225K/mo – Building a TimeSheet Solution for Mid-Large Sized Companies – Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software

INTERVIEW VIDEO (Length – 49:04)

PODCAST AUDIO

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Intro

Chris Vandersluis, founder of HMS Software, shares the evolution of his Business HMS software which he started in 1984. Chris and his team focused on Project Management software and after finding a need for a time sheet system for their customers, built their product TimeControl to meet customer needs. Chris shares his business lessons over the last 40 years including working with partners and investors as well as taking a long-term view and organic growth for his business.

Episode Summary

Chris Vandersluis, discusses the evolution of his business, HMS software, and their product, Time Control. He talks about how they started in 1984, creating project management software for mid to large size companies as computers began to replace mainframe computers. They later developed Time Control, a time sheet system focused on project management. Chris also discusses the history and benefits of Agile project management, the challenges of sales and acquiring new customers, the factors companies consider when choosing between cloud and on-premise software, the expansion of Time Control software, the significance of time management software in productivity, effective communication within a team, the impact of investor errors, the tools they use in their business, and his advice for entrepreneurs.

  • 00:00:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis,” Sushant welcomes Chris Vandersluis, the president of HMS software, to his show. HMS software is the publisher of Time Control, a time sheet system distributed worldwide, and also maintains a consulting service division specializing in implementing timesheet systems and enterprise project management environments. Chris started his business in 1984, when software was still new for many companies, and he and his partner began working on project management software for mid to large size companies. They deployed project management software on PCs as corporate offices began to adopt PCs instead of mainframe computers. Chris recounted that they didn’t know which way the business would go but recognized that the door to software for the corporate world had been opened and would not close. HMS software’s product, Time Control, falls under the project management category and specifically focuses on time sheet management. Chris explains that project management software was one of the first applications written for computers and project management involves a lot of computing and data storage, making it an easy category to adapt to automation
  • 00:05:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis,” the speaker discusses the evolution of their business, which began with addressing the need for a flexible open architecture project scheduling tool with integrated time sheets for both project management and finance departments in the late 80s. Despite writing several versions to accommodate their clients’ distinct needs, they faced challenges in satisfying both parties due to different perspectives and requirements for the data. This led to the creation of their first multi-purpose time sheet. In the mid-90s, TimeControl was released as a commercial product as they identified a gap in the market that addressed the requirement for a single timesheet solution catering to various perspectives. Even now, their primary competitors come from ERP systems, with the challenge remaining unchanged for clients wanting to simplify time tracking without having multiple sheets. The speaker reflects on how their approach to software building has changed over the years, transitioning from the traditional waterfall method to more modern agile practices and minimum viable product principles
  • 00:10:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis,” the speaker discusses the history of Agile project management and its evolution from the traditional waterfall approach. Agile techniques have been used since the inception of HMS and emerged in response to massive Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) projects requiring enormous programming efforts. Agile gained traction after the Y2K issue when software projects needed to be updated without complete rewrites. The notion of project management was new to the software industry, and Agile provided a more productive and effective methodology for teams. However, Agile is a tactical methodology focused at the team level and is not suitable for decision-making regarding project budgets, resource teams, or long-term projections. These decisions are typically made by managers and executives. Although waterfall projects are not entirely obsolete, their tools and long-term projections are less relevant to operational project managers and tactical teams. The challenge with Agile lies in accountability and planning. Some teams view Agile as an excuse to avoid reporting budgets and timeframes. Management, on the other hand, requires accurate estimates to make informed decisions. Combining both Agile and waterfall approaches can lead to efficient and effective project management
  • 00:15:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis,” the speaker discusses their approach to sales and acquiring new customers, primarily in the medium to large business sector. They emphasize the need for patience due to lengthy purchasing cycles and the presence of multiple stakeholders. Their website is open to the public with no paywall, allowing potential clients to self-educate on their offerings. The sales process can take months or even years, requiring flexibility and adaptability in addressing clients’ unique needs. The speaker notes that their clients include well-known companies in various industries, from engineering to security and government affairs, due to their understanding of both timesheet and project management processes. The main topics of discussion when dealing with clients include optimizing processes, integrating software into existing technology stacks, and prioritizing security, especially when working with government organizations
  • 00:20:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis,” the discussion focuses on the criteria and factors companies consider when choosing between cloud and on-premise software for their time control needs. The speaker notes that while every client’s requirements differ, security is a primary concern, especially for larger businesses and government entities. He emphasizes the importance of time control software matching finance systems, meeting various levels of auditability for their data, integrating with existing tools, and providing flexibility to accommodate diverse user needs. Additionally, the software should offer features like automated exception reports and approval workflows, thereby ensuring overall flexibility and ease of use
  • 00:25:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis”, the speaker discusses the evolution and expansion of Time Control software, which started in 1984 and has since grown to include mobile apps and Industrial versions for construction sites. The team behind the software is based in Montreal and is mostly remote, with a tight-knit group of less than 20 people. The speaker, who is the founder of the company, shares his journey as an entrepreneur, starting in his 20s with a background in economics, bootstrapping the company, and experiencing significant growth with the rise of computing and software. He also shares how the company has resisted taking external funding and going public, choosing instead to grow organically and staying true to the original mission of the business
  • 00:30:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis,” the speaker discusses the significance of their time management software business, despite it only taking up a small fraction of users’ weekly time. The software plays a crucial role in project management and productivity, which could impact companies’ ability to manage space exploration, disease research, and finance, among other things. While the business model is profitable, they continue to invest in development, marketing, and support to keep up with new versions and expanding features. Technical support is handled by developers, ensuring high-level expertise and responsiveness. Requests range from asking for features that already exist to suggesting future enhancements, all of which become part of the support model. Additionally, the team includes experienced project managers, offering expertise in project management techniques, methods, and regulatory requirements for various industries
  • 00:35:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis”, the speaker shares his experience with effective communication within a team context, specifically in the context of technical deployments. He explains how misunderstandings can be minimized by having technical staff work with clients to clarify requirements, as opposed to having individuals call different departments, only to find out that certain actions may conflict with each other. He also touches on the topic of AI, expressing concerns about the potential dangers of relying on AI to find information from the internet and the lack of transparency regarding how AI algorithms make decisions. The speaker, who has prior experience in incorporating AI into his business, mentions that while they stay informed about the latest developments in AI, they have yet to find a practical application for it within their product. Lastly, the speaker shares a personal business mistake, admitting that bringing in outside investors in the late 1990s led to six challenging years as they pushed for “growth at any cost,” and eventually had to buy them out
  • 00:40:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis”, the entrepreneur shares his experience with investor errors in his past business. He recounts the experience of having a different vision from his original partner and investors, which ultimately led to a challenging separation. The investor’s primary focus was on achieving a substantial return on investment, and the entrepreneur felt naive during their discussions. He emphasizes the importance of finding investors who align with the entrepreneur’s vision and can contribute positively to the business. Additionally, he recommends Jeffrey Moore’s book “Crossing the Chasm” for entrepreneurs and speaks about the potential impact of AI and rapid coding on the industry. Chris also shares a productivity tip: tracking and analyzing where time and resources are spent to makes business decisions more effectively
  • 00:45:00 In this section of the YouTube video titled “Chris Vandersluis,” the interviewee discusses the tools used in his business, including Salesforce for sales, Office for productivity, Slack for chat, and Zoom or Teams for conferences. He also highlights Babel as a startup doing great things, particularly in a multilingual environment, as it makes communication across language lines easier with AI-powered translation. Chris emphasizes the importance of making his product accessible to users in their preferred language and easier to use. He shares the best business advice he has ever received or would give to entrepreneurs, which is to be patient and persevere despite the lack of immediate results. Chris’s business, Time Control, is accessible through the website timecontrol.com for those interested in learning more

