TimeControl Administrator. A TimeControl Validation Rule can then be created that generates an error if the amount of vacation taken in the current timesheet exceeds the amount in the bank for the vacation category.  Different organizations have different rules for this.  Some will allow only vacation that has been completely earned.  Others will allow an employee to be up to a week “negative” in their vacation bank.  Whatever the rule is, it can be defined for this in the Validation Rule.

 

FAQ: Dealing with approvals when supervisors are absent?

Question:
How do you deal with approvals when supervisors are absent due to vacation or if a person changes departments?

Answer:
It is a common occurrence for a person to be absent and this is just as
true for managers and supervisors as it is for any other employee.  TimeControl includes an “Alternate User” function that is designed to manage the situation where a supervisor or administrator will be absent and someone else must assume their duties.  A user can set their own Alternate in their Profile area and can define when the privileges of that alternate will expire.  alternate_login.jpgAn Administrator can set an alternate for any user in the User Table.  The Administrator can also determine who should receive email notices from TimeControl for things like missing timesheets.  They can go to the original user, the alternate or both.  In the example at the right, Joe Gardner has logged into TimeControl and is told that he has been assigned as an alternate for Tom Logan.  He can now log in as himself or as Tom.

When the alternate logs into TimeControl, they will be presented with a new intermediate screen after their login which asks who they would like to access the system as.

If alternate_headerthey select the Alternate, then TimeControl will indicate that at the top of the screen. In the example on the right, Joe Gardner has logged in as Tom Logan.

While the Alternate is logged into TimeControl they will see the menu and data selections that the absent person would see but TimeControl always keeps track in the background of who really did approvals or data changes for auditing purposes.

FAQ: How do I make corrections in a closed timesheet?

balance_debit_credit_dice_250x250Question:
If I need to make a correction in an already closed timesheet, can I do so? And, if so, can I see what was changed?

Answer:
Yes. This has been a part of TimeControl since version 1.0 and it is something that HMS has spent a lot of time on. The function allows you to both remove hours and add hours as you adjust and you can force those changes to balance so we’ve called the function Debit/Credit just as you would in an accounting system. The Debit/Credit function occurs only once the main organizational approval has completed. You can identify every line that has been adjusted and as it must comply with the Defense Contractor Audit Agency, TimeControl must be able to re-create a timesheet as it was first entered at the time by the employee and for each change that occurs. Using the optional balanced Debit/Credit, you can ensure that any adjustments to the timesheet result in the same total that was approved by the supervisor. This allows project managers to redistribute hours from one task to another or even one project to another but not to affect the timesheet totals that may have already been sent to payroll and HR.

Debit/Credit is one of the functions that makes TimeControl completely auditable. For more information about Debit/Credit and how it is used in the Matrix Approval Process, see www.timecontrol.com/use-cases/matrix-approvals.

In the historical timesheet, TimeControl optionally shows the source user of each line and, in the background, we can see the time-date stamp for when the line was saved and posted. When you look at adjustments you can instantly see any reversed lines and their corresponding adjusting lines.

Just tell us about your week

saving_time_300x200.jpgThere is a feature that you won’t find in TimeControl though it has been asked for more times than any other enhancement request.  The specification usually looks something like this:

“We want TimeControl to automatically populate a timesheet with all the hours that an employee should have done so that they can just click ‘Ok’ if the timesheet is correct and save time.”

“Sorry, we won’t do that,” we reply.

It’s not that we’re being difficult.  In fact client and prospective client feedback is a key source of enhancements in TimeControl.  And it’s not that it would be technically difficult to deliver this feature.  The projected hours could have come from the project plan, for example and populating each cell on a line for that task isn’t a major programming challenge.

No, the difficulty is what would happen if we delivered such a feature.  As desirable as it seems to be for end users, we are certain that the result would be bad data.

Imagine that I ask an employee, “What did you spend your time on this week?”

Instead of answering with hours and tasks, they respond to my question with a question, “What do *you* think I should have spent my time on this week?”

I’d be instantly concerned that if I give my expectations that the feedback I’d receive would be tainted by the employee’s desire to please.

Or, imagine this scenario.  You come to the end of your week and your timesheet happily pops up your expected hours.  “Uh oh,” you think to yourself.  “I can see that I was supposed to spend 35 hours on task #27.  But I didn’t spend a minute on task #27.  I spent 35 hours instead on task #25.”  The pressure you’d feel to put at least *some* hours of your timesheet on task #27 would be enormous.

In the over two decades we’ve been selling TimeControl, we’ve seen these scenarios play out in countless organizations.  It’s not that employees want to lie.  They just don’t want to disappoint their managers.

Here at HMS when we get this request we now know to ask what the client wants this feature for and then we ask what they expect will happen to the quality of data if we were to deliver the feature.  The request always fades away.  As it should.  After all, life happens to projects.  The chance that something changed between the plans for the week on Monday morning when the week started and Friday when the timesheet was filled out will be the exception, not the rule.

Instead of prompting people with what they should have done, we want TimeControl to ask something very simple: “What did you actually do?”  TimeControl can preload tasks from a project system’s schedule or from personal preferences to save time in looking up those tasks but TimeControl won’t prompt with the hours per day that were expected.  The result is high quality timesheet data and in the end, that’s what will make managers happiest.

