Are you considering upgrading your time collection system? With the tremendous advances in technology, mobility in construction has become a very hot item. Companies large and small are taking the mobile plunge. I thought I would take this opportunity to review the most popular motives for upgrading your system in the hope that this can help some of our readers.
The reasons for upgrading mobile time clock applications are many, but generally fall into 4 categories:
Increased accuracy of time worked The predominant scenario features “rounding” errors that, coincidentally, almost always favor the employee. For instance, a worker may begin work at 8:05 but enter the start time as 8:00. At quitting time, the reverse situation applies. The employee may leave at 4:50 but show a clock-out time of 5:00. And the same circumstances can be duplicated at lunch and other breaks. These scenarios repeated each day for several employees can result in huge overpayments of wages or losses in productivity. Increased accuracy of job costingIn talking to various customers and prospects, we have learned than mobile time tracking systems have definitely raised the bar for accurately tracking field time. In the past, it has not been uncommon for field foremen to “guesstimate”, at the end of the work day, how much time was spent on a particular job and/or task. Today’s mobile applications make it significantly easier to accurately track the start and stop time of a job and task for an employee or a crew. This can be done in real time or after the fact. Precise accuracy of hours worked data can help management pinpoint current productivity issues and improve estimates for future bids.Greater accountabilityI’m guessing that the majority of field workers are responsible, hard- working employees. Unfortunately, there are usually a few that are not. Those who are looking for a way NOT to earn the wages they are paid. You know the type. They’d rather be drinking coffee (or something else), napping, or just generally doing something not involving the work at hand. These people are the reasons GPS, fingerprint scanners, biometric time clocks, and other mobile tools were created. They sometimes create resentment on the part of the honest employees, but because of these outlaws, accountability is an on-going issue.GPS tracking has become a very popular mobile application to help management account for the whereabouts of their field employees. GPS software can track the location of employees and equipment to insure that they are where they are supposed to be. It can also be used in conjunction with geo-fencing technology to create virtual perimeters around a job site. If an employee travels outside of the geo-fence, an alert can be sent to management to notify them of the situation.Another common scenario involving lack of accountability is “buddy punching” where one employee punches the clock for another employee. A lot of companies will have employees come in to the office or job shop and punch a time clock at the beginning and end of the day. Time clocks are also popular for bigger jobs requiring a large number of employees. These clocks are great for capturing in and out times, but their primary weakness is these “buddy punching” situations. This flaw can normally be overcome using biometric hardware and software to scan a finger, hand, face, or iris. Biometric scanning is very useful technology but it does have a few drawbacks. First, you have to spend time recording fingerprints for each employee. Second, using fingerprint scanners with construction workers can sometimes be an iffy proposition because of sweaty hands, dirty hands or cuts to the hand. Finally, there is the cost. The range of prices for USB or blue-tooth scanners can vary greatly, but generally, they are relatively inexpensive with even the quality units including associated software licenses costing under $250. Biometric time clocks are usually much more expensive, and like everything else, the price will directly correlate to the quality and functionality of the device.Improved productivityA well-designed mobile time and attendance solution will almost certainly improve the productivity of your field and office staff. While we will leave the details for another post, suffice it to say that your field crews will spend less time on paperwork, and more time on construction. Your office staff will be more productive because, instead of completely re-entering the data from paper timesheets brought in or faxed in from the field, they will now be able to just review, edit, and approve the data before sending in to your accounting or payroll system.So, now you’re probably thinking that I omitted the main reason for upgrading – cost savings. But financial savings is actually a by-product of each of these items. Eliminating incorrect time punches should result in a direct and immediate savings. Improved job costing should help you manage your jobs more profitably by developing more accurate job estimates, and identifying unproductive resources. Using GPS, biometric devices, and other mobile tools will hold your employees more accountable, and as a result, increased productivity will almost certainly follow. Improved productivity in the field and office means that your employees can do more work with less resources. That is what software is all about.I’ve tried to touch on the most popular reasons for upgrading your mobile time tracking system, but obviously, there are other good motives as well. I would certainly be interested to hear your story. Just add a comment and let me know how things have worked out.