Remote Time Tracking with StaffCop

Remote time tracking with StaffCop

These days, due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the first symptoms of a coming financial crisis – the need to save money on everything (on office rent, in the first place), remote work without the need to present in the office physically has become a very significant issue.

Remote time tracking

Introduction

Time tracking of remotely working employees is one of the key issues here besides a number of other important issues that appear: legal, technical, psychological, and those related to information security.

These topics are considered in this article.

In this article only issues related to time tracking of remote employees are covered.

As was mentioned here 90% of office staff can work remotely, and the question arose: how can we define what a remote employee is doing at home – working on tasks or visiting entertainment resources?

This article answers it, considering a) the ways to accurately install StaffCop, b) what reports can be obtained c) and how they can be interpreted.

Before considering these questions, let’s mention a couple of basic points, so called “initial point” where we will start:

  • StaffCop has been properly installed, activated and configured, its IP address is defined, web-panel can be accessed, admin credentials are defined. StaffCop Server operates flawless, server capabilities meet the requirements. The requirements can be found here;
  • Endpoint agents have been properly installed (following all the recommendation on network configuring and Antivirus exclusions and they have been tested to operate correctly with all the types of transferred data (with “Total control” applied). At this very moment agents transfer data collected in accordance with the “Default config” (the initial configuration that agents receive just after the installation.

On the content of this article

This article includes a lot of information on configuring StaffCop Agents and other parameters for the purpose of time tracking, building and analyzing reports based on collected data. The article is divided into the following sections that are loosely connected to each other.

If you are going to administrate StaffCop we recommend to carefully study all the 4 sections. If you are an HR manager, yours is the section #3. If you are a supervisor (or a business owner), the main section for your concern is the 4th one (if you are going to build reports on your own, then you should study the section 3 as well), but we also recommend to study the section #2 to understand the categorizing of productive and unproductive activities: this will help you evaluate the possibilities of StaffCop in the field of analysis of collected data and give clear prescriptions to the system administrator on the corporate classification of web-sites and applications.

Configuring agent for time tracking purposes. Additional recommended parameters. Working with the calendar and working schedule.

Configuring endpoint agent for time tracking purposes

A special configuration best suitable for time tracking purposes is available from “the box” and it has a corresponding name – “Work time tracking”. It has all the modules required for collecting data on time tracking and evaluation of its efficiency enabled and all the other modules disabled. This configuration doesn’t require significant system resources of the server and agent.

Its location in the list of computer configurations is shown on the picture 1.3. To see this list you should open the main screen of the web-interface (pic.1.1), click the “Admin” panel and then choose “Control panel” – “Computer configuration” (pic.1.2):

The main screen of StaffCop

Pic.1.1. The main screen of StaffCop

Choose the “Computer configurations” menu item

Pic.1.2. Choose the “Computer configurations” menu item

Configuration “Work time tracking”

Pic.1.3. Configuration “Work time tracking”

Let’s configure each of the module in the configuration. For simplicity – let’s take only those modules that are enabled. On the pic.2.1 you can see the modules of time tracking enabled. All the other modules are disabled (those screenshots are omitted in order not to make this article longer).

Enabled modules in “Work time tracking” configuration

Pic.2.1. Enabled modules in “Work time tracking” configuration

Let’s consider each of the enabled modules in more details (the settings of each module can be changed, to do it choose the corresponding module from the list in the left part of the screen).

We don’t recommend disabling the “Debug mode”: this mode enables receiving debug data on agent’s work which helps finding possible errors.

Parameters of each module (if it has any) are showed on the pic.3.

The “Login” checkbox enables tracking the time of a user’s entering and exiting the system. The start of a working day is the first user activity logged, but in most cases it’s the first entering into the system, so it’s better to keep this module enabled.

The “Application run” checkbox manages monitoring of applications launching that shows what applications were launched by a user. The module has an additional setting – the ability to exclude applications from monitoring (if we know in advance that an application is an auxiliary one, it’s often used and it can’t be related to any of the productivity categories: for example, PuntoSwitcher), and the possibility to block launching of applications that are not related to users work (pic 3.1):

Parameters of the “Application control” module

Pic.3.1. Parameters of the “Application control” module

Parameters of the “User’s activity” module”

Pic.3.2. Parameters of the “User’s activity” module”

An important parameter is represented by a value set in seconds which defines the down time length (no key strokes or mouse movements) after which the time will be counted as inactive. By default, this value is 2 minutes (which is enough for a justified inactivity period, for example, to read a PDF-file or a paragraph on a web-page). The time is calculated with the accuracy of 1 second, windows titles (and web-sites titles in browsers) are tracked, which makes it possible to get a clear picture of users’ work-ing day.

If a user is supposed to be present at the workplace during the whole day (for example, call-centers, secretaries, or security officers watching at the surveillance quad), then we can use a pack of parameters in the agent configuration (which is disabled by default, pic.3.3) that helps revealing the fact of absence of an employee at the workplace and ask for the reason of absence:

Parameters of monitoring absence at the workplace and asking for the reason of absence

Pic.3.3. Parameters of monitoring absence at the workplace and asking for the reason of absence

It worth mentioning that enabling this module unmasks the presence of the agent with this configuration applied, and a user will notice it.

The mentioned modules are sufficient for time tracking purposes.

Additional recommended parameters

We recommend to have the following modules enabled ALL THE TIME:

Remote control. If this module is enabled, the system administrator can connect to a user’s workstation and see the remote desktop which is especially useful in case of remotely working employees. The administrator can also take remote control over the workstation (pic.4.1)

Enable remote control module

Pic.4.1. Enable remote control module

Take screenshots when changing window focus. Take screenshots when changing window focus.This module is strongly recommended for enabling: taking screenshots at the moment the window focus is changed will give the ad-ministrator additional information about user activity. For example, he will see how often the user switched between windows (i.e. changed active applications), which documents were open at that moment, etc. Screenshots taking at a time interval can be can be disabled in this case (showed on pic.4.2.) by setting the interval value to 0. The quality of screenshots can be lowered to 50 – they will still be readable and they will require less space on hard drives.;

Parameters of taking screenshots

Pic.4.2. Parameters of taking screenshots

Web-cam snapshots. If users are working on laptops which almost always have web-cams or users have webcams connected to USB-ports, then webcams will take a picture of a user when he enters and exits the system, if the module is configured as shown on the pic 4.3. It helps defining which user is entering the system or if a couple of users exchanged their credentials. However, this can un-mask the agent because of the web-cam LED indicating that it’s on.

