Hello Time Folks,

the developments for our EC Time product release Q3 have been started, engineering team is informed on what to build in the new release and hence there is a little bit time to share some words and insights on our recently released Q2 product.

First, shame on me, I need to communicate a drawback. In my previous post I ambitiously made your mouth water by promising some really fundamental cool new stuff in our time product that was about to come. First working title of this new feature was “time counters”, but the official new term is now “Time Collectors”. I announced that this new feature will enable our time evaluation to play in the next league. No primera division, no Bundesliga, no major league, but the champions league. The place where the FC Barcelonas, Real Madrids, Juventus Turin and Bayern Munich are used to play. However, we need to wait with the champions league for one more season. We did not yet qualify for it. We had to postpone the release of the time collectors. We built them, but we found out that the performance is not meeting our expectations. Hence we decided after long and painful discussions better not to ship but re-design the architecture in order to boost the performance of the time collectors. Cause our main goal is superior first class usability experience in EC Time  – and this means not only appaling easy to use user interfaces but also fast response from our real time evaluation process that presents to the employee immediately upon time recording the valuation results – aspects that other time systems like for example SAP ERP Time can´t provide with it´s nightly batch run. Just led this idea sink for a moment – and compare each product out there if they have got a “real” realtime valuation like ours. Cause this increases the inner complexity of a time management system to a large extent. But we think that in nowadays time a realtime time valuation is essential – and we face this challenge. Think on all those complex rules that exist for overtime calculation, break deductions, pay type generations, time off in lieu postings or any other time calculations – and this needs to be computed and calculated in few milliseconds after time entry to provide a good time sheet usability. Quite a challenge. And not to shatter this user experience of presenting the results of his time recordings real time in time sheet we rather postponed the time collectors than to slow done the users real time valuation experience.

But postponed is only postponed and of course not dropped. We are currently putting lots of efforts in the architectural re-design of the time collectors. As usual: when released they will have basic functionality in the beginning but we build them in a way that they can be enhanced with more functionality in the subsequent releases.

But enough, lets have a look on what is actually in our Q2 product that you can utilize right now. We put again effort in stabilty and performance of our solution and although the time collectors have not been released it took ressources to built them – and this is why there are in Q2 not much other big topics, rather many mid – smaller topics.

1.Localization Australia: Support of end-to-end termination process with Australian termination workbench.

One of the bigger things we have built is a localization topic for Australia. It deals with the support of an end-to-end employee-termination process that starts in Employee Central and ends in EC Payroll.

What was the challenge here? Well, in the australian country version of SAP HR there is an Australian Termination Workbench that is needed for a termination in Australia. Its basis are payroll results and leave entitlements. This Termination Workbench reads in the event of a termination the quota Information (IT2006 absence quota) in SAP ERP Time Management where the employees remaining time account balances are stored. When Employee Central Time Off is used and the employee gets terminated in EC then all relevant information needs to be passed to the termination workbench – including the employees remaining balances that are calculated in Employee Central Time in order to support this Australian Termination Workbench.

You might remember from my previous blogs that Australia has got not only some yearly leave entitlements like in Europe or monthly accruals like in the United States, but the mixture of it, the so called  “accrual and entitlement”. An employee gets for example a monthly accrual, but he is entitled to take the accrued amount only in the following year. But when an employee gets terminated he is eligibe for the time account payout of the accrued value of the actual year, too. This aspect together with the fact that the Australian Termination Workbench allows even to simulate a termination to get the future payout amount calculated made it a bit complicated – but was solved.

In Employee Central we have therefor built a function to pay out not only the employees leave entitlement but also the accruals up to the future termination date.

2. Time Account Snapshot and replication of time account balance to IT2010 (Localization Australia: Leave Liability)

Another aspect of the Australian localization topic was to ensure so called Leave Liability. The companies in Australia (and in other countries) must ensure that in the case of bankruptcy employees remaining leave balances of the actual / previous years can be paid out. In some countries leave liability is done via a special reporting, in other countries payroll calculates an amount for all leave entitlements. This amount is then posted to Financial (or just reported) to put money aside in order to pay out this entitlements even in the course of the companies bankruptcy. Sure, no customer wants to even think about a possible future bankruptcy, but there are nevertheless legal regulations that forces companies to prepare for such a case. And Leave Liabilities is one of it.

