How to Improve
Construction Timesheet Accuracy
April 22, 2021
The timesheet could very well be the last holdout in the construction industry’s steady journey toward technology adoption. But with so much in construction depending on precision — drawings, materials, dimensions, schedules — more and more businesses are seeing timesheets in a new way. After all, there’s a lot riding on their accuracy, everything from payroll, to labor costs for project estimates, to job activity costing. This is why enhancing your construction timesheet accuracy can really pay off.
No matter where you may be on your timesheet improvement journey, the following can help you get where you need to go next.
- Transition to a computer spreadsheet program. For companies that are still using hard copy timecards, graduating to something a bit more efficient with programs like Microsoft Excel® can start you on the road to improved timesheet accuracy due to better process standardization. Though it still has its limitations – human forgetfulness, wasted administrative time, broken formulas and keystroke errors – this initial step toward technology can help prepare your business for the leap to an even better system down the road.
- Adopt software and mobile apps. These options are where you’ll achieve the most accuracy. They’re also the most expedient options for large-scale projects involving hundreds of craftspeople and back office employees, and potentially multiple job sites.
- Provide context for going with timesheet tech. No matter what options you use, you may encounter some resistance to tech-based solutions, especially if you don’t provide enough context. Remember, it’s not just about the tools you use; it also about everyone understanding why they’re being used and how the domino effect of inaccuracy can impact other business units.
As you move forward, you’ll find that adhering to specific timesheet processes within the best software tools can deliver the accuracy that your other business processes rely on such as job costing, labor rates, future bids, forecasting, profit/loss analysis, payroll, workload evaluation, correct and timely paychecks, running daily/weekly reports and even audits. Let’s take a closer look at a few of these items.
- Job costing. Lumping all subcontractor and craftsperson tasks together in one cost bucket can lead to discrepancies of what it actually takes to complete a specific job task and could ultimately lead to unintentionally inflated numbers for your bids. You also may have already seen how these inaccuracies can lead to an over- or understaffing situation. If you’re understaffed, it’ll cost you in overtime or in the hiring of extra workers to keep the project on schedule. If you’re overstaffed, you could be throwing away money paying for craftspeople who wind up being underutilized, with little or nothing to do.
Construction timesheet software can provide you with a high degree of accuracy. Let’s say you want to separate actual labor hours from time spent delivering or picking up materials. Look for functionality that allows you to select what information to track: job, location, crew, specific task, etc. When the project is broken down into smaller pieces of information, subcontractors and craftspeople can fine tune how they record their time. The software automatically calculates the time it takes to complete that task. And that gives a much better measure of labor versus non-labor cost centers, which makes for more efficient planning and forecasting accuracy for future projects.
- Forecasting. As individual timesheets are logged, they become part of a growing database of historical information for your project; current and future. They become internally curated benchmarks against which to compare performance over the course of a build. You’ll also be able to forecast with reliable accuracy how long a particular task takes, how many subcontractors and craftspeople are required to complete it, and how much those associated labor costs are.
- Reporting. Say you’ve got the software tracking and calculating time on tasks with a high degree of precision. Now you want to make that fine-tuned data work for you. Software programs with reporting features (or that can integrate with your existing daily report software) will give you a broad view of workload and productivity by team in real time — no waiting to see how performance is tracking. It can also produce reports using your historical data segmented by project owner or task for comparison across jobs; a helpful tool that can indicate any trends or deviations in labor costs. As you likely already know, it’s easier to make assessments and decisions when you have accurate numbers on which to base them.
- Audit history. Ever been audited by the IRS? If your payroll records are inaccurate, or incorrect time logging isn’t fixed or questionable changes to a timesheet aren’t investigated and adjusted, it could result in a rather uncomfortable and costly relationship with Uncle Sam. Think of this as a checks-and-balances feature that lets you analyze and correct individual timesheet and payroll records so you can then vouch for their accuracy.
When it comes to choosing the best software features, options abound, and many take the value found in timesheet tracking far beyond payroll accuracy. Consider a software option that can make your construction timesheets work for you wherever you and your team may be. With the InEight Progress mobile app, you can capture and store not just time, but all the activities completed each day, giving you timely insights into overall project performance. Request a demo today.