Parameters of web-cam module

Pic.4.3. Parameters of web-cam module

Calendar settings

Besides setting agent configuration for time tracking purposes, production calendar has to be properly set.

As production calendar may differ from year to year due to day shifts of state holidays it should be ed-ited accordingly in StaffCop.

To set up production calendar, click the “Calendar” item in the “Admin” menu (pic.5):

The “Calendar” item of the “Admin” menu

Pic. 5. The “Calendar” item of the “Admin” menu

If you click this, you will see the panel of calendar setting appear in the very right part of the window (where you usually view filers output) as shown on the pic. 6.1.):

Calendar settings

Pic. 6.1 Calendar settings

The calendar is edited month by month (in orange). By default, all the days of the current month are assigned the basic working schedule. You can select one or several days in the calendar and then as-sign these changes to all the employees (as on the pic.6.1) or select the option “Office/Account” (in green). After this you will be able to select an Account (or Office) out of the drop-down list (in blue), the examples are displayed on pic. 6.2-6.3. These values have to be set in advance, either manually or imported from the domain (if StaffCop Server is connected to the corporate domain).

Examples of selecting offices and accounts for setting an individual calendar

Examples of selecting offices and accounts for setting an individual calendar

Pic. 6.2-6.3. Examples of selecting offices and accounts for setting an individual calendar

If you choose “Office” or “All”, the day can be set as a working day or holiday.

 Options for setting days for an office or a user

 Options for setting days for an office or a user

Pic. 6.4-6.5. Options for setting days for an office or a user

If you need to change a day off to a working day, you should fill in the form as on the pic. 6.6 and click “Save”:

Setting working day parameters

Pic. 6.6 Setting working day parameters.

In a similar way you can set all the calendar days in such a way so they would correspond to the official production calendar. Only this guarantees that time tracking reports will get all the activity performed during business hours. All activity performed during days set as holidays, sick leaves etc. don’t get into time tracking reports.

Working schedule settings

Initially, the calendar contains information taken from the default schedule: a working day starts at 9 AM and ends at 6PM without any strict time slot for breaks.

It’s not always convenient: in this case, time tracking reports will contain ALL the logged activity, even if it was performed during lunch breaks, and if an employee actually was at a lunch break, this time would be counted as downtime. Besides, if you have employees working in shifts, it’s better to assign a separate schedule for each shift.

There may be cases with different working schedules for employees working remotely: the time when a working day starts or ends may differ, or lunch breaks may be set for different time. To assign differ-ent schedules for different users (or user groups), you should use the “Working schedule” and “Assign schedule” items of the “Admin” menu (pic. 7.1.):

“Working schedule” item of the “Admin” menu

Pic. 7.1. “Working schedule” item of the “Admin” menu.

If you click the “Working schedule” you will see the list of the schedules created on the server (pic. 7.2, in the example there is only one schedule there, which is set by default):

Available schedules (contains only the “Default” schedule)

Pic. 7.2. Available schedules (contains only the “Default” schedule).

If you need to edit a schedule, just click its name. If you need to create one – click the “Add” button.

Create/edit schedule

Pic. 7.3. Create/edit schedule.

A schedule can be assigned for the whole business week (if the “Universal” checkbox is checked) or for a particular weekday. The “Accounting period type” value affects the form of the “Time tracking” report representation.

To save changes click the “Save” button.

“Night shift” schedule created

Pic. 7.4. “Night shift” schedule created.

To assign schedules to user and user groups you need the “Assign schedules” menu item (pic. 7.1.). In this example (pic. 7.5.) you see empty output as the server doesn’t have any assigned schedules differ-ent from the default one which is initially assigned to all users.

“No schedules different from the default one are assigned

Pic. 7.5. No schedules different from the default one are assigned.

To assign schedules click the “Add” button. You will see the corresponding settings (pic. 7.6.):

“Assign schedules (settings)

Pic. 7.6. Assign schedules (settings).

Choose a “Schedule” to assign. “Dimension” defines the object type (office, account) to with the schedule will be assigned (pic.7.7 shows an example of setting a schedule for a PC at which several users can work). “Value” specified a particular PC (or any other chosen dimension type).

Assign schedule to a particular PC (example)

Pic. 7.7. Assign schedule to a particular PC (example).

Click the “Save” button to assign the schedule to the selected PC (Pic. 7.8.):

Save the schedule assignment

Pic. 7.8. Save the schedule assignment.

Thus, we have assigned the “Graveyard shift” to all users working on the PC DESKTOP-M3G4SOA.

Productivity policies. Categorizing of resources. Editing and creating of policies.

So, an Endpoint agent is installed, “Work time tracking” configuration is properly set up and data is be-ing transferred to the server. Now a question arises: what should be used to properly process it and get the clearest picture of how employees use their working time?

StaffCop Server features instruments that allow automatic processing of data to be displayed in the most convenient visual form. In StaffCop terms these instruments are called “policies”.

But before we start studying the policies and the ways they can be used, we should define some terms used in StaffCop.

Terminology

Productivity – shows relation of activity on resources (web-sites or applications) to employees working tasks. The productivity categories are listed below, from the most useful to the most dangerous:

  • “Premium” – the resource is not set within the employee’s working pack but if he used he he should be honored by the management. The system administrator can add resources man-ually to this category, but initially this category is empty;
  • “Productive” – a resource is within the employee’s working pack. For example, working on Linkiden is productive activity for marketing specialists and working in a CRM system is produc-tive for sales managers;
  • “Neutral” – a resource is not within an employee’s working pack, but it’s safe and can be use-ful. Some Government or Reference web-portals can be considered neutral; although they are not directly related to working tasks, there is nothing illegal in visiting them;
  • “Unproductive” – a resource is not within the employee’s working pack and it distracts him from work – for example, visiting online casino web-sites is clearly unproductive.
  • "Incident" – visiting these resources can make harm to the employer if accessed from the cor-porate infrastructure; or indicates that this employee is disloyal. For example, visiting a porn site or launching some malware can be definitely seen as an incident, as well as visiting job searching web-sites. Launching an application which is prohibited by the corporate policy is definitely an incident, for example usage of uTorrent, as downloading files from peer-to-peer networks can significantly load the bandwidth.