Normally payroll calculates an amount of money for all employees once or several times a year which reflects the money value of all outstanding leave entitlements. This amount is then posted to Financials and they do the actual withholding of the money. Hence Payroll needs the information of an employees time account balance at a given date. Two things have been developed in Employee Central for this:

Time Account Snapshot

The time acount snapshot can be used to retrieve employees time account balances for any selected as of date and stores this value in an MDF object. You can choose any time account, any date.

You create a snapshot via the Time Off calendars.

 

 

 

To see the results:

Go to manage date.

Select the object “time account snapshot”

You can see the result for each employee (make the userID as a searchable field in the object)

 

To extract the data:

Got to Import / Export Data and choose “Export”. Select the time account snapshot object and click on download. You get a CSV file.

Of course, only with the time account snapshot created there is not yet a leave liability. This is why the next step had to be taken:

Replication of time account snapshot result to IT2010 Renumeration Infotype

We built a new integration (well in fact, the EC Payroll team built it – so many thanks to them) that allows to send the time account balance to the SAP HR Infotype 2010 Renumeration Infotype. Hence the balance gets transferred to Payroll. This kind of replication is a generic one, so not only Australian customers can use it. But for Australia not only the time account balances get replicated, but the EC Payroll country version for Australia has also been adapted for the leave liabilty reporting and to print the balance on the payslip. Cause the payroll schema usually reads time account balances from the quota infotype 2006. To read the IT2010 some adaptations in the payroll schema were necessary.

So, when you have got similar business process where you can utilize the EC time account balance for Payroll purpose you can now use the time account snapshot to retrieve the balances and use the replication to Infotype 2010. When you want to use them in EC Payroll (for example to print the balance on the Payslip) for a different country like Australia, make sure you adapt the payroll schema or payslip statement in a way to read the IT2010 instead of the IT2006.

And the IT2010 replication comes as usual with error handling / display in the Payroll Monitor and automated re-posting to IT2010 when the employee was for example blocked due to ongoing payroll processing.

 

3. ODATA API for planned times and absence hours

Ever wanted to retrieve daily planned working time including temporary changes, public holiday information or even daily absence hours in a simple way out of EC? Here we go:

We made a Beta-Version API available for public usage that contains lots of useful information for payroll systems, scheduling systems or other ressource planning systems.

The API “Employee Calendar” gives you planned working time per day (with temporary workschedule information), public holiday class, absence hours per day and “availability” hours (which is the delta of planned and absence hours per day).

This information is very useful when you need to replicate data to a payroll system like planned times and absence hours (of course with the absence type) per day. You even can navigate down in the case of a temporary change of workschedule to the original planned time form the job info workschedule. (When you don´t know what a temporary change of workschedule is in detail:  a temporary change is an overwrite of the employees planned time for a day or a period with different planned working time without changing the longterm work schedule assignment in the job information portlet. Similar like the IT 2003 substitution in SAP ERP Time. Check out my previous blogs to get more information).

Beta release means you can use it but with some restrictions. First one is that you need to get in contact with us when you want to use it. Activation of beta functionality is done via provisioning. Intensive usage for 10.000s of employees might affect performance. This is why we want to have a little control in the early release of this API in terms of who is using it for how many employees.

