Tracking time and attendance through a staff timesheet app is particularly beneficial within the rail and construction industries. But which one is the ideal fit for your business? We assess the factors to take into consideration when choosing the best digital timesheet for you. 

The rail and construction industries are disparate by nature. Workers are out onsite, spread out across miles of land or track, with many having to travel out to individual jobs across a large area. This makes it difficult for a manager to keep track of whether or not everyone is where they need to be, at the time they need to be there. Paper-based timesheets can easily be fluffed, which directly affects project profitability. In order for a rail or construction business to truly function successfully, an easily accessible employee timesheet app is the only way forward. After all, time is money.

There are plenty of timesheet products and templates out there, with varying capabilities on free or paid for subscriptions. Within this article, we’ll take you through why you should be using a timesheet app and the different options to choose from.

Why use a timesheet app in rail and construction?

Timesheets are an unavoidable part of business admin. They are particularly important in industries where employees aren’t together in one shared space. The rail and construction industries traditionally fill out paper-based timesheets to log their hours, and this information is then forwarded on to HQ to be recorded in an Excel spreadsheet and approved. This process presents a whole host of issues including the opportunity for error, wasted time, and subsequent decreased profit margin. 

The amount of time spent on daily and weekly timesheet data input can be slashed dramatically by transitioning to an app-based solution. It’s estimated around 40 hours can be saved per month by digitising the timesheet process, freeing up staff to work on other tasks and improving productivity.

There is always the risk of lost accountability with paper based forms; workers can fill out the times they want, making it all too easy to turn up late, sign in for a friend, and round up the hours worked. This ultimately loses a business productivity and money, as projects take longer to complete. A timesheet app provides a clear and accurate audit trail, by logging the exact clocking-in times in one centralised digital space. This is communicated instantly to any back-office admin staff and managers, ensuring everyone is where they need to be.

How does the data captured in your timesheet app benefit your rail or construction business?

Digital timesheet data can prove to be an invaluable asset to a rail or construction business, providing benefits to both the employer and the employee. 

Health and safety improvements

Implementing a timesheet app helps to reinforce good working practices for employees by confirming they are where they are supposed to be and not involved in something unsafe. Within industries as highly regulated as rail and construction, this capability is crucial. 

Employee wellbeing

The rail and construction sectors are high risk for workplace fatigue, due to the intensive nature of the work. Industry control boards, the RSSB within rail and the HSE within construction, consistently monitor this. If staff are found to be overworked, businesses face hefty fines. 

Fatigue can easily arise as a result of excessive working time or poorly designed shift patterns, and can lead to accidents, injury, poor mental and physical health, and loss of productivity. The ability to track hours worked and shift patterns in real-time enables effective fatigue management, ensuring your workforce is fit for the job.


Download our special report here to discover how mobile apps can support the safety of your workforce in the rail industry


Payroll 

Timesheet apps provide many administrative benefits, one of them being streamlining of payroll and invoicing. By providing staff with the ability to run real-time timesheets, worker time entries and leave can be sent to payroll staff instantly, enabling a company to run smoothly, efficiently and economically. 

Employee performance tracking

In industries as labour-intensive as rail and construction, it’s imperative that every member of the team puts in their fair share of work. Digital timesheets allow a manager to see exactly how much an employee is working, when they’re working, and which projects they’re assigned to. This data can then be converted into a performance report, making it easy to catch unwanted working behaviours and praise positive performance.

Tracking profitability and planning future projects  

Labour costs can make or break a business within the manual rail and construction industries. A digital timesheet app can keep track of the time spent on each job so it’s simple to monitor if the time spent has been profitable. It can also help you plan for future projects by removing any unrealistic timings.

What capabilities do you need from a timesheet app?

The daily and weekly timesheet apps currently on the market have a variety of capabilities to offer, from basic sign-in functions to high-quality reporting. When choosing how fully featured you want your timesheet app to be, it really comes down to the size and needs of your business. Here are a few of the most useful capabilities for physical industries like rail and construction:

Location tracking 

With so many workers spread out across a given area, it’s imperative that a rail or construction manager can easily track their whereabouts at any given time. GPS tracking from the location a worker clocks in from is therefore hugely beneficial, eradicating the need for HQ to ring up the PIC or site manager to check. 

Easy integration

There isn’t much point in introducing a mobile timesheet app to your team if it doesn’t integrate with your existing systems. The same is true if the app isn’t compatible across iPhone, Android and web devices. The ability to integrate with your current digital programmes streamlines business processes by making it possible to access information logged in the timesheet app across multiple platforms and devices. This saves even more admin time and ensures accuracy of data is maintained. 

Accessibility anywhere, any time

It’s common for some areas within a rail or construction project’s parameters to have limited connectivity to the internet. It’s therefore important to ensure the timesheet app chosen for your business has an offline mode, enabling data to still be recorded wherever a worker is. Projects and the shifts within them can change regularly dependent on progress, and so the line of contact between those on and offsite must be readily accessible to ensure no time is wasted on work for which the details may have been changed. 

Export data into a helpful format

A PDF or email format are the most widely used and user friendly to be distributed around rail or construction teams both in office and out on site. It would be helpful for the data collected within the timesheet app of your choice to have the ability to be exported into one of these formats, making it easily accessed and understood by all members of staff.

What are the best timesheet apps to choose from?

Now that you know which capabilities you want your digital timesheet to have, it’s time to weigh up the options. There are plenty out there to choose from, so we’ve selected the best of the bunch:

  1. Nutshell

Nutshell’s timesheet app offers all the functionality of a digital timesheet as well as many specialised benefits to the rail and construction sector. The offline mode overcomes any connectivity issues which regularly occur on project sites, ensuring no data is lost. The location component within the app can be switched on, providing instantaneous confirmation to managers of a workers whereabouts, which benefits not only employee performance tracking and profitability but also health and safety regulations. These vital features accompany powerful reporting and fatigue management calculations, which is imperative within these labour-intensive industries. 

  1. When I Work

When I Work is an employee time clock, which is compatible with iPads, computers, and mobile devices. This is ideal for synergy between workers and the administrative staff, who will likely be working on different devices from one another. This tool can also be used as a hiring tool, with the ability to post jobs and track applicants, which is a definite bonus. However this timesheet app doesn’t have an offline mode, which can be problematic within the rail and construction industries. It also doesn’t appear to have a location tracking function, which is a vital feature to have for disparate teams spread across project sites. 

  1. GoFormz

GoFormz have a wide variety of different digital form templates, one of which being a digital timesheet. This platform does what it says on the tin, simply transforming your paper forms into digital versions. This timesheet app is relatively basic, for those who want the core functions with no extra analysis and reporting. 

  1. Calamari

Calamari enables a worker to clock in via a variety of methods, including QR code, mobile app and via the web. It also allows for manual timesheet corrections which are then automatically sent to a manager to be approved, which is useful in the changeable rail and construction industries. 

Conclusion

The specialised nature of rail and construction working environments make choosing a timesheet app a difficult task. It comes down to the key capabilities and features your company needs to make the process as efficient and accurate as possible. When this is combined with data reporting, which benefits the employer and employee from both the labour and admin functions, it equals the perfect timesheet app for your rail or construction business. 

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