It’s worth mentioning that resource categorizing can significantly vary as it directly depends on what an employee actually does at his workplace. For example, for a sport journalist visiting a website of a bookmaker agency can be considered productive but at the same time, for an accountant it seems more like an incident.

On the strip charts in Time tracking reports “Premium” and “Productive” activities are displayed as green bars, “Unproductive” and “Incident” are displayed as red bars and “Neutral” as grey.

Efficiency – this criterion shows the relation of productive activity to employee’s working day.

Policy (in terms of StaffCop) – a filter (it can be either pre-installed and working “out-of-the-box” or created by a system administrator) that automatically processes data received from Endpoint agents and forms data for reports based on the set criteria.

Pre-defined policies: productivity policies

StaffCop Enterprise provides a range of pre-defined policies for a wide range of tasks – from produc-tivity policies aimed to process data for reports (including Time tracking reports) to system policies used for server administrating – database and file storage. In this article only productivity policies are considered as they are used to process data for time tracking reports.

Productivity policies are found on the “Filters” tab. By default, the «Constructor” tab is displayed after opening the admin panel and to switch to the “Filters” tab you should click the corresponding button at the bottom left corner (in green on pic.8.1):

The main screen of the admin panel, the button used to switch to the “Filters” tab is marked green.

Pic. 8.1. The main screen of the admin panel, the button used to switch to the “Filters” tab is marked green.

After switching to the “Filters” tab the very left part of the window will display the tree of filters and policies, and the directories that contain them will be displayed as closed (pic. 8.2.):

The “Filters” tab (the left part of the window

Pic. 8.2. The “Filters” tab (the left part of the window.

The “Efficiency” folder contains reports related to time tracking. In the following (third) section of the article they are considered in more details. Policies for processing times tracking data are found in the “Policies” directory. To open a policy, click its name. The open directory is shown on pic. 8.3:

Open “Policies” directory on the “Filters” tab.

Pic. 8.3. Open “Policies” directory on the “Filters” tab.

In the context of this article we are mostly interested in the “Productivity” policies. If you click the “Productivity policies” the “Filters” tab will look as on the screenshot below:

Open folder “Productivity policies”

Pic. 8.4. Open folder “Productivity policies”.

«Productivity policies” contain two directories: “Web resource categories” and “Application categories” (click “+” to open a list, in green on the screenshot). All the policies and resource categories found in these directories are pre-defined (working “out-of-the-box” on the server after its installation). They can be edited or disabled but not removed.

Web resource categories

Let’s start learning “Productivity policies” with the web resource categories, to do that click the “+” symbol near the “Web resource categories” text line in the right part of the window. The list will scroll down showing the groups of resources (pic. 8.5):

Open list of “Web resource” categories

Pic. 8.5. Open list of “Web resource” categories.

The complete list of the policies can be seen by using the scrolling bar at the right side of the window.

As descriptions of all the web resource categories have the same structure we can pick any of them for further consideration. For example, let’s take the “Automobile portals” category, to do that point at its name. A cogwheel symbol appears to the right – move the mouse to it and click it. You will see the de-scription of the “Automobile portals” policy (pic. 8.6):

Editing a pre-defined policy (at the example of the “Automobile portals” policy)” categories

Pic. 8.6. Editing a pre-defined policy (at the example of the “Automobile portals” policy).

The editor of a pre-defined policy contains three tabs:

  • Properties, with the fields of the main policy properties;
  • Notifications, for setting e-mail notifications;
  • Filter, used for defining the criteria that trigger the policy.
  • The “Properties” tab (pic. 8.7) gives access to the following:

    Title. Titles of the pre-defined policies can’t be changed;

    Category. This is one of the main properties of a policy defining the productivity category of the resources included in the policy. We can see that the pre-defined category of the “Auto-mobile portals” policy is Unproductive, but we change this value, for example, to Productive if an agent is installed on a workstation of an employee whose works lies in studying the auto-mobile market (pic. 8.7);

    Editing a pre-defined policy – changing productivity category

    Pic. 8.7. Editing a pre-defined policy – changing productivity category.

    Policy is enabled. This checkbox enables or disables a policy. By default, all the pre-defined policies are enabled and processing data. If the list of resources in the policy are not relevant the policy can be disabled, this will decrease the load on the server.

    Radio-button. for choosing the mode for the policy after its enabling: whether it’s applied only to new events or all the events will be recalculated in according with the new policy rules. It’s worth mentioning that the retrospective application of a policy may take significant time in, this may happen in case huge amounts of data have been collected and this may also lead to additional load on the server.

    The “Notifications” tab is meant for setting e-mail notifications when a policy is triggered (pic. 8.8). Noti-fications are not set up “out-of-the-box” and the “Notifications” tab contains only unchecked check-box “Display and send notifications about new facts” and the field of e-mail addresses for reports sending. But if it’s checked two additional buttons appear – “Save and test e-mail notification” and “Edit letter template”:

    The fields of the “Notifications” tab appearing after “Display and send notifications about new facts” is checked.

    Pic. 8.8. The fields of the “Notifications” tab appearing after “Display and send notifications about new facts” is checked.

    For sending notifications the field with the e-mail addresses of the recipients should be filled in. Be-fore that you should configure the connection between the StaffCop Server and the mail server (more details on this are found at the end of this section).

    If we leave the checkbox checked without filling in any e-mail address the system will just show the amount of events triggered by this policy in the polices tree.

    The “Edit letter template” button opens the editor of the e-mail template which is sent when a policy is triggered. The editor looks like on pic. 8.9:

    Editing policy e-mail template

    Pic. 8.9. Editing policy e-mail template.

    The purpose of buttons and field in the e-mail template editor correspond to the text on them and doesn’t require additional explanations.

