In construction, margins are razor-thin, and losing money on projects impacts cash flow. Without live field data syncing with your payroll, ERP, and HR applications, there are many ways you’re unnecessarily increasing your project costs. Have you ever stopped to think about how live field data impacts ghost assets and ghost employees? When you add up the cost of ghost assets and ghost employees on your projects, the numbers can surprise you. The first step in the process is to understand what ghost assets and ghost employees are.
Ghost Assets and Challenges
Ghost assets, they are physical assets like equipment or tools on your books that you can’t locate. You may not locate them because they are missing or stolen. This reduces your field employee’s productivity and efficiency. They’re looking for tools and equipment in your inventory but they aren’t there. This drives up your project’s labor costs.
In addition to driving up labor costs in the field, ghost assets also impact your financial statements. You’re continuing to pay insurance premiums on assets you no longer have. You’re also not writing the assets off as a loss. If you haven’t even thought about live field data for tracking tools and equipment, don’t worry, most contractors haven’t. According to the Live Field Data Usage Report, only 21% of contractors have access to live field data for tools and equipment. 34% of contractors don’t even track tools or equipment.
What are Ghost Employees and How Does It Happen?
Ghost employees are terminated employees that are still receiving paychecks. Ghost employees surface when an employee quits, and another employee submits time for them, whether or not intentionally. Sometimes, a supervisor fills out a preprinted project time card or standard spreadsheet with the terminated employee’s name on it. Unfortunately, without automated controls in place, payroll still cuts checks for these terminated employees. Ghost employees receive paychecks after they quit their jobs. It’s likely that the supervisor or employee also forgot to turn in the termination paperwork or they lost it.
The terminated employee continues to get paid after they quit, and it’s a major issue. Ghost employees inflate labor costs and there is no output for the man-hours. This affects the budgeted man-hours for a project and makes it difficult to keep the project on budget. This could go on for months and have a significant impact on the project’s budget. Live field data impacts ghost assets and ghost employees postitively in these 3 ways:
1. Integrate Live Field Data with Back Office Systems
When you integrate time and equipment tracking with your ERP and Payroll applications, you can’t clock in terminated employees. Cloud-based mobile workforce platforms make it easy for employees or supervisors to fill out their termination paperwork in the same app as they track their labor hours and equipment. It’s easy for employees to find the termination form in the mobile app. They’re already familiar with it because they use every day to track their time.
As soon as the employee submits the digital termination form on their mobile app, it’s automatically emailed to payroll and human resources. The back-office systems update their employment status on their termination date. The time tracking app syncs with the back-office systems in real time with their updated terminated employment status. This prevents anyone from clocking in a terminated employee. This is one way that live field data impacts ghost employees. When the systems are all in sync for their employment status, no one can enter hours for a terminated employee. As a result, they don’t cut payroll checks for terminated employees.
Accurate employment statuses also prevent theft or loss of tools or equipment. Mobile workforce apps track time and equipment in the same app and prevent terminated employees from checking out equipment. Only active employees can check out tools and equipment. This keeps your equipment inventory more accurate, and the equipment is only available to active employees. Live field data impacts your business the most when you integrate it with all of your back-office business systems. It substantially reduces ghost assets and ghost employees.
2. Face Recognition Is 2nd Line of Defense Against Ghost Assets and Ghost Employees
Automated biometric face recognition is one of the most important ways live field data impacts ghost assets and ghost employees. It’s your second line of protection against terminated ghost employees with an active employment status. Automated face recognition compares each employee’s unique profile photo to the clock in photo using biometric measurements. If the photos don’t match, it flags the time record. When that time record syncs to the cloud system, it alerts the supervisor and payroll admin. It’s a good check and balance that both the supervisor and the payroll admin are notified of the mismatch.
The mismatch alert allows the supervisor or payroll admin to remove the ghost employee’s hours before payroll processing. It also reminds the supervisor to submit the termination paperwork immediately and investigate who clocked in for the ghost employee. This significantly reduces any opportunity for any employee to clock in a terminated employee.
Face recognition also helps keep your tools and equipment inventory and assignment accurate. Biometric face recognition makes sure the person clocking in is the person who has the piece of equipment. If a piece of equipment is missing, it’s easy to know who had it last. Face recognition helps reduce ghost assets with verifiable biometric documentation of who is responsible for the piece of equipment. They don’t want to be accountable for the equipment they don’t have. As a result, employees are more likely to keep asset assignments accurate. Live field data impacts the accuracy of your labor and equipment tracking.
