The Timeslips Sage

Many of today’s newer monitors have very high resolution settings, optimized for HD video, which is not really necessary for basic office use.  As a result, users with less than perfect eyesight tend to change some video settings to make things more visible.  Unfortunately, this can have a negative impact on the performance of Timeslips.

You really have only two options when it comes to changing your display settings, either increase the text size or lower your screen resolution.

  • Increase the text sizeScreen resolution options
    • Right click on your desktop and choose Screen Resolution
    • Then click “Make text and other items larger or smaller”
      You’ll see choices for
      Smaller – 100%
      Medium – 125%
      Larger – 150%

This seems to be the option most people choose, but that choice has a greater negative impact on Timeslips.  The “Larger” setting definitely causes problems with Timeslips displays and printing. The text on some screens can get “squished”, and reports may print with very small text.   You can sometimes get away with the “Medium” setting, but Timeslips functions best with the Smaller – 100% setting.

You’ll need to re-boot your computer after changing this setting.

  • display-2Lower your screen resolution, making everything bigger but less defined.
    • Right click on your desktop and choose Screen Resolution.
    • Click the Resolution dropdown menu, then pull the slider bar down one or two settings and try it out.

This change does not seem to have any negative impact on printing, but you won’t be able to fit as much on the screen at once.  Changing this setting does not require a re-boot, so you can flip between settings pretty quickly until you find just the right fit.

You may need to experiment until you get to a setting that works best for your eyes, for Timeslips, and for all of your other applications.

In our “mobile” society, being able to keep track of everything you do while “on the go” has become increasingly important. This is especially true for mobile professionals who need to bill for – or at least accurately track – all of their professional time. Various “remote entry” products and tools have been around for a while, but typically require some form of “export/import” routines to get the “mobile” data into the Timeslips billing system, which can prove daunting when everything doesn’t go completely smoothly (does it ever?).

We have recently become acquainted with a clever little product which seems to take most of the “heavy lifting” out of mobile time tracking, and runs right from your smartphone (Blackberry, iPhone, Droid, etc.). WorkTRAKR, from Proximiti Communications, installs right on your phone and runs in the background, waiting for you to make a call, send an email, or schedule an appointment. When you do so, you can choose to be prompted for a billing code, and the transaction is then automatically loaded onto a secure server at Proximiti, from where it can be quickly and easily merged into your Timeslips billing system, typically with a single click from the website portal.

The app runs not only on smartphones, but right on your desktop or laptop, as well, capturing information from Outlook, office copiers, landline phones, etc. – any tool you use for communication (except a typewriter!) is fair game to be integrated for time and expense capturing purposes to bill from Timeslips. The application is sold as a service, allowing the user to “tailor” what communications applications are to be integrated, and is priced accordingly.  A basic subscription for smartphone-only integration can be as inexpensive as $25.00 per month.

There is a link on our website from which you can explore the various pricing options, receive a ready-made quote for the services you elect to purchase, and even try out the service for 30 days at no cost. Click here if you are interested in taking WorkTRAKR for a test drive.

Sage Timeslips 2011 was previewed today at the Sage Insights Conference, and the finalproduct  release dates were announced. Product shipments will begin to customers on June 18, 2010. It was noted at the conference that this is the 25th anniversary of the Timeslips product, quite an achievement in the turbulent world of technology.

This year’s release focuses on four product areas:

  1. Performance improvements, especially in the bill approval process
  2. “de-infestation”, a rather curious term which essentially means that a lot of the “third party” subroutines which have been part of the code base for years have been removed (e.g., the calendar picklist function, graphing, etc.). These changes  will be generally transparent to users, but should lead to performance improvements, and will  pave the way for a more comprehensive re-work of the product to prepare for the emerging 64-bit operating system platforms. The current version will presently run in the “x86” area of a 64-bit server.
  3. Reporting and Billing Engine enhancements, including the addition of more custom fields, additional custom calculations, and overall performance improvements in billing and reporting
  4. New features based on customer surveys and the development “backlog” from previous editions that never made it to the final release.