People & Resources Mentioned in the Episode

Book: Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore

What You’ll Learn

Interview with Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software

[00:00:00] Introduction
[00:00:28] Welcoming Chris Vandersluis
[00:00:48] Chris’s Entrepreneurial Journey
[00:01:00] Starting the Business in 1984
[00:02:31] 1984: Early Days of Software
[00:04:39] Overview of HMS Software’s Product
[00:05:00] Timesheet Management Challenges
[00:09:56] Evolution of Software Development
[00:12:59] The Role of Agile in Software Development
[00:15:23] Understanding Diverse Approaches in Business
[00:16:00] Patience in Sales Cycles and Acquiring New Customers
[00:17:00] Building Relationships with Clients – A Four-Year Journey
[00:18:00] Clients and Industries Served by HMS Software
[00:19:45] Key Criteria for Software Selection in Large Companies
[00:22:00] Ensuring Data Security and Auditability
[00:25:39] Team Structure and Work Dynamics at HMS Software
[00:31:02] Business Model and Recurring Revenue
[00:31:29] Continuous Investment in Development and Marketing
[00:31:49] Customer Support and Understanding Issues
[00:32:49] Tech Support Approach and Expertise
[00:36:16] Outlook on AI and Generative AI
[00:38:42] Biggest Business Mistake and Lesson Learned
[00:40:42] Dealing with Different Visions (Investors and Co-founders)
[00:43:17] Book Recommendation for Entrepreneurs
[00:43:34] Exciting Trends: AI and No-Code Software
[00:44:25] Productivity Tip: Analyze Time and Cost Allocation
[00:45:16] Exploring Innovative Businesses
[00:46:00] Multilingual Communication and Babbel
[00:47:15] Best Business Advice: Patience

Rapid Fire

In this segment, the guest will answer a few questions quickly in one or two sentences.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software

  1. Book recommendation that you would make to entrepreneurs or business professionals (Response: Crossing the Chasm by Geoffrey A. Moore)
  2. An innovative product or idea in the current e-commerce retail or tech landscape that you feel excited about (Response: Notion)
  3. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend/Productivity Tip. (Response: Slack, Zoom, Microsoft Teams.)
  4. A startup or business (in ecommerce, retail, or tech) that you think is currently doing great things. (Response: Babbel)
  5. A peer entrepreneur or businessperson whom you look up to or someone who inspires you (Response:)
  6. One networking tip or building and sustaining valuable professional relationships.
  7. Best business advice you ever received (Response:  Be patient.)

Interview Transcript

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Hey there entrepreneurs. My name is Sushant and welcome to TrepTalks. Today, I’m really excited to welcome Chris Vandersluis to the show. Chris is the president of HMS Software. HMS Software is the publisher of Time Control. A multi purpose timesheet system, which is distributed worldwide. And HMS also maintains a consulting service division, which specializes in the implementation of time control timesheet system, as well as enterprise project management environments.

And today I’m going to ask Chris a few questions about his entrepreneurial story and some of the strategies and tactics that he has used to start and grow his business. So Chris, welcome to TrepTalks and thank you so much for joining me today. Well, thanks. Thanks for having me. So, um, you know, of course your business, you had started your business, uh, in 1984.

It’s a long time ago. Yep. So, so almost, I mean,

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: I was next year, I was born in 1995,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: so maybe you can share a little bit about yourself, you know, what were you doing at that time and what kind of got you? I mean, In 1984, it was still pretty new for like software and things like

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: that. Well, software had been around a long time, but, um, yeah, I was, I was a consultant, uh, doing, um, some programming, uh, of what was considered quite new then, the PC.

And, um, and, uh, partner and I got started in doing project management software, um, and, uh, and we did that started really in 1983. And then the business really got going in 1984. Um, and we were deploying. Brand new ideas, which was project management software on a PC companies at the time, mid to large size companies were buying PCs, uh, for every desk or for many desks.

Ultimately would be every desk and, um, and 1 of the 1st. Uh, pieces of software that was commercially available was a, um, you know, was a project management tool. Um, and so this displaced what had been in the past, many computers and mainframe computers as, uh, you know, everything distributed to, uh, to desktops.

And so we caught that wave, and we were, we were doing project management software deployments and, uh, and programming and doing the things that these mid to large size companies, uh, needed, um, in the project management area. That’s really where we, where we got started.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, and I definitely want to know more about your product, but, uh, can you take me back to 1984?

And did you at that point, you know, um, did you think that software is going to be what it is now,

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: you know? Oh, I don’t think anybody could have seen, you know, what it would be now. I mean, you know, the idea that I can wear as much computing power on my wrist that I had. On my desk at the time, I mean, we didn’t really see that we marveled over the first hard disks, which, you know, we’re about the size and thought, Oh, 10 megabytes.

This is [00:03:00] incredibly great. Um, and so we marveled at those things, just like everyone else did as these things came out. Um, and, um. And so we didn’t know which way the business would go, but I think it was pretty clear to us that the door, having been opened to software, uh, for the corporate world, that was not going to go away, that this was going to extend and expand and many other products would come.

We happen to be in the project management world. I mean, our very first. Project was for Philips and that was just, you know, happenstance. We had some contacts there and they had a project management office and they were trying to get a project management office automated on PCs. They were actually building their own PCs at the time.

