by ROB McKINNEY, ConAppGuru
My current series is focused on what I consider to be The Five Workflows for Apps in Construction that apps can assist construction professionals on mobile devices. This week I will discuss a few apps that allow managers to track field employees time on mobile devices. Do you remember in the old days (I.E. 2013) when construction employees used punch cards and time clocks to clock in and out of their shift? Keeping accurate employee time is another important workflow a project Superintendents completes everyday.
The traditional method for companies to document their employees daily hours worked has been the paper based approach where employees signed in an out on a printed log. This basic method at least was trackable and provided employers to document how may hours and employee worked.
The first improvement to the traditional method was the time clock. With the time clock approach employees were able to document how many hours an employee worked on a shift by “clocking in” with their assigned time card. This approach is better than a written log because it time stamps start and stop times, however it only let companies know how many hours an employee worked in a day.
In todays fast paced setting, construction companies need a more agile approach to documenting the hours employees work. On many project employees are working on several tasks each day that need to be tracked by different phase codes. In order to keep the numbers straight, it may be best for field staff to use a mobile app on a mobile device to keep up with the constantly changing work assignments.
Here are a few great apps to try out for documenting employees time with your mobile device…
Employee Time Keeping
One of the first moves away from the traditional time card and punch clock was to Mircosoft’s Excel Program. The Excel spreadsheet was a big improvement for many construction companies. This program allowed a Superintendent or Project Administrator to track each employees time and update it daily. Another major workflow improvement was the ability to now code time to different phase codes or pay scales. What is in one day an employees worked 10 hour? How could a time clock know that there were two hours of overtime and that four hours were for formwork, three hours were for safety, and that three hours were for clean up? The Excel program allows construction field staff to accurate document employee hours and share back with the home office.
The IOS version of Excel for Macs and iPads. This innovative program actual allows uses to import an Excel spreadshseet and work with the data. Once a time sheet is updated, the Users can send the form back as an Excel, Numbers or PDF document.
FieldLens has recently added a manpower feature that allows users allows you to track employees hours worked for on-site and for employees from other companies on the project. A few of the interesting features are the ability to track manpower by individual hours worked or by company headcount each day, to record worker’s hours (by Regular, Premium, or Overtime), to assign Job Codes to specific types of work and measure productivity. Users can also create and share Manpower Spreadsheet reports for other team members off site.
The Mobile Field Manager (MFM) is a mobile app created for construction companies to track their employees labor, time and productivity from any smartphone or tablet anytime and anywhere. The MFM apps is connected directly to the Viewpoint accounting software platform. This allows your field personnel to easily update their employee time, equipment status and production time. The MFM allows field users to enter employee time each day and code it to the proper phase code.
The Procore platform offers users a time card function. Through the Procore platform allows field users to manage employees time for all projects from a mobile app. Users can enter enter timecard data, export timecard data for payroll, and filter by cost code and type. Project superintendents can track both the input (working hours classified by cost code) and output (description of the actual work accomplished) of a project. The information recorded in Procore’s creates a clear record of productivity. Administrators can organize employees by groups to view the productivity of employees in related functions. The time data can be reported for any billable period or individual dates within a billing period and can be filtered by project, cost code, or by billable status.
The T-Sheets app allows users to document and manage employee time from any device, any time, and any place. Do you have employees working in the office? Do you have field employees clocking in with a computer, laptop or mobile device? With T-Sheets app for iPhone and Android users can clock in and get to work with just the click of a button. Employees can switch jobs, locations and tasks in real time.
Employee Time Tracking
Some companies such as General Contractors may not need to track each employees time on a project every day. However, they may be very interested in know how many hours each subcontractor employee worked that day. This type of information is critical to track work put into place and determine to cost to complete the project.
The management of crew deployment can be a frustrating task for many construction companies. It seems like no matter how well you plan, things will go off course in the field. What if you send a crew of seven to a project on Monday only to find out that the project has been delayed and is not ready for them? What do you do with those severn employees at 7:30 am? Construction companies need a way to manage the work location for all employees in real time.
The LaborChart platform is a web based and works on any computer or mobile device. It shows users where all of their crews are working in a dashboard display. Each employee is color coded to clearly identify items such as their skill level, pay rate and their training certifications. The account administrator can assign tags to all projects and quickly reassign employees by a simple drag and drop on the dash board. Updates to assignments can be sent through SMS Text Messages or Emails.
The process of updating a project schedule with real time data from the field has always been a daunting task. Many companies struggle for a way to better document the updates and changes to the project schedule.
SmartPM is a innovative data management platform for construction projects. The Smart PM web platform allows users to input critical project information into the system in real time, users will receive up to date data on the progress and performance of construction projects at the click of a button. This allows users to know where the project stands at all times and see any critical delays to date. Project Managers will immediately be able to assess resultant cost overruns based on the data that SmartPM software provides.
The Raken app is generally viewed as a daily reports app as it allows users document site activities easily each day. However, one often overlooked feature is the “Work Log” feature. The field Superintendent using the Raken App can keep track of how many crew members worked on their project for any given day. Each company has a separate area to report on. This does not track cumulative hours, but it does document for example that ACME Drywall had 12 guys on site last Thursday. This field data is pushed up to the cloud server and available for office staff to review. Learn more about the Raken app by watching this short video.
Rob McKinney is a construction risk engineer at Atlanta-based XL Catlin, and is the founder of the construction information forum, Construction App Guru. With over 14 years of industry experience, Rob is the chairman for the AGC Georgia Technology Committee, board member for the AGC of America IT Forum and has written for publications such as Constructech, The Construction Specifier, AEC Magazine, Engineering Industry News, and more.