Tracking employee time is crucial on any construction job site. However, the manual processes of paper time cards present many problems that spreadsheets and basic time card templates cannot fix.
This guide will explore how advanced timekeeping solutions help construction companies control labor costs, ensure payroll accuracy, and gain visibility into field work – ultimately boosting productivity.
The Cost of Inaccurate Time Tracking in Construction
In few industries are the costs of ineffective time tracking as impactful as in construction. Without airtight accountability and visibility into labor hours, construction firms face risks that directly undermine profits and competitiveness.
Paying for Hours Not Worked
The potential for timesheet fraud in construction is extremely high. The dispersed nature of work across multiple job sites makes it easy for unworked or inaccurate hours to slip through. For example:
- Employees overstate hours on timesheets, charging for overtime or weekend work that did not happen. Without proper verification, these ghost hours get paid out.
- Salaried supervisors may not provide adequate oversight on hours logged by crews. Workers take advantage by padding hours.
- The company pays for travel time between sites that wasn’t actually spent traveling and working.
- Sick or vacation days are logged as regular work hours. Managers assume the employee was on site.
- Hours are double counted – both on individual timesheets and on a master crew sheet.
Just 2-3 hours of inaccurate time charged per employee per week can bleed hundreds of thousands in direct payroll costs annually.
The Inability to Control Labor Overages
Lack of visibility into field work also undermines a firm’s ability to control overtime expenses. Without real-time insight into hours worked:
- Managers can’t adjust schedules proactively to avoid unnecessary OT. Workers exploit this by deliberately working late to earn time and a half.
- Work gets dragged into the weekend to hit project deadlines, again at OT rates, without sign-off.
- The company has no way to enforce OT policies limiting hours employees can work in a day or week. Excess OT goes unchecked.
- Job costing assumptions fail to account for bloated OT leading to underbids. More OT then needs to be worked to deliver the job.
Overtime wages can devour construction profits. Manual processes make it impossible to enforce labor hour policies.
Inaccurate Job Costing Data
With incorrect or incomplete time data, job costing managers can’t allocate labor expenses accurately across projects. This leads to:
- Inability to identify loss-making projects early enough to intervene
- Lack of historical data to provide realistic labor cost assumptions for bids
- Finance team frustration with fluctuating job profit margins
- Lost competitive bids due to inflated labor overhead assumptions
- Reputational damage and penalties from missed project deadlines or budgets
Construction accounting relies on accurate time data. When hours go uncaptured, even high-margin projects can turn unprofitable.
Compliance Risks and Penalties
On government contracts, inaccurate time tracking leads to non-compliance with certified payroll regulations. Without proper verification of hours worked on prevailing wage projects, firms risk:
- Employee claims for back wages due to underpayment
- Government audits, fines, or revoked contracts
- Felony charges under the Federal Davis-Bacon Act
- Lawsuits from unions or workers for wage theft
- Reputational damage undermining future public bids
Firms can incur massive liabilities for non-compliance. Even minor payroll errors from poor time tracking can trigger major penalties.
Bottom line – every unverified, uncaptured labor hour in construction introduces tremendous financial risk and erodes competitiveness. Companies need total visibility to contain costs.
The Limitations of Paper Time Card Templates
Traditional paper timesheets are wholly inadequate for the complexities and challenges of construction time tracking. Hours worked across multiple job sites or project phases are difficult to capture on paper sheets, leading to underpayment on some jobs and overpayment on others. Time spent by crews on equipment maintenance between sites goes unrecorded, resulting in indirect job costs being attributed incorrectly. Illegible handwriting often leads to data entry errors when paper sheets are transcribed to payroll systems. Forged signatures and timesheet alterations are nearly impossible to detect on paper.
There is also no way to confirm remote employee attendance without visibility tracking tools. Construction workers often “pencil whip” their hours when paper sheets go missing for a day or week, charging unworked time to projects. Tracking hours accurately for prevailing wage compliance using paper is extremely difficult. The lack of oversight makes payroll fraud through overstated hours easy. For field employees, paper timesheets are a major hassle requiring duplicate entries and chasing down manager signatures.