They’re not in that business anymore. I don’t think, but, but they were. And so we just happened to be in the right place at the right time to help them. And we wrote a timesheet system and tied it in with a commercial project management tool. Um, I mean, if you really go back to the history of project management software, project management tools were the first things written for computers.

So one of the first tools written for, uh, for mainframes, one of the first tools written for many computers, um, and one of the first tools available kind of all the way down to phones these days. But, um, you know, so it’s a, you know, there’s a lot of computing involved with project management and data storage.

Um, and so these, you know, this is a category that easily adapted itself to, uh, to automation. Um, and so we caught that wave and we, we, yeah, we said this is going to be a place where we should put our time.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And so your product, of course, you know, as you said, it’s a project management category, but your product itself is, you know, timesheet management.

So can you talk a little bit about, you know, what your product is and what, what, what is the problem that it solves? And then I guess we can talk about, you know, how, I guess, you know, the, the big players, which Really are, you know, in the enterprise resource planning space. I mean, I’m assuming that that that’s kind of a, like a bigger, um, brother of, you know, [00:05:00] uh, yeah,

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: it’s been interesting to watch that evolve.

Right. I mean, if I go back to 84 and that first client, um, we said, well, we found a, for you, a, a flexible open architecture project scheduling tool, but no timesheet. They said, oh, we need both. We said, great. We’ll write that timesheet for you. And over the next 10 years, we wrote. Several timesheets for our clients, our clients, partly because I guess of the way that we started the business, we’re always mid to large size clients.

We’ve never had a client, our size or smaller. Um, and so we’re, you know, we’re a small team working with big clients. Um, and so the timesheet problem that we were trying to solve in 84, um, was, uh, that the finance department was commissioning this, Request, but the project management department would manage it.

So the project management department said, no, we need both scheduling kind of planning future tasks and timesheets measuring past tasks. [00:06:00] And the finance department said, that’s great. Uh, we also are going to send that data to payroll and for internal reporting for job costing and R and D tax credits and things like that.

So we said, bah, no problem. Uh, except I think we wrote that product three times before they were satisfied. We would come in the room and they would be sitting like on opposite sides of a conference table. All the project people on one side and all of the finance people on the other, and sometimes an IT person right at the end, uh, you know, to referee and their needs were quite different, but the timesheet was going to look the same.

Right, and timesheets do kind of look the same. They look like a grid, right? Whatever timesheets you’ve experienced, it’s like columns of days or columns of things to do and rows of days or, you know, periods of time. And so the grid gets entered quite simply, it was quite simply, it was once the data was in that became our problem.

Um, and so we wrote the first version. And the project people went, people went, bah, it’s perfect. And the finance people says, [00:07:00] well, it looks pretty good, and then ran it in test for a week, and said, no, completely unacceptable. As we posted the data, they said, a third of the payroll was missing. We said, well, uh, that’s a problem, how did that happen?

Well, it turned out that the project managers had disqualified a bunch of tasks. And so the lines from the timesheets had evaporated. So we said, oh, okay, we came back again, this time the finance people Thought that was great. The project people said, this is completely unacceptable. And so we realized that to satisfy what they needed, we would have to create something very flexible, but also that would have in the background, this idea that there are multiple perspectives of what happens to this data.

Um, and so that was really our very first multi purpose timesheet. And we’ve continued that business in nine, in, you know, 10 years later, in 94, we released time control as a commercial product. I’m saying to ourselves, we have all this experience and we still don’t see anything in the market that really tackles that problem.

One timesheet, multiple needs. And we were [00:08:00] encountering clients who said, listen, we don’t want any project management tools. We’ve got several. Can you solve this timesheet problem for us? And we said, articulate the timesheet problem. They go, we have too many of them. It’s not that we don’t have any. We’ve got several.

Payroll’s got one, building’s got one, project management’s got one. Uh, the people who do, uh, finance reports got something different. Can we not consolidate this down to one timesheet? And, um, and that was really the birth of time control. And, and even now Yes, ERP people are probably our primary competitor, but the, but even now that is a, that is a challenge that people, you know, have, um, and, you know, it’s most easily solved by, you know, finance saying we picked ours, you guys do what you want, um, and then you say, well, great, we’re going to have multiple timesheets.

Nobody votes for that. Right. Nobody wakes up in the morning and said, well, it’s Friday. Ooh, Friday. I get to do multiple timesheets today. No, it’s tough enough to get people to do one. Yeah. Um, if you could simplify that for end [00:09:00] users and yet accommodate what those background needs are, we thought that was going to be a business, you know, business model.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: So software, obviously, as you were talking about it, I’m thinking, you know, In the old days, uh,

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: before you were born those days. Yeah. Yeah. I mean,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: the, the whole way of writing software and, you know, the whole methodology of like, uh, you know, let’s say, you know, you create a software and then you, you know, you take it to the customer and then they provide.

Uh, feedback. And now, of course, you know what was called, I think, waterfall and so forth. And now it’s so much more around agile and, you know, finding the product market fit and minimum viable product and so forth. Um, how, what has been your experience, like, you know, someone who’s building software, you know, have you kind of Adopted your way of building software over time.

And yeah, okay.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: You mentioned a bunch of different terms there. So, I mean, I’m in the [00:10:00] project management business, so I’m happy to talk about that all afternoon if you want, but, but let me back up a little bit. The notion of agile has been around since. Forever, uh, HMS has used what you would call agile techniques since its inception, um, an iterative approach to say, well, look, let’s get the basic system going.

And then we’re going to improve it over time. That’s agile. In a nutshell, um, the term agile came out of what you were speaking about before the ERP systems that turned out to require enormous, uh, programming effort, um, and became these mega projects, which nobody could have until they were complete. Not phase by phase, not section by section, but no, we’re doing it all until we’re done.

Those were nightmare projects and they were sparked. In leading up to Y2K, right? There was an enormous movement in the nineties to say all these finance systems have to be updated because they’re not going to work properly. After Y2K, how much work is that going to be lots, but it also opened the door to SAP, Oracle, and other [00:11:00] ERP vendors who said, well, we can provide you a commercial.

Enterprise scale product to do that work. Don’t bother rewriting your old Fortran code. We’ll take care of that for you. So that became a whole movement and following that kind of after Y2K didn’t, you know, explode the world and planes didn’t fall out of the air. And people found that they could get their systems back up and running in January.

Um, people in the programming business said we need to not be doing that anymore. And this movement of Agile gained traction. Um, the notion of project management in software is, was kind of newfound, right? Project management, um, organizations like, say, the Project Management Institute have been around since the 1980s.

