Time management is a crucial skill for success in the construction industry. With tight project deadlines, limited budgets, and the coordination of multiple teams, effectively managing time at the job site is essential. While various tools exist to optimize time management, time tracking software and apps tailored for construction are among the most valuable resources.
The Importance of Time Management on the Job Site
In the construction industry, every day of delay on a project can deal a massive blow to your budget. That is why time management is so critical. The ability to accurately track time spent on tasks, identify inefficiencies, and promote productivity can make or break the profitability of a job.
Effective time management leads to:
- Increased cost control: More accurate time tracking reduces wasted dollars. Teams know exactly where time is being spent.
- Improved productivity: With better visibility into time usage, teams can identify and eliminate bottlenecks.
- Higher accountability: Accurate time sheets leave no question about how hours are being used.
- More precise scheduling: Understanding how long tasks truly take allows for optimized schedules.
For construction projects, lacking time management can lead to massive cost overruns and missed deadlines. That makes implementing robust construction time tracking software tools an indispensable investment.
Challenges of Time Management in Construction
In an office setting, time management often comes down to individual habits. In a construction environment, however, it is far more complex. Construction projects face an entirely unique set of challenges that make effective time management extremely difficult without the right solutions in place.
Decentralized Work Sites
Unlike an office, construction projects span multiple job sites and locations. Teams and tradespeople are spread across these different sites, often in remote areas with limited connectivity. This decentralized work environment poses major obstacles for tracking time accurately without the right technology, including:
- Paper-based timesheets get lost in transit between sites. Workers forget to fill them out properly.
- Without connectivity, there is no way to track real-time hours or get approvals. Foremen resort to incomplete records.
- Upper management has zero visibility into what is happening daily at various locations. Reporting can be delayed by weeks.
The decentralized reality of construction demands digital tools that are accessible from anywhere. Workers need to be able to clock in and out no matter where they are located, and solutions must be mobile-friendly and work offline when needed. Real-time reporting is essential to cut through the barriers posed by scattered sites and teams.
Large construction projects involve numerous subcontractors and trade partners on site handling different specialties. With multiple companies working together, there needs to be close collaboration and transparency around how time and labor are being tracked:
- Subcontractors follow their own processes, making roll-up difficult for general contractors without unified systems.
- Trades may track time in silos, leading to delays when handoffs are required between teams.
- Reliance on manual methods like paper timesheets or Excel causes discrepancies between contractors.
- A lack of visibility results in bloated costs when work is duplicated or stalled.
To enable streamlined subcontractor collaboration, universal systems such as a contractor time tracking app are required. All parties need access to the same data in real time to coordinate activities, avoid duplications, and keep projects on track. Robust reporting and dashboards provide the needed transparency across teams.
Construction needs to comply with complex regulations governing time tracking and reporting:
- Prevailing wage laws mandate certified payroll records with specific worker and hourly information.
- Some government contracts require detailed time logs with warranties.
- Union contractors face additional rules around shift schedules, overtime, breaks, and more.
- Apprenticeship programs dictate strict ratios regarding mentor and trainee hours.
- A high degree of oversight is required in order to pass audits and avoid violations.
To adhere to these requirements, construction time tracking tools must have advanced reporting features tailored to the industry’s needs. Tracking data must be retained over time for compliance purposes. Automated rules programmed into software help enforce regulatory policies. Custom reports can be generated to document adherence. Robust audit logs within programs provide accountability if any discrepancies arise over compliance.
Despite technological advances, many construction firms still rely on paper timesheets and Excel spreadsheets to track time. These manual processes introduce enormous inefficiencies and room for error. Paper-based records can get lost, damaged, or filled out inconsistently. Consolidating data across sheets and stacks of paper is extremely labor intensive, and manual calculations can lead to inadvertent payroll errors that cost major dollars.
Manual processes do not have the benefit of real-time progress, time, or cost tracking. Additionally, auditing and compliance with paper processes is time-consuming and risky. Eliminating error-prone and outdated manual time tracking methods is essential for construction firms. Transitioning to automated real-time technology vastly improves accuracy while accelerating processes. Construction teams leverage huge efficiency gains when replacing paper with robust construction time tracking software tools.
Must-Have Time Tracking Features for Construction
To effectively manage time in the construction environment, there are several essential features that job site management software must provide. These key capabilities separate average time tracking tools from ones optimized for the realities and nuances of building projects. Construction firms should look for the following features, which deliver the greatest impact for managing time, costs, compliance, productivity, and collaboration on the job site.