    The “Filter” tab (pic. 8.10) helps configuring criteria that trigger the policy. It contains three tabs:

    The “Filter” tab to edit a pre-defined policy

    Pic. 8.10. The “Filter” tab to edit a pre-defined policy.

    • Constructor. This is the same filter constructor that is available for a system user or administra-tor: you can define which computers and users the policy will be assigned to, configure triggering criteria based on the day hours, etc. Working with this tab doesn’t differ from work with the Constructor on the base screen of the Admin Panel;
    • Complex query. This tab (pic 8.11) contains the criteria that trigger the policy. It’s the main tab for configuring the policy;
    • Filter code. This tab displays the code of the filter specified with the help of the “Constructor” and “Complex query” tabs. We don’t recommend changing the text of the code.

    The choice here is quite simple: if a filter is based on the already collected data and it’s enough to use “AND” operator to build it, you can use the “Constructor” tab. The disadvantage of this option is that if an event with filtered data hasn’t yet occurred, this way can’t be used.

    Complex query supports two logical operators – “AND” and “OR” and allows creating filters for events that haven’t yet happened.

    The “Complex query” tab – view/edit the criteria that trigger the policy

    Pic. 8.11. The “Complex query” tab – view/edit the criteria that trigger the policy.

    In the example given on this screenshot the triggering criteria represent a combination of two condi-tions: Event type (“User activity”) and the range of “OR” criteria represented by the titles of the auto-mobile portals included into this policy in the form of URLs.

    The policy can be edited by manually adding one more automobile portal (for example, autowp.com). It’s simple: there is a panel of buttons above the “OR” criteria. Click the “+” (“Add condition”) button – and the filter will be appended with a number of fields for setting conditions (pic. 8.12.);

    The “Complex query” tab with added condition fields.

    Pic. 8.12. The “Complex query” tab with added condition fields.

    Fill in the fields in a way similar to those fields that are already filled in “out-of-the-box”.

    The “Complex query” tab with new filtering criteria added.

    Pic. 8.13. The “Complex query” tab with new filtering criteria added.

    After clicking the “Save” (green one) button the changes made to the policy will be saved and the basic screen with the productivity policies will be displayed. If you open the “Automobile portals” for editing once again you will be able to see the changes and the policy will be triggered when a user visits www.autowp.ru (pic. 8.14).

    The “Complex query” tab of the “Automobile portals” policy after editing

    Pic. 8.14. The “Complex query” tab of the “Automobile portals” policy after editing

    Create your own time tracking policy

    Sometimes the available pre-defined policies don’t suffice. Let’s explain it by taking an example – let’s take a step to some far future!

    Our employees work in an international company named UISC (United Inter-Star Corporation). Of course, the internet exists and provides global interaction. There are two cloud portals of the Earth – open uisc.com and closed uisc.ru. Russian employees work on the portal uisc.ru, all others work on uisc.com. For successful work a non-Russian employee can be rewarded with access to uisc.ru and work on this portal will be counted as premium for this employee. His usual work on uisc.com is counted as productive.

    We need to set up time tracking for these two portals and define which of the employees should be awarded for premium work at the end of the month.

    In our example, we don’t have any pre-defined policies for uisc.com and uisc.ru “out-of-the-box”.

    It means that we require two new policies: a policy for uisc.com with the “Productive” category and a policy for uisc.ru with the “Premium” category.

    Let’s form conditions that will filter data and write them down in a symbolic form:

    • For uisc.com:

      “Event type” = “User activity” and “Web-site:URL:Contains(«uisc.com»)”

    • For uisc.ru:

      “Event type” = “User activity” and “Web-site:URL:Contains(«uisc.ru»)”

    Let’s switch to the “Filters” tab of the basic screen (pic. 9.1, 9.2). Let’s create a new policy with the “Create” button:

    Create new policy

    Pic. 9.1. Create new policy

    You will see a window for editing a new policy (pic. 9.2).

    Window for editing a new policy

    Pic. 9.2. Window for editing a new policy

    Let’s name the policy “UISC.COM”, but enable it a bit later. In order not to overload the server we will apply it only to new events.

    We will not configure notifications as activity on this portal will be counted as productive and there will be a lot of triggering events for it. Let’s go to configuring of the filters (pic. 9.3).

    Configuring filters of the “UISC.COM” policy (no filters at the moment)

    Pic. 9.3. Configuring filters of the “UISC.COM” policy (no filters at the moment)

    Let’s set the first filtering parameter (pic. 9.4):

    The first filtering parameter

    Pic. 9.4. The first filtering parameter

    Let’s set the second parameter and connect it to the first one with “AND” condition (pic. 9.5):

    The second filtering parameter

    Pic. 9.5. The second filtering parameter

    After clicking the “Save” button the system will get us back to the basic screen and we will see the policy “UISC.COM” created (pic. 9.6).

    “UISC.COM” policy created

    Pic. 9.6. “UISC.COM” policy created

    We will create the “UISC.RU” policy in a similar way with three peculiarities: the name of the policy, the name of the web-site in the filter and the productivity category (“Premium”). The basic screen of the web-interface should look like on the screenshot below (pic. 9.7):

    The basic screen of the admin panel, the “Filters” tab

    Pic. 9.7. The basic screen of the admin panel, the “Filters” tab

    There is only a couple of things left – group policies into a single folder and enable them.

    Let’s create a folder and name it “Productivity (UISC)”:

    Creating a folder for policies

    Creating a folder for policies

    Creating a folder for policies

    Pic. 9.8-9.10. Creating a folder for policies

    Let’s move the policies into the newly created folder. To edit the folder tree, click the cogwheel icon (in green on pic. 9.11) and choose “Edit”. After it the screen will look like on the pic. 9.11):

    Editing the tree of policies

    Pic. 9.11. Editing the tree of policies

    Drag the policies by an anchor icon to the folder. The screen will look like on the screenshot below (pic. 9.12.):

    Created policies have been moved to the “Productivity (UISC) folder”

    Pic. 9.12. Created policies have been moved to the “Productivity (UISC) folder”

    To exit the editing mode, click the cogwheel icon and choose “Finish editing”. If we open the “Productivity UISC)” folder, we will see the created policies there (pic. 9.13):

    Created policies viewed in the folder

    Pic. 9.13. Created policies viewed in the folder

    The only thing left is to enable the policy. To do that open a policy and check the “Policy is enabled” checkbox (pic. 9.2). When it’s saved, it will start working and the “UISC.RU” policy will also show the amount of triggered events in the web-panel.