For those who are interested in how to save a minute here or a minute there on configuring and entering their timesheet, the TimeControl website has a section on Best Practices for timesheets at www.timecontrol.com/resources/best-practices.

FAQ: Can you import historical timesheets into TimeControl?

old_new_crossroads_300x300Of course. Aside from importing all the supporting tables, there is a timesheet import function in TimeControl links that does specifically this. You’ll need to make sure all the employee information, charge code information and project information already exists but then the import is quite easy. There is a blog post on this here in the blog at: blog.timecontrol.com/?p=142 which includes an Excel template to help you prepare your data for the import.

FAQ: Can we start with the Online version of TimeControl but switch to our own internal TimeControl when we get bigger?

online_or_onprem_300x144You certainly can, but you can do a lot more than that. We’ve designed TimeControl Online, our Timesheet as a Service (TaaS) to support the identical code-base as TimeControl on premises. This means that if you are using TimeControl Online as a service and you install the standard TimeControl locally (with the appropriate number of licenses of course) then you can download you backup from TimeControl Online and instantly have your system active on premises. You’ll need to use the same database of course, which is MySQL but technically the movement from Online to on premises is stunningly simple. We’ve made moving between the two environments commercially easy too. You can get a credit from your remaining subscription towards purchase of TimeControl licenses. As easy as it is to move from TimeControl Online to TimeControl on premises, the reverse is also true. You can move from TimeControl on premises to TimeControl Online and we’ll give you credit from what you purchased towards your first year’s subscription.  You can find out more about the choice of TimeControl Online vs. TimeControl OnPremises in the How to Buy TimeControl area of the website.

Talk to one of the TimeControl account specialists about how this can work for you .

FAQ: Can we get access to TimeControl’s database to use with our reporting tools?

reporting_charts_300x200Absolutely. If you have installed TimeControl on premises, we publish the database schema design so that if you have the appropriate rights from your IT department, you can link directly to the database. We do not encrypt most of the data with the exception of authentication information. TimeControl does, however, include its own WYSIWYG report writer with extensive functionality. The TimeControl Report Designer includes capabilities to make both graphical and text-based reports, to save reports into PDF, Excel, JPG and other formats and to mix and match report formats within the same page. In addition you can control fonts, headers, footers, grouping, summarizing and even create formula fields. But if your heart is set on using another commercial reporting tool, then have the IT department give you read-only access to the data and you’re ready to go.  If you are using TimeControlOnline, you can also download a complete data backup in MySQL format every week and again use your own reporting or analytical tools on the data.

You can find out more about TimeControl’s internal reporting functionality on the TimeControl website at: www.timecontrol.com/features/reporting.

FAQ: Do we need to standardize on a single project management system before integrating TimeControl?

RubicStandardize_300x225No you do not and TimeControl is ideally suited for this type of challenge.  The pre-defined links to project management tools can link a TimeControl Project and associated charge codes to project information in Microsoft Project 1995 and up Microsoft Project Server 2002 and up, Oracle Primavera P3 through P6, Deltek’s Open Plan, InEight’s Hard Dollar HD and VersionOne.  And, it can link to all of those systems simultaneously.  TimeControl is designed to make as many project system connections as you wish and then each project can be linked through that connection to a project in that system.  This allows TimeControl to not only link some projects to Microsoft Project and some to Primavera P6 but TimeControl can link to multiple versions at the same time.  Imagine a situation where some projects are being managed in Microsoft Project Server 2010 and some are being managed in a separate instance of Microsoft Project Server 2013.  TimeControl could link to both systems at the same time and a TimeControl user wouldn’t have to worry about it.  They would just enter their complete timesheet in TimeControl and the data will go to the right project system and the right tasks in the background!

Find out more about TimeControl and Project Management tools on the Project Links page.

FAQ: How much internal effort and resources will I need to make a timesheet work?

internaleffortFirst, let’s talk about the effort to implement TimeControl when it is first deployed. This is highly dependent on several factors including the number of users on TimeControl and the number of external system to which TimeControl will be integrated.

The TimeControl QuikStart program was designed for a mid-sized organization doing a basic deployment of TimeControl with only a couple of interfaces to create.

This is a 5-day effort by HMS and requires internal support of a TimeControl Administrator for 3-5 days prior to making the timesheet available to the end-users.

If you are deploying TimeControl for 10-200 people and making a simple link to a project management tool and another export link to a finance tool, then this is probably sufficient.

Of course some people have much more complex environments and wish to integrate TimeControl to numerous internal processes and tools. Depending on the level of complexity, a multi-thousand person deployment covering numerous countries systems, internal payroll rules and more could take a team several months to complete the deployment.

Next, let’s talk about time to administer and support TimeControl once it is in use. The technical time to support TimeControl is negligible. You have to make sure data is being backed up, but that’s probably being done anyway as part of the DBA’s responsibilities.

Upgrades and updates take very little time and are done only a couple of times a year typically.

Administrators are often not full-time on TimeControl unless it is a system with thousands of users.

The work each week Administrators focus on is making sure new employees are onboarded and that employees who have left are made inactive and looking to do regular clean ups of old data.