Accessible from Anywhere
With decentralized work across locations, having mobile app access from any device is crucial. Workers need the ability to clock in and out from any job site with their phone or tablet. Mobile access enables crews to easily track hours and progress even when working remotely. Management can also view real-time reporting from the office or their own devices while out of the field.
GPS Stamped Timecards
By integrating GPS tracking in construction time card apps, organizations can validate that workers are at the proper location when clocked in. This prevents time theft. Some construction time clock apps feature GPS breadcrumbing, which tracks employees traveling between job sites while on the clock. GPS tracking also provides helpful documentation during payroll audits.
Multimedia Field Notes
The ability to take videos or images of work completed or site conditions directly within time tracking entries improves documentation. Photos validate completed tasks or work progress for managers, while videos can capture important details like how a process was executed or safety practices being followed. The rich media provides useful records that go beyond text-only entries. Metadata like timestamps and geotagging also add key context to the field notes.
Even with spotty service at some sites, workers need to be able to enter time with an offline mode that syncs entries when connection is restored. The capability to work offline ensures progress can be captured regardless of connectivity challenges. Hours are stored locally until the user is back online, then offline entries are automatically synced to the cloud. No time data is lost due to network interruptions or remote sites.
Custom Cost Codes
Each project requires its own set of cost codes to allocate hours. Time management tools must be flexible for creating customized codes tailored to specific jobs. With the ability to configure codes per project, teams get detailed data on where time is going. This allows for precise cost allocation, oversight into inefficient areas, and accuracy for billing customers.
Seeing live updates on where hours are being spent enables immediate action when needed. Web and mobile dashboards are critical for real-time visibility. With manual processes, reporting may be weeks behind actual work. Real-time reporting via a construction time tracking app allows managers to spot issues as they occur and course correct. Trends can be identified sooner and teams are kept aligned on progress through shared up-to-date metrics.
When set cost or hour thresholds are exceeded, automatic alerts keep projects on track proactively versus reactively. Alerts provide real-time notifications when targets are nearing or have been breached. Without automated alerts, overages may go undetected for too long. Configurable alerts give project vigilance to help adhere to budgets and timelines.
Paperless Payroll Integration
Direct integration with electronic payroll systems gives payroll teams the validated hours data needed for processing. Rather than manually transferring data between systems, automated integration streamlines payroll. Hours are seamlessly sent over upon approval with no manual re-entry or calculations needed, reducing the risk of errors from human error while accelerating processes. This improves payroll accuracy and ensures everyone gets paid on time.
With different levels of staff on site, from laborers to project managers, setting granular permissions by user role maintains oversight and security within the system. Generic access for all users creates risk. With customizable permissions, management can tailor access by role to prevent exposure of sensitive data or misuse while retaining needed visibility. System actions can be controlled to match responsibilities.
Construction has its own unique challenges and complexities, so support teams need deep expertise to provide relevant guidance. Generic support results in frustrating trial and error. Construction-tailored support understands the nuances of projects and provides insightful direction. Users have a trusted resource for navigating industry-specific needs like compliance, collaboration across trades, and dynamic tracking requirements.
Why ExakTime is the Top Choice for Construction Time Management
ExakTime is an industry-tailored time management platform built to meet the complex needs of construction companies. Trusted by leading general contractors and subcontractors across North America, ExakTime provides robust functionality specifically designed for the job site:
- Complete Mobility: The ExakTime mobile app allows workers to clock in from any location with offline support and location stamping for compliance. iPad kiosks also empower convenient on-site clocking.
- Real-Time Insights: With live reporting through online dashboards and customizable reports, ExakTime enables real-time visibility into time usage as work is happening.
- Automated Alerts: Configurable alerts on cost overages, missed clocks, overtime, and more enable proactive course correction on projects.
- Seamless Payroll Integration: ExakTime integrates accounting and payroll systems like Viewpoint, Quickbooks, ConstructionPayroll.com, and more for automated validated hours transfer.
- Robust Field Note Capabilities: Time entries support text, photo, and video uploads to document work progress, safety issues, quality, and more.
- Ironclad Audit Trails: Every time entry in ExakTime generates a detailed audit entry for transparency into modifications.
- Workforce Management: Tools like crew tracking, attendance, advanced scheduling, and more elevate ExakTime beyond just time and labor tracking.
- Tailored Support: ExakTime offers US-based construction experts for support and guidance optimized for industry needs.
As the leading purpose-built solution, ExakTime goes beyond basic time clocks to provide complete visibility and control over time management.
Contact us to see how ExakTime time tracking and job site time management solutions can contribute to greater efficiency, giving you more time and resources to grow your business.