3. Global Visibility Reduces Ghost Assets Costs
It’s much easier to track tools and equipment with a mobile app. Many times employees work in remote areas without cellular service or Wi-Fi access. With a cloud-based mobile workforce app, employees can check in and out tools and equipment as they use them to keep an accurate inventory. The app updates the equipment assignment so you know who is responsible for it. As soon as employees have service, all the data in the mobile app can sync to the cloud and it’s updated globally. Using a mobile workforce platform that tracks their time, forms, and equipment in the same app keeps everything in sync with the back-office systems. It makes it simple for employees to accurately track the tools and equipment they’re using. It keeps the equipment inventory and assignment accurate and in one central place.
If a piece of equipment is missing, it’s easy for employees to fill out a missing equipment form. The equipment manager receives the automated form, so he or she can investigate. If the equipment manager is can’t locate the piece of equipment, he or she can quickly file an insurance claim. The equipment manager can immediately notify the accounting department to write off the lost equipment. With only 21% of companies with live field data for tools and equipment, it’s common that they don’t know for months or years about missing or lost equipment. The insurance premiums continue to be paid and are escalating project costs. Live field data positively impacts ghost assets because it expedites the flow of information to the right people to reduce the negative financial impact. Live field data impacts your company substantially when you centralize all your field data all in one app and sync it with your back-office systems.
Next steps with Live Field Data
When you capture live field data all in one app, it can have a tremendous impact on solving ghost assets and ghost employee issues for your business. When you sync live field data with all your back-office applications, you have controls in place to prevent ghost assets and ghost employees from haunting your business financials. With only 21% of contractors capturing live field data for tracking tools and equipment, it’s one small step that can drive big cost savings. Contractors should harness the power of technology to put the controls and alerts in place to eliminate ghost assets and ghost employees which result in lower project costs. To learn more, schedule a custom demo of WorkMax.
Live Field Data Challenges
Why Your Data Collection Methods are Your Biggest Obstacle
When we surveyed 134 contractors this year to publish our Live Field Data Usage Report, the majority of contractors are using 3-5 apps to collect field data. It was disappointing that 25% of those folks were using 3-5 apps to collect field data AND paper and spreadsheets.
We wanted to know more about the six types of field data with the biggest impact on project performance. First, let’s look at the types of field data that covered in the survey:
In the Live Field Data Report, only 34% of contractors collect live field data for safety. Only 21% collect live field data for equipment and tool tracking. It’s surprising that just 19% collect live field data of labor hours by cost code. Here are the top 3 live field data challenges:
Everyone hates doing the administrative parts of our job. It’s not the thing we get out of bed and get excited about, right? Based on the results in the Live Field Data Usage Report, 40% of companies are asking their employees to use three to five apps. Of those using 3-5 apps, 25% of them use paper forms and spreadsheets to track their field data. Field Operations Teams need all six field data types listed above to mitigate cost, schedule, and safety risks. When employees use up to 7 different ways to track field data, you’re asking a lot from them.
This is why collecting live field data is such a challenge. Employees have to learn the nuances of each app and how to use them. Each user interface is different and menu items aren’t the same. This drastically reduces the likelihood that they’ll be proficient on each app. Field employees also have to remember all of their logins and passwords to each app. Twenty-five percent of companies also require employees to complete paper or spreadsheet forms. You’re asking employees to spend a substantial amount of time on administrative tasks that they hate. This is a pretty big live field data challenge.
Any time manual intervention by humans is required to manage data, it’s yet another live field data challenge. It moves you further away from realizing the benefits of live field data. In the Live Field Data Usage Report, 14% of companies are exclusively using paper and spreadsheets to collect field data. Of the 134 contractors surveyed, 52% of the contractors used a combo of paper, spreadsheets, and apps. Paper and spreadsheets require human intervention and manual processes.
For example, the field employees have to leave their work area to get a safety form to fill out. Typically, forms are in the job trailer. After a safety form is filled out, the supervisor delivers the form to the corporate office. The forms have missing data and illegible handwriting which require another manual process. The safety manager makes calls and sends emails or texts to gather the missing information. The next manual step is entering the paper or spreadsheet data into an application or spreadsheet to be able to analyze trends.
Additionally, once the data is in a spreadsheet or in an application, the safety information has to manually be emailed to the right people in the organization to be informed of what they need to know. All of these manual steps delay the data sharing and analysis of critical business data. Live field data is an enormous challenge if not impossible when you’re using manual processes.
When contractors use multiple apps that may or may not integrate, it’s probably the biggest live field data challenge. When the project teams meet to discuss the project status, they rely on work-in-progress reports, daily log reports, safety reports, and projected and forecasted cost reports. The data for these reports require them to compile data from up to 7 different data sources. Additionally, there’s always a time gap when apps aren’t integrated and you’re also using paper and spreadsheets.
