Construction time tracking apps: features every construction business needs

Running a construction business ain’t easy. It comes with its own ups and downs that other businesses just don’t face. So when you’re looking for things like a time tracker to manage your projects, you can’t use just any time tracker. You need a time clock with specific tools for construction time tracking. One that’s built for all of those little details no one else needs to worry about.

In this article you’re going to learn all about construction time tracking, starting with what a time tracking app is, why you need one, and what the benefits of a construction time tracking app are. Plus, we’ll take you through what features you want to be on the lookout for when making your choice.

Take off your hard hat and put your feet up while you read on.

What is a time tracking app?

A time tracking app is an online tool that keeps a record of the hours worked by your employees. It can also keep track of how many hours are spent on specific tasks or projects. If you need to keep track of a bunch of different details on a bunch of different projects, then you’re going to need a time tracking app.

Why you need a construction time tracking app

First of all, it’s the 21st century. But all joking aside, if you run a construction company, any old time tracking app isn’t going to cut it. You’ve got particular needs for the complexity of your business. Not everybody has crews running all over town, doing pick-ups and drop-offs of materials, inspecting sites, needing tools from different places, and then needing to clock in and out for the day. This is why you need a time tracking app that’s thought of every little detail of running a construction business.

Details like how much time someone spends on a certain project, how long a specific project takes so you can report back to the client, or just how many hours a crew worked on a particular day. 

Time tracking apps for construction businesses––unlike ones built for freelancers––are typically connected to a time clock app. This means you can use a time clock app to record clock ins and clock outs, break times, and track the hours your team worked on any given day.

Not all time trackers are created equal so let’s look at some of the benefits and features a time tracking app needs to be the best one for your construction business.

What are the benefits of a construction time tracking app?

Running a construction business means running many projects, often all at the same time. You’re going to need a way to track all of the moving parts, not only for your budget and your employee’s wages, but for the peace of mind of the client. 

Here are some benefits of a construction time tracking app for your construction business:

1. Justify current and forecast future labor costs

Did you know that, according to the Construction Labor Market Analyzer, labor costs account for 20% to 40% of a project’s budget?

Some of the costs that would be labeled as ‘labor’ are:

  • Paid time off
  • Payroll taxes
  • Insurance
  • Recruiting and training costs
  • And, well, labor hours

That’s a big percentage. Each client is going to have tons of moving pieces, all of which need to be carefully tracked. Whether you’re pitching a job, or your clients want records of how long each part of the project takes and the hours contributed to labor, you’re going to want a tool that makes tracking labor costs easy. 

Time tracking allows you to predict future estimates based on past data and allows you to justify labor costs throughout the project. With everyone and their sister walking around with smart devices, a time tracking app is going to be the easiest way for your employees to track specific hours to specific projects.

2. Know exactly which parts of your projects are taking up the most hours and adjust accordingly

With a good time tracking app, all of the information you need is going to be easily and quickly accessible. This is a big deal when you need to keep an eye on overhead and labor at all points in time. Instead of constantly checking in with team leads, or needing to input data at the end of every day––when you just want to go home––with a couple clicks of a mouse, you can get a bird’s eye view of where everything is.

Not only does this ease your mind, but it means you can adjust on the fly when you need to. Maybe that bathroom reno is taking longer than expected. Maybe that basement foundation has gone way over the predicted budget. If you can see these problems early in the game and nip them in the bud, you can keep your clients happy––and that’s the ultimate goal.

3. Stay on top of hours worked and breaks with time tracking

Staying on budget and forecasting for future clients aren’t the only reason to track time. You’re going to need a record of every single time an employee begins work and ends work. These records aren’t only for time sheet and payroll purposes but recordkeeping compliance for the Fair Labor Standards Act.

Your time tracking app can become a time clock for your business. You can record every time someone clocks in for the day, goes on break, clocks out for the day, or heads into overtime on a project. 

