Construction profit margins are amongst the lowest, and tightest, of all industries. Time, supply costs, and unexpected delays are all risk factors that play a role in this reality. And there is another factor undermining margins...data. Construction is plagued by data lag, stemming from one persistent challenge: The industry has been slow to implement digital technologies that equip companies with live-field data—that is data collected in the field on labor hours, safety, daily progress, equipment tracking, production, and job cost allocations, to name a few—that are synced across a company’s entire workforce and systems.
Project overages and delays cost money and time to correct, which can lead to additional revenues being lost. Working against already tight margins, construction companies cannot afford these setbacks. Herein lies the importance of live-field data.
So, is there a digital tool that can help companies reap these benefits? Fueled by data collected and shared in real time, mobile workforce platforms are one such technology. Here are three ways mobile workforce platforms can mitigate risk factors in construction:
1. Increases Accuracy of Time Tracking and Labor Costs
Inaccurate employee time tracking can lead to huge profit losses for construction companies. Having project foremen manually log labor hours or employees submit timesheets at the end of the week can lead to overestimations of hours worked and lost revenues. Sure, it may seem like a few extra minutes here and there at the beginning or end of a shift, but spread across an entire workforce over weeks, months, and years, those minutes add up to real costs and losses. And these end up hurting both the bottom line and project progress.
This is where mobile workforce management platforms with live-field data collection capabilities come into play. With every clock in on their mobile device, employees can be prompted to input the project they are working on. As they move throughout their day, change tasks, and clock out, employees can be asked about their progress for a given task or workday. Synced within seconds and easily comparable to job cost estimations and budget projections, companies can accurately survey project costs and progress.
With regular check-ins, decision makers can quickly pivot their workforce and make project adjustments if labor costs creep over budget or in the event progress lags behind. The quicker this labor data makes it into the hands of company leaders, the sooner they can correct course to keep costs and projects on track.
2. Eliminates Buddy Punching and Delivers on Precision
Best-in-class mobile workforce platforms come equipped with advanced technologies like biometric facial recognition and GPS tracking that improve the precision of collected data. In the short term, these technologies ensure employees are being paid the correct amount for their tasks and projects at hand. This, in turn, benefits companies and clients long term by ensuring projects are being billed accurately.
Using facial recognition capabilities, companies can effectively put an end to buddy punching. This goes beyond simply capturing a photo. Mobile workforce platforms allow companies to compare employee profile pictures to images collected on their mobile device with each punch of the clock. They then flag any suspect time records, ensuring the person clocking in is who they say they are 100 percent of the time.
This level of assurance is also guaranteed with the integration of GPS tracking, allowing companies to set geo-fences around projects to ensure that employees are clocking time on a project’s location and that the correct job cost is being recorded. Moreover, GPS tracking facilitates a company’s ability to pinpoint each and every piece of equipment across all of its job sites. This can ensure that equipment is not only located at the right location but can also be used to track maintenance schedules. By using this feature, companies can avoid jobsite delays due to missing or out-of-commission equipment. Gaining precise data on labor, projects, and equipment means less surprises and decreased risk factors for every single project.
3. Streamlines the Way Companies Collect and Share Data
Avoiding risk in the future means acting in the present. For construction companies, this comes down to the way its data is collected and shared both internally and externally. With a mobile workforce platform, companies can effectively eliminate confusion and miscommunication to ensure everyone is on the same page, be they a field worker or project foreman, safety manager, administrator, client or company owner.
Companies can digitize every form they use, including: incident to daily field reports and site audit, status change and drivers’ log forms, and more. Utilizing digital forms can eliminate cumbersome paperwork and enable instant communication across a team, jobsite, or company. Additionally, digital forms can improve jobsite safety. Employees can be required to fill out health and safety questionnaires, read new safety procedures, and even watch a safety training video or toolbox talk before they start working on a jobsite. All of which translates into documented consistency across the board and a more informed, safer on-site staff. When tracking project progress, field workers can track tasks and workdays in real time, taking photographs and filling out status reports that are easily shareable in-house, with clients and subcontractors.
By leveraging a mobile workforce platform to collect live-field data and maintain internal and external lines of communication, it not only helps construction companies eliminate its bottom-line risk factors but also strengthens relationships with employees, vendors, suppliers, partners, subcontractors, and clients.