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Product and Topic Expert
Product and Topic Expert

I missed to write a blog on the new EC Time features for the release 1608 - and coicindentally the new 1611 is about to be released. Hence I combine the two releases into one blog.

I start with the 1611er release - cause in this release we again bring fantastic new features into the product. Features that not only help setting up the time valuation better and help to understand how time evaluation produces a specific result, but we also start into a kind of new dimension of time recording. We open up the box of flextime. Flextime - what is flextime? Well, it is mainly a european concept and not that common in US. In US you need to pay the employee for each hour he works. This is due to the fact that in US there are many hourly paid employees. This is quite uncommon nowadays in Europe. In Europe the employees are most often salaried paid. Time recording is done for overtime calculation purpose or other pay type purpose (like Sunday premium, night premium...), or it is done to prove that you have worked the contractual hours, but it is less done to pay you on a hourly base. Yes, there are specific employee groups that are paid hourly, but the majority is salaried paid.

And when salaried paid employees record working time that is greater than the daily planned working hours or the weekly hours are greater than the planned hours of the week, there is usually an overtime payment.

But what when the shift the employee has to work is by default longer than his daily contractual average hours? Or when there are company agreements that allow a kind of longer work on specific days in combination with less worked hours on other days in the future? How can this more flexible design of working time be handled?

Here is the answer: Use working time accounts in Employee Central Time Sheet.

1.  Working time accounts (and absence recording in Time Sheet)

The working time account concept provide a daily calculation of recorded times against the planned time. The result is a delta or a so-called "working time account difference" which is posted automatically to a working time account. Upon each time recording, in real time, right after the employee has entered the times.

So, lets assume there is a working time account balance on Monday of 7.5 hours based on recordings of the previous weeks. The employee has got a workschedule Mon-Friday with 8 hours each day.

The employee records:

Mon: 9 hours
Tues: 11 hours
Wed: 7 hours
Thur: 6 hours
Friday: 9 hours

The working time account mechanism would calculate on

Monday: +2 hours.
The balance gets increased to 9.5 hours (remember, we start on Mon with 7.5 from the previous week)

Tuesday: +3 hours.
The balance gets increased to 12.5 hours

Wednesday: -1 hour.
The balance gets decreased to 11.5 hours

Thursday: -2 hours.
The balance gets decreased to 9.5 hours

Friday: +1 hour.
The balance gets increased to 10.5 hours.

So, at the end of the week the working time account balance is 10.5 hours.
The employee can either gradually work less or even take a full day off with an absence request to deduct this time account.

Working time accounts allow employees not to work rigidly according to the duration of their planned time, but more flexible. And it allows employers not having to pay immediatly overtime pay when the employee works a few minutes or hours longer.

Of course, you can have a combination of working time accounts and real overtime. You can set up for example that all working time up to 10 hours a day is relevant for working time account, and all above is posted to a time off in lieu account or even paid out with an overtime premium.
Or on "regular" working days all hours recorded are taken for the working time account calculation, but hours recorded on the weekend or on a public holiday are treated as overtime and paid differently.

In addition you can of course set up what "timetypes" are at all relevant for the working time account calculation. When you got positive time recorders you need for example to set up the absences to be relevant for the working time account as well, cause otherwise an employee would go on vacation and the vacation account is deducted and in addition the working time account as well when you don´t configure the absence to be working time account relevant.

The working time accounts provide you lots of flexibilty to let your employees design their working time in a more flexible way. When there are days with heavy workload, employees work longer, working time account is increased. When there are days with less workload or the mother-in-law comes for a home visit the employee can leave earlier in order to keep the peace at home. The working time account gets reduced, and the overall working time over a period gets balanced out.

