Cognito Forms - Online Timesheets

Created by Graeme Orchard, Modified on Fri, 05 Apr 2024 at 02:49 PM by Graeme Orchard

NEW FEATURE (Beta) - Available from Release (or later)

Users on versions prior to this release will require a software update before the feature becomes available.



Influence can work with a Cognito Forms account and be used with an online timesheet designed in Cognito Forms. This provides workers with a way to complete and submit timesheets for shifts that they have worked, and it is possible to import (Drag/Drop) these timesheets into Influence as a way to confirm the hours worked. Workers can be emailed a link to their form or links can be sent via SMS. 

(NOTE: Sending via SMS requires a paid subscription to so that links can be shortened for sending via SMS. Note the 'Free' plan does not work.)


In order to use Cognito for online timesheets, the following must be true.

  1. You must have a Cognito Account. (You Cognito plan must be Teams or higher, Free accounts will not work).
    If you do not already have an account then please use the link here to sign up.
     Create New Cognito Account
  2. You must have purchased the Cognito Integration for your Influence system - If not please contact our Sales Team [t: 01372 635 716]
  3. You need to import our example Template form(s) for Timesheets into your Cognito Account and then edit them so that submitted forms come to your own email address/mailbox.
  4. You need to setup an email template within Influence (Booking Confirmation) that will generate an email a link to the on-line timesheet. The template uses a special merge field that will pre-fill the timesheet with the worker details AND the shifts for that week. {Our templates include an example of the merge field for you to use.}
  5. (Optional) If you wish to send timesheets via SMS (text) you will need the SMS licence for your Influence system and you will require a subscription to  
    { is a link shortening service, and you will require a paid subscription to use their services. Please visit their website for details of pricing and subscriptions.}

Step 1. Sign up for Cognito Account

If you do not already have a Cognito account, please sign up for an account using the link below.

Signup with Cognito using the link below and pick your monthly pricing Plan. (TEAMS or Higher.  The FREE plan from Cognito will not work.)

Use this Link:  >>>>>> Click here to signup for a Cognito Forms Account   <<<<<<<<<

{If you already have a Cognito Forms account there is no need to use the link above.}

Step 2. Check if you have the Cognito Integration

In order to allow the import of Cognito Forms, you must have purchased the integration for your Influence database. If not you will need to contact our sales team to organise the relevant licence/add-on. {You will also require a paid subscription to Cognito Forms. The free plan does not work.}

[If you wish to sign up to Cognito forms, use the link above] 

Tip:  You can check whether you have this integration or not as below:

Login to your Influence Database. Click the [Help] button at the bottom right, and click the [Licence] button Check if the database is licenced for Web Forms

 If not, you will need to contact us.  (See our website for contact details)

Step 3. Import the Timesheet Example forms to your Cognito Account. 

Use the 'share links' below to Import the example forms into your Cognito account. These forms have been specially designed to work with Influence, and should only need customising with your Branding/Logo.

Example Timesheet Forms (Links)

FORMSHARE LINK  *(Just click the link to import the form to your Cognito Account)
Influence Timesheet
Influence Timesheet
with Approval
Influence Timesheet
with PIN
Influence Timesheet
with Approval & PIN

NOTE: Once you have imported the Forms to your Cognito account, remember to customise them with your Logo, your submission email address, etc.

Step 4. Setup a Timesheet email that includes the 'Link' to your online form.

In your Influence database, create an email template that will allow you to send the worker a link to their online timesheet form when they are booked.

IMPORTANT: Timesheet emails should be sent WEEKLY - and the online form will only contain details for ONE WEEK (maximum) - If a Booking extends over several weeks, then the INITIAL link that is sent confirming the booking will only contain details of the timesheets for the first week of the booking.

e.g. Fred Smith is booked from Mon 16 Oct until Fri 10 Nov (Mon-Fri, 5 days per week, over 4 weeks)
He will need to be sent a timesheet link each week (i.e. 4 times) during his booking.

As part of the email you will want to include a Merge Field that contains the link to the relevant online timesheet form in Cognito and will Pre-Fill the form with the relevant worker name and ID as well as their bookings;

An example of such as email  Template is shown below:

Which will produce an email something like this:-

TIP: The example forms provided by influence include details of the relevant 'Merge' field that you will need to add to your templates. This field can be copied/pasted from the form into Influence, and then you will just need to edit the field so that the URL for the form matches the form name in your cognito account.

e.g. Replace


(Optional) Sending Timesheet 'Link' as an SMS

It is possible to send the timesheet link to workers via SMS rather than email.