I’m an early member of that. Organization, but, um, but project management had gotten started more in construction, heavy manufacturing, um, heavy industry and software was like a newcomer to it to say, oh, yeah, we ought to be great for us. Um, the notion of a [00:12:00] waterfall project, there were never really waterfall projects.

It’s not like we’re going to do this and then we’re going to do this and we’re going to do this like a waterfall. Um, it’s a way of saying, um, you know, when we say don’t go with waterfall, it’s a way of saying, uh, project management has moved on. We can do things in a more, um, uh, in a more, uh, productive, effective manner.

And I’m all for that. But again, we’ve been doing that, you know, since the 80s, not since. The 2000s. Um, and you know, it’s been called different things and you can find the references to it. Um, you don’t have to make that up, but, um, but yeah, I think it’s great to do, uh, work in more of an agile format. One of the things that affects our business is that, uh, agile is something that’s a very tactical methodology, right.

It’s something that is, uh, that’s ideally suited at the team level. Right. So I talk to people all the time and go, Oh yeah, we use agile. I go great. Well, like you could consider me a spokesperson for agile because I’ve written about it. You know, dozens of times I’m, you know, I’m on record as talking about agile often.

And [00:13:00] then I say, so where do you get your project budgets? And there’s a pall of silence because they go, yeah, I don’t know. Where do you get the size of your resource team? Like where’s, where’s your resource capacity come from? And they go, yeah, I don’t know. No, because these are not decisions made at the tactical level, right?

I don’t go to a development team and say, so what will be the budget next year? They. I don’t know. Management does that. And how do they do that in what you would have considered waterfall. So it’s not like waterfall goes away, uh, but, but these tools, like, like the tools that we would use for operational project management, like a scheduling bar chart, not so not of great interest to a person who’s in the front lines, writing code, um, and something that would be, um, like a year long or Two, three year long projection on a spreadsheet of our budgets and resource capacity was not going to be of interest to either those operational project managers or the tactical people.

That’s of great interest to the manager of HR or the manager of [00:14:00] IT or the chief operating officer, the CEO even. So we’ve come to think over the last few years that You know, get the tools into the hands of the people who need them and one of the challenges that I think we’ve had for agile is, um, is the notion of, are you accountable against any kind of plan?

Um, you know, there’s a lot of people who we’ve encountered saying, well, agile means I don’t have to tell you how much time I spent. I find that shocking, right? Really? You don’t care how much that feature costs? I go, no, no, no. And how long will it take? I go, we’ll give it to you when you’re ready. I mean, that’s a Dilbert comic, right?

So, uh, I mean, it’s such a cliche that you go, listen, management would like to know what our budget is for next year, or they can’t manage. Just saying, I’ll give you what I give you, not a, not a sufficient answer. And that brings us right back to, there’s a place for waterfall. Once you know what it is that we’re trying to accomplish, an iterative approach at the tactical level is very effective, is ideal.

Um, we used to [00:15:00] call it design build, uh, or, um, or rolling wave planning. Um, and these days, I mean, we talk about agile, but, you know, we still do scrum meetings and we still have backlog. I mean, if you look at our list of tasks, The programmers are looking at cards on a board and, you know, organized by columns.

Um, but, uh, at the planning level, we’re looking at spreadsheets and bar charts, just like every other company in the world. For sure.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: And even I think, uh, right now there’s, there is no, I think one approach that a company to every company is different and I think they adopt for sure what, what their needs are.

Um, can you talk a little bit about your customers and, um, share a little bit about, you know, how you go about, um, acquiring a new customer, your sales cycle, you know, what does that discussion look like when you’re talking to, um, you know, you mentioned that you mostly work with medium to large size businesses.

Uh, Usually like, you know, the purchasing cycle in these businesses is long and you have stakeholders and so forth. So what is it [00:16:00] like working with big companies and trying to make a sale?

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: Yeah. So I think the, I think the key word, uh, there is patience, right? And so, um, so we take a bit of a different view.

Over the sales cycle, but also the acquisition process, uh, acquiring a new customer and the marketing process. If you look at our website compared to many other people who are in my industry, it’s different. Um, there’s no pay wall. There’s no, uh, kind of, you have to get through this gateway to be able to see our information.

We have all our information out there. And, um, and so people can educate themselves on our website. With white papers and webcasts and um, and a plethora of information that lets them evaluate whether we’re in their category or not. We expect to talk to a prospective client for months, maybe years. We just closed a client that we’ve been talking to for four years and it’s not like Every day was a step forward.

It was like, okay, well, we’re ready in some [00:17:00] respects and we’re not ready in others and we would, you know, great. We’re still here. Um, and then, you know, the team would start the, you know, the exercise up again and then go still see we have issues to deal with internally before we can move forward. But, I mean, so we talk to people over a long period of time, 4 years is a bit excessive, but it’s easy.

It’s easy for us to spend 9 months, uh, on the acquisition and, um, and. Uh, and getting started process. Um, our clients. I mean, you know, our clients are great. You know, people are it’s an envious list. It includes AMD and Interpol and Homeland Security and the government of Quebec and, um, and Bruce nuclear power and, you know, and so on.

So, I mean, we have. Clients, you know, who are, who are midsize, we have clients who are highly recognizable, you know, we’re very proud of the list. I mean, whether it’s engineering companies like Andretz or Aegean, or, uh, you know, our clients who are, um, uh, you know, who are in security or, or government affairs, we speak well to both, to all of those categories.[00:18:00]

And that’s because we’re highly flexible. We really understand the whole notion of the process of both your time sheet and your project management. So we can speak to that quite easily. Um, the, um, the way that we get clients, um, you know, we can’t just. You know, advertise on Google. I mean, we do advertise on Google and on being, but, um, but we spend a lot of time in the education process.

So I’ll do a podcast like today, or, um, I’ll do, um, uh, a talk on the. Project the PMBA, the project manager business analyst world, which I’m doing next week or the week after, or, you know, or we’ll go speak in person when we can do that. Had a break of course for COVID, but these days I’m getting a chance to go out and do that more or one of the staff will.

So we try to get out to talk about our vision and our product, not so much in a product demonstration, but let’s talk about the process challenges that people like our clients have. Um, in terms of managing resource capacity, managing the work, [00:19:00] determining what things cost, um, and these different levels of management who have all these different perspectives.

