Construction sites often look like chaos: workers are buzzing around, managers are screaming loudly to be heard, materials and equipment are constantly moving all over the place. In such a context, organization is key, which means not only developing a safe and well-regulated work environment but also applying proper management practices and tools.
In this regard, time tracking can serve construction businesses well as it puts team performance in order and increases employee accountability. Time tracking produces many other benefits for construction professionals as well. We will discuss them in this article along with tips on how to set up an efficient time tracking procedure.
The Immense Value of Time Tracking
Project delays in construction are widespread, and they lead to many adverse effects, from minor budget overruns to the total abandonment of work.
A study by Cornerstone Projects Ltd. revealed that, among 170 UK construction companies, as much as 85.2% had experienced schedule overruns around 2017. But the United Kingdom is not the only one to suffer the consequences of unmet deadlines. The 2015 study by KPMG showed that merely 25% of international construction projects were completed within 10% of their initial estimates during the 2012–2015 period.
So, why do construction firms continually struggle to deliver projects on time? Of course, some of the major contributing factors, such as adverse weather and price escalations, are impossible to control. But many other reasons for failure stem from inadequate management:
- Poor scope definition,
- Mistakes in the initial project design,
- Ineffective client communication, etc.
Unrealistic scheduling and workforce challenges are also among the leading causes of project delays in the construction industry, and time tracking can help you address both of them:
- It lets you see whether your workers show progress or fail to achieve performance targets as planned.
- Digital time tracking tools store data on team productivity in one place, allowing you to detect behavior inefficiencies quickly and analyze your workload distribution decisions in-depth.
- Time tracking data submitted throughout a completed project may be used to develop accurate time estimates for new similar projects.
Besides, many time tracking instruments available in the market today can readily support you in:
- Labor cost monitoring,
- Compliance with deadlines,
- Billable time calculation,
- Competitive bidding (with the backlog data),
- Task management, and more.
Although time tracking will not solve all your management problems at once, it can surely help reduce the risk of schedule overruns by providing high-quality information for performance assessment, timeline design and forecasting.
Now that we’ve clarified why time tracking is vital, let’s see how to establish a well-functioning time tracking routine.
5 Things to Consider for Making Time Tracking Work
1. Start with time estimation
Accurate time estimates are an underlying part of project management — without them, you won’t be able to establish realistic deadlines and will bear an elevated risk of project delays. Therefore, prior to proceeding with time tracking itself, dedicate enough resources and attention to obtain as accurate task and project estimates as possible.
When estimating a construction project, especially a complex one, you need to take into account plenty of variables. We won’t be able to discuss them all within the scope of this article, but many useful materials on this subject are already published in actiTIME Blog:
Feel free to check out the above articles in order to set more realistic deadlines and then track work hours as a means to adhere to them.
2. Adopt a smart time tracking tool early
Time tracking with a high-quality digital tool is always much easier than with traditional methods (e.g., Excel spreadsheets). Smart pieces of software, such as actiTIME:
- Increase time tracking accuracy,
- Make the process effortless,
- Provide comprehensive performance reports,
- And, in addition, streamline many essential tasks (g., billing and payroll) that would otherwise take hours to complete.
But regardless of the apparent benefits of modern time trackers, your team members can be reluctant to adopt them if accustomed to applying other methods. Thus, the earlier you integrate a time tracking tool into your workflow, the better. And if you’re worried that your workers won’t be very enthusiastic about the innovation, undertake some precautionary measures:
- Try out several apps to choose the best one for your team,
- Test it for some time to make sure it’s convenient to implement and won’t cause any troubles to your employees,
Also, aim to detect as many benefits of using a digital time tracker in your company as possible and communicate these benefits to your team members. This will allow you to boost their motivation better.
3. Educate team members on how to use the time tracker
Although contemporary people are generally tech-savvy, and the majority of time trackers are fairly simple to use, some of your workers may still need assistance with learning how to integrate a new piece of software into their daily routines.
Think about the ways to provide such help to them: Will you arrange a short-term group course or a training session? Will you pair up your least tech-savvy team members with those who get along with the technology well? Will you simply collect some valuable resources from the Internet and share them with your workers? Options are many. So, evaluate your team needs thoroughly to select the most appropriate one.
4. Encourage employees to track time regularly
Time tracking works best when practiced regularly. A failure to keep a record of hours spent on even the most trivial job activities and ensure that employees are productive enough can cost your business a ton of money. Thus, you need to motivate your team to use the time tracker throughout the day and fill in timesheets once a task is completed.
A great way to so is by rewarding the best time tracker users. You can offer some small cash bonuses, treats or extra time off to the most diligent in time tracking. By showing your employees that you appreciate their efforts, you’ll speed up the process of tool adoption and maximize the advantages of time tracking.
5. Analyze performance data to see that time tracking works
Another great way to dispel doubts in the value of time tracking is by providing your employees with evidence on its effectiveness.
Did your business experience some massive productivity problems before? Did you fail to meet deadlines ever so often? Or did your projects incur too many labor costs? Compare previous performance data to that collected with a newly adopted time tracker to see whether your work process has accelerated, became less cost-consuming and started to produce the desired outputs faster. Summarize the results and show the findings to your employees to make them understand why time tracking is good for everyone in the team.
Managing a construction business is a challenging job. However, time tracking software can make the life of a construction manager much easier by fostering effective progress monitoring and an in-depth analysis of employees’ time use behaviors.
Are you ready to advance the time tracking system in your company? Sign up for a free actiTIME trial to boost team productivity and attain superior project outcomes.