How to Track Your Most Valuable Resource: Labor Hours

Learn how a construction COO improved remote workforce productivity by getting accurate visibility into where his labor hours were being spent

By Rob Tymchyshyn, Co-Founder, Fieldclix Software
For many companies focused on deploying field resources to remote project sites, field labor can represent more than 70 percent of their operating costs.

This includes, but is not limited to subcontractors, trades and installation companies building cell towers, charging stations, solar panels, electrical installations, and concrete foundations, to name a few.

These companies often have limited visibility into where their labor hours are being spent. The standard tools of the trade - whiteboards, spreadsheets, and manual time entry (in many cases, days after the fact) – aren't sufficient to answer important questions about labor costs. How much time are employees spending at the project site? Are labor hours being allocated to correct project codes? Where are there opportunities to reduce non-productive field hours?

Kent Smith, the VP of Operations at Wireless Services, a wireless venue installation company in Gonzales, Louisiana has spent more years than he would care to admit working in the field. However, his deep experience brings insights into all the ways labor hours can "leak out of the bucket." These days, Kent's focus is overseeing the daily deployments of more than twenty dedicated field crews across six states. "These types of projects require tight coordination with remote teams, material suppliers, clients, and multiple third parties," Kent explained, "and more often than not, the accounting of field hours gets lost in the mix."

"With Fieldclix, our Operations Managers can keep a close eye on labor hours and hold their field teams accountable to hitting concrete targets."

Kent Smith - COO, Wireless Communications

A Significant Opportunity

An analysis of Fieldclix client data, representing over 200,000 daily deployments, shows that field crews will spend anywhere from 10 to 40 percent of their daily hours away from the project site (depending on the type of project, site location, and other variables). At the extreme low end, for a company with 20 field resorces, this can represent more than 15,000 hours a year spent away from the job site.

Facing a growing workload and challenges hiring qualified field resources, Kent decided it was time to find a way to get improved visibility into his field activities. We had too many people giving an estimate of their hours at the end of the week, with no ability to determine how many hours were spent on different activities," Kent said. "Because of this, our Project Managers and Operations Managers had limited situational awareness of how labor hours were contributing to progress on their remote builds."

After evaluating several software options, Kent selected the Fieldclix platform, which uniquely captures remote timecard data with GPS tracking. "We looked at many mobile timekeeping applications such as T-Sheets, but they still required field crews to manually indicate when they arrived on-site and select the proper job codes, which inevitably introduces human error into the system."

Increase Remote Team Time On-Site
With automatically generated timecards based on GPS, Kent and his project managers get accurate daily updates on where field hours are being spent. They now have the ability to work with their field crews to identify and eliminate unnecessary off-site activities. As an added bonus, they get early warnings on potential labor cost overruns, which allows them to make adjustments while there's still time to make a difference.

An analysis of twelve months of field deployments from our customer database shows a 15 percent increase in time-on-site is possible with the improved visibility and control that comes with Field Operations Software. This represents over 2,500 additional on-site hours a company with twenty employees in the field, or the equivalent of one additional team member.

Follow-on Benefits

With these newly deployed timekeeping processes in place, Kent and his team saw some additional positive trends across the company.

"There was a cultural shift," Kent explained. "Our Operations Managers now dispatch with an eye on labor hours and can hold their field teams accountable to hitting concrete targets. This changed their focus from fighting daily fires to managing adherence to the project budget."

In addition, the ability to capture accurate historical data for field activities brought a positive impact to project bids. "We've moved from committee-based estimating to data-driven pricing," Kent explained. "The result is a more accurate bid, with less artificial headroom for risk and a better price for the client, so everyone wins."

With these changes to how his company is managing field operations, Kent has the confidence to focus on other improvement initiatives with the knowledge that his project management and operations teams are getting more work done with their existing teams.

Is Fieldclix right for you?

Are remote labor hours your biggest cost? Do you struggle to get accurate, timely job costs? Do you have to go to multiple sources for project documents and status?

Fieldclix is built to help Subcontractors, Trades and other companies with a mobile workforce address the unique challenges that come with deploying field resources to multiple project sites every day.

Unlike many other platforms, Fieldclix provides real-time visibility into remote activities and daily updates on progress and costs across all your active projects so you always know where you stand.

Schedule a discussion with a Fieldclix representative to learn more about our features and pricing so you can decide whether we're a good fit for you.

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