Friday, April 23, 2010

Time Clock Software User Maintenance

Since we recently covered the necessary steps for adding new time clock software users, I wanted to briefly describe what other optional information can be stored in the user record.

There are six other panels for recording user information in Virtual TimeClock. Each panel can be accessed by clicking on its corresponding tab and must be saved before moving on to the next panel. Here's a brief description of each.

The Personal panel is used to store basic user information. This includes the user's name, street address, telephone number, and other contact information. This information can be included in exports of your timecard data, or included on employee telephone and contact lists.

The Access panel stores the user's unique password. There's a checkbox to show the user's password as plain text. This allows the time clock software administrator to quickly lookup forgotten user passwords. A user can be assigned to any number of display groups, or assigned as a manager for the different display groups, which allows you to more effectively view and manage users by department or location.

The Employment panel is used to record user information that may be helpful when processing payroll like the user's employee number and Social Security Number. You can also store the employee's department, phone extension, hire date, and current employee status. Marking an employee as terminated allows you to enter a termination date and will automatically make the user inactive.

The Wages panel stores the employee's classification, wage type, and rate. This is also where overtime and time deduction rules are assigned to each individual worker. The hourly burden will automatically be calculated when gross wages are enabled for job costing analysis on timecard reports.

The Leave panel is used to record the user's leave awards for each leave category. Awards are given to each user as either an annual award (80 hours per year) or a calculated award (1 hour leave per 40 hours worked). Overtime hours can be optionally included as hours worked for the calculation of awards. You can also enter the anniversary date for the user's leave award benefits.

The Notes panel is used to record free text notes. Employee notes can be used to record such things as training, safety compliance, wage history, and employee reviews.

Only users with appropriate security access can modify or delete user records.

Jeff Morrow

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Adding Time Clock Software Users

Virtual TimeClock software users include anyone who uses and manages the time clock. This includes employees who actually use the time clock to punch in and out, managers who need to monitor their worker's activities, and time clock administrators who have access to all time clock functions. Here's how to quickly add a new user.

First Step: Create a new user record
From the Lists menu, choose Users. Click the + button beneath the list of existing users. The last and first name are the only required pieces of information. The other fields are optional and can be useful when printing employee telephone or contact lists. Click Save.

Second Step: Assign an overtime rule to the user
Since you're still in the new user record you just created, click on the Wages tab. This is where overtime rules are assigned to each individual worker. Select the appropriate rule from the Overtime drop-down list and click Save. You can close the Users window now.

Third Step: Have the new user create their password
Select the new user's name in the main time clock window. Now from the Tools menu, choose Change Password. Leave the Old Password field blank because there isn't one. Now enter the new password and confirm it before clicking Change.

Fourth Step: Add the new user to your export
If you export your timecard data for analysis or payroll processing, then you'll need to add the new user to your export. From the File menu, choose Export. Select the export you use and then click the name of the new user to check them off for inclusion in the export. The settings will automatically be saved when you close the window.

Refer to the User's Guide for your Virtual TimeClock software for instructions on importing new users into your time and attendance software.

Jeff Morrow

Thursday, April 15, 2010

Refreshing Your Time Clock Software Display

One of the things that sets Virtual TimeClock software apart from the competition is the main time clock window. Rather than just entering a PIN to clock in or out, our time and attendance software provides you with at-a-glance knowledge of each worker's status. This virtual In/Out board is what makes our time clock software so powerful. That's because a time tracking device has now become a worker management and communication system. In order to be effective, the status of each worker needs to be updated in real time on each time clock on the local network or WAN. Virtual TimeClock accomplishes this with advanced client-server architecture, and fast and reliable TCP/IP communications. Networked time clocks allow business owners and managers to monitor the status of every worker real time, even if they're at different locations. This means knowing who's in and out from the convenience of your own computer.

So there's no need to refresh your time clock because each time clock on the network is instantly updated the moment a worker's status changes. The TimeClock Server actively listens and interacts with any time clock programs running on the network as TimeClock Clients and handles all of the database processing and file management. Starting work, stopping work, changing activities, going on breaks, taking lunches, and receiving new messages will trigger the TimeClock Server to automatically and instantly send an update to all network time clocks. The worker list will also be updated if the local time clock display and user access preferences are changed. In fact, your time clock software will periodically refresh the worker list even when there's no time clock activity.

There are a couple of things that may interfere with the automatic refresh process. If your computer or hard disk is set to go to sleep after a period of inactivity, you may miss the automatic time clock updates. Sleep and hibernation may drop network connections that aren't immediately restored upon waking up your computer. It's perfectly okay to allow your display to sleep in order to conserve energy but if you experience any refresh issues, then you'll want to update your energy saver settings or power options.

