Thursday, March 25, 2010

Deploying Computer Time Clock Software

The huge advantage of Virtual TimeClock Network Edition is that it can be deployed on multiple computers. Deciding which computers need time clock software and where to place them can sometimes be a struggle for new Virtual TimeClock software users. Here are a couple of different deployment options to help you configure your time and attendance software to match the work flow of your business.

Computer Time Clock Stations
The first deployment option is to setup time clock stations at strategic locations in your organization, providing company wide access for all workers from several time clocks. You may place a computer time clock at common employee gathering spots like employee entrances or break rooms. Or you may have one time clock on the showroom floor for your sales force and another in the warehouse for those workers.

Employee Computer Time Clocks
With this deployment option, each person's computer within your organization runs the time clock software. There's still only one database of your timecard data which makes it easy to gather timesheets for payroll processing. Each time clock can be configured to only display that person's name. Manager time clocks can be configured to display a list of just their workers so they've got instant status updates for all workers under their supervision. Owners and administrators can display a full worker list and perform all administrative functions. You may have a personal time clock setup for each employee, but still allow the receptionist or switchboard operator to maintain a full employee list. This lets them know at-a-glance who's available, out, or in a meeting. The virtual In/Out board is a great way to manage incoming phone calls and visitors.

Stations and Employee Time Clocks
This is a very common deployment option. It allows you to setup time clock stations in those areas that have limited computer resources or when workers don't have assigned computer workstations, and setup employee time clocks for those staff who do. You may have a manufacturing facility where you place one computer time clock in the shop displaying all warehouse workers, administrative staff have personal time clocks displaying their own individual names, your switchboard operator has a time clock displaying the names of all administrative staff, and your payroll specialist has a time clock listing all workers.

It's easy to setup personal time clocks by using display groups. I hope this gives new users some options when deciding how to deploy Virtual TimeClock in their business environment.

Jeff Morrow

Thursday, March 18, 2010

Customizing Your Time Clock Software

You've probably noticed that the main window of your Virtual TimeClock software is quite a bit different from a traditional punch clock. Not only does the time clock main window become the dashboard from which all time clock actions occur, it functions as a virtual In/Out board that provides an immediate at-a-glance status of every worker.

What you may not know is that the main time clock window display settings can be adjusted to get just the look and functionality you want. The program preferences control the display of your time clock, the ability of users to see certain menus and toolbars, and the sounds emitted by your time clock program. Let's take a look at some of the cool things you can do.

Change the Worker List Display
It's easy to change the way your workers are displayed. Choose between sorting names as First & Last Name or Last, First Name. Workers can also be shown in a single list or separate lists indicating those working and not working. When displayed in a single list, employees will have a visual indicator icon next to their name showing whether they're currently working on a paid activity, an unpaid activity, on a worker break, at lunch, or have completely stopped working.

Add and Remove Display Columns
You can also choose which columns you want to display on your time clock. For example, you may not want your workers to see what time other employees are clocking in and out so you can remove the Time column. Or maybe you're not using the built-in messaging module so you can remove the Msgs column. Likewise, the worker display list can be sorted by each of the displayed columns by clicking on the title of each column to sort in either ascending or descending order.

Add and Remove Menu Items and Toolbar Icons
Certain menu items and toolbar icons can be added or removed from your time clock to allow or limit user access to certain features of your time clock software. If you just want to provide an easy way for workers to start work, stop work, or print their timecards, then it's easy to remove the unused toolbar icons.

Customize Your Toolbar Icons
If you're using the built-in worker break and lunch functionality of Virtual TimeClock, then you can customize the icon label to fit the needs of your business. For example, you may want to change the label of the worker break icon to '10 Minute Break' to make it clear that only the first 10 minutes of the break are paid. Choose Time Calculations from the Tools menu to customize your worker break labels.

Mac OS X time clock software users can access their time clock preferences from the Virtual TimeClock menu. Windows PC time clock software users can access their time clock preferences from the Edit menu. If you're running the Network Edition of our time and attendance software, your time clock display settings are local to each computer. This makes it easy to setup a time clock with limited display in the shop, but retain a full administrative display for the manager or business owner. If you want to setup a different worker list on each time clock, then you'll want to start using display groups.

Jeff Morrow

Friday, March 12, 2010

Keep Your Time Clock Software Accurate

Since DST (Daylight Saving Time) begins this weekend, this is the perfect time to review how your Virtual TimeClock software records time. Customers sometimes ask why the time they punch in doesn't match the time that's recorded by Virtual TimeClock. So where does the timestamp come from?