Um, and so that, I mean, it tends to work well for us. People find us, of course, we spend a certain amount of effort on search engine optimization so that they can, they can find us. And on our, uh, products that we link to, uh, like Oracle’s Primavera, for example, where, you know, we’re reasonably well known for the people in that business.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Um, in terms of, you know, when, when you’re having these discussions, what are some of like the, of course, you know, a big part of the discussion is, you know, what, what is the process that these companies are trying to optimize or, you know, how does the software fit into their like process and technology stack and so forth?

Um, What are some of the main criteria or some of the main things besides that that are important like in this kind of a software category? I’m assuming, you know, if you’re working with like government organizations and so forth, you know, security is important [00:20:00] because Now, uh, and I, I don’t know if your software is in the cloud, but, uh, you know, there’s a lot of, probably a lot of similar software that are now deployed in cloud.

And that’s usually a concern for a lot of businesses, especially bigger businesses, maybe even government entities. Um. And I’m assuming, you know, integration, as you mentioned, with Oracle and some of these, uh, you know, ecosystem that companies are using, that’s probably important for them. So, can you talk me through some of these criteria, um, factors that these companies are kind of assessing when they’re looking for these kind of, uh, Sure.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: So, um, uh, so as you mentioned earlier, every client’s different. So the needs for every client are different. Um, and, uh, time control is available in the cloud. It has been for like 12, 13 years already. So we’re well familiar with that environment. It’s still available on premise, uh, and some clients for whatever their particular requirements are say, no, we really can’t consider a cloud option.

We have to go on premise. Um, you know, the. [00:21:00] U. S. Federal Reserve said, you know, we said, Oh, you could go in the cloud. And they laughed. They said, yeah, no, that’d be great. But no. Um, and so, you know, so some people deploy on prem and some people deploy in the cloud. Um, we, um, obviously have a high interest in security in the cloud.

We’ve been socked to audited and so on. So we do all those things that one would normally have to do to make clients feel safe. Um, uh, and our, um, Uh, our, um, focus on the product overall is to make sure that it’s going to be secure regardless of how you deploy it. Um, the, uh, the kinds of requests or the kinds of.

Features or criteria that people ask about, uh, include a few things. Uh, first of all, um, on the finance side to say, well, this is going to become a part of our finance engine in some ways, uh, talk to us about the auditability of this data, right? If you ask a finance person about their accounting system, that’s high on the list, can I count on the data that I’m now going to make business decisions on or pay people [00:22:00] with, um, and so time control has to meet those criteria.

And that’s a very different level of scrutiny than you would get with, say, just a project management tool. If I go to a large company and I say, Hey, the project management tool at the end of the year said these were our costs. And look, it’s like within 5, 000 of what the accounting department says.

Everyone goes, oh yeah, that’s great. But if I come to you and I say, so your paycheck is off by a penny. A single penny. Um, you know, after a few weeks you go, look, I know I’m being petty, but It’s my penny and I feel badly. So I’m down here at payroll asking if you could, you know, fix it. Um, so we have to have a very different level of, you know, of criteria and safety of that data compared to say, a project management tool now, project management gets to enjoy that too.

And they get to enjoy another benefit with time control that we talk about. Uh, to say your data will now match finance, so there’s not going to be that attempt at [00:23:00] reconciliation that many companies spend a lot of time on or that concern to say, well, your data can’t possibly be accurate because finance has, you know, the for sure, correct data.

Um, now it will be sourced from the same place. The current term for that is, oh, one source of the truth. Wouldn’t that be great? Yeah, so we provide that with an auditable tool that can be used for multiple purposes at the same time. So that’s probably the number one criteria that people ask about. But after that, it’s, um, you know, can you integrate with the tools we have?

And so we put a high degree of, uh, of focus on that, and we have a bi directional API that people can program to, we have predefined links to other APIs like Oracle or Microsoft Project or other tools. And, um, and so those things, you know, are all part of that, whether it’s an estimating tool like, Innate or, um, uh, you know, or, um, uh, a project management tool, like, um, you know, Microsoft project for the web.

I mean, so, so we do those kinds of links or SharePoint. Um, and so we do those kinds of links already. That becomes a key and the [00:24:00] flexibility becomes very key as, um, because people have a list of requests. Can you track data like this? Yes. Can you track data like that? Yes. Can you track data like this and like that, but at the same time?

Yes. And so, um, so the ability to add fields, control the security by field to show certain things to some users and some things to others, all of that become key criteria. Um, the other thing that, uh, you know, is popular in time control is not just, uh, looking at past work or planning future work, but things like, uh, vacation approvals.

You say, well, how hard can that be? But in fact, that’s quite an involved conversation to go. Who will approve for requests for time off? So time control controls that the ability to report on the data in many different ways. Time control provides that to say, well, could you automate the reports to show only exception reports and email them to me if there’s something I should see?

Yes, we can control that. So the flexibility becomes a super key element of that. And then, I mean, there’s all the basic things time control has evolved since its very [00:25:00] first version back in 84, um, you know, to, like you say, on the cloud, it has a mobile app. It has, uh, you know, multiple ways to interface that and multiple additions, um, along the way we had clients who said, well, we would like to bring this into the field to use for our industrial purposes, like in a construction site, but A lot of the users won’t actually use it.

We’ll have people entering data for them. How would that work? We created an industrial version called Time Control Industrial. It included crew timesheets and management of materials and equipment and so on. So Time Control covers quite a wide swath of possible needs and we

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: like it that way. What does your team look like?

I mean, it, it does, um.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: They look like a whole bunch of hidden people, really, at the moment. Hidden

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: people, like, working from home, or? Yeah,

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: mostly, mostly remote. We’re a hybrid at the moment. Um, uh, but, um, yeah, we’re based in Montreal. Um, I’m not there at the moment, but I mean, we have our headquarters is Montreal.

We try to get the staff in on [00:26:00] Mondays, um, in Montreal at the moment. Uh, there’s been a whole bunch of snow, uh, this week. So, um, we’re asking people to stay home for a couple of days, but, um, but we’re, you know, we’re in 1 day and remote for 4, um, and, uh, so getting kind of getting the best of both worlds. I think, uh, staff are welcome to come to the office when they want.

Uh, we try to co locate our staff in the Montreal area so that they have the opportunity to do both, uh, as opposed to, um, you know, going all remote or offshoring our, uh, our development, which we’ve, uh, we’ve avoided. And so, um, yeah, so it’s a tight team. It’s less than 20 people. Um, people, everyone knows everyone.

I mean, it’s, uh, you know, it’s a team. Some of the people have been there for a long time. I have a couple of staff people who’ve been there. Now for longer than time control. It’s been there, so, so over 30 years.

