Best Practices When Using a Portable Time Clock System

Best Practices When Using a Portable Time Clock System

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Time is the essence of getting paid. Timecards and timeclocks are the important vehicles to ensure that happens. There are many different types of time clocks available: paper time cards, portable time clocks, time tracking apps. You need to find the right time tracking system for your construction company.


Determine the type of portable time clock that you need

Going from jobsite to jobsite, your construction crews are mobile. Portable job clocks come in handy and can move along with your crew as they move. However, mobile time apps take those portable time clocks to the next level. No longer do you have to deal with expensive hardware and accessories like key fobs or ID cards that employees lose or damage. Because the mobile app serving as your construction time clock, your employees can use their own mobile device to enter time. They can work anywhere and easily send in their time information.


Fight feature fatigue

From biometrics to geotracking, time tracking systems can get super complicated. When they do, they become cumbersome and hard to use. Moreover, if it is too hard to use, workers will not use it or will enter information incorrectly. Then what is the point? Fight feature fatigue and determine which features are most important to your company. Features that focus on biometrics and GPS following are received with disdain by employees. While these are of value to management, these features foster a culture of distrust on employees. Keep in mind the message that your time solution will send to your employees. Do you want a solution that will tell your employees that you are seeking to streamline processes or a solution that tells your employees we do not trust you?


Foreman or field worker

Many companies have different philosophies on where responsibility for time cards should lie. Is the field worker responsible for his own time information? Is the foreman responsible for time information for his crew? Let us face it. Foremen are very busy in the field managing their crew. They are directing the crew’s activity, communicating with their project manager or the general contractor, accepting deliveries, and so much more. No doubt, that the foreman is responsible for reviewing and approving his crew’s time. Why belabor the foreman with an additional responsibility of entering time for his crew when you can empower your individual workers to manage their own time?


Budget for devices

If you move forward to empower field workers to enter their own time, how will you implement this policy? Many carriers have discounts to make purchasing mobile devices for employees very cost effective. Research different carriers to see who can provide the best value in terms of phones and plans. Another option is to implement a Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) policy to help you cut hardware and service costs. Pew Research indicates that 77% of American own smartphones. Therefore, your company should consider subsidizing a portion of their personal phone bill will encourage employees to use their personal device for business reasons.


Beware of cost code overload

The great thing about portable time clocks is that it gives you enhanced visibility into what is happening at the jobsite. It can be powerful for companies to implement a job costing project management system and begin proactively tracking costs by projects and tasks. However, many companies get excited and go into cost code overload. They want extreme precision and detail. They haphazardly create cost codes for every material and labor activity. This can be overkill and have the opposite effect. It becomes overly complex to enter, track, and reconcile time. In the field, workers do not have the time or patience to sort through hundreds of cost codes or labor activities in order to enter time. Too many cost codes slows down the cost accounting process.


Focus on field adoption

Regardless of what type of portable time clock system you choose to implement, there is no value unless the field team actually uses it. The field team is the key user and your biggest barrier. Not everyone will be excited at the new efficient time card process. There will be grumblings and complaints that management is implementing a big brother solution. It is important to lay the groundwork that the time solution is a project tracking solution and not a people tracking solution. Tracking employee time in construction is critical to billing, so a time tracking solution helps to ensure that projects and customers are billed accurately. Tracking projects and profitability is one of the greatest values of a time tracking solution. When those benefits are explained explicitly, there is less emphasis on big brother.