Some of the more interesting (and requested) new features include the following:

  • Beefed-up slip entry restrictions – where in the past clients could be put on “restriction” so that a warning was generated if charges were entered against that client record, the restriction can now actually prevent the charge from being processed at all (based on user security);
  • Editing of slip descriptions can now be made from the box on the lower left side of the slip listing window, a marked improvement in user workflow;
  • Custom fields for clients, timekeepers, and activities have been increased from 30 per area to 90; these custom fields can be further organized into “types”, and will be displayed on sub-tabs opening from the “Custom” tab on the “master” record. This should open up many new possibilities for integrating data from external applications into the billing system, to be used for reporting filters and sorts;
  • PDF-generated invoices can now be assigned a unique naming scheme based on “tokens” supplemented by user-entered text (e.g., CustNo+date+invoice#)
  • Cash receipts entries can now have a payment “type” (e.g., cash, check, VISA, MC, etc.) associated with the payment, and the user can custom define payment types
  • Timeslips will now allow processing of electronic payments, via the new Sage Payments Solutions service; credit card transactions can be processed directly from the cash receipts screen;
  • New workstation-level configuration settings will permit a user to disable various external “links” (e.g., to TalPro, Outlook, etc.) eliminating the annoying alert message that appears when the user logs in and does not have the external application running

All in all, Sage Timeslips 2011 appears to be a worthwhile product upgrade, which should both add stability and performance enhancements to the product while also introducing some interesting new functionality and configuration opportunities.

Several clients have recently asked me about how the Timeslips licensing works so it seems like a good topic to discuss here.  I will try to explain it as simply and clearly as possible so you can figure out how many licenses you may need as we move into upgrade season.

I like to think of Timeslips licenses like books in a library.  The first time you open Timeslips on your computer is like checking the book out of the library.  Even if you close the book/program you still have it in your possession and no one else can read the book while you have it out, so that license is considered “In Use.”  You can open and close the book/program as many times as you like but that license is yours until you return it to the library – or clear it using the Station Administrator.

The Station Administrator is a separate application that allows you to view how the licenses are being distributed.  You can access Station Administrator from within Timeslips via the Special menu, or from outside of Timeslips via the Timeslips program group on your Windows start menu.

When you open Station Administrator the first screen you see will show you the location of the Timeslips database and any users that are currently logged into that database.  These are the people that are currently reading their books.

Click the Options menu and choose Licenses In Use to see how the licenses are being distributed – who has the books out from the library, whether they are currently reading them or not.  You will see the name of the computer that each license is being used on as well as the Windows User ID.  This is a good reason to give your computers descriptive names and make sure each of your users have a unique Windows login.  If two people share the same computer, but use two different Windows logins, they will use two Timeslips licenses.

There is also a column for Session Type, which identifies whether the user is working via a remote Terminal Services connection.  Unlike local licenses, Terminal Services session licenses are released when the user exits Timeslips.

If no one is currently logged into Timeslips (no one is listed on the first Station Administrator screen), you can clear any or all of the licenses in use, making them available on a first come, first served basis.

In the lower right corner of the Licenses In Use screen you can also see how many licenses you have purchased, how many are in use and how many are available.

You may also notice two radio buttons at the top of this screen labeled Full Licenses and API Licenses.  API licenses are licenses used by other programs that connect to Timeslips, such as Time Matters, Outlook, Amicus, PC Law, Peachtree and Quickbooks.  Timeslips provides 100 API licenses.

All of this licensing information is stored in a file on the server called Timeslip.cfg.  Some people make the mistake of using the CD to install Timeslips on each computer and this puts a separate Timeslips.cfg file on each computer.  Two computers cannot access the same Timeslips database if they are using different Timeslip.cfg files.  The second person that tries to log in will get an error message.

If you do install from the CD, you can tell Timeslips to use the configuration file on the server by using the Station Administrator.  In Station Administrator, click the Options menu and choose Change Install Path.  This will then allow you to browse to the Timeslip.cfg file located on the server.  You should then delete the Timeslip.cfg file on your C drive.

When you use the Setup.exe file in the LoclInst folder on the server to install Timeslips on workstations, each computer automatically uses the Timeslip.cfg file on the server.

Still have questions about Timeslips licensing?  Need to order additional licenses?  Contact one of the experts at TriStar Data Systems.

Timeslips 2011 will be released early this summer.  You can save up to $320 if you pre-order before May 28th.