HOWEVER - In order to do this, you should be using FIRETEXT as your SMS message provider and will require an account with to shorten the link to the online Timesheet Form so that it can be sent as part of an SMS text message to a mobile.

e.g.  The URL{"Worker":{"Forename":"Hudson","Surname":"Hawk","Ref":"00002948","WorkerEmail":""}, "BookingDetails":{"BookingID":"TS_BOOK_ID#","Company":"Little Timers","BranchDept":" "},"ManagerApproval":{"ApproverName":"TS_APP_NAME#","ApproverEmail":"TS_APP_EMAIL#"},"Shifts":[{"Date":"TS_DATE#","Shift":"Day","Role":"WHOP","From":"18/10/2023","To":"18/10/2023","Break":"60"}]}

Might become  

Which can then be sent via SMS

NOTE: You will require an account with in order to do this, and you will then need to contact Influence to get your account linked to your Influence database, so personalised links can be shortened each time they are sent.
Depending on the volume of workers, you may want to consider the Pro or Pro5k plans. See the website for more details on plans and pricing 

Explanation of example Timesheet Forms / Templates

For the different templates below, they each behave slightly differently, and those differences are explained below. You should ideally decide on ONE approach that you are going to take, and then implement the relevant timesheet template and processes within your Influence database.

Example Timesheet Forms (Links)

Influence Timesheet
Influence Timesheet
with Approval
Influence Timesheet
with PIN
Influence Timesheet
with Approval & PIN

Influence TimesheetA Simple form to record timesheet information. Contains worker details (Name, Reference No.), Client Details (Name / Site), Booking_ID and Booking Details (Day, Date, Shift, Role, Start/End, Break)
Influence Timesheet
with Approval
As above but has a two stage workflow built into the Form. After the worker completes and submits their timesheet, it will be emailed to the 'Approver' at the site (Company) where they worked. This contact can approve the hours. Once approved the details will be emailed back to the agency for import into Influence.
Influence Timesheet
with PIN
Similar to the simple form, but also includes a PIN. The PIN is a multi-digit number, issued to the manager/timesheet approver for the site which can be used to authorise this timesheet.  Within the Cognito Form, the PIN needs to be entered before the [Submit] button on the form becomes active.
Influence Timesheet
with Approval and PIN
As above, combining the two-stage Approval process and PIN.
Essentially the worker will complete the timesheet and click [Submit]. A link will then be emailed to the approver at the client, who can open the form and enter a PIN. Once they have entered the relevant PIN they can then click [Approve] to send the timesheet details (Form) to the agency for import into Influence.

Parameters for Cognito Timesheet Setup

The following parameters will affect the way the system interacts with Cognito Timesheets. If you have used the timesheet forms that require a PIN and/or Approval, then these parameters will hold details to be used in the case no other relevant PIN/Approver can be identified.

OL Timesheets Enabled
This must be set to Y to enable the import/use of timesheets from Cognito.
Manager Approval Email Failover
When using timesheet forms with the Approval process, it is necessary to pass the email address for the 'Approver' to the form. If no email is found for the approver, then the content of this parameter becomes the 'email of last resort' as the approver.
TS Entry Auto Mode - Type Xml or Cognito
IMPORTANTThis must be set to C if using Cognito Timesheets.
Open Combi TS on Drag/Drop of Timesheet
For single Timesheet submissions, after drag/drop the email should the system open the Combi Sheet 
URL Shortening service ShortIO or None
Set to S if using Short.IO to shorten timesheet URL Links. This is necessary if you intend to send timesheets via SMS message.
{NB: You will need an account with Short.IO to use this
Contact Method for Timesheet from Macro Mgr
When using the Macro ⚙️ from the top of TIMESHEET ENTRY which contact method should be used by default (email or SMS)
{NOTIf using SMS you will need to use to shorten the timesheet URL so it can be sent by text message}
Default PIN if no PIN Found
When using timesheets with "PIN" approval, if No PIN is found on the contact, site or client, then this PIN will be sent to the FORM and used for 'approval'.
Authorisation PIN type for Timesheets
Specifies the CODE that is used in code table [239] for the PIN code used by the online timesheets. This is set as TSPN by default {There should be no need to change this.}
Importance for Global Approver
This is used to specify the Importance code that should be set for anyone at a client who is to be sent as an 'Approver' when using any of the timesheets which require approval. You should set a code here, e.g. S
NB: The code specified should also be added to code table CMS IMPORTANCE [128] if it is not already there. 
Group by BookingID on Weekly TS