Checking the energy saver settings on Mac.
There are two settings that you'll want to check if you're having refresh issues on your Mac. From the Apple menu, choose System Preferences. Click the Energy Saver control panel. Make sure the slide bar for putting the computer to sleep when inactive is set to never. Also make sure the checkbox for putting the hard disk to sleep whenever possible is unchecked.

Checking the power options on Windows.
Windows Vista & 7 - From the Start menu, choose Control Panel and click Power Options. Click Change when the computer sleeps. Make sure the computer is set to never sleep. Click Change advanced power settings and make sure the hard disk, sleep, and hibernate settings are set to never.

Windows XP - From the Start menu, choose Control Panel and click Power Options. On the Power Schemes panel, make sure you're never turning off the hard disk and you're not using system standby. Click the Hibernate tab and make sure hibernation is not enabled.

As always, please contact support if you need help changing these settings.

Jeff Morrow

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Where is the Virtual Timeclock Clock?

I helped a new customer this week who had common Virtual TimeClock Network edition question. As her employees had starting using the Virtual TimeClock software, they were noticing that the time recorded for starting and stopping work was several minutes different from the time shown in the clock on the computer. This of course was creating some controversy! What I loved about her support question was that she specifically asked for an answer that her employees would understand. Here's my reply:

Short Answer
The clock the employees sees when they clock in is NOT the clock that Virtual TimeClock uses for recording time. Virtual TimeClock gets its time stamps from the clock within the server computer.

This seems silly. Why do we do this? 
This is a security issue — otherwise people could easily change the computer’s clock forward or backward to manipulate Virtual TimeClock  to record anything they wanted. We’re all about accuracy with our time and attendance software so we work hard to discourage cheating.

What’s the solution?
There is an easy fix. All modern computers have a setting that tells them to regularly update their internal clocks with a very accurate (and impartial) Internet time server. If all computers stay synchronized with a single clock, they will always all display the same time.

What do I need to do?
To ensure that your server and client computers all consistently display the same time, you simply enable the automatic time setting feature on the TimeClock server computer and all TimeClock Client computers. Here's how:

Macintosh Computers
  1. Choose Apple menu, System Preferences and click Date & Time.
  2. Click the Date & Time tab.
  3. Select the Set date & time automatically checkbox.

Windows 7
  1. Click the Start button, Control Panel, and click Clock, Language, and Region, and then Date and Time.
  2. In the Date and Time control panel, click the Internet Time tab, and then click the Change Settings... button.
  3. In the Internet Time Settings dialog box, select the Synchronize with an Internet Time Server check box.

Enabling automatic time setting at the computer level ensures that employees will see Virtual TimeClock and their computer clock using the same time they clock in and out.

Thursday, April 1, 2010

Time Clock Software Logs

End users tend to dismiss warning and error dialogs much too quickly, which means important troubleshooting data is lost, or the problem is compounded by an inadequate or inappropriate response. Recording system alerts, warnings, and errors is an important part of any time and attendance software program. Your time clock software should provide logging for four very important reasons.

  • Accountability - Time clock software logs can help identify what users are associated with certain events, like timecard modifications.
  • Reconstruction - Time clock software logs can be reviewed to determine what was happening both before and during an event, like troubleshooting dropped network time clock connections.
  • Intrusion Detection - Time clock software logs can be used to detect unusual or unauthorized events and when they occurred, like when global security settings are accessed.
  • Problem Detection - Time clock software logs can be used to help identify problems that need to be addressed, like failed time clock database backups.

Virtual TimeClock accomplishes these important logging functions by recording alerts, messages, errors, and lots of other information in four different logs depending on the context.

Audit Logs - Virtual TimeClock software records modifications to timecards, manual timecard entries, when global and local security is disabled or enabled, when payroll periods are closed, when certain reports are viewed, and lots of other information. We've written an article that provides an example of what kinds of details are recorded by the audit logs.

Backup Logs - Virtual TimeClock software records the success or failure status of both manual and scheduled backups, as well as the date and time of your next scheduled backup.

Error Logs - Virtual TimeClock error logs may help in determining the events surrounding an unexpected program termination or other uncharacteristic program behavior. A problem with your time and attendance software is usually related to some other event like a hardware crash, an automatic system update, the installation of antivirus software, or the replacement of a printer or other peripheral device.

Information Logs - Virtual TimeClock information logs record general information related to program launch, operating system, and network connections.

As you can see, the Virtual TimeClock software program logs provide a wealth of information for documenting what's happened or changed with your time clock software. You can also export your program logs directly to your desktop for further analysis with a text editor. Your program logs can be accessed from the Tools menu in Virtual TimeClock Pro, or by clicking the Logs toolbar icon in the Virtual TimeClock Server.

Jeff Morrow