The inherent risks and limitations of paper processes mean construction leaders can’t gain the essential visibility into field labor hours needed to control costs. Paper timesheets are woefully inadequate for the accountability and accuracy required in construction time tracking.
Digital Time Tracking Optimized for Construction
Modern timekeeping systems designed for the construction industry resolve these problems through features like:
- Easy mobile app for clock in/clock out tied to job sites
- Evidence of attendance through geofencing and photo verification
- GPS tracking of employee locations during shifts
- Close monitoring of overtime with configurable alerts
- Supervisor approvals and status visibility in real time
- Detailed cost coding by job phase, cost type and GL code
- Certified payroll reporting with prevailing wage details
- Data integrations with popular construction payroll services
- Equipment hours tracked and allocated to jobs
With a construction-focused solution, office and field staff gain simplicity while upper management has far greater oversight into labor utilization.
Key Benefits of Construction Time Tracking Software
The right technology provides significant benefits:
- Eliminate Payroll Fraud – Advanced verification features like GPS, geofencing, and manager approvals prevent falsified hours and timesheet alterations that lead to payroll leakage.
- Control Labor Costs – Real-time visibility into employee hours allows proactive management of overtime to minimize inflated premium pay rates.
- Accurate Job Costing – Precise capture of hours worked across different jobs, phases, and cost types improves allocation of labor expenses for reliable cost data.
- Optimize Staff Planning – Data on attendance and real-time tracking of field employee locations allows construction firms to optimize daily and weekly staffing needs.
- Boost Productivity – Insights into overtime trends, idle time, and schedule efficiency help managers identify areas for productivity improvements.
- Certified Payroll Compliance – Complete capture of employee hours, wage rates, and other data needed for prevailing wage jobs removes compliance friction.
- Simplify Time Tracking – Intuitive, mobile-friendly tools allow field teams to submit hours worked on any device without paperwork hassles.
- Centralized Visibility – All field data aggregates into unified analytics dashboards and reports providing full oversight over dispersed crews.
- Streamline Processes – Automated data collection, reminders, approvals, integration, and reporting eliminates manual administration around tracking hours.
- Mitigate Compliance Risks – Immutable time records ensure workers are fully compensated for all regular and overtime hours in accordance with wage rules and labor regulations.
In competitive construction markets, maximizing labor productivity is vital.
Digital solutions deliver the oversight needed for better workforce management.
Selecting the Best Construction Timekeeping System
Key buying considerations for construction online timesheet app/software
- Mobile-first design – Simple for crews using smartphones and tablets
- Offline access – Allows clocking in without connectivity
- Photo verification – Validates attendance visually
- Geofencing and GPS tracking – Confirms location during shifts
- Production tracking – Ties hours to specific units completed
- Equipment hours – Assigns time to tools and assets
- Cost coding – Allocates hours across jobs, phases and types
- Certified payroll compliance – Supports prevailing wage requirements
- Permissions – Control over approvals and edits by role
- Data integrations – APIs and imports compatible with popular platforms
- Implementation support – Training and change management resources
With a feature-rich platform designed for their needs, construction firms can transition from paper to automated time tracking that gives complete visibility over field work.
Streamline Construction Time Tracking With ExakTime
ExakTime provides an industry-leading timekeeping solution designed specifically to meet the complex needs of construction firms. Companies benefit from an intuitive mobile app that makes clock in and clock out effortless for crews in the field. Features like geofencing, GPS tracking, and visual verification ensure air-tight validation of attendance without any reliance on paper timesheet templates.
Robust real-time analytics give finance and operations leaders powerful visibility into overtime hours, cost per hour, project profitability, and labor productivity. ExakTime enables advanced certified payroll reporting with prevailing wage details to remove the overhead of compliance. With multiple platform integrations, ExakTime syncs directly with top construction payroll systems.
Construction-specific features include detailed tracking of equipment hours, coding hours to cost types, and the ability to capture field notes. ExakTime provides complete onboarding assistance and unlimited US-based customer support.
By implementing ExakTime’s modern timekeeping solution purpose-built for their needs, construction firms can finally say goodbye to the challenges and risks of paper weekly timesheets. See how ExakTime can benefit your organization by scheduling a demo today at exaktime.com.