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July 18, 2019

Time Tracking in Construction: How to Keep your Crew in Track


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Tired of paperwork?

Historically, time tracking has proven to be an issue for businesses operating in the construction industry. If there is a one-time tracking system that construction businesses use, it’s usually old-school pen and paper timesheets. However, the old ways of measuring time are subject to human errors, poor scheduling, time theft, and overpayments. Digital time tracking systems are often overlooked by construction businesses because they are seen as complicated software that is difficult to implement. However, today's digital time trackers are designed to be implemented with ease, and their sole purpose is to help businesses increase productivity.

In the face of technological advancements, we have developed this guide to help construction businesses make their transition towards digital time tracking software.

What are the benefits of time tracking in construction businesses?

Time tracking tools are not limited to simple clock-in and -out features. Modern time tracking tools are designed to provide actionable insights, and accurate timesheet reports that allow project owners to determine the productivity of stakeholders/employees, add value to clients and improve the services that they offer. Let’s explore each of these benefits.

Determining productivity through time tracking

Time tracking in construction businesses is complex, and it demands the attention of various stakeholders, departments, and external parties. Each with their own responsibilities, tasks, and deadlines. In absence of a time tracking tool construction projects can quickly become subject to delays, cost overruns, and even cancelation. Therefore, it is crucial for such businesses to integrate a modern time tracking system that can help project managers determine the productivity of all parties involved. Today, certain applications have built-in location tracking features that allow business owners to accurately track the position, and the work of office-based, and field workers.

Providing Added Value to Clients

The more insight the client has about their project, the higher the chances they will entrust a construction business with future ones. With the help of time tracking tools, project owners will be able to provide clients with accurate timesheets - which provide a breakdown of costs and hours worked on the project. Think of time tracking tools as a medium that holds together a lasting relationship between a construction business and the client.

Minimizing Lost Revenue

We have already discussed how old-school pen and paper time tracking is subject to errors. Let's assume that a particular construction project took 100 extra hours to finish out of the total 4,000-hour project. In an ideal scenario, project managers identify that they underestimated the time needed to finish the project by 2.5%. However, this is not always the case, and similar underestimations may continue to occur - ultimately leading to a loss in revenue for the construction business.

Estimating the time it takes to complete a 4,000 hour-long project should be based on empirical data. Time tracking applications provide all the data that is necessary for a project manager to identify errors in time estimations. This way they can be prevented from happening again in the future.

What to look for in a construction-based time tracking application?

In the crowded digital market, it can be difficult to identify the time tracking solution that will work for a construction business. Hence, to help business owners in their decision-making, we will be talking about some key features that are necessary for a successful implementation of time tracking in construction businesses.

Mobile-friendly Time Trackers

This is probably one of the most important features to look for in your next time tracker. Some time trackers offer web adaptive time trackers, while others have built specialized applications.

In a construction company the teams are usually placed across different work sites - some which may not have access to the internet or browsers. As such, having a specialized application that has offline compatibility is a must. This will ensure that the hours worked by employees are tracked even when out of service.

On-boarding Practices

The average age of the construction workforce is 41, with this in mind, business owners will need to find a solution that can be easily integrated into existing operations.

Simple time trackers are ideal for construction companies because they are easy to use, and implement. On the employee's end, a simple tap to clock in, and a simple tap to clock out will mark the end of the daily time tracking process. While, on the project owners end, timesheets will be created which will detail regular time, overtime, and paid time off (PTO).

Design and User Experience

Every application has a different look and feel to it. Naturally, a project owner needs to find a system that is going to be used by his or her workforce. A well-designed application has usually gone through user experience testing. As such, identifying applications with appealing interfaces will make the onboarding process easier.

The key to finding the right application is by trying and navigating through various time tracking interfaces. Those applications that feel comfortable and easy to use are systems that should be considered for the future.

Time and Location Tracking

All modern phones have GPS functionality integrated into them. This has allowed some time tracking applications - which are mobile adaptive - to develop a new feature. Location tracking helps physical and digital businesses pinpoint the exact location of their employees, contractors, and subcontractors at the time they clock-in and -out.

Why is it important to track time-based on location?

In the construction industry, a big chunk of the work is completed outside of the offices. As a project owner, you will need to know where relevant parties are during the 8-4 or 9-5 workday. Without a time-tracking tool, the project manager would have to be present at sight and note the status of employees, contractors, and subcontractors.

"Mobile GPS tracking helps you ensure everyone is safe, productive and in the right place at the right time.”

However, do not forget about the privacy policy. Make sure that the time and location tracker turns off upon clock out. This will ensure that the business is compliant with relevant law.

Construction businesses are faced with many challenges when it comes to measuring productivity. However, with the help of the right time tracking solution, those challenges will remain in the past. As such, follow our guide, and start trying out time tracking applications that suite your construction companies needs.

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