Timecontrol Facilitates Project Management at EXFO

"Based on our experience, I can confirm that TimeControl is a reliable system."

Andre Richard

EXFO: 25 Years of Innovation

Since 1985, EXFO has maintained a commitment to innovation, which in turn contributes to its leadership in its market sector. And the company, whose mission is to develop test solutions for new technologies - such as fiber-to-the-subscriber (FTTx) and complex IP networks, among others - continues to anticipate customer needs.

The Québec-based company is now a leading supplier of test and service assurance solutions for network service providers and equipment manufacturers in the global telecommunications industry. Its services range from tool design, to deployment assistance, to service assurance on optical and wireless networks.

As a result of corporate acquisitions around the globe, EXFO is now present in North America and Europe, as well as Asia, where it has established a research and development office (in India). Today, EXFO relies on 1600 employees located in 25 countries to serve over 2000 clients.

EXFO made its debut on the NASDAQ and TSX stock exchanges in June 2000. Even during the telecom slowdown in 2001, it continued to invest in R&D so that it could maintain its position at the forefront of new technologies no matter how quickly they evolve.

Project Management at the Core of Its Activities

Because EXFO can have more than 50 complex projects going at once, managing them can be a headache. The need to standardize the time management tools for every site around the world is therefore a priority. From Montreal to Boston, by way of India, the employees assigned to different project phases must be able to concentrate on their responsibilities in order to move the project forward and not spend too much time on management tasks.

Back in 1999, EXFO chose HMS Software's TimeControl timesheet software for its compatibility with its project management software. With each new acquisition, EXFO implemented this unique system as a core component of its standardized management processes, in order to facilitate the task for both employees and managers, not to mention the accounting department.

In fact, according to André Richard, Manager, Project Management Office (PMO) at EXFO, the TimeControl timesheet system meets both HR and project management needs. All of the employees' time is recorded in a single tool, from the working hours devoted to a given project phase, to time off and vacations, thus facilitating numerous applications.

"The resulting information is easily retrieved in any form desired: summary or partial, reports by project or by date, graphs and precise data… Based on our experience, I can confirm that TimeControl is a reliable system"

Andre Richard

TimeControl's contribution to project management at EXFO is considerable. Since EXFO's services are divided into two main sectors - product development and support projects - the link between the project management and time tracking systems is essential. To Richard, the fact that TimeControl can be integrated with other tools is a key asset. The tasks created in the management tool (Microsoft Project) transfer effortlessly to TimeControl. The two systems can therefore operate in a loop.

Beyond administrative tasks such as payroll and holiday and vacation planning, time control at EXFO is crucial. For instance, tracking the hours invested in a project helps ensure its financial control. In fact, in André Richard's experience, the time report of hours devoted to one phase of a project, when compared to the estimate, allows corrections to the project effort to be made as needed.

EXFO, which has used TimeControl since 1999, can also revisit the past. The statistics thus compiled - the number, the location, and the role of the employees assigned to a project, the cost of labor based on salaries - constitute databases that are essential to the managers' work. "It certainly contributes to our corporate memory," Richard emphasizes, "since it helps us keep track of who did what on which project."

Tax Credits for Research and Development

EXFO is constantly looking for new solutions in the search for reliable tools and products for testing telecommunications networks. It devotes numerous hours to its R&D activities, and these are eligible for tax credits in Québec and Canada.

"The timesheet data gathered for R&D tax credits is done by TimeControl," André Richard explains. All it took to do this was to create codes for the projects so that the hours could be allocated to the right program. The managers set these parameters at the start, and the operation takes very little time. As a plus, it greatly facilitates the Financial Department's job when transferring its monthly data to the general accounting ledger.

TimeControl: Nothing but advantages for EXFO

As the company notes: "At EXFO, productivity enrichment, economies of time and money, as well as user-friendliness are a way of life." It is the reason why it uses high-performance tools such as TimeControl in every aspect of its operations.

Customization of the software according to the company's needs and its evolution, its user-friendliness, its accessibility in all locations thanks to a web-based version, and its multilingualism are just a few of the advantages mentioned by André Richard.

The publisher's updates issued by HMS Software, along with updates for the links with other software, are quickly and easily installed, and require little effort. At EXFO, only three people see to this task: one in Project Management, and two in Accounting.

TimeControl's reliability is also an important point for this publicly-traded company, which must annually issue audited reports for its shareholders. In matters of time management, EXFO can rest easy with TimeControl. All it has to do is verify data integrity once a year, through a standardization and validation process.