For example, data has to be extracted from the time tracking system to get accurate man-hours to compare them to the plan. They also have to get the quantities completed from daily log reports. These individual reports are compiled to tally the total quantities to date for accurate progress reporting. All of these reports are likely done in a spreadsheet and we all know spreadsheets are error-prone. Almost 90% of spreadsheets contain errors.
It’s very common in project status meetings that different project stakeholders show up to the meeting and have completely different numbers on their reports. It could be due to discrepancies for the date ranges or missing reports. Rarely is everyone on the same page and they don’t know how accurate the numbers on the reports are. Often, project status meetings are spent reconciling reports rather than solving any budget or schedule issues. And all the while, the project team is spending time making decisions on old data that could be a day, week, or even a month old rather than using live field data.
From the Live Field Data Usage Report, only a small only a minority of companies are utilizing live field data to optimize their projects. Even if they are collecting live field data, it’s typically only one of the six types of field data and not all six types. Your field data is much less accurate if you’re not using live field data and you’re making your field workers and operations team much less efficient. Those two factors can have a big impact on productivity, profitability, and the project schedule.
If you’re looking for the one thing you can do for your business to increase productivity and lower costs as a result, you need an integrated platform like WorkMax. WorkMax overcomes the live field data challenges described in this blog and has one app to collect all six types of live field data to make it easy for your employees, digitizes all of your field operations, and gives you confidence in your project field data. To learn more about how these live field data challenges are no longer an issue when you use WorkMax, schedule a demo today or download the full Live Field Data Usage Report.
By: Shannon Corgan, Director of Marketing
Previously, the OSHA documentation for work-related COVID-19 illnesses was only required for the health care industry, emergency response organizations, and correctional institutions. OSHA’s new COVID-19 guidance went into effect on May 26th. Now, all employers regardless of industry are responsible for recording work-related COVID-19 illnesses on an OSHA 300 Form. In addition to the new OSHA recording requirement, OSHA is also increasing its in-person inspections to help ensure the safety of American workers during the pandemic.
Which COVID-19 Illnesses Do I have to Document?
Under its new recordkeeping requirements for OSHA, COVID-19 is a recordable illness, and employers must record cases of COVID-19 for the following reasons:
How to determine if it’s work-related
Because COVID-19 is so easily transmittable before an employee shows symptoms, OSHA is simply asking employers to make a reasonable effort to determine if the exposure might be work-related. Reasonable efforts include:
The investigations that OSHA is asking employers to undertake for COVID-19 require those employers to determine the likelihood that the employee contracted COVID-19 in the workplace based on information reasonably available to them at the time of their investigation. If more information becomes available, the employer will be required to update the investigation.
OSHA complaints for COVID-19 are on the rise
OSHA started tracking COVID-19 related complaints for essential industries using the N-16-COVID-19 code starting on April 20th. Of the seven essential industries OSHA was tracking for COVID-19 complaints, the construction industry had the third-highest number of COVID-19 related OSHA complaints using the N-16-COVID-19 code. From 4/20/20 to 6/7/20, the construction industry has seen a 73% increase in OSHA complaints. Click here to see the OSHA complaints totals to date. This is most likely attributed to the increased number of construction workers that have been allowed to resume work on previously shut down projects combined with the expiration of stay-at-home orders.
How to Protect Your Company from Work-Related COVID-19 OSHA Complaints
With the increase in COVID-19 related complaints to OSHA, it’s more important than ever to make sure you’re protecting your business by documenting your policies for social distancing, use of PPE, sanitation, and disinfection of equipment and tools, and handwashing to reduce the risk of OSHA complaints on your job sites. You will want to make sure that the policies and procedures are understood and shared with your field employees as quickly as possible. With WorkMax, you can quickly deploy new COVID-19 safety training and obtain signatures with a time and date stamp to confirm that they understand the new policies and procedures. WorkMax allows employees to watch videos and sign off with a date and time stamp on their smartphones that they watched and understood the COVID-19 policies. Another way you can protect your business from OSHA complaints is to use our mobile forms app to take photos and videos throughout the day to document how your employees are following your social distancing, PPE equipment, and handwashing procedures on the jobsite.