You can use the working time accounts for positive or for negative time recorders. The example above was for positive time recorders. The recording process for a negative time recorder is due to the very nature of the negative time recording slightly different:
Negative time recorder don´t record their daily working time. They record only the deviations of the planned time like overtime, absences, or maybe a training that gets paid differently. So, when the working time accounts are used for a negative time recorder the daily delta is 0. Cause the planned working time gets compared with the planned working time that is automatically transferred into hours worked. Hence, planned time is compared with planned time. Makes no real sense on a normal working day cause the working time account difference is always 0. But only as long as the employee does not record deviations. He can for example record "Plus hours" when he has worked longer. And the working time account balance gets increased. When he leaves the office earlier the employee can record "Minus hours" that reduce the working time account balance. But for a negative time recorder the "too less hours worked" need to be an absence. Just like when you take a full day off that reduces the working time account you need to create an absence, and when you leave some hours earlier you need to create an absence as well when you are a negative time recorder.

In releases prior to 1611 absence recording was only possible in the time off application. And here comes the good news: absence recording is now also possible in the time sheet. Many customers asked for this many times and here it comes. There is a new section in the time sheet where absences can be recorded. And more than this: all custom fields that are defined, all time off take rules and even the time off workflow works for the absence that is recorded in the time sheet. You can see this in the attached screenshots: there is a new button to create absences in the time sheet. What you also see is that when employees have got a working time account assigned in their time profile the actual, realtime calculated balance is displayed in the time sheet as well. This is necessary, cause employees don´t want to record their working time and then navigate somewhere else to check how this updated the working time account balance.

You can see here the working time account balance beneath the "Totals" section and the button to record an absence at the bottom.

When the "Add Absence" button is pressed, the Time Off Absence request form pops up and the employee can record a partial day, multi-day, single day absence and even use the "reccuring" absence feature:

The absence is then immediatly displayed as a grey bar in the time sheet and can of course be edited or deleted.
Please note that this is only possible when then new People Profile is activated. But this is also true for many new features of the last releases like the time admin workbench, the "temporary change of work schedules" (or in SAP Speech: Substitutions Infotype 2003) or even the linking of illness absences.

It needs to be mentioned that there are some round-offs to be done in the next release for working time accounts in conjunction with positive time recording - cause we focused first on the negative time use case.
For positive time recording in the 1611 release the working time account difference calculation is only done when the time sheet user interface is opened. When an employee for example does not record any times for the last week although he has got planned time, and does not even navigate to this week the time valuation for this period is not triggered and hence the working time account not updated. So, for positive time recording to trigger time valuation it needs at least a UI navigation into weeks that contain no attendance data at all - but this will only be in practical business live rare cases and we plan to tackle this in the next release where a negative working time difference will be posted on each day with planned time automatically even when the user does not touch his time sheet at all.

Working time accounts vs. Time off in lieu

So, where is the difference between working time accounts and the previously delivered Time off in lieu that allows overtime not being paid out but converted into Time off in lieu?

Quite easy:

Time off in lieu does not do an automated minus posting when a positive time recorder works less than planned time. To deduct a time off in lieu account a specific absence time type must be recorded. And we display the working time account balance right in the time sheet UI.
So, this is the main difference. And when you have read this blog carefully you noticed that even negative time recorders with working time accounts need to record an absence as well to deduct the working time account. Cause otherwise the system does not know that the employee has worked less.

This means that you can use working time accounts and time off in lieu accounts in parallel, too. What sense would this made?
Well, when the customer has got for example the requirement that all time recorded on weekdays are used for the working time account calculation, but for work on the weekend the customer wants to have this times posted into a different time account. This could be cause customer pays for work on weekend a 50% premium or overtime 1.5. Okay, this could also be done with the "normal" working time account when you use a posting factor for the working time accounts, too. You can set up the time valuation in a way that an hour worked on the weekend results in 1.5 hours posting to the working time account. But very often customers want to have the "real" overtime in a separate time off in lieu account cause different period end processings are tight to a time off in lieu account compared with a working time account. Time off in lieu could for example be set to be zeroed out quaterly (or in future be paid out automatically) whereas the working time account is normally seen as a permanent time account or maybe a yearly time account.

