Effective time management and tracking are crucial for success in the construction industry. With tight budgets and schedules, construction firms need to closely monitor where time is being spent on projects to identify areas for improvement. Time tracking also provides the data needed for accurate billing of clients as well as payroll for salaried employees and subcontractors. Implementing time management procedures properly and selecting the right tracking tools can lead to significant gains in efficiency and cost savings.
Best Practices for Time Management in Construction
While software tools enable accurate time tracking, developing disciplined time management processes provides the fundamental foundation for success. Before evaluating any technical solutions, construction firms first need to optimize their underlying protocols and workflows for monitoring worker hours and project time. Here are some essential time management practices for the construction industry:
Create Detailed Schedules
Comprehensive project schedules are essential for good time management. The schedule should break down the project into phases, with each phase further divided into milestones and specific tasks. Activities should be clearly defined, including expected deliverables.
When estimating the duration of tasks, project managers should consult historical data and input from field teams to develop realistic time estimates with sufficient buffer built in. Extra buffer time should be included for critical path items which could delay the entire project if behind schedule.
Schedules will need to remain flexible, with active monitoring and frequent updates as work progresses. Tracking actual time against schedule estimates will allow for the refinement of estimates for future projects.
Define Clear Scope of Work
Clear project scope definition is crucial for staying on schedule. A detailed scope of work document should outline exactly what is included (and excluded) from each project phase and milestone.
All team members should have a common understanding of project requirements. Scope creep needs to be actively avoided. Change management processes should be implemented for handling any necessary modifications to scope. Task definitions should provide granular breakdowns of activities, specifying what resources are required and what deliverables result from completion.
Track Time Against Tasks
For optimal time management, actual hours logged must be tracked against specific tasks and milestones rather than general categories like “construction” or “office work”. Recording time precisely against scheduled activities allows for accurate monitoring of how long each task is taking relative to estimates. Over time, patterns emerge to indicate where original estimates were flawed. This data can feed into adjusting budget contingencies and improving estimates for future projects.
Task-based time tracking also simplifies payroll processing. Rather than needing to split up generic hours, pay can be directly allocated according to time logged to defined tasks.
Time data should be regularly reviewed and analyzed to identify patterns, not just passively collected. Compare hours logged against schedule estimates to pinpoint areas where original estimates were off. For example, a specific testing activity might have been estimated at 8 hours but is averaging 12 hours of logged time. This variance can then be explored – is the task scope unclear or are testing tools inadequate?
Identifying these trends allows corrective actions like scope adjustments or schedule changes. It also provides crucial learning to improve estimates for remaining and future work. Analysis can also look at productivity curves over the course of a project. Often tasks take more time at the start and end. This knowledge aids resource planning and scheduling.
Enforce Time Tracking Diligence
For time data to be useful for analysis, diligent tracking practices must be enforced across all teams. Inconsistent time logging skews results. Making daily time entry a habit starts with top-down policies and training, but it requires regular oversight and management support. Techniques like sample audits and linking tracking to compensation help drive compliance. With consistently diligent time tracking, robust analytics can provide deep insights to substantially improve construction time management.
Review Reports Regularly
Simply collecting time tracking data provides little value – the data must actively be reviewed and acted upon. At least on a weekly basis, project managers should analyze task-level reports, senior managers should review consolidated roll-ups, and accounting should verify data for billing and payroll. More than just passive data collection, time logs must be actively assessed to identify any trends, variances or errors that require intervention or process adjustments. Making time tracking analysis a regular routine is crucial.
Key Time Tracking Features for Construction
When evaluating time tracking solutions, look beyond basic requirements like the ability to digitally log hours worked. To maximize value, target systems with features purpose-built for the unique needs of managing construction projects and field teams. Construction leaders should prioritize solutions that provide optimized accessibility, seamless integrations, automated syncing, custom reporting, photographic verification, and robust analytics.
Construction crews do not work at desks, so time tracking solutions must provide easy accessibility out in the field. Systems relying solely on desktop software make tracking a chore by forcing workers to log hours only when back at office computers. This leads to missed or vague time entries when relying on memory and paper forms.
Instead, systems should allow workers to enter time remotely via time tracking apps. With the ability to accurately track time right from their mobile device, compliance and consistent reporting becomes much easier.
Time tracking systems should integrate seamlessly with other construction management platforms like accounting, ERP, payroll, and CRM.. This eliminates manual re-entry of data, which is inefficient and leads to inconsistencies and mistakes due to human error.
APIs and native integrations should enable automated syncing of time data across all systems. For example, once billable hours are logged for a task, that time is reflected in payroll — no duplicate entry required. All downstream systems remain in sync. This tight integration prevents errors and enables deeper visibility by combining time data with related information like budget vs actuals. It streamlines processes enterprise-wide.
Geofencing & GPS Tracking
Standard time tracking relies on workers self-reporting hours, making it tough to confirm work location and prevent buddy punching. Location-based tracking enabled by GPS and Geofencing provides verification. Setting up a Geofence creates a map that allows managers to see who is clocking in and verify that they were on-site when they did it. GPS coordinates show real-time locations of workers on the clock.
This automated approach improves accuracy and simplifies compliance with break and overtime rules based on exact site entry/exit. Location data provides evidence in case of any disputes.
Photo ID Verification
Requiring mobile photo verification of on-site work provides further validation of reported time. Workers simply use their smartphone camera to snap a quick photo of themselves when starting or ending shifts. The time-stamped photo appears directly in the associated time log, providing visual proof the worker was present at the location at the given date/time. This helps resolve any inaccuracies or attempts at time fraud.