    Application categories

    Working with application categories is similar to working with web-resource categories. The only difference is in the events processed by the policies: URLs of the web sites in web-sites categories and application names in the application categories.

    Initially, filters of the pre-defined policies for applications were formed with the help of the “Constructor”, not with the help of the “Complex query) (pic. 10.1):

    “Cryptocurrency software” application policy set in the “Constructor”

    Pic. 10.1. “Cryptocurrency software” application policy set in the “Constructor”

    In this case, we have hardcoded application names and if we change an application name, the filter won’t be triggered.

    To avoid this situation we recommend editing the policy switching from the “Constructor” tab to the “Complex query” tab: in the “Complex query” we can set not an exact word but a part of it. The exam-ples of such conditions are given on pic. 10.2: in this case a policy triggers if an endpoint agent will notice names “ccminer2.exe”, “myccminer.exe”, “_cgminer.exe”, etc.

    Conditions in the “Complex query” that allows tracking application names by a part of the name

    Pic. 10.2. Conditions in the “Complex query” that allows tracking application names by a part of the name

    The other steps of working with application policies (editing, setting up notifications, creating new policies, grouping them into folders, etc.) don’t differ from work with web-resource policies that we studied before.

    Additional materials: how to connect StaffCop Server to your e-mail server

    Before setting up the notification you should first configure the connection to the e-mail server.

    The connection to your e-mail server is configured with the menu item “Mail server settings” of the “Control panel” menu.

    Mail server settings

    Pic. 11.1. Mail server settings

    If you click it you will see the list of fields for setting mail server parameters (pic. 11.2):

    Fields for connection to the main server and sending notifications

    Pic. 11.2. Fields for connection to the main server and sending notifications

    Fill in the fields (the data on the screenshot below is for a hint, a system administrator will need to use relevant data of the corporate mail server).

    Parameters of connection to the mail server (example)

    Pic. 11.3. Parameters of connection to the mail server (example)

    After all is filled in you should click the “Save” button (the blue one). The changes will be saved and applied. You will see the following table (pic. 11.4):

    The table containing the parameters of connection to the mail server (example)

    Pic. 11.4. The table containing the parameters of connection to the mail server (example)

    To test connection to the server a test e-mail should be sent, to do that – click the name of the SMTP-server. You will see the panel of settings for connection to the mail server (Pic. 11.5):

    Test for connection to the mail server (example)

    Pic. 11.5. Test for connection to the mail server (example)

    To test e-mail sending you should input the e-mail address (to the left from the “Send test e-mail” but-ton, colored orange), then click the “Send test e-mail” button.

    If you receive the test e-mail it means that the parameters of the connection to the e-mail server are properly set.

    Building and exporting reports from the “Time tracking” group

    The first two sections were dedicated to configuring StaffCop Agent for time tracking purposes, configuring calendar settings, work schedules and policies processing events related to time tracking purposes.

    Let’s proceed to considering reports that can be built in StaffCop in relation to time tracking reports. We suppose that the calendar and work schedules are set accordingly as employees work – otherwise we don’t get precise time tracking reports.

    In this article we don’t consider analyzing and interpreting the output of the reports – only the ways they are built and exported. For analysis and interpretation check section #4.

    Set the time period for building reports

    All reports are built for a certain period of time that is chosen in the admin panel (in green on pic. 12.1):

    Reports will be built for the chosen period of time

    Pic. 12.1. Reports will be built for the chosen period of time

    That’s why it’s crucial to choose a period of time before building any report (including time tracking reports).

    To choose a time period click anywhere in the bar of the time period. You will see the calendar for set-ting the time period (pic. 12.2):

    The calendar of setting the time period

    Pic. 12.2. The calendar of setting the time period

    There are several ways of setting the desired time period, the easiest one is to choose a predefined period from the left column. You can also input the starting and finishing dates or choose them with the mouse.

    After choosing the time period the table will show events logged for the chosen time period and you can proceed to building time tracking reports.

    Building reports from the “Time tracking” menu

    The “Time tracking” menu has item for building time tracking reports (pic. 12.3). Let’s consider each of these menu items, although not in the order of their appearance but in from the easiest to the most complicated ones.

    We will not just form the reports but also export them because:

    • It’s not always convenient to view reports in the admin panel;
    • An exported report can be included in any other report, sent by e-mail, etc.
    • In the section #4 you will find the description of analysis and interpretation of the built reports.

    The “Time tracking” menu items

    Pic. 12.3. The “Time tracking” menu items

    Table

    The easiest time tracking report is “Table”. It’s build in different ways, depending on the number of employees selected for the report.

    If nothing is selected or a number of employees is selected, then you will see a common table with details on the time spent by employees (pic.12-4a);

    The table built for all employees

    Pic. 12.4a. The table built for all employees

    The table shows in hours and minutes how the time was spent by an employee during the day. Now let’s choose a user from the Constructor. The report will be rebuilt (pic. 12.4b)

    The table built for all employees

    Pic. 12.4b. The ‘Table” report built for a single employee for a certain date.

    Let’s export the reports we have built with the usage of the “Export and printing” button (in orange on pic.12.4a) to the Excel format and PNG format.

    If the “table” report has been formed for a single employee, it contains details on the employee’s ac-tivity in the tabular form, as well sorting by resources with time and percentage.

    If we point the mouse cursor to the name of a resource (for example – “Filesharing”) we will see an additional pop-up menu allowing to see the facts forming the corresponding row of the report or apply an additional filtering criterion by resource (pic. 12.5). If we apply an additional filter a new report will be formed looking similar to the previous one which can be exported in the same way.

    The “Table” report formed

    Pic. 12.5. The “Table” report formed.

    Strip chart

    As was previously mentioned, green lines represent user activity with the resources in the “Premium” and “Productive” categories, grey lines – “Neutral”, red lines – “Unproductive” and ‘Incident”.