        **** OPTIONAL ****
OPTIONAL:  You may want to set this parameter when using Cognito Timesheets. If you do, then the Combi sheet/Weekly Timesheet screen will only show bookings that have the SAME Booking_ID, rather than 'all' similar bookings for a worker 'this week'.
NB: It is strongly recommended that this is turned off/set to NO, so that each booking always gets its own booking_ID and is not amalgamated with other similar bookings in that week.
New Bookings Always get new GROUP
OPTIONAL:  You may want to set this to ensure that each time a new Booking is added for the Same Worker/Site/Role during the same week, then it is assigned a new Booking_ID.
Macro from TS - Group by BookingID or Site
IMPORTANTThis must be set to B if using Cognito Timesheets.
PARAMETERS Influencing Update Process  
(Usually it is not necessary to change or adjust these from their current settings)
Timesheet No to be Overridden by Auto Timesheet
If this is set to "1" it indicates a 'Temporary' timesheet number, and timesheets with this number will always be updated whenever a new submission (Timesheet Form email) is imported
Auto Generate TS No on Week Entry
If this is set to Y (ticked) then timesheets are allocated a sequential number from the Weekly timesheet - These allocated numbers *may* allow update 

#1: If you do not do this, then you can end up with problems if there are two bookings during the same week which have same Worker/Site/Role/Shift, but have a different CONTACT, since they will get GROUPED together.

How to specify an Authoriser in Influence

To set the name of an Authoriser for a company, go to the Company record in Influence, and make sure to add a contact.

The contact should be given the importance code that indicates they are an approver.  (i.e. Whatever was set as parameter TSPORTAL, Flag(1) ) See below

If you are using an online timesheet template which requires an approver, then:-

- If there is no contact specified as an approver for this site or client, then it will try to use the Booking Contact.

- If the approver has no email address, then the system will display a warning when you try to send the email.

The system tries to find an email address to use for approval. It will try to find this in the following sequence

Site Approver > Client Approver > Booking Contact > System Parameter (TEMPS, Path(3) ) > Consultant UserID


Sequence/Rules for determining who Approves Timesheets
1If there is a contact marked as an Approver at the site of the booking, then their email address will be used for approvals>> ELSE
>>>> 2
2If there is a contact marked as an Approver at the Client (Main site) where the booking was made, then their email address will be used for approvals>> ELSE
>>>> 3
3Whoever was chosen as the 'Contact' on the booking itself will be used, and their email address will be used for approvals>> ELSE
>>>> 4 
4If none of the above contacts has an email, the the system will look at parameter TEMPS, Path(3) for an email address (Usually a central mailbox at your Agency)>> ELSE
>>>> 5
5If no 'email of last resort' has been set using the parameter, it will look at the UserID of the consultant who made the booking and send their email address as the approval email>> ELSE
>>>> 6
6If there is no email found at ANY of the above stages, then the email will not be sent and an error message will be displayed to tell the user that the timesheet email could not be sent, because their is no email address for the 'Approval'

When using the Macro Manager to send multiple emails, any such emails will be skipped and not sent, and will then be listed in an error message at the end of the process for the user to go and correct the records/approvers as appropriate.

Where to Store/Set PIN codes

If you are using either of the timesheet forms which require a PIN code to allow submission, then you will need to store these PIN codes in the Influence database.

When generating the html link to the form, the system will look for the PIN code in sequence, and then ensure the relevant code is required by the form.

When checking for a PIN code to send and embed in the Form, the system checks in the following order:
[1st] Contact (Approver) > [2nd] Site > [3rd] Company > [4th] 'System' (Parameters)
As soon as a PIN is found at any of these stages, the system 'knows' that is the PIN required for this form/link and will embed that into the timsheet form.

IMPORTANT:  PIN Codes can be stored in several different places.

i) PIN Code for Contact

Open the Contact record and choose the [Manage] tab.

Click the [PINS] button - You can then set the PIN for this specific contact.

To remove/delete a PIN just set the PIN to <blank> (ie. delete all the numbers)

ii) PIN Code for Site

Open the Client record and click the Branches icon (?️ - buildings) in the toolbar to open the SITE record.

Select the [Manage] tab

Click the [PINs] button - this will set the PIN for the relevant SITE. (If a client has multiple Sites/branches, then each branch could have a different PIN)

To remove/delete a PIN just set the PIN to <blank> (ie. delete all the numbers)

iii) PIN Code for Client

Open the Company record, and choose the [Misc] tab.

Click the [PINs] button - This will allow you to set a PIN code for this particular Client/Company.

To remove/delete a PIN just set the PIN to <blank> (ie. delete all the numbers)

iv) PIN Code for System (used if no other PINs found)

If no other PINs have been found when sending an HTML link to an online timesheet, then it is possible to set an overall System / Agency PIN. This is the PIN of Last resort. It can be set in the following way.