Basic time tracking tools may simply present raw data exports or static generic reports. For maximum benefit, construction leaders need reporting tailored specifically to their use cases, schedules, tasks, and roles. Look for tracking systems with easily customizable reports. All levels of management should get reports optimized for their needs, such as project status, worker productivity, budget forecasting, or equipment utilization.
Flexible reporting dashboards that can be filtered by user and parameters enable data-driven decision-making. Prioritize solutions allowing the integration of time data with data from other systems for richer insights.
Time data is most useful when visible in real-time rather than batched reports after the fact. Look for tracking solutions offering role-based dashboards that surface key performance metrics as they occur.
Real-time visibility enabled by user-specific dashboards allows all levels of the organization to course-correct issues as they arise rather than after projects go off track.
When workers can manage their own time logs instead of relying on administrative staff, the time tracking burden is reduced. Seek systems giving employees self-service abilities. Workers should be able to independently clock in/out, switch tasks, allocate hours across jobs or cost codes, enter details on work performed, flag timesheets for verification, and submit their hours.
Giving field teams control over their time data improves engagement in the tracking process and lightens the load on back-office resources. Workers gain greater ownership while still working within standardized processes.
Time Tracking Implementation Guide
Before integrating a time tracker into your system and processes, it’s essential to create a deployment plan. Following structured best practices in selecting, deploying, and supporting construction time tracking software leads to more effective usage and maximum ROI. Here is a step-by-step guide for effective implementation:
- Define Goals and Requirements: Start by bringing together stakeholders to define the business goals you want to achieve from implementing a time tracking system. Also, detail your unique requirements and constraints. Documenting goals and requirements provides focus and alignment across all stakeholders.
- Perform Due Diligence with Vendors: Research all leading time tracking solutions for the construction industry. Compare capabilities to your requirements and call to request references from existing clients.
- Start with a Pilot Group: Roll out new technology in phases starting with a pilot group. Encourage feedback to address any issues before enacting wide-scale deployment. Piloting minimizes risk and allows processes to be refined before broad rollout.
- Develop Policies and Procedures: Outline standardized processes and expectations for time tracking. For example, if you want to require daily entry and approvals, demonstrate how to record time and receive verification from a supervisor. Provide training on policies to ensure consistent, optimized usage.
- Monitor Adoption and Usage: Use system reporting to track adoption rates and usage patterns. Quickly identify any additional training needs or adjustments to promote full utilization.
- Correct Mistakes in Real Time: Encourage workers and managers to correct any errors or add missing information in the system as soon as they are noticed rather than letting problems linger.
- Regularly Review Metrics and Measure ROI: Analyze key performance indicators for time management. Demonstrate improvements in accuracy, compliance rates, and productivity to justify the system investment.
Getting the Most from Construction Time Tracking
While following project management best practices and investing in an industry-leading time tracking solution lays the groundwork, truly maximizing the value of construction time tracking requires going beyond just implementation. Companies must focus on driving consistent utilization among all user groups as well as fully leveraging the rich data captured.
Driving adoption at all levels ensures time tracking becomes an ingrained habit, not an afterthought. Workers log their billable time promptly and accurately without cutting corners. Management reviews reports diligently to extract insights.
Making data actionable is also key — time logs should actively inform schedule and budget decisions, payroll processing, equipment rentals, and more. Time insights integrate across all systems and processes.
When adoption reaches a point of consistency and data flows freely, the benefits multiply. Projects run smoother, costs drop, and compliance improves. Unparalleled visibility leads to optimizations. However, getting to this point requires coordinated efforts beyond the time tracking software.
Here are some proven tips and techniques for driving user adoption of time tracking and maximizing the value extracted from the data collected:
- Make Time Tracking Part of Company Culture: Daily time tracking at all levels should be an ingrained habit, not an afterthought. This starts by setting expectations during the hiring process.
- Provide Hands-On Training: Go beyond just training manuals. Provide hands-on guidance to users out in the field for logging time on different devices and troubleshooting issues.
- Implement Friendly Competition: Post scoreboards and regularly highlight top performers. Friendly competition motivates everyone to log time promptly and accurately.
- Share Results and Praise Successes: When reviewing reports, call out positive trends and high compliance rates. Consider providing incentives for top performers. People want to know that their time tracking efforts are making a difference.
- Keep Improving Processes: Use time tracking data to continuously refine schedules and assignments and regularly update policies based on lessons learned. Time insights should fuel an ongoing cycle of process optimization. Analyze trends in the data to identify opportunities for adjustment, then implement changes and monitor the impact on performance KPIs.
- Use Time Data Widely: In addition to payroll, leverage reports to streamline HR, equipment rental, project budgeting, client billing, safety planning, and more. The applications of rich time tracking data extend far beyond just labor cost management. For example, analytics identifying patterns of overtime hours worked could inform new safety initiatives to avoid fatigue-related incidents.
ExakTime’s Time Management and Tracking Solution
ExakTime offers an industry-leading solution specialized for time management and tracking in construction. The ExakTime time tracking app integrates seamlessly with popular accounting platforms while providing access anytime from web and mobile devices.
Key features of ExakTime’s time management tools for construction include:
- Real-time tracking with geofencing: GPS capabilities automatically track workers clocking in and out of job sites.
- Photo ID verification: Snap photos on mobile devices to verify each employee’s presence on site.
- Custom reporting: Get real-time analytics and insights tailored to each management role.
- Automated syncing: Seamlessly connect time data to payroll, ERP, etc.
ExakTime allows crews to manage their own time logs from the field while giving management real-time dashboard visibility into performance. The system simplifies compliance and makes it easy to correct errors immediately.
With ExakTime’s specialized construction-focused solution, firms gain accurate, real-time insight into field work. This allows for data-driven decisions to maximize productivity and improve bottom lines.
Contact us today to learn how ExakTime’s time tracking app can help enhance productivity,