    Strip chart represents a visualization overview of user activity for the working day with detailing by hour (pic. 12.6)

    The “Strip chart” report

    Pic. 12.6. The “Strip chart” report

    The strip chart can be also exported as an image.

    Combined report

    Combined report represents a combination of the table and the strip chart reports (pic. 12.7):

    Combined report can be also exported in any convenient format for further study (PNG-image, HTML-file, Excel table).

    Combined report

    Pic. 12.7. Combined report

    Combined report can be also exported in any convenient format for further study (PNG-image, HTML-file, Excel table).

    Activity report for the period

    Activity report for the period is very similar to the “Table” report. There are two things different:

    • The “Table” report gives detailing by day, the “Activity report for the period gives the summa-rized figures.
    • In this report we can collapse and expand the elements of the report with the buttons “-” and “+” and the groups of the report (pic. 12.8a-c).

    Activity report for the period

    Activity report for the period

    Activity report for the period

    Pic. 12.8a-c. Activity report for the period.

    Activity report for the period can be also exported in the most convenient format. It’s worth noticing that the image is exported in exactly the same form as it is viewed in the Lens: if a group of data is col-lapsed (you can see the “+” symbol near it), it will be shown collapsed on the exported image.

    Productive time by department

    The “Productive time by department” report reflects the summarized productive (green)/unproductive (red)/neutral (gray) time of user activity in relation to the common time of user activity. The report has both quantitative and qualitative representations, i.e. it shows the percentage of each category and the exact amount of time (hours-minutes-seconds). The report can be formed for a single user, but it’ most useful when it’s formed on the basis of the data from a number of users: in this case the report is automatically grouped by department so it makes it vivid which department has the highest number of productive employees and which has the highest number of lazy ones.

    The report has its most vivid representation in case no filters are applied: in this case it shows the in-formation on all the employees and departments for the chosen period of time.

    This report can be formed correctly only in case when users have their profiles correctly filled in. They can be filled in manually or uploaded from Active Directory. Official documentation of StaffCop contains more details on user profiles and exporting data from Active Directory.

    Productive time by department”. The lists of the departments are collapsed.

    Pic. 12.9. Productive time by department”. The lists of the departments are collapsed.

    The “Productive time by department” report can be exported to the image format in the same way as all other reports with data grouping. To export all the details, you have to expand all the collapsed lists.

    Active time by department

    The “Active time by department” report is similar to the previous one but it reflects the summarized active and inactive time of users’ activity at their workstations for the chosen period of time in relation to the scheduled one. The scheduled time is the time stated in the schedule assigned to a particular user, department or computer.

    This report can also be called a “Disciplinary report” as it shows how employees follow the working schedule in hours-minutes-seconds.

    Active time by department”. The lists of the departments are collapsed.

    Pic. 12.10. Active time by department”. The lists of the departments are collapsed.

    The “Active time by department” report can be exported to the image format in the same way as all other reports with data grouping. To export all the details, you have to expand all the collapsed lists.

    Top unproductive time by department

    The “Top unproductive time by department” report is formed when we need to gather data on un-productive activity of employees. The report represents a table with data for the chosen departments for the chosen period of time. If no departments are specified, the report is formed for all depart-ments.

    The report is built correctly only in case all the users have the “Office” field filled in in their profiles. They can be filled in manually or uploaded from Active Directory (for this StaffCop must be connected to AD).

    Top unproductive time by department for the chosen period of time.

    Pic. 12.11. Top unproductive time by department for the chosen period of time.

    Early coming and leaving

    The “Early coming and leaving” report is formed when we need to see if employees follow their work-ing schedules. It is not really relevant in case of remote working employees (except for cases when they still have to strictly follow their schedules).

    The report is formed correctly only in case when all the employees have their schedules and calendars configured in accordance to their real working schedules.

    The “Early coming and leaving” report

    Pic. 12.12. The “Early coming and leaving” report

    The report is formed in the tabular form that’s why the most vivid representation for it is Excel format, although it can be exported as an image as well.

    Data in the report can be sorted by each column – each of them has its sorting options.

    Lateness report

    The lateness report is useful when it’s formed for quite a large period of time. It shows the summarized data on employees being late for work (pic. 12-12).

    It is not really relevant in case of remote working employees (except for the cases when they still have to strictly follow their schedules).

    Data in the report can be sorted by each column – each of them has its sorting options.

    “Lateness report”

    Pic. 12.13. “Lateness report”

    Summary report

    The “Summary report” contains summarized information on lateness, activity and productivity of employees’ activity with TOPs in each category. It’s most useful when it’s formed for quite a large period of time.

    The report is relevant for the cases when employees have to strictly follow their schedules even when working remotely.

    “Summary report”

    “Summary report”

    Pic. 12.14a-b. “Summary report”

    Data in the report can be sorted by each column – each of them has its sorting options.

    “Timesheets”

    The “Timesheets” report group includes four reports of the standard format:

    • Work timesheet
    • Activity timesheet
    • Absence timesheet
    • Printer usage timesheet

    All the timesheets are formed for chosen months (pic. 12.1) – if the chosen period of time contains any date of a month, this month will be included in the timesheet. Timesheets can be formed for separate users (user groups) or departments.

    All the timesheets are formed in a single format, but they differ in the content, the content of each report corresponds to its title (pic. 12-15a-c).

    “Timesheets” report group (without «Printer usage timesheet”).

    “Timesheets” report group (without «Printer usage timesheet”).

    “Timesheets” report group (without «Printer usage timesheet”).

    Pic. 12.15a-c. “Timesheets” report group (without «Printer usage timesheet”).

    Timesheets can be exported in any convenient format, but the best way is to export them to Excel file format. They can be also exported as images, for example to be inserted in a Microsoft Word document.

    Time tracking reports in the “System filters” group

    We have considered building reports from the “Time tracking” menu. In addition to them, time track-ing reports can be built from the “System filters” group (pic. 13-1).

    Time tracking reports in the “System filters” group.

    Pic. 13.1. “Time tracking reports in the “System filters” group.”).

    The reports in the “Efficiency” folder are equal to the reports from the “Time tracking” menu, alt-hough some of them have other titles. The table of title correspondence is below.

