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How to implement time tracking at your construction firm

builder tracking time.jpg

For the last 8 months or so I’ve been building an extension on my house. It’s a pretty big job, adding a large living space, kitchen, master bedroom and ensuite. And, of course, it involves a huge amount of planning and scheduling and budgeting and the management of several different trades and construction / supply companies.

And, because we have a tight budget and can’t afford a project manager, all of this organising falls to me.

I’ve seen a lot of different styles of quotes and invoices from the companies I’ve worked with – from a single line scribbled on a sheet of newsprint, to a detailed breakdown of costs and hours that included every screw, bolt and fixture.

As a client, I have a certain perspective now on what I like to see and understand about what I’m paying for. And I can say that the companies who use online time tracking software are top of my list for professionalism and ease to deal with.

Being able to see a breakdown of the hours worked is invaluable to me:

  • From window fabrication to specialist concrete services, I’m able to budget accordingly and instantly see from a quote whether a company is inflating their hours.
  • For the owners of these businesses, by having all their time tracking online and part of their quoting and invoicing systems, they’re able to easily make all the changes I ask for (and there are a lot!) without having to redo hours of work!

Many of WorkflowMax’s customers are in the construction industry, and they love the additional visibility, time savings, and ease-of-use of the time tracking software and project management features.

But if you’ve been using a manual time-tracking system (or no system at all), then making the change to a system like this can be daunting.

That’s why we’ve made this guide to help you make the transition to online time tracking software:

Benefits of time tracking for your construction firm:

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Why would you want to use time tracking software at your construction firm? There are lots of reasons. Here are just a few:

Capture all your costs: Have you been underbilling clients for the time it takes to do a job? With accurate time tracking software, you’ll never do this again.

Keep on track: Online time tracking is a great tool to help your team stay on track. Assign a certain amount of hours to each job, and receive notifications when that time is nearly used up.

Add value for client: Your clients can see details about the time taken and a breakdown of costs and hours, which helps them to budget accordingly.

Improve quotes: With hours logged accurately for the different types of jobs you do, you’ll quicker gather a picture of how long a job actually takes, so you can adjust your quotes accordingly.

Keep tabs on the business: Time tracking software will show you who has been working on each job and how long it has taken them.

Integrate with other tools: If you already use inventory, accounting or other tools, you can integrate your project management and time tracking software for a complete, end-to-end business solution.

Features to look for in a construction time-tracking solution:

So now you know you want an online time tracking solution. The next question is what tool are you going to choose?

There are so many options out there, and it can be hard to know what’s going to work for you. Here are our tips on what to look for to ensure the right choice for your construction company:

Cloud-Based Time Tracking

Throw away paper timesheets, say goodbye to cumbersome spreadsheets forever. It’s time you embraced the cloud and all it can offer your company.

By using a cloud-based time tracking system, you’ll always be working on the most up-to-date data. And you’ll be able to tap into all the other features we discuss below.

Mobile friendly Time Tracking

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As a construction company, you’ve probably got teams on various work sites scattered across your local area … or perhaps even across different countries. 

Simple Interface

You need a system you’re actually going to use, so the first thing you should look for is an interface that makes sense to you. Try a few different products and see how you feel navigating around the interface. Which one feels the most intuitive to you? Which system best fits in with your current processes?

Different Time Tracking Options

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It can be extremely useful to have a range of options for tracking time, including duration, start-stop, and a timer. This helps you to collect time for all your different employees, departments and types of jobs.

Job Scheduling Functionality

As well as time sheets, it can be extremely useful in the construction industry to also use job scheduling tools. You can see at a glance which employee is working on which task, and you can track how many hours a job is taking compared to the estimate. Many time tracking systems designed by the construction industry in mind will include some form of scheduling as well.

Time Tracking as Part of a Project Management System

You can find plenty of construction time tracking tools that just focus on the time portion, but you might be better with a complete project management system, like WorkflowMax. With this system, the timesheets can be used in conjunction with job costing, milestones, and job scheduling software to give you complete visibility across your entire process.

Integrations with other tools

Depending on which route you take (a simple time tracking solution, or a robust all-in-one project management system) you should choose software that enables integrations with other tools. That way you can push data from one application to the other, and scale your management tools to fit the changing needs of your business.

Tips for Implementing Time Tracking

So, you’ve bitten the bullet and got yourself some time tracking software. Good for you!

If a time tracking system is new at your company – or you’re trying to implement an online time tracking system instead of the old spreadsheet method you were using – then you’re facing the problem...

...how to get your staff to actually use the new software?!

Of course you know how much this new tool is going to improve productivity and visibility, and shorten admin hours, but getting that message across to your team might not be so easy. People are notoriously suspicious of change, and there’s likely to be a period of flux while employees learn how to adjust to the new system. You may even meet resistance if employees see you bucking “the way it’s always been done.”

So how to you help ease the transition into this new system? Here are a few ideas:

Become an early adopter: You can’t expect your team to be enthusiastic about a new system if you’re not on board yourself. You need to lead your team to success by adopting the new time tracking software with gusto, and they’ll quickly follow suit.

Make training easy: Offer a range of options for employees who need some help with the software. For example, WorkflowMax offers a range of self-paced online courses in some of the basic functions, but for those who just want to dive in and learn as they go, there’s the knowledge base and WorkflowMax TV videos to help them solve each problem as it comes up.

Relay client appreciation: Any time a client compliments you on the benefits of the new system, pass this praise on to the team. Everyone likes to know they’re doing a good job and seeing the difference it makes to the client can really help some stragglers to pick up their game.

Demonstrate improved visibility: Don’t just explain to your team how tracking time online can give the business more visibility, show them. Sit down with the team and run through how different your quoting, invoicing and project management will be with the new system, and show them how this data can be reported on to give you all a clear picture of how the business is performing. It can be scary being this visible with your team, but it helps to give them a sense of ownership in the business.

Partner up: Many people who work in construction aren’t very tech-savvy. Pair up those who are most resistant with other team members who know the program backward, and they can help bring the rest of the team up-to-speed.

Incentivise adoption: Want to get your team on-board with using your new construction time tracking software? Find ways to incentivise their efforts. You don’t have to give out a cash bonus, but you could let the best user go home an hour early on a Friday or treat the team to a lunch once they’re all up-to-speed. Show them you appreciate their hard work learning the new time tracking software.

Running a construction company is hard work. But that work can be made a little easier with the help of time tracking software. How are you tracking time on your jobs? Do you think it’s time your system had a bit of a shake-up?

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Steff Green
Steff Green is one of WorkflowMax's resident wordsmiths, writing everything from website pages to blog posts, ebooks, emails and everything in between. Steff is also an award-winning author, with several fantasy novels available on Amazon. When she’s not writing up a storm, Steff lives on a lifestyle block with her musician husband, two cantankerous cats, several sheep and chickens and her medieval sword collection.

Steff Green