The Hidden Costs of Manual Timekeeping in Construction

Timekeeping provides numerous benefits to a construction business. The process is vital for better understanding how much time it takes to complete different tasks. Through comprehensive analysis, you can detect bottlenecks and implement measures to help your employees.

Of course, time tracking also helps us determine how much each employee participated in a project. It is a useful tool for any company that pays by the hour instead of using monthly salaries.

Unfortunately, the traditional time tracking is less than a perfect system. As with any other manual process, it is prone to numerous errors and misuse. In this article, we’ll talk about these challenges and we’ll share a few methods that would assist you in circumventing them.

Manual Timekeeping Basics

So, what does this process entail?

When your employees start and finish their shifts, they will use paper cards to punch in and out. That way, you determine how much they worked and how much it would take them to complete a certain project. Upon receiving these papers, managers will input them into a sheet, tracking the performance and attendance of each worker.

Truth be told, this system has worked for the longest time. Although imperfect, it would assess employees’ performance and allow for basic data analysis. However, as technology progresses and we now have access to construction time tracking software, we can track daily operations much more easily.

Issues With Manual Timekeeping

As mentioned, this system suffers from numerous flaws:

  • Unintelligible writing
  • Typos
  • Stealing work hours
  • Wrong data categorization
  • Late inputs
  • Imprecise task tracking
  • Double entries
  • Subcontractor issues

Each of these problems can have a major impact on your decision-making processes. For example, slow input of data will prevent you from reacting to possible issues. Typos and other errors will misrepresent data, while stealing work hours will have an impact on your productivity.

Typos and Data Errors

Typos and unintelligible writing are the most common problem that comes with paper tracking. Even if everyone’s doing their best to properly track work hours, employees and managers might still cause inadvertent errors.

For example, managers might struggle to read staff’s paper cards. Typos are also commonplace, causing managers to improperly input the data into sheets. There are also other, more technical issues, such as improperly inputting work hours required for certain tasks.

Stealing Hours

As you can presume, some employees don’t have any issues slacking off or skipping work. In these situations, they might ask other colleagues to punch them in or out, making it look as if they were at the site. Even worse, some employees will make it look as if they worked extra when, in fact, they were relaxing nearby.

The problem with stealing is that it’s really hard to eliminate it. Even if you employ the best modern software, you still rely on your staff to input data properly. Nevertheless, between analog and digital time tracking, the analog method has many more holes in it.

Late Inputs

Most of these manual entries aren’t introduced on the same day. Sometimes, it takes more than a week for a company to write down paper cards into the sheets, by which time many things can change. For example, your staff on the ground might be doing their task inefficiently without management realizing there’s an issue.

This is especially troublesome if you’re dealing with time-sensitive projects. Slow decision-making builds up over time, each time costing you several workdays of efficiency. So, manual entries are not only troublesome for analyzing the situation on the field, but they might also backtrack a project.

Data Silos

Having a centralized online platform is vital for modern project management. With such software, you can delegate roles and tasks, track performance, and clock in work. Unfortunately, many construction businesses still rely on manual processes, which, among others, lead to granular data.

The issue is especially noticeable when you use subcontractors and other external providers. As they might use different systems or don’t track time whatsoever, you won’t be able to analyze the project’s timeliness. Having data from various sources also leads to other database problems, such as data duplications or improper formatting.

Solving Manual Timekeeping Problem

Manual time tracking is an imperfect system that can cause you a lot of headaches in the short and long run. The good news is there are fantastic solutions at your disposal that will simplify the process and increase the overall accuracy.

Use Automated Software

Use of scheduling and time tracking tools will helps you track the progress of all your employees. Within these platforms, you can store relevant information about each worker, including their status and contact information. The right construction software will tell you if the person is on the field and whether they took a lunch break.

These programs offer more than simple employee tracking. They also automatically count work hours for each staff member, track labor-related codes, categorize projects and tasks, and more. The software provides data for your accounting team, so you can rest assured each person has got their fair share.

Introduce Timekeeping Policies

Even with the best possible software, you still have to consider the human factor. The software does a great job tracking employees based on their geolocation, but that doesn’t mean it can assess how much work they’ve done. This is why you need to introduce other policies to ensure everyone’s on the same page.

The company has to be transparent about its dealings, but it also needs to demand transparency from its staff. You have to educate the team on how to track time and what’s considered productive hours. Most importantly, you have to do everything in your power to avoid misrepresentation of data and other transgressions.

Last Thoughts

Like in any other business, manual data entry in construction can be a real nightmare. Data errors, inconsistencies, use of different sources, are just a few issues you have to deal with. Luckily, by implementing modern software solutions, firms can streamline this process and track performance of their team across the board.

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