How this API is called and what it gives you as response can be read in the documentation that we provide you. Just a quick glance on how the response message looks like

“uri”: “https://<host>/odata/v2/beta/EmpEmployeeCalendar(asOfDate=datetime’2017-01-10T00:00:00′,userId=’cgrant’)”,

“type”: “SFOData.EmpEmployeeCalendar”

},

“asOfDate”: “/Date(1484006400000)/”,

“userId”: “cgrant”,

“holidayClass”: null,

“targetWorkingHours”: “8”,

“hasTimeOff”: false,

“allocatedHours”: “0”,

“status”: “OK”,

“plannedWorkScheduleHours”: “8”,

“isHoliday”: false,

“isWorkScheduleNonWorkingDay”: false,

“remainingHours”: “8”,

“employeeTimeNav”: {

“__deferred”: {

“uri”: “https://<host>/odata/v2/beta/EmpEmployeeCalendar(asOfDate=datetime’2017-01-10T00:00:00′,userId=’cgrant’)/employeeTimeNav”

 

 

4.  New rule functions for Time Off

Do you know all the business rule functions that EC Time provides for time off and time sheet? Honestly, I don´t know them all :-). I think we provide around 50 time-specific rule functions that you can use for input validations, accrual calculations, pro-rating of leave entitlements when an employee gets hired in the middle of the year, gets terminated or gets promoted and new accrual rules need to be applied. It is a very powerful and flexible mechanism – and the good thing: it is not an own kind of programming code, the business rules are a generic EC feature. When you have created one to do some validations / propagations for master data in EC, you can easily create a rule for EC Time.

All time related rule functions are documented in the time off implementation guide that you can find on help.sap.com. Enter “employee central” and search for time off business rules. You will get links to a good documentation with examples. This is very useful when you want to find out what each of this rules calculates and retrieves. And we provide even sample rules that you can use as a pattern and adapt. Just download them from the Success Store for free.

To add some more flexibility for your validations and calculations we provided in the Q2 release two new rule functions that gives you in addition to the already existing mulitple rule functions on absence days / hours now even the possibilty to retrieve the occurence of an absence in a period. Use case is for example: you want to have an input validation when an employee records more than 5 times in a year “child sickness”. Regardless how many absence days / hours the employee has recorded in the past, the sheer fact that he has recorded it more often than 5 times needs to be validated. With the rule function  “Get Number Of Absences For Period For Time Types” you can validate this.

Another new rule is  “Read Value Of Job Info Date Field As Of Key Date”. This function allows to read a job info field with a key date – so not only the actual job info record, but even the value of fields for a past or future date.

 

5. Time Account Process Simulator

Ever created some time account accrual rules for regular accrual, hire or termination? Depending on customers requirement this can be a tricky, tricky task. And for the complicated scenarios you can´t think each constellation through on paper or in your mind when you are designing the rule. From a certain complexity onwards it is very often trial and error (at least for me). And ever wanted to test your accrual rule before assigning it to employees and testing it there? Ever wanted to get the accrual result in a kind of dry run? We got now something that will make life for consultants much easier. Fanfare please for the: Time Account Process Simulator.

With the time account process simulator you can test and verify if your time account rule does what it shall do. The simulator gives you warnings and errors when your rule is created in a wrong way. Of course we can´t check your business scenario, but the warnings and errors give a hint if something is missing or your rule completly set up erroneous. And most important: it gives you of course the possibilty too see what your rule would create. If the result is not the desired one adapt your rule and run the time account process simulator again.

 

You can drill into the details to get information on the calculation scenario, selected rule, accrual rule parameters, result and much more as you can see from the screenshot.

One step further to facilitate the configuration. Hope you like it.

 

5. Time Workbench enhancements

The Time Workbench is the landing page for a time admin to analyze and administer an employees time data. Work schedule in a graphical manner and their temporary changes (called “substitution” in SAP ERP Time language),  absence records, time account balances and postings are shown there(with payout and balance adjustment possibilty) as well as time alerts. We permanently enhance the workbench with new features to strenthen the role of a time administrator in Employee Central.