    Table 1

    Report from “System filters. Efficiency” Report from “Time tracking” menu
    Active time by department Active time by department
    Productive time by department Productive time by department
    General report on work time Combined report
    Consolidated report on productivity Summary report
    Lateness report Lateness report
    Statistics for specified period (*) N/A
    Statistics by days This report represents a detailed version of the “Statistics for specified period” report
    Printer usage timesheet Timesheets -> Printer usage timesheet
    Timesheet Timesheets -> Timesheet

    (*) Reports not related to time tracking

    The advantage of working with reports in the “System filters” group is that you can setup automatic sending of them to specified e-mail addresses. They setting mechanism is identical for all the reports and represents the same mechanism that is used for triggered policies (section 2). Nevertheless, let’s consider the notification settings for a time tracking report and take the “Active time by department” as an example. To do that, point the mouse cursor to the name of the report and click the cogwheel icon which appeared to the right. We will see the screen of the report settings (pic. 13-2).

    Settings for “Activity time by department”

    Pic. 13.2. Settings for “Activity time by department”.

    The “Notifications” tab contains settings for scheduled sending of the report to specified e-mail ad-dresses (pic. 13-3):

    The “Notifications” tab for setting scheduled sending of the report to chosen e-mail addresses.

    Pic. 13.3. “The “Notifications” tab for setting scheduled sending of the report to chosen e-mail addresses.”.

    If you check the “Display and send notifications about new facts” checkbox you will be able to edit the list of recipients just in the same way it works for policies as it’s described in the Section #2.

    There is an additional ability to send PDF-report with customized sending period (pic. 13.4.):

    Setting the report sending period

    Pic. 13.4. Setting the report sending period.

    If you set up monthly timesheets forming you will significantly ease the work of HR department.

    Reports from the “System filters – Productivity” group

    The “System filters – Productivity” folder contains two sub-folders (“Productivity” and “Unproductive activities”. The content of the folders is similar, each of them contains 3 reports:

    • Top users
    • Linear graph
    • By category

    The reports from the “System filters – Productivity” group.

    Pic. 14.1. The reports from the “System filters – Productivity” group.

    Moreover, not only reports are similar, but all their settings. They differ only in data used for their building. The reports from the “Productivity” folder are built on the selection of productive activity, and the reports from the “Unproductive activity” folder are built on the selection of unproductive ac-tivity. That’s why it’s enough to study just one group of reports to understand the way all reports work. We will study the “Unproductive activity group” as it will have less data and it will be easier to study.

    Top users

    The “Top users” report reflects the list of users with unproductive activities, from those with the high-est values to those with the smallest (pic. 14.2.):

    The “Top users” report from the “Unproductive activity” folder

    Pic. 14.2. The “Top users” report from the “Unproductive activity” folder.

    If we click the “Cogwheel” icon (near the name of the report, pic. 14.2.), we can setup the report the way described earlier (configure scheduled report sending by e-mail, filtering criteria). All these settings are identical to those that we studied previously.

    We can see that the report is formed by the “User” dimension. This is not always convenient, so we can change the dimension by clicking the button of the current dimension: you will see the menu of choosing the dimension just the same as we have in the Constructor and you can choose the dimension that you need (pic. 14-3a). Obviously, a report can be correctly formed only in case when all the fields in user profiles are correctly filled in.

    Choosing dimension for building the “Top users” reports

    Pic. 14.3. Choosing dimension for building the “Top users” reports.

    We can also add a dimension by clicking the “+” icon near the current dimension (near the green border on pic. 14-2.). You will see the menu of dimensions just the same as in the Constructor and you will be able to add a required dimension (pic. 14-4a). After adding the “Domain” dimension you will see categorizing by resource. If we point the mouse cursor to the corresponding sector we will see the exact unproductive activities performed by each user (pic. 14-4b):

    Adding dimension to the “Top users” report

    Adding dimension to the “Top users” report

    Pic. 14-4a-b Adding dimension to the “Top users” report.

    The “Top users” report can be exported to the image format for further analysis.

    Linear graph

    The “Linear graph” report in this group is completely identical to the “Combined report” built from the “Time tracking” menu with the only difference that the data used for the report is additionally filtered by the productivity filter: “Productive” (if it’s found in the “Productive” folder or “Unproduc-tive/Incident” if it’s found in the “Unproductive activity” folder). As was previously mentioned, we are considering unproductive user activity.

    This report is built for a period chosen by user (pic. 12.1).

    The “Linear graph” report from the “System filters” group.

    Pic. 14.5. The “Linear graph” report from the “System filters” group.

    If you click the “Cogwheel” icon to the right, you can set up the report. It can also be exported in any convenient file format.

    “By category” report

    The “By category” report shows which of the unproductive categories are on top in the list of events (pic. 14.6).

    The “By category” report from the “System filters” group.

    Pic. 14.6. The “By category” report from the “System filters” group.

    Initially, the report shows activity time of users on resources. There is a button (in orange on pic. 14-b) allowing to change this view, for example for displaying the amount of events (pic. 14-7a-b).

    Changing data view in the report from activity time to the number of events.

    Changing data view in the report from activity time to the number of events.

    Pic. 14.7a-b. The “By category” report from the “System filters” group.

    This report may be interested for getting the list of domains for further blocking. The corresponding dimension can be added just the same way as it was described previously. You will see the output as on pic. 14.8.

    The “By category” report from the “System filters” group with the “Domain” dimension added.

    Pic. 14.8. The “By category” report from the “System filters” group with the “Domain” dimension added.

    If we click the “Cogwheel” icon near the name of the report, we will be able to configure the report the same way as it was described earlier. The report can be exported to any convenient format.

    We have considered all the abilities of building and exporting of the time tracking reports. In the fol-lowing section we will consider analysis and interpretation of these reports for the management of the company.

    Analyzing and interpreting the built reports

    We have considered the time tracking reports that can be built in StaffCop, how they can be config-ured and exported for further usage. In this section we will analyze the received reports and show what information can be retrieved from them. The reports are listed according to their descriptions in the section #3.

    Table

    Table for a number of employees.

    Pic. 15.1. Table for a number of employees.

    The table consists of 11 columns and contains as many rows as many users were selected for the re-port (building the report for a single user is a separate case, it will be considered below).