We expect to participate in beta testing for Timeslips 2011 shortly, and anticipate the announcement of an official release date shortly after the conclusion of that beta test period. While we cannot legally discuss the specifics of the new release (due to our non-disclosure agreement), we expect the new version to be available in late June – early July.

 What does this mean for you?

 If you are using a version of Timeslips earlier than Timeslips 2008, it means that Sage’s “official” support for your version will end shortly after this new release. While we will continue supporting these “obsolete” versions, we are constrained by our inability to obtain the manufacturer’s support for those earlier versions. It may be time to consider an upgrade.

 If you are using Timeslips 2008 or later, you should carefully review the new features for the 2011 version when they become publicly available, and make your upgrade decision based on features. We do not know yet ourselves what new features will make it into the final release of Timesl;ips 2011, but we have heard discussions of enough new “wrinkles” to make this new version pretty interesting.

 If you decide to upgrade, we urge you to consider placing your upgrade order through TriStar. We do very little advertising, receiving the majority of our new business through referrals from the Timeslips website. Our positioning on that website (currently #1 for Pennsylvania) is determined by the Timeslips orders we place with Sage. Your upgrade order will help us maintain that lofty position.

In most cases we are able to match or exceed whatever upgrade pricing Sage is able to offer you directly (as a consequence of our Platinum status). So, by placing your Timeslips upgrade order with Tristar you help us maintain our Platinum status, and we help you to save a little money on your upgrade.

A classic “win-win!”

Give us a call if you would like to discuss your upgrade options.

In this environmentally conscious era, everyone seems to be talking about the paperless office.  Timeslips 2010 now has many features that make it easy to manage your billing process from start to finish without having to print a thing.   Let’s take a look at the “old way” of doing things, with piles of paper, and then look at the features in Timeslips that make it easier than ever to perform the same functions in a paperless environment. 

Time Entry
The old way: Timekeepers fill out paper timesheets and hand them to an assistant to enter into the computer. 

The paperless solution:  Timesheet Slip Entry.

Timekeepers can now enter their time in a traditional timesheet format, instead of having to enter individual slips.  Clients and tasks can be pre-filled so that the timekeepers need only to enter the number of hours worked in the appropriate box.  They can make life even easier by using the timer to keep track of the time as they work. 

 Pre-Bill Worksheets
The old way:  The billing clerk prints out a stack of pre-bill worksheets and then gives them to the boss to review and mark up before the final bills are generated.  

The paperless solution:  Interactive bill preview with drill-down capability

The boss can print the pre-bills to his/her display and click on-screen to drill down and make the changes right in the program. 

The old way: Print out the bills.  Stuff them in envelopes.  Stamp the envelopes.  Put them in the mail.  Wait a week for the client to receive the bill and another week (hah!) for them to pay. 

The paperless solution:  Send bills via email

Timeslips allows you to email bills right from within the program, via a connection to Outlook.  The client receives the bill as a PDF file.  You can create an unlimited number of email templates with different message bodies and subject lines.  You can even embed tokens like the invoice number and amount into the message and subject line.     If you prefer, you can also print the bills to PDF files and then email them manually. 

 Reporting/Data Analysis
The old way: Print reports to paper

The paperless solution:  Print reports to display, PDF file, Excel or Word

The added bonus to viewing your reports on screen is that you can click on the data elements to drill down for more detail.  Sending reports to Excel gives you extra functionality and flexibility.  With Timeslips 2010, all reports now have a print to Excel option and you can choose to send the data over in columns, or as it appears in the standard Timeslips report format. 

Cash Receipts
The old way: Open the mail. Enter checks into Timeslips.  Take checks to the bank. 

 The paperless solution:  Unfortunately Timeslips has not yet developed a way to receive payments other than to enter them manually.  However, there are many ways that you can receive payments from clients over the internet or phone without using checks.  We would be willing to bet that, before too much longer (Timeslips 2011?) Timeslips will incorporate a way to import payment transactions from the website, that you can then use to process client payments. 

 So there you have it.  Not only do these solutions save paper, they save time, resources and money.

For more help with configuring Timeslips for a paperless office, contact one of the experts at TriStar Data Systems.