Enhancing Your Construction Timesheet Process with Today’s Best Tech
April 07, 2021
Logging timesheets seems to be a practice as old as, well, time. However, the importance of this seemingly mundane task cannot be overstated. That’s because time tracking is one way to measure efficiency. And in construction, where time is money, being able to account for every human hour that keeps a project on schedule is critical to managing labor costs. And yet for such an apparently simple task, challenges abound with both paper-based and spreadsheet-based processes that make time tracking more tedious — and much less reliable — than it should be.
Fortunately, today’s apps and software have simplified the whole process both for craftspeople on the job site and for those in the back office crunching the numbers. Though the industry as a whole has mostly crept along at a snail’s pace when it comes to adopting such technology, you can benefit from software that enhances your construction timesheet process now. Here’s what you stand to avoid and what you stand to gain.
What does it help you avoid?
- Human forgetfulness. Occasionally neglecting to clock in or out is fairly common. And so is misplacing, misfiling or losing hard copy timesheets. A confident few may tend to save all their logging for Fridays at 5pm as they scan their memories trying to recall their arrivals, departures, job location, and tasks where their time was spent. Even supervisors or contractors can overlook approving manual timesheets in the course of a busy week.
- Manual entry errors. The data entry process itself is ripe for mistakes. When using computer spreadsheets, one wrong entry — whether an incorrect number or entering data in the wrong day or week — can throw off someone’s hours for that pay period, as well as the payroll numbers in the accounting department. Companies with paper-based systems have likely seen their fair share of hastily completed timesheets resulting in transcription errors. If not caught in time, they could wind up having to address paycheck disputes. And no one wants that.
- Wasted administrative time. Then there’s the time lost on the back end, tracking down the correct information and rectifying the errors. Software sidesteps many of the scenarios resulting from human error, while slashing the time and effort normally needed to record and process submissions. Mobile apps and reminder notifications have made it so much more convenient for those in the field to chart their time with the tap of a few on-screen buttons on their smartphone or job site tablet. And once completed, timesheets can automatically be routed to the appropriate approver for online approval, without the risk of getting lost.
What do you stand to gain?
- Insights into true labor costs by job function, by site and by crew. Construction timesheet management software can tell you a lot more than just everyone’s start and end times. Much will depend on whatever functionalities come with it. Based on the information you choose to require on timesheets, you can measure labor costs by specific task, location, crew, shift and so on. That kind of data can be reflected in automatically updated dashboards for ongoing real-time analysis of productivity.
It helps answer some fundamental questions every contractor asks. For example, during the build, are actual labor costs aligning with planned costs? Where are spikes occurring? Looking back post-build, how much was actually spent on labor costs? Did those costs exceed the planned estimate, or did they come in under budget? Were there upticks in overtime?
In addition, you can also aggregate construction timesheet data from across job sites and concurrent projects to evaluate any trends or deviations in labor costs, overtime, time off and more.
- More Informed and improved scheduling. Time tracking can give you at-a-glance insights into whether there may be too many craftspeople scheduled to work on a project that may actually require fewer workers. Alternatively, lots of overtime could indicate you have to call in reinforcements in order to meet a task deadline. That kind of knowledge can help you forecast how to staff and schedule craftspeople not just for what remains to be done in your current projects, but for future similar work.
But timesheet software doesn’t have to just track just hours. It can also log requests for days off. This can work to a supervisor’s advantage as they can plan upcoming schedules to ensure proper coverage to keep the project on course.
- Understanding of labor needs for large, complex projects. If your projects tend toward the more substantial public works, infrastructure or commercial variety, then you’re likely dealing with multiple jobs simultaneously, each with potentially hundreds of craftspeople working on various phases spread across several job sites.
Timesheet software becomes a must for keeping tabs on productivity. Creating standardized timesheets that require inputting certain data you want to measure (task, location, equipment used, etc.) can simplify managing such high-stakes projects where strict adherence to planned cost and schedule estimates are paramount.
Those large projects also depend on having reliable people on site to do the work. How do you use timesheet numbers for this? Through attendance, tardiness, overtime, unscheduled time off and approved leave records that collectively all become a measure of reliability. When armed with this data, you’ll have a pretty good idea of which crews or individual craftspeople to hire back for future projects.
- More accurate estimates toward future bids. You can’t beat real-world numbers when it comes to putting together bids. This is where you can make your current timesheet data work for you on similar projects down the road. All the information you are collecting and then tracking can be used to set up a proprietary historical data database, or to add to an existing one. Being able to refer to those numbers and confidently state how many craftspeople should be allocated to certain tasks, and for how long, will give you more accurate cost and scheduling estimates.
Ready to enhance your construction timesheet process?
A good software program can help turn what may seem like static attendance data into something actionable. InEight Progress does just that. This comprehensive solution centralizes and streamlines your steps along the time recording and processing journey, and gives you the productivity metrics you need for more informed planning to improve project performance. Give us a call to schedule a demo.