Virtual TimeClock records all timestamps based on the time supplied by your computer. As long as your computer handles seasonal time changes automatically, then your time and attendance software will always record the current and correct time for you. If you have worker shifts that cross the time change, you'll need to manually adjust their hours.

Since the timestamp comes directly from your computer, you'll want to follow the same advice given to Frodo by Gandalf in The Fellowship of the Ring, "Keep it secret. Keep it safe."

If you're using Virtual TimeClock Basic or Pro Edition, you'll want to restrict access to the date and time control panel to prevent tampering with the computer clock. On Mac, you can lock the Date & Time preference pane. On Windows, limited accounts are unable to change the computer clock. With the Network Edition, the TimeClock Server computer provides the time stamps for all TimeClock Clients. This prevents users from changing the time on their local computer to try and trick the time clock software. The time on the TimeClock Client computer has no affect on the actual time that's recorded.

This is also a good time to make sure your computer is setup to automatically sync with an Internet time server. On Mac, you can check this setting in the Date & Time preference pane. On Windows, it's in the Date and Time control panel.

Gandalf also had a pretty good idea about dealing with time when he said, "All we have to decide is what to do with the time we are given."

Jeff Morrow

Thursday, March 4, 2010

Handling Lunch Breaks with Virtual TimeClock

How to handle lunch breaks with your time clock software can be tricky business. It depends partly on your time and attendance rules, and partly on how you want your payroll reports to look. We'll look at 3 ways to handle lunch breaks using Virtual TimeClock software.

1. One option is to clock out completely for lunch breaks. This means time tracking completely stops while you're away. You would start work in the morning, stop work when it's time for lunch, start work again for your afternoon shift, and stop work at the end of the day. Your timecard entries may look something like this:

Start Stop Activity Regular
7:55 AM 12:00 PM In 4:05
1:00 PM 5:01 PM In 4:01

You'll end up with 2 timecard entries for the day.

2. Another option is to use the built-in worker lunch break functionality. This allows time tracking to continue even while you're at lunch, and you just have to decide if lunch is unpaid, paid, or only paid until a certain time threshold is reached. Your timecard entries may look something like this:

Start Stop Activity Unpaid Regular
7:55 AM 12:00 PM In 4:05
12:00 PM 1:00 PM Lunch 1:00
1:00 PM 5:01 PM In 4:01

You'll end up with 3 timecard entries for the day, and of course this example assumes your lunch break is unpaid. This is great for knowing how much time workers are spending on lunch, which is especially useful when planning phone coverage.

3. A third option is to use automatic time deductions to deduct a defined amount of time after a certain number of hours are worked. Your timecard report may look something like this:

Start Stop Activity Unpaid Regular
7:55 AM 5:01 PM In 1:00 8:06

This leaves you with just 1 timecard entry per day. Automatic time deductions are always unpaid and can be different for each employee.

I hope that gives you some ideas on how to handle worker lunch breaks. You can mix and match any way you want. For example, you may want your office employees to clock in and out for lunch but use automatic lunch deductions for your warehouse workers.

Jeff Morrow

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Time Clock Software Security

Virtual TimeClock password protection is easy to use, yet robust enough to control access to most of the time clock program features. With separate worker and management settings, you can pretty much adapt Virtual TimeClock to any business environment. Security also works in conjunction with display groups to manage workers by department or location. We've got detailed instructions for setting up and assigning display groups on our website.

We get asked a lot if there's a way to temporarily disable password protection on just one PC or Mac computer time clock, without shutting it off for everyone. This is especially true when a time clock software administrator needs to perform several administrative functions within a short period of time. Normally, as administrative users switch from modifying timecards, closing payroll periods, printing monthly management reports, and performing other time and attendance activities, they're required to enter their password for access to each new function. Putting the time clock in administrative mode allows you to perform all of these functions, and more, with only one password entry.

To enter administrative mode, choose Enter Administrative Mode from the Tools menu and enter your time clock administrator password.

'ADMINISTRATIVE MODE' will now be displayed in red at the bottom of your time clock window. Now you can move around your time clock without being encumbered by multiple password entries.

To reactivate password protection, choose Exit Administrative Mode from the Tools menu and click the Continue button. Password protection will also be enabled again when you quit and restart your time clock software.

Jeff Morrow