This release we made small enhancements to workbench in the sense that the time account overview has been enhanced with:

a) the option to see not only the open time accounts of an employee (this means bookable time accounts), but also via a filter all time accounts which includes the closed one

b) we display in addition the external code of a time account

 

 

 

7. Enhanced information of Time Sheet workflow in mass approval list

And last but not least we enhanced the time sheet workflow in the mass approval list with time sheet specific information. The mass approval list has been built by the workflow team to provide the possibilty to efficiently approve / decline each kind of EC workflows. And Time Off / Time Sheet workflows are of course part of this. But it makes no sense to just provide an entry in the list with employees name and time sheet period. An approver needs to have some additional information to decide if the time sheet can be approved. Hence we provide time sheet context information like: Planned hours of the time sheet period, recorded hours (and here of course the absence hours are incorporated as well cause it would not make much sense to show planned 40, recorded 8 when the employee has got a 4 days vacation in the week and worked 8 hours on Monday. Hence we combine time off and time sheet data in the “recorded” field.

With this new feature the mass approval list for time sheet makes more sense. And we are in the actual development release even enhance this feature to bring more information into the mass approval list. You will read on it in my Q3 release blog. But to curtail the expectations: please don´t assume that each and any information can be brought into the mass list view. The mass approval list shall still be clearly and provide quick information. And we don´t intend to make the fields on the mass approval list configurable. Please remember: we are a cloud solution that intends to provide an easy to implement best of breed solution and not being a configuration monster. This goes sometimes at the cost that not each and anything can be configured.

This is what comes in the Q2 release:

 

 

I think this information on times recorded and planned in the mass approval list already helps a lot in the day to day business to approve time sheets. If an approver needs to have a closer look on the recorded / evaluated times of the time sheet he just needs to click on the link and the usual workflow approval screen comes up where the approver can see the recorded “raw” data and the results of the time valuation like overtime wage types, regular hours, shift allowances and so on:

 

 

 

 

This was all I wanted to share on the Q2 release. There were of course some smaller enhancements too, but I focus here only on the major ones. Hope this was helpful for you. Stay tuned, next release is already about to come soon.

 

Volker Ruof

EC Time Product Management

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5 Comments

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  1. Richard Kersey

    Thank you for the latest release Volker, your blog helps me keep tabs on what’s happening in the world of time and attendance management on the cloud.

    I implement, configure and manage time management in local government (Derbyshire County Council) in the UK. We have 14’000 employees and a VERY wide range of employee groups and differing terms and conditions which means the cloud solution in it’s current format isn’t quite a viable option. However, I can see that it is advancing at quite a pace now and is certainly something we may be able to consider in a couple of years should the powers that be decide to go with Success Factors.

    Thanks again.

    Richard Kersey

     

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    1. Volker Ruof Post author

       

      Thanks Richard,

      yes I know, we still got gaps. Like missing clock in / out terminal integration for example where we gonna focus on in the near future. But hey, we are on the start for only 4 years now and I think we already achieved a lot. And we are keeping on continuing enhance our time solution. So, lets see if we can´t cover these kind of requirements in a couple of years ;-).

      And, not to forget: Customers benefit from the cloud in various ways. When a customer decides to move to cloud, it is a complete new playground for him, with new chances to do his business in a different way, lots of chances to modernize, improve and simplify the current busniness processes. I know, a killer argument against this is legal regulations on time, company agreements on time issues, trade union agreements on time issues. But I was myself a time consultant and I know that there is always room for interpretation. I never had a customer who did his time processes exactly the same way – even when they belonged to the same trade union agreements. So, there is always space for interpretation, space for improvements and simplification. A more simple configured solution allows customer to adapt it much more quickly when new time policies are set up – and it is cheaper to maintain.

      So, all the luck for your implementation, and maybe your next project is a cloud time project ;-).

      Regards

      Volker

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  2. Carlo Neto

    Thanks for this interesting article, as a blog that i posted on the SFSF community, we are waiting to know how to manage the flexible working hours on EC time off. It’s important to manage absences in a flexible time, out of a planned working time. In many companies employees can start work in flexible time start; ex. 08:30 – 09:30 and they end after 8 hours + 1 break time hour, between 05:30 and 06:30 pm. So they can record absences in a flexible range from 08:30 am to 06:30 pm to complete their working day. Actually record an absence with clock times is not possible for the entire period but perhaps in the future EC releases…

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