Wow.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Very interesting. Um, can you talk a little bit about your own evolution as an entrepreneur?

Like you’ve been doing this 40 years and [00:27:00] I’m sure when you started out you were probably more on the technical side than the business

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: side. I was thinner, I had more hair. Uh, it was darker. Uh, yes, I’ve evolved quite a lot, but, you know, not always in good ways. Yeah, I mean, I got started, uh, you know, I was, uh, in my twenties.

And, um, uh, and full of optimism. I excited about this new wave of technology in the world and wanting desperately to be a part of it. My background. I’m an economist out of McGill University in Montreal. So that was where I got started. Very interested in business. Um, and I was sure that, um, you know, I could.

Get started and we started on a shoestring. I mean, it was, you know, bootstrapped. We didn’t have a whole bunch of money. Um, we worked tirelessly day and night to get those, you know, the first, uh, company in and and have the next, uh, client lined up the first year was lean. I mean, we didn’t have a whole lot of money to share.

Um, and, um, and then the next year was way better. And then things just kind of slowly took off after that. Near the end of the 2nd year, we were able to [00:28:00] hire a Uh, you know, our 1st person and then, you know, a 2nd person followed a little bit after that. And and so then we were kind of on our way and looking for these companies.

We were helped by, you know, being at the beginning of a growth wave of computing and of software evolution. Um, and for me, you know, things along the way have shifted multiple times. Um, in the late nineties, I was encouraged strongly to say, get the company public because everyone was going public. You don’t need to make a profit.

They said, look at Amazon, who hadn’t made a profit for a long time, but still was, you know, evaluated at crazy numbers. And so we looked at doing that. Um, we were encouraged to do that by people in the. Um, uh, in the finance industry and said, we can, you know, find money for it and we can get you money for expansion.

We’ve resisted doing that. And, um, you know, the, the initial experiments that we did with that were uncomfortable and didn’t seem natural to us. Um, and so we have continued to grow organically. [00:29:00] For me, um, I guess as I’ve gotten older, but also as the company has matured, we’ve taken a very conservative organic view of growth.

Um, uh, you know, I get taught, I talked to a fair number of people who are. Entrepreneurs, but also who are financing entrepreneurs. You know, we get called on a regular basis. I mean, you look at our client list and you go, Oh, maybe those guys would like some money and to expand fast and, you know, have some kind of hockey stick growth and then sell, but for a lot of entrepreneurs, they’ve gotten into the industry to get out.

They got into say, well, I’ll be in and then we’re going to have all this growth and I’m going to max out and sell the business. I never got into the business to get out. I got into the business to stay in. And so, I mean, you could look at our business and say, well, 40 years and you’ve never sold it. 40 years and you never went public.

And I go, yeah, by design. It’s the way that we. Created the business and I’m, you know, I very much like it and I’m not sure what kind of business I could have in the future that could ever have the kind of impact that I have I mean [00:30:00] we we impact a fairly small element of someone’s day Right? End users use our product for 5 10 minutes a week.

Right? It’s a tiny part of the overall pie chart of their week. But, it’s a very significant part. Like, if time control doesn’t work, the projects don’t get managed. If time control doesn’t work, you don’t get paid, maybe. I mean, so it’s a very important part of your week, even if it doesn’t take a whole lot of your time.

So we’re making an impact of companies that have put things into space. That have cured disease. That have, um, That manage, uh, security and, um, and, uh, and finances. I mean, huge companies that people recognize. And, uh, and so that’s, I mean, kind of cool, you know, as a, as a lifestyle. Um, and it affords me and the staff a pretty good living.

And, you know, so we do reasonably well out of it, companies profitable. And, uh, even if we are managing our growth only organically, it has slow and steady growth. So, I mean, that’s, you know, I, [00:31:00] I kind of like that business model.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. I mean, software is definitely a great business model. I mean, your costs are very limited once you’ve created the software.

And yeah, of course, you know, uh, it’s a recurring, uh, revenue business model. So

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: yeah, you have to invest in it all the time, right? We’re about to release, uh, at the end of this week, a new version of time control. So version 8. 5 will be coming out on Friday. We’ve been working on it all year. I mean, it’s not like we can’t, you know, we can just sit back and let the money roll in.

We have to invest in the marketing side. We have to invest in development. We have to invest, of course, in, um, in support and stability of what we’ve already created, but also, you know, expanding

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: to new things. So, I mean, talking about support, when you have a customer, I’m sure, um, every once in a while they do need some sort of support.

Yeah. Can you talk about what kind of support you provide? Like, do big customers have like a project manager that, uh, that is available to help them anytime they need

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: any? Yeah, it’s not so much a project manager [00:32:00] that they would need. So, uh, we get two kinds of requests. Um, the first is, um. The same thing that everyone who’s ever been in the support business has heard, uh, your product’s not working.

So we, you know, we chuckle a little bit and we go, so when you say not working, can you describe what you mean? Because that may not mean time control is broken, right? It may mean that you did something and you got a result that you weren’t at all expecting. And the answer to that may be how you used it, what data’s in there, did you notice that you had, uh, used this feature, not that feature.

So. Um, so that’s usually somebody who is, you know, very aware of the product, um, but also understands, you know, basic business process. Um, what we do with our technical staff is everyone rotates. So all of our developers spend some time in tech support. All of our developers spend some time in QA. Everyone rotates.

There’s no isolated person who doesn’t get to talk to a client. Um, and so that affects how we hire people and the kinds of people that we get are generally I mean, you may [00:33:00] have called a tech support desk at a time to go, uh, you know, having a problem with my, you know, whatever it is. Um, and, uh, I’m not sure if you’ve had this experience, but then they go, yeah, I’m going to have to escalate this.

Well, yeah, you’ve now kind of gotten out of the help desk. To somebody who is maybe more of a developer or somebody who is on the inside technical track or a more senior person. All of our technical people are developers, so whenever you make a call, you’ve already escalated and it tends to make our clients, you know, remarkably.

Delighted with our support response now. Sometimes somebody calls, someone calls and says, so I’ve got a support request and we go great. What is that? And they describe an enhancement or a feature that we simply don’t have. And we have a process for answering that too. I mean, the 1st would be tell us the business requirement that you’re trying to overcome because maybe time control can do that already.

And that often is the case. Someone says, Oh, I’m going to have to do this. Can you change time control? We go, we can change the configuration and look, that would solve your problem. Sometimes [00:34:00] people make a request for an enhancement that we’ve thought of, but haven’t done yet. We had one of those happen a few weeks ago and said, you know, that’s already in time control eight, five.