To see some videos about how to use WorkMax for COVID-19 Training and documentation to protect your employees and your business here’s a list:
By Jonathan Salas
The sudden onset of COVID-19 has taken construction safety managers, business owners, and nations completely by surprise. Whole industries have been brought to their knees, while others have been forced to scramble while trying to remain agile. While our nation’s leaders try to find the best solutions to deal with this problem, businesses are forced to think on their feet and adapt. Thankfully, no one is in this alone, and WorkMax is here to not only make your job easier, but also protect you and the ones around you. But how exactly can a resource management app with live field data to collect and share time tracking and field reporting on mobile forms help keep you safe? Here are 4 ways WorkMax can help:
1. Prompt COVID-19 Symptom Screening on Clock IN/OUT- Not everyone is aware of the exact symptoms of COVID-19 including construction safety managers reading the latest news, and that can have a huge impact on your workforce. What an employee thinks is simply a symptom of a common cold could be an indication of something much worse. You need to ensure that anyone experiencing symptoms isn’t getting the rest of your workforce sick while getting the safety documentation you need without slowing down your field employees and interrupting their workflow.
WorkMax’s resource management platform improves safety by creating a workflow that fits construction businesses. The first thing employees do every day is clock in, and with WorkMax, you can have COVID-19 pre-screening questions provided by your construction safety managers that each employee is required to fill out with each initial punch for the day. If the employee answers that they don’t have any of the COVID-19 symptoms listed, they just go to work. If they answered yes, the employees can be prompted by a follow-up form to help your company determine if the employee needs to be sent for medical attention or if they are simply having seasonal allergies, allowing your projects to continue to run smoothly. The health screening questions can be prompted at the end of the shift to determine if the employee should show up the next shift. These forms can be automatically emailed to the employee’s supervisor and the health and safety managers for them to determine the safest next step if their employee has COVID-19 symptoms.
2. Facial Recognition without COVID-19 Transmission Risk- If you are using a single device for clocking in, then that creates a single point of contact that all of your employees are touching (remember, one of the ways COVID-19 spreads is by staying on surfaces like countertops). That’s a lot of contact, and too many chances for spreading infection. WorkMax allows each employee to clock time from their own device, meaning that there is no contact with shared devices during the clock in/out process. Face recognition is great because it eliminates buddy punching and time theft, but it’s even more critical that you know which employees are working on your job sites to identify any COVID-19 contact transmission risks. WorkMax’s face recognition compares a profile image with their clock in photo and clock out photo and returns a match percentage. Their supervisor and payroll admin are alerted when there’s a mismatch on their own individual devices or computers without coming into contact with a shared device. The supervisor can also approve their time on their own mobile device in the field without the risk of transmission from shared devices.
If your supervisors are clocking in their crews from a company-owned single mobile device, however, WorkMax can still be used to ensure the safety of your workforce and your company and know exactly who is working on your job site. We have added a new feature based on customer requests that allows you to utilize the rear-facing camera for facial recognition. A supervisor can have all his or her employees clock into the same device while still maintaining a safe six-foot distance and getting the facial recognition data that you need to ensure accuracy. A supervisor can hold the device, face it at the designated employee, and clock them in as simply and easily as they did before.
3. COVID-19 Form Collection and Sharing Improvements for Construction Safety Managers – Paperwork is always the worst part of the day, so we made WorkMax to take the paper and the work out of the equation. With standard paperwork, it must first get to the employee who will fill it out, and then (hopefully) turned back into the proper individual. That’s not only a headache of a process, but presents a lot of opportunities, again, for spreading infection.
WorkMax makes it all streamlined and simple, allowing you to prompt employees with questions when they clock in, allowing you to screen for symptoms. These answers are then sent directly and immediately to the safety manager, who can then make the decision whether to keep the employee on-site, or send for medical treatment. This allows your business to remain in working while also ensuring maximum safety and efficiency.
4. Deployment of COVID-19 Construction SafetyTraining Videos- Many businesses have had to change their workflows during this time, and it’s likely that your company has had to do so as well. Sometimes, an email will suffice for new procedures, but that is not always the case. However, we can’t gather all the employees together for a COVID-19 Construction Safety training session, so how do we inform employees of these changes? WorkMax allows you to link a video onto a form, meaning that you can not only deploy training quickly but also get answers or feedback. You can also require that employees provide their signature (on their own devices, of course) verifying that they have seen the video and will follow the new procedures.
The future may be uncertain right now, but we are here to help you secure the safety of your job sites and keep your projects on schedule and on budget with healthy workers. WorkMax’s resource management platform dramatically improves safety on your projects with construction-centric workflows to prompt your employees to answer health screenings on clock out and to know who is on your job site to reduce any contact transmission risks as quickly as possible. WorkMax’s resource management platform allows you to quickly see which employees worked on similar tasks on the same project to know who may have come into contact with a COVID-19 positive worker and take the proper safety precautions to ensure the safety of all of your employees.
Give us a call, or click here to schedule your demo today, and find out how WorkMax can help you navigate this ever-changing landscape.