Period end processing of working time accounts
Due to the fact that the working time accounts are a "normal" time account all features and functions that are applicable for time accounts can be used for the working time accounts as well. Period end processing, interim time account updates, manual time account adjustments, payout and so on.

2. Time Valuation Trace
Did you ever ask yourself during time sheet configuration how to check if your time valuation results provide the result you want to achieve? And if not, how does this black box time valuation calculate based on the configuration you have done?

Or did you ever ask yourself how an time admin could ever answer an employees question like- why did I get only overtime premium 1.5 in the week, I should have gotten Overtime 2.0 cause I recorded 7 hours overtime in a week. But the employee has probably forgotten that he was 1 day unpaid absent and this is the reason why he has not received the Overtime 2.0. But how can a time admin check this?
Here is the answer: with using our brandnew time valuation trace.
When a user has the appropriate authorization a new button is displayed in the time sheet, call "Trace". This trace is a protocoll on how time valuation has calculated. All the input data is shown, the intermediate results and of course the end-results. You can drill down nearly on byte level to find out what the calculation engine did.
This is a very useful tool when you are up to configure time valuation - cause you always can see what value is pertained in the single time type groups you have created, what is transferred to which time type group based on the above / below / split / filter logics that are available in time valuation.

This facilitates not only time sheet configuration, but also the time administrators task to analyse time valuation results when employees got questions. The trace looks like this (the trace list can be very long, so only a snapshot here):


3. Split and delimit of absences

When you are already using Time off you might have noticed that there are collision checks when an absence (or even attendance in the time sheet) is recorded for a time / day where another absence has already been recorded. Good thing! Cause it prevents employees entering erroneous data cause they have choosen by accident the wrong date.

But there are business constellations, where an overlapping absence needs to be recorded. Imagine an employee is on a 3 weeks vacation and he gets during his vacation 1 week ill. In Europe the employee does not need to spend his vacation entitlement for an illness. So, the illness needs to be recorded and the vacation record splitted. Up to now this is only possible in a manual, admittedly slightly cumbersome process. You have to edit the end date of the vacation. Create an illness record and create for the third week another one-week vacation. Time consuming, error-prone process.
And we reacted:
Split and delimit does this automatically ! So, when an illness record is created that overlapps with a vacation record, the existing vacation gets automatically splitted. Time Admin gets in the UI an notficiation that when he proceeds he splits the vacation record and if he really wants to do this. When he proceeds the action is done: the vacation record is automatically splitted, the illness record created and of course the time account balance re-calculated so that the reduced vacation record increase the vacation balance.
When the illness is all in all longer than the existing vacation - for example employee has a 1 week vacation but he gets a certificate saying that he is 3 weeks ill, than the vacation records gets completly cancelled. And logically, when there is only a partial overlap the the end or start date of the vacation gets adapted - this is what we call "delimit".
Good thing is that there are no changes on the approval status of the already existing vacation - so when there is a split or delimit of an already approved vacation this does not need to be approved again after the split. For pending approval the same: instead of 1 record two vacation records are in the status "pending approval". Custom fields and attached notes get doubled as well when a record is splitted.

It needs however to be mentioned that the Split and Delimit is only applicable for absences, attendance still trigger an collision. Why that - simply cause there are not that many use cases and constellations where an attendance time shall split / delimit an absence time. And due to the fact that we have got only limited development capacity we need to focus on the main use cases. Hence when an attendance is recorded and for the same time an absence exist (or vice versa) there is still an action needed to delete the original record manually.
It is also important to note that the split and delimit for absence works only when the absence is recorded by an time admin in the new time admin workbench or when an absence gets imported via MDF import. When an employee records an overlapping absence there is no automated split, but the normal collision error. Not all customers want to have this feature enabled for employee recording, so we restricted it first on the time admin recording.