    • Account

      This column contains the full user name as it’s specified in the account.

    • Start of work

      The time of the first tracked activity performed within the specified period. Usually, it’s the time when a user logs on to the system.

    • End of work

      The time of the last activity performed by a user within the specified period. Usually, it’s the time when a user logs out of the system.

    • Total time

      The time period which represents the difference between start of work and end of work.

    • Active

      The summarized time of any activity on a workstation for a day.

    • Down time

      The time period which represents the summarized time when there was no activity performed by the user. The time is calculated within the “Total time”, which means that down time is counted only between the first and the last events of the day.

    • Lateness

      The time of lateness, i.e. the difference between the start of work and the first tracked activity. It can be calculated correctly only in case when the working schedule corresponds to the real schedule of employees.

    • Overtime

      Summarized productive time tracked beyond the working day. It can be calculated correctly only in case when the working schedule corresponds to the real schedule of employees.

    • Productive

      Summarized time of performing productive activities, i.e. the time when a user worked with resources (web-sites, applications) with the “Productive” and “Premium” categories.

      Unproductive

      Summarized time of unproductive activities, i.e. the time when a user worked with resources (web-sites, applications) with the “Unproductive” category.

    • Neutral

      Summarized time of work with resources in the “Neutral” productivity category.

    If we are sure that the working schedule of employees correspond to their real working day, then we can make the following conclusions judging from the pic. 15.1.:

    • User number 2 has the longest time of working with unproductive resources. Users number 1 haven’t performed any unproductive activities at all. Only users number 2 and 4 have performed productive activity.
    • All the users are extremely late for work (in case a regular working day schedule is applicable to them.
    • User number 4 was active only for 38 minutes, although he started his working day at 11 AM and finishe it about 6 PM
    • User number 3 has only 3 minutes of activity performed at 5 PM, apparantly, this is an employee on a vacation who came to work to perform just one single task, e.g. send an e-mail or sign a paper.
    • In general, judging by the time of the activity of these users we can suppose that these employees are not obliged to work fulltime and they have flexible working schedule, otherwise they are definetely a grouop of employees playing truant and this table should be considered by HR department.

    If the “Table” report is built for just a single user, it will look completely different. For a better under-standing, the report is sliced into several parts (pic. 15.2a-d.).

    The tabular part of the “Table” report for a single user.

    Pic. 15.2a. The tabular part of the “Table” report for a single user.

    The tabular part of the “Table” report built for a single user is similar to that of the table report for several users. The columns are grouped in the same way.

    The graphical part consists of three parts (pic. 15-2b-d.).

    The first part shows productive activity of the user and the percentage ratio of all the resources as well as the amount of time a user worked with each resource (pic. 15-2b.).

    The graphical part: user productivity.

    Pic. 15.2b. 15-2b. The graphical part: user productivity.

    As we can see here, 77% is taken by the category "Everything else". It contains the resources that have not been yet included in any of the available categories. The system administrator should check the list of events here (by choosing "View facts" option from the context menu) and categorize them in order to get more accurate reports in the future. The next three top categories for this user are "Industry specific web sites", "Information security" and "Software Development". The user is apparantly a software developer working with the resources that correspond to his tasks.

    The second graphical part shows which applications the user worked in with their ratio in percentage and the amount of time spent in each application.

    The graphical part: Top applications.

    Pic. 15.2c. The graphical part: Top applications.

    Among top applications we see "Visual Studio Code" and "Microsfoft vusual studio" - the solutions for software development, "Notepad" - a text editor, "Mattermost" and "Skype - applications for corporate communications.

    The third graphical part of the “Table” report is dedicated to the web-sites visited by the user (pic. 15-2d).

    Graphical part: Top sites.

    Pic. 15.2d. Graphical part: Top sites.

    From this list we see that the majority of ttime the user spent on the corporate web-site (staffcop.ru), and web-sites that can contain useful materials for software developers (habr.com, microsoft.com). However, we can also see that the user spent some time on Youtube. Maybe, it makes sense to check the list of events to see if the videos were related to working tasks or not.

    Strip chart

    The strip chart shows the data from the previous report displayed on the map of day hours. It also consists of three parts: summary graph (pic. 15.3) and productivity graphs: “Top applications and “Top sites” (similar to those from the previosu report).

    Strips on the graph display the type and duration of activity. Productivity types are defined by color strips: green – productive/premium, red – unproductive, grey – neutral. Strips of different heights mean that different types of activities were combined during a 5-minute interval.

    Summary graph.

    Pic. 15.3. Summary graph.

    This summary graph shows that the main working time of the employee is from 9AM to almost 5PM, and this activity was mostly unproductive (red strips). But as we could saw on the previous report this output was recieved because of the unsorted resources of the "Everything else" category, so this means that the report requires further studying of the user activity to understand if it was truly unproductive or not. We can see no strips from about 1PM to 2PM, which seems to be a lunch break.

    Combined report

    Combined report represents a combination of strip chart and table and it can be analyzed and inter-preted just in the same way.

    There’s an example of the “Combined report” on pic. 15.4.

    Combined report.

    Pic. 15.4. Combined report.

    Activity report for the period

    This report allows viewing the summarized information for the specified period of time without divid-ing by day. It’s interpreted in the same way as the “Table” report.

    Active time by department

    The “Active time by department” report shows user activities time and down time in relation to the planned time (working day time).

    An example of this report is given on pic. 15.5. The names of users and departements are colored.

    Active time by department.

    Pic. 15.5. Active time by department.

    We can see that employees of all departments were inactive most of the time during the chosen period. The situation is especially bad in dark-grey and light-grey departments while the orange and yellow departments with just one employee in each of them show a bit better statistics.

    This report is useful only in case when schedules and calendars are properly configured for all users.

    Productive time by department

    The “Productive time by department” report is very similar to the “Active time by department” report that was previously studied, but it displays categorization of user activity time into productive, unpro-ductive and neutral giving summary information by department which allows to reveal the efficiency of employees as well as departments.

    The “Productive time by department” report is very similar to the “Active time by department” report that was previously studied, but it displays categorization of user activity time into productive, unpro-ductive and neutral giving summary information by department which allows to reveal the efficiency of employees as well as departments.