Those in construction payroll can relate to the process of labor compliance when it comes to timekeeping and timesheets.
On Monday morning, stacks of paper timesheets cover your desk while you chase down other timesheets, faxes, texts, and emails as well as pull paper timesheets out from the office drop box. Then you’re responsible for auditing the timesheets to see who worked or possibly forgot to submit their timesheet, followed by calling the field to track them down. And finally, you manually enter the time into the system to accurately capture the labor costs.
All of this takes place in the first two days of the week, as the goal is to get timesheets processed in any manner that works. This process can be effective at a small volume, but when the volume grows, there are more effective and streamlined paperless options. This article explores several considerations when exploring technology changes to improve your timekeeping and timesheet processes.
System Change Considerations
A statement often used in construction when it comes to changing or implementing new technology is “We have always done it that way.” Paper timesheets are comfortable because they give a sense of control, and although change can be overwhelming and challenging, technology can be helpful. Embracing effective technology can ultimately increase your bottom line. When making a timesheet system change, consider factors such as need, cost, effectiveness, implementation, IT, and training.
Evaluating the need is imperative to success. Implementing change can be challenging and focusing on the company’s needs will help you get the team on board with change.
To gain support from those impacted, approach a system change from the view of how it can help their productivity. Reach out to the key players such as payroll coordinators, the field team entering the time, and any timesheet system users to evaluate their needs such as ease of use, automation, and background labor costing for accounting.
Make sure to also take into consideration the interfaces that may be involved with its success. When gaining support from a team, clearly communicate intentions and the benefits involved in changing to a more effective timesheet system.
Selling a team on new technology can be challenging, but selling a team on a need is helpful. Do your research with respect to the timekeeping products available to best fit your needs. The market is growing for automated timekeeping, so it’s important to select a product that puts the company’s needs first.
Keep in mind that you’ll still need to audit and finalize entries to ensure accuracy, but the goal for automation is to reduce manual entry and increase productivity.
Cost is a significant factor when considering a new timekeeping system. Before selecting a product, ensure that the cost outweighs the needs and benefits a new system can bring.
When starting, consider your company’s forecasted growth regarding the number of employees and the possibility of needing to hire more payroll clerks to manually enter timesheets. A company with 100 employees might not see the cost of a timekeeping system as a benefit, but a company with 5,000 employees might experience beneficial savings with a new system.
Evaluate how many hours it takes to manually enter all timesheet data vs. the cost to only audit. Not only should the cost of the system be considered but also the payroll administration costs involved in the manual process vs. automation. If payroll administration costs can be cut while implementing a more effective system, then that is a win for all.
When choosing a new timekeeping system, be sure to evaluate the effectiveness for the company’s needs.
For example, labor cost codes are very important to certain scopes of work and types of companies. Can the new system accommodate labor cost codes? Verify that the systems being considered can accommodate not only the company’s needs, but also any state required labor compliance details. For example, acknowledging required meal breaks is very important when it comes to labor compliance. There are a wide range of systems to choose from and implementing one that captures a company’s needs helps ensure success.
Another consideration is how a new system handles different state labor laws. For example, some systems allow for a clock in and out, while others allow for a lump sum hour entry. Other systems cannot accommodate several cost codes used in a single day. With the opportunity for a variety of variances for each timekeeping system, make sure to start with the needs of the company and evaluate how the system can accommodate each.
The most challenging aspect of a new timekeeping system is implementation.
For example, imagine that one company is working to implement a new timekeeping system that allows field employees to enter their time through a device on either a cell phone or tablet. The first consideration is that not everyone has access to such a device. To combat this, a designated field foreperson or superintendent oversees this task daily.
Deciding on which technology best suits a company’s processes is also important. For example, field employees often enter their time weekly, and this can lead to errors as the team may be entering hours and job numbers based off memory. On the other hand, entering time on a daily basis leads to improved accuracy. If a field crew travels to multiple projects in a day or week, then entering time daily can be beneficial.