With a time clock and time tracking app, you can easily keep a record of all of it and turn that data into time sheets and then payroll.

4. Avoid overtime sneaking up on you

You’ve got to know when an employee switches into overtime––for many reasons. To stick to a budget is the most obvious reason, but federal laws around pay and employee burnout may not be as obvious. If a crew member goes into overtime, that means higher pay for those overtime hours and a need for concise records in case of a dispute around those hours. 

Managing burnout? Easy to forget when you’ve got so much on your mind. But you definitely don’t want to burn through your crew before the project even ends.

If you’re using a time tracking app, it’ll be easy to get an overall view of where your employees are at in terms of hours worked for the week and over the course of an entire project.

5. Help manage your payroll 

We don’t want to presume, but we’re going to guess that construction sites––and trucks––can get pretty messy. We can also bet that all of that mess and dirt and grime don’t mix well with paper timesheets and trackers. All it takes is one smudged fingerprint and your entire payroll is messed up for that period.

If you want the most accurate payroll possible, a time tracking app and time clock for construction are where it’s at. With every single detail tracked through the app, you can turn all of that data into paychecks pretty easily. There’s much less room for error when everything is digitized in an app.

Construction time tracking really is its own beast though. You need a time tracking app that’s going to make your life easier because it knows the ins and outs of your business. So, let’s take a look at what you should be looking for in a construction time tracking app.

What you should be looking for in a construction time tracking app

When you’re deciding on what time tracking app to use for your construction business, it’s got to make your life easier. This means making improvements to systems you already have set up. Here are the features you should look for in your construction time tracking app.

1. Tools that are all connected to your time tracking app

You want the systems managing your well-oiled machines to be a, well, well-oiled machine. So, when you’ve got several steps to get from point A to point B, you want those systems to be connected. You don’t want to be using a paper and pen for scheduling, a mechanical time clock for time tracking, and a software program for payroll. You’re bound to make mistakes. Unlike those machines, you’re only human.

Find yourself a time tracking app that connects to one system that does all of those things in one place. We guarantee that the margin of human error will shrink. A time tracking app for construction businesses should integrate scheduling for multiple locations, a time clock for clocking in and out, time sheets, and payroll all in one place. 

2. A bird’s eye view of your projects and timelines

You may already be using project management software if you’re handling many sites all at the same time, but a time tracking app can give you a different overall view of your project, what’s working, and what isn’t.

We mentioned it above, but if your employees use a time clock as part of their time tracking, you can keep an eye on everyone’s hours in real time. A construction time tracking app should be able to show you labor hours worked and scheduled all in one place. Then you can take this information and relay it to your clients and adjust as you need. Let’s be honest: messy paper timesheets aren’t going to give you that.

3. GPS and geofencing to keep your time tracking accurate and your budget on track

Having GPS and geofencing capabilities to track your employees’ time is a no-brainer for every construction company.

You’re busy. You can’t be everywhere at once. And even though you want to, that includes monitoring when your employees show up to work. Time theft can be a huge issue on construction sites when there’s no one there to watch arrival times. And if someone is charged with the morning coffee run and stuck in the drive-through line up, a friend might be willing to do them a favor and clock them in on time. 

This seems innocent enough, but if it happens every day, that labor budget line is going to be inflated. Easy fix? Institute a geofencing perimeter. A geofence is a virtual perimeter around a workplace. With geofencing, your employees can only start tracking their time when they’ve entered this perimeter––and only clock out once they’ve left. As an added bonus you can set up a reminder to clock in once they’ve entered the perimeter so they don’t forget while handing out everyone’s large double double.

A GPS enabled tracker can also take a screenshot and timestamp of where an employee is and when. This is a huge bonus when you’ve got crews traveling from site to site. With a GPS tracker, you can instantly know when someone is at a job site.

GPS tracking can also keep track of mileage on company vehicles between construction sites. Result? You can easily repay your team for mileage and keep accurate records for tax time.