Of course this feature is not only limited to vacation and illness. You can configure this for all absences. You need to create a so-called collision group, assign this group to the absence time types and of course define the reaction when a time type of collision group A is recorded when a timetype of collision group B does already exist. Check the time off impementation handbook for more details on this.

So, this is it. These are the main topics in the 1611 release We did of course not only this, but other smaller enhancements like support of the Australian SAP Termination workbench where for example the time account balances are replicated to the SAP system in the case of terminating an employee in EC. We also provide a new rule function for calculating pro-rata on a daily basis when an employee has a yearly leave entitlement and gets promoted to a different job grade where not only 26 but 28 days leave entitlement is granted for a year. And we also brought the team absence calender into the new People Profile User Interfaces. And much more that you can find out when you read the Whats new section in our documentation.

When you made it up to this point of reading I would really appreciate if you can comment when you like our new features ! You can also comment when you don´t like them but I tell the admins then to block your account ;-). No, seriously, negative and positive feedback is always welcome. For sure there are still things missing in our application, but you see that we work each release hard to fill the gaps, bring new features and functions to satisfiy customers and to make a real full blown core time solution out of our application that started as a simple absence recording tool.

1608 release new features

I am still in debt to mention the enhancements we did for the 1608er release. Seems to me already so far away 😉
From a business process point of view the 1608 features are not that thrilling than the 1611 features.
It was rather investing in technical debts, performance and robustness of the application.

But some topics are worth to be mentioned as well like for example the

New Alert tab on the time admin workbench
The time admin workbench in the new people profile is designed for time administrators. It shall be the single point of entry for all tasks and analysis a time administrator needs to perform on employees time data. Be it absence recording on behalf of the employee, time account payouts or adjustments, as well as changes of workschedule via a temporary change of workschedule.

The time admin workbench in the 1605 release contained the tabs "Time Records", "Time Accounts" and "Work Schedule".  In 1608 a new "Time Alert" Tab has been introduced. On this tab there shall be all error / warning messages be shown that arise with existing or future coming alert / error messaging.

Assume for example an emloyee has already spend his full vacation. But he changes to part time in October and he has got a yearly vacation entitlement. The switch to a part timer can trigger an leave entitlement recalculation giving the employee for example 4 days less vacation. But he has already booked his full time leave entitlement. The time account accrual recalculation triggers than an error message, telling a time admin that there are absence already in the system that are not covered by a sufficient balance due to this switch to a part timer. This kind of errors will be send to the new time admin alert tab.

In future releases it is planned to have much more error messages generated for time admins. When for example an employee has more than 20 hours stored in his time off in lieu account at the end of a quarter or when a positive time recorder has recorded less than his planned time, but this is future talk and not yet in the system. But with the time alert tab the place is created where this messages can be seen, context information to the error given and actions proposed to solve this error.

Please note that the time admin workbench is only available with the new People Profile !

We did in 1608 furthermore round offs regarding our re-calculation capabilities. There is for example the feature of immediate re-calcuation of time account accrual, time account deduction or time sheet time valuation when for example the job information gets changed, work schedule changed, temporary change of workschedule or other time data recorded / edited. A retro-calculation has of course been triggered in previous releases, too, but depending on the time period the recalculation job was planned there could have been a little delay in updating an employees time data based on the re-calculation. Now this is run ad-hoc automatically. Moreover some new time off rule functions have been delivered that you can read over in the rules documenation.

This is it ! Nothing to add on new features in the 1608 / 1611 release.
Enjoy it, have fun configuring and using our EC Time Solution.

Stay tuned, as usual: new features about to come in already 3 months time from now !


Find infos on time functionality build in previous releases here:

Successfactors Employee Central Time and Attendance features Release Q2 2016

New Time Management Features in EC Time 1602

Successfactors EC Time Sheet and Time Off – new features