You must balance the desire for flexibility with the associated responsibility

balance flexibility and responsibility, Chris Vandersluis, Christopher Vandersluis, Christopher Peter VandersluisCorporate Memory is an almost forgotten concept but we encounter clients who see it as a challenge on a regular basis.

We often say to our TimeControl clients that the tremendous flexibility that is provided with TimeControl comes with an equal share of responsibility.  There are so many ways that TimeControl can be configured and then, once configured, can be altered, updated, re-thought and re-imagined by the client that makes it so popular.  It’s rare when a client asks for something within TimeControl where we have to say “no”.  That flexibility was part of our original intent with the product from the very first version back in 1994 and remains core to our philosophy of how an enterprise timesheet and project management product should be constructed.

But, with great flexibility comes great responsibility.  When we work with a client in the earliest days of their deployment we make a point of saying that the client themselves are responsible for the documentation of their own process that involves TimeControl and the changes or configuration that was requested.  When we are asked to assist with the implementation, we have always created a technical deployment document where we describe the client requests for certain configuration choices and then put in the filters and field definitions that could, in theory have been done by the client themselves.

Fast forward a few years and it is extremely common for a client to report that their TimeControl Administrator is no longer in that role or no longer with the organization and a new person is having difficulty understanding why a filter behaves the way it does or why an export for payroll exports certain fields but not others. “Can you locate your internal process and TimeControl configuration documentation?” is usually our first response.  You may not be surprised to find out that this is often not to be found.

“Would you like a copy of the technical documentation we created when we deployed?” we’ll ask.  Oh yes, that’s very desirable and it certainly can be of help but like many internal systems, if there is no process guidance then a new administrator or new technical administrator could find themselves at a tremendous disadvantage.

This is true whether the client is using TimeControl on-premise or has a TimeControl subscription to TimeControl Online or TimeControl Industrial Online in the cloud.

It’s a truism to say that “things change”.  In an enterprise system like TimeControl that’s especially true.  TimeControl almost never lives in a vacuum.  It feeds billing or payroll or project management or all three.  It is fed by HR and by contracts and more.  If anything in any of those systems change (such as a new version or a new understanding of how those systems should work then the integrated solution that was once designed may start to hit some bumps.

At HMS we have learned over the years to take as many notes along the way as we support a client to be able to understand requests later but on a regular basis, we find that our notes have become the client’s corporate memory.  To be fair, some clients, including some of our largest have been exemplary at how they keep corporate records of how TimeControl was deployed and why.  Making changes for those clients is always easiest and least stressful.

For all of us, balancing the amount of flexibility you want to take advantage of and the responsibility of documenting and managing what you did with that flexibility is a challenge that is important to manage.

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