4. Tools to keep in contact with your team

With so many ways to get ahold of people––calls, texts, messenger, What’sApp––communications can get lost or missed. Although it may not seem like keeping in contact with your team directly links to time tracking, it does. If someone needs to call in sick, what’s the policy on who to contact? If someone needs a fellow employee to pick up their shift, how do they post that shift? If someone is running late and another crew member is waiting for them to show up, how do they get in touch? A team communication app can help with all of that.

You can also set up your notifications to let you know when someone hasn’t clocked in for work or when someone is heading into overtime.

Having one clear space that’s only for work conversations means that nothing goes missing. Once you’ve got a record of all communication, you can easily refer back to it and make changes to the schedule or punch in times.

When you’re ready to make your choice for a time tracking app for your construction business, just make sure you’ve really thought through what exactly you need. 

Every business is different: even every construction business. What problems do you need your time tracking app to solve for you? 

Homebase has everything you need for construction time tracking

Now that you know what to look for, we want to show you why our Homebase time clock for time tracking is the best choice for your construction business.

Our time clock makes tracking time a breeze

  • Track your employee hours, breaks, and overtime
  • Receive notifications if an employee no-shows or clocks in/out late
  • Keep time theft to a minimum with geofencing perimeters, individual PINs, and GPS screenshots when a team member signs in

Integrate your time tracking with scheduling and payroll tools to save time and money

  • Use our scheduling tool to create and share schedules with your team
  • Schedule shifts over multiple locations
  • Send shift notifications to remind your team of their schedule
  • Turn those hours, breaks, and overtime into timesheets––no need for messy paper trails
  • Use our payroll tool to turn timesheets into paychecks

Make communication seamless with our team communication tool

  • You and your team can send private or group messages with our team communication tool 
  • New team members can be added as a contact immediately
  • Send important documents for signing and see when they’ve been read
  • Get daily updates on the project’s progress

Need help with time tracking for your construction business?

The Homebase time clock app can help you track your employees’ time whether they’re in office or on site. Built with your business in mind, Homebase can keep your labor costs at a minimum. Get started today!

Construction time tracking FAQS

What is time tracking?

Time tracking is used to track the number of hours your employees work, but it has a couple of different goals. The simplest goal is, as we mentioned, to track the number of hours that your employees work. Another goal is to track the number of hours spent on specific tasks. 

Tracking the total amount of hours your employees work is necessary for payroll. Tracking the number of hours spent on certain tasks or projects can give you insight into staffing for future projects, measure productivity, keep tasks on timelines and deadlines, adjust needs as you move forward with projects, and keep labor costs low. So, pretty important. 

There are lots of different ways to track time, but we believe––especially for construction businesses––that a time tracking app with a time clock is the best way to go.

What should I look for in a time tracking app for construction businesses?

The simple answer is, an app that tracks your employees’ time. But that’s too simple. Construction businesses need other tools like geofencing and GPS time clocks, scheduling for multiple locations and teams, and team communication messengers to keep their businesses running smoothly. When you’re shopping around for a time tracking app, you’re going to want to find a suite of tools that check all of those boxes too.

How does a time tracking app stop buddy punching and time theft? 

A time tracking app can stop buddy punching and time theft by putting up some extra hoops to jump through when an employee clocks in or out.

Typically the largest budget line in a construction project is labor. That budget line is only going to get bigger if time theft is a regular occurrence on your sites. 

The best time tracking apps will have geofencing and GPS to reduce time theft. Geofencing will make sure that none of your employees can clock in unless they’re within a certain perimeter. It will also make sure to automatically clock out your employees when they leave that perimeter.

GPS capabilities can help you see a screenshot of where your employees are when they log in. These types of time clocks can also assign PINs to each employee so they need to type it in if they want to clock into work. These time clock app features can prevent buddy punching.

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