You can hold on for three weeks. Um, you’ll probably see it. And they went, Oh, that’s great. You know, fine. And then sometimes people make a request that we go, we should really consider that for future versions. So all of that becomes part of the support model. Um, and, uh, you know, making sure you’re responsive, making sure you understand things.

But it also happens that we have people with 20 years, 15 years, 25, 30 years of, of, uh, of, uh, experience in project management techniques, project management methodology, in the flow and process of project management, and in the flow of process of how your payroll would work, how your billing might work, how your job costing or reporting for government authorities would work, whether that’s for the defense contract audit agency in the U.

S. or for R& D tax credits in many different countries. And so we understand that before you get started, in many cases, [00:35:00] to the same degree or more than the person calling. Who then goes, Oh, I have to have you speak to, you know, the person in charge of that process here. Um, and then, you know, that person is kind of delighted to find someone at the other end of the line who says, Oh, no, we understand that.

Is this what we’re talking about? And so that short circuits a lot of, um, a lot of misunderstanding and a lot of ineffectiveness of people trying to understand what is needed elsewhere. And it’s not uncommon for us to say, well, we can do that. But have you checked with payroll? Because they may not be happy with that.

And then someone goes, Oh, no, I didn’t think to do that. Give them a call and get back to us. And they go, Yeah, payroll says no. So it’s like, that’s fine. I mean, because we understand that if you do that, that’s going to maybe affect some other part of your business process. So, I mean, that notion of having our technical staff working on a deployment, you know, and having to work on business requirements with a client, working on QA, working on technical support, and then, of course, doing development, you know, has paid off for us.[00:36:00]

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome. What is your outlook on the whole advent of ai? Um, and, um, have you cha have your business kind of assimilated some of the, you know, what’s coming out, out with like generative ai? I mean, yeah.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: I mean, I have a fair amount of background on the AI conversation. Um, we had, uh, artificial intelligence built into underlying, uh, technology in time control in 99.

So it’s not like it’s a new conversation for me. I own the domain time control. ai. It’s not like I’m unaware of the conversation, but there’s two things about AI and particularly generative AI that I think are key. The first is what are you going to feed it? Right. If it’s going to just take information from the internet, uh, that’s a super dangerous conversation because I don’t know what it’s going to find on the internet to get back with answers if it’s only going to, um, if we’re only going to feed AI for certain kinds of things, then what are we simply looking for an interpreter?[00:37:00]

Uh, and we’ve looked at this for time control. We’ve looked, you know, should we put chat, chat, GPT into the product? And my answer is yet to do what? Um, to teach people, the kinds of people who would use chat GPT and time control would only be administrators, um, would end users do it? No, they don’t want to ask.

They simply want to say, I want to get in and out of this as fast as possible. The most likely request from a timesheet enterer, like a timesheet user, Is fill up my timesheet for me, do the same kind of thing as the last few weeks. Yeah, I think payroll’s a little uncomfortable with that. So, um, so the auditability of the data now becomes kind of questionable.

And as I, I’m sure you’ve seen in so many AI articles and conversations to go, so what’s the underlying algorithm and how does it decide? It’s answer was, you know, well, there’s no transparency to that. And so for the moment we see the AI debate kind of underway, not super, um, uh, aligned yet to where we could make a difference with it.[00:38:00]

Um, but it’s not like I’m unaware. We keep up to it on a regular basis to see, yeah, if there’s a, you know, if there’s an application here where we could, um, have, uh, AI available to us, uh, inside the product. Or associated to the product in a way that would make a difference. Then we’d be, you know, we’d be well, well positioned to take advantage.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Now in every entrepreneur’s journey, there’s always mistakes made, lessons learned, failures. Um, I’m sure, I’m sure that’s part of your, you know, uh, there’s always things coming up. What has been kind of, you know, from a business perspective, entrepreneurial perspective, what has been like some. You know, a big mistake that kind of taught you a big lesson about business or people in general.

Yeah, I

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: mean, you know, I’ve got 40 years of them. Um, if I pick probably the biggest error, um, or one of the biggest errors I made along the way was, uh, being, uh, enticed in 98, 99 to take in for, uh, outside investors. Um, uh, and [00:39:00] it took a year after their money arrived. I mean, money came as promised, but it took a year for me to finally come to the realization that the people who had invested in my business and they were, I mean, they, it’s not like they hid anything, but they had no understanding of how to run our business.

Um, and yet they now held, held seats on our board. They held, uh, voting shares. They were not a majority. We had insisted on not giving up a majority share. Um, but even so they had tremendous influence and their message was grow at any cost. This was terrible advice in the year 2000. Um, and it took me six years to buy them out of the business.

Um, and those, I would count those six years from an entrepreneur perspective. I mean, time control did fine and, and, you know, the business did okay. But, um, but I would count those six years as the worst years of my career at HMS. So, I mean, from that perspective, uh, you know, that, um, that is certainly an error.

And we’ve made project errors and we’ve had other kinds of errors where we tried something and it simply didn’t take [00:40:00] off. And we looked back and, you know, corrected our, our perspective, corrected our view. Um, but, but the largest one was probably that investor error. Um, and it has made me, I mean, I really talk about it with people who call to ask to invest in the business.

I say, yeah, I’ve had a bad experience and I’m uneager to repeat it. So, um, so they get that I’m not the only. I’m not the only entrepreneur to have had people in the business whose money was fine, but their advice was not so yeah,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, that’s, that’s always kind of the big challenge, right? Like if you’re the investors who are investing in the business have a different vision of what the business should be, or even like, you know, if you have co founders and you know, you have different vision about the business, Should be in the future.

I think that that becomes a really a big challenge, right? Well, I

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: mean we had that experience in 93 and 93, uh, my original partner said I I don’t want to do it anymore Uh, I you know, I have a different view for what I want to spend my times doing and it’s not working on Project software. I want to be doing [00:41:00] kind of what we were doing originally doing consulting and so on.

And, um, and so I may, I hear that, right? I mean, we, we parted on good terms. We found an arrangement that would work for him and work for me. And, um, and I, you know, headed off, uh, you know, on my own after that. Um, and I mean, I understand that founders can, can, you know, head into different directions. I mean, I think the best time to organize that as well, you’re on great terms and not.

trying to fight each other on it. Um, and hopefully, you know, find some arrangement by which you, you know, you can, you can part and still be friends, um, or at least still be colleagues or business acquaintances. Um, that’s a long time ago for me, but, um, and so, uh, so yeah, so I mean, when you get investors, I mean, the investors at the time were pretty clear.

