Statistics dumps paper-based timekeeping for local solution

Auckland-based Pictdata Productions has signed a deal with Statistics New Zealand to replace the government department's paper-based timesheet system with its own locally developed Time Disciple (formerly known as Tardis) software. Pictdata was selected by Statistics New Zealand following an RFI process conducted late last year.

Auckland-based Pictdata Productions has signed a deal with Statistics New Zealand to replace the government department’s paper-based timesheet system with its own locally developed Time Disciple (formerly known as Tardis) software.

Pictdata was selected by Statistics New Zealand following an RFI process conducted late last year. The timesheet component of Time Disciple will be rolled out to 750 users using a Sybase database over the department’s WAN.

Pictdata will integrate the project cost recovery from Time Disciple to Statistics New Zealand’s Oracle Financials and leave management in conjunction with Cardinal’s HRI payroll and human resources system.

Pictdata managing director Grant Hughson says while the New Zealand Qualifications Authority was Pictdata’s first government site, Statistics New Zealand is bigger and is the company’s largest site yet.

“Statistics has been recovering project costs accurately and manually for some years but the manual process was not allowing information to be available in a timely or flexible manner. We are automating that process with our new highly graphical icon-based time-sheet.”

Costing is important to projects but Hughson says people often find filling out timesheets boring. “It was a real challenge for us to make it simple, fun and intuitive for people to keep their timesheets up to date. We added a personal touch by assigning icons to represent tasks.”

Users can assign an icon such as a cat to tasks they like and a devil icon to tasks which are hellish.

The timesheet was developed using Sybase’s Formula 1 OCX object grid and Borland Delphi. More than 500 freeware icons are available with Time Disciple, but user sites can add their own icons.

Ellen Henry, Pictdata’s Wellington implementation and training manager, says the new timesheet interface is popular with users. “It’s making client implementations and training a real pleasure. Getting time against your projects is now fun. Accurate representation of approved work information is increasingly critical to organisations. This is the real reason Time Disciple exists,” she says.

Pictdata has also announced version 3.3 of Time Disciple, and is working on plans to market it overseas.

The system will be officially launched at the Computerworld Expo March 31 and will demonstrate its new features including support for Outlook 97 and Groupwise 4 schedulers via MAPI. Users of Outlook 97 and Groupwise 4 schedulers will be able to save time by transferring completed appointments to Time Disciple, connecting their time to specific project or task codes, enabling multiple appointments to be transferred in seconds instead of many minutes.

Version 3.3 for Win95 and NT has increased accounting integration for cost recovery or billing with accounting programs such as MYOB, Sage and OPM. Reports can be outputted to HTML or email for remote workers and there are extended timesheet options. This version is also Y2K compliant.

Time Disciple product manager John Patrick says the next release, Time Disciple 3.4, is already underway and there are plans to upgrade the current Microsoft Project 95 interface to Project 98 using OLE automation and to provide Java extensions for timesheets and work requests to operate over the Web or an intranet.

“We will also be adding support for the Notes scheduler, integrating with HR systems and adding Oracle Financials to our list of specifically supported accounting products.”For more information see www.timedisciple.com.

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