Login as the UserID 'ADM' (or other high-priority user with access to parameters)

Choose Maintenance > Setup > Parameters

Once open, select the parameter set called FORMS and choose parameter TEXT (11) 

You can then set the System/Agency PIN

PIN Definitions (Auth PIN Type)

It is possible to define the 'length' and format rules for the PIN code. By default this is 6-digit, numeric (e.g. 125981)

The format/definition of the Timesheet PIN is controlled by code table AUTH PIN TYPE [239]

If needed the PIN length can be changed by amending this table.

Please contact Influence if you need to amend the PIN length or require help.

How to Send details of the PIN code to a Contact

If you are using PIN codes to authrosies timesheets, you will want to send them to relevant contacts at clients/companies so they know the PIN they must use.

To do this go to the relevant Client/Company and click on the email address of the contact. Select a relevant CALL TYPE, and then choose a template to send the PIN.  

{We suggest you create or add a call type PIN, and then create an email template as below. You will need to use the merge field [[SPC_PIN_NO]] which can be found in the 'Special Fields' section of the catalogue.}

TIP: You can copy/paste the text below as the template.


Please find below the details of the PIN that you will need to Authorsise Timesheets


You will be required to enter the PIN above into any online timesheets you need to approve.


Importing Submissions (Timesheets)

Once a worker has completed the timesheet, clicking [SUBMIT] will either send the form back to a nominated email address <OR> could send the form to a specified contact at the client for authorisation before being [APPROVED] and then sent to the nominated mailbox.

Once the timesheet form is received, it can be imported into Influence in two ways;

i) Importing Submissions Individually (Drag/Drop from Email)

The submission email can be dragged/dropped onto the TIMESHEET ENTRY screen. The system will then attempt to identify the Matching bookings, update the Start/End times (and Hours) - and then open the Entry Form so the user can see the imported hours.

ii) Importing Submissions Automatically (batches) on a Timed Process (Scan an email box)

It is possible to scan a mailbox containing timesheet submissions and have the system import these as a batch. This import process can be run as a single batch, or set to check periodically as an ongoing, automatic process.


In the mailbox where the submitted timesheets will be received, setup 3 Folders

IMPORT  - The folder where incoming timesheet submission forms will be received  {You could call this SOURCE if you prefer}

PROBLEMS - The folder where submissions that cannot be processed by the auto-import will be moved to.

PROCESSED - The folder where successfully imported submissions will be moved to.


Ensure that you have access to the mailbox where the received timesheet submissions are stored. {as above}

Login to Influence and go to the TIMESHEET ENTRY screen.

At the bottom of the screen, click the [Select] button

You will then need to use the popup window that appears to select each of the above folders in-turn from the mailbox.



(a) Run Manually as a one-off Batch

Having selected the mailbox folder to scan, click the [Go] button

The system will display the Outlook Timesheet Import window. 

Click [Start] to scan the selected folder. The system will then attempt to import any emails found in the IMPORT folder and then move them to PROCESSED or PROBLEMS as appropriate.

The system will show details of any problems in the 

(b) OPTIONAL - Automatic Re-Scan

If you want to run this as a continuous process, use the 'Every:' drop-down to specify how often the system should re-check for new submissions and import them. 

NOTE: If you do decide to use the auto re-scan, we recommend that you choose longer periods such as 30mins or 60mins - this will usually be much better and reduce the load on your system.

Import Rules - When Submissions are Imported/Rejected

When a timesheet Submission is received, it will be imported into the system and update the relevant Bookings/Timesheets except for the following circumstances -

Timesheets will not be imported, and will be moved to the [Problems] folder :

- If the system cannot identify the relevant Candidate/Contact/Site/Booking(s)

- If there are 'Extra' days on the timesheet which do not exist in Influence

- If the timesheets have already been manually entered and have a 'real' timesheet number 

(i.e. have a status of TSE/M  and have a number other than "1")

- If the timesheets have already been exported from Influence and marked as PAID/INVOICED (or both)

As mentioned earlier, if there are errors that can be identified (such as missing fields in the timesheet form, non-existent bookings, or bookings where two bookings exist on the same DAY/SHIFT/ROLE/CLIENT combination) then these errors will be flagged/described in the Import screen above.

IMPORTANT: If a form is submitted with missing days, these days will be 'entered' as ZERO Hours, and marked as Timesheeted.

e.g. Steve was booked for Mon-Thur, 9:00-17:30 on each day.
The completed FORM had the Wednesday removed. When this is imported, the Wednesday will be set to 0:00-0:00, i.e. Zero hours (not worked). See below....

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