They go, we want to get in for, you know, For a dime and out for a dollar that’s, and they were quite clear about it. We want you to grow so that we can get out for 10 times our investment. That’s our only interest. And if you can take this money. And turn it into growth [00:42:00] of 10 times and let us sell it, then that’d be great.

And I, I mean, I think I was naive in the way that I approached that conversation, um, at the time I’m, you know, I paid an expensive price for the, you know, for the education of it. Um, but there’s still people like that out there. I mean, and there are, I’m sure many different investors who would be very different.

You know, I’ve talked to some great people over the years to say, yeah, we want to have you keep doing what you’re doing, but we just wanna be a part of it. Here’s how we would participate. I mean, great for, you know, if you can find someone like that and, and if the money will help. Um, one of the things that seemed unclear to me at the time is exactly how will we spend that money in a way that will cause that 10 times growth.

And, uh, we had a business plan and that business plan was not, uh, really able to be reached in, you know, 2001 to 2005.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: For sure. Uh, now I’m going to move on to our rapid fire segment and this time I’m going to ask you a few quick questions and you have to answer them maybe in a one or two word or a sentence.

Uh, so the first one is one book [00:43:00] recommendation for entrepreneurs or business

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: professionals. I’ve always been a fan of, um, Jeffrey Moore’s, uh, crossing the chasm. And so I can, I think that’s probably a must read, um, these days in project management, the American management associations handbook on project management is a good read too.

Um, but, uh, for business, I think for entrepreneurs, I, yeah, probably Jeffrey more.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: An innovative product or idea, uh that you’re excited about right now.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: Um,

Yeah, I think I I think the notion of where AI may actually make a difference and and where I think the notion of Uh of rapid coding is probably going to make a huge impact on the industry What they call no code coding or no code software. It’s not really no code software, but it’s like highly assisted you know, uh coding uh is going to open the door for a lot of people who are not as Program it programmatically technical [00:44:00] to create products and put them available on the cloud.

And I think that’s probably going to give us a wave of new things we haven’t seen yet. Yeah.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: I mean, it’s, it’s great. I mean, I’m, I’m doing some of that myself. A business or productivity tool or software that you would recommend or a productivity tip.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: Uh, well, productivity tip, I think, um, and I, we use this ourselves is figure out where your time’s going and not just you, but your team.

How much does, how much do things cost you? We had an incident like a year ago where, um, I was asking about particular features that were on our list and, and came to a point where I go, how come this feature is still on our list? To do list was our original budget for how much time we spent on this and it turned out to be a crazy amount of time and that that was because we’d had a mismatch between the work and who was doing the work and um, and so figuring out where you’re spending your time and what it’s costing you is probably my biggest productivity tip, um, for productivity tools.

I mean, we’re in the same boat as everybody else. We’re using sales [00:45:00] force for sales and we’re, you know, we use office for our office productivity. Everybody. Uh, it’s probably the same for a lot of folks. Uh, we’re on Slack for chat and I think, uh, we’re on Zoom or Teams for doing conferences. So, uh, you know, all of those are super effective.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Another startup or business that you think is currently doing great things? Yeah.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: I mean, there’s so many, right? Um, I saw an announcement recently for Babbel. I mean, um, you know, we work in a multilingual environment, you know, I speak English and French are, we sell our product like everywhere. Um, and, uh, it used to be so hard to get people to be able to communicate across language lines.

Uh, that’s probably gonna, I mean, I see that they’re, you know, increasing in size and doing great things. That’s probably going to be pretty cool. I mean, with,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: uh, with AI, I don’t think there will be need to learn a new language. Like, well,

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: yeah, so it kind of opens up like the old Star Trek universal [00:46:00] translator.

Right. Yeah. How far are we from that? I don’t know. Kind of close now. So, um, at least for, uh, for, uh, you know, uh, uh, for. Earth based languages, I guess. Um, but yeah, you can, you can use something like that to do both spoken and written language, kind of, now. So, I think anything that, like that, is, opens the door to more, uh, people being able to access your product in a different way.

And, you know, for time control, it’s a, it’s an odd, um, it’s an odd industry, right? We sell a product that end users could care less about. Right. Nobody’s excited to do their timesheet on Friday. They do it because they have to administrators get super excited. Project managers get super excited about the data, but people actually entering their timesheet never found somebody keen to do it.

Um, and so, um, so the easier you make it for the end users, the better. And 99, 95 to 98 percent of our, of our users. Are those people who are just putting in data. So can I get it to you in your language? Can I pre answer any of your questions? Can I [00:47:00] make it faster to get in and out of? All of that counts.

Um, and so, uh, so being able to display it in a language that’s more familiar to you is an obvious one. For

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: sure. Final question, best business advice that you have ever received or you would give to other entrepreneurs?

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: Oh, I think the best, I mean, I’ve received so much advice over the years, I don’t think I can pick out just one, but if I was going to give advice, um, I’d say patience is probably the best one.

If you’re an entrepreneur and the results that you believe in haven’t yet come, be patient. Um, you’ve heard the expression, uh, being in the right place at the right time. Yeah, I’m of the, I’m of the mind that if you found the right place. Put up a tent and park yourself there and, and recommit to the vision that you believe in and let the right time come.

And um, and I, and that’s held true for us. It’s held true for a lot of people, but patience in those results is the, maybe the hardest thing to do for an entrepreneur, but probably the most [00:48:00] value. Some different people have told me over the years to say, Oh, maybe you should pack it in. And I go, I’ll pack it in when I decide.

Yeah. Um, not when you decide. And, you know, that’s, that’s worked out okay for us 40 years, the next year. Oh,

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: and then there’s no reason to pack it in. I mean, exactly. If you’re having fun, then exactly. Well, Chris, those were all the questions that I had. Thank you so much again for sharing your story, for sharing your business lessons and, and, uh, learnings.

Um, if anybody wants to get in touch or, you know, find out more about your products, uh, what’s the best way to do that.

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: Oh, I time control. com is probably the easiest one. Um, and um, I mean there’s other ways to reach me You can just I mean google my name and you’ll find many different contacts But time control.

com and you know send a contact message and say you wanted to talk to chris and that’ll get to me Awesome. Well

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Chris, thank you again so much and I wish you all the very best in your business and thanks very much also personal life as well. So yeah, thank you so much again for joining me today great to [00:49:00] be

Chris Vandersluis of HMS Software: here I really appreciate it.

Sushant Misra of TrepTalks: Awesome

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