Why Does Cloudtimecards Exist?

The journey started when we decided to start Edifica. I have written a post about the story of Edifica here, but I’ll do a short recap. I come from a background in construction. I worked for a drywall contractor for more than 10 years and one of the biggest challenges we had at that time was to be able to keep all information pertaining to contracted jobs in one place. I’m sure that to this day contractors still have this problem. In addition to that, when contractors are shopping for a software solution to solve this problem, they find software packages that claim to be suited for specialty contractors, but in reality they are not. Most of the project management software available is designed for general contractors and do not make a distinction between general contractors and subcontractors. Edifica’s goal is to provide a project management software solution genuinely designed for subcontractors in the construction industry and one of our main advantages is that we have experience in the construction field.

 

While Edifica was in the beta stages, feedback from companies who we presented the software to and although they liked the features Edifica provided. We kept finding a common denominator on most of the feedback. People really liked the time tracking capabilities offered by Edifica. Let me explain how the process works. Let’s assume that a construction company has foreman out at a job site overseeing 10 employees. Using Edifica that foreman can create timesheet entries for each of those employees daily which are sent to the cloud in real time and the main office can have access to this data immediately. At the end of the week or pay period, timecards are generated digitally and a text message is sent out automatically to each of the employees with a link which gives them private access to review and digitally sign their time card using their smartphone. No smartphone, no problem. The foreman can share their smartphone or tablet to let any employee review and sign his or her time card. All signatures are time-stamped, stored digitally and paired with their corresponding time tracking data. The company can also use this data to generate a flat file that can be forwarded to their payroll company to significantly reduce the time required to process payroll. Edifica also eliminates unnecessary trips to the office to drop timecards off and we stored time cards digitally for record keeping.

 

Soon after receiving all this feedback we realized that the time tracking features of Edifica could be useful to other industries other than the construction industry. We set out to extract the time tracking capabilities to create a new product and that’s how Cloudtimecards was born. We rushed to come up with a working product to get it into people’s hands and start gathering their thoughts about the product. Towards the end of 2016, we started working on a missing piece. Cloudtimecards needed a mobile application to allow individual employees to punch in and to share location data with their employers, so we created Android and iOS versions of the mobile application, which you can find here.

Why is technology important for a small business?

A decade or two ago business owners had the luxury to not hold technology as one a high priority issue within their business environment. A small business could get by and prosper without depending or using technology on the regular basis. Today, things have changed dramatically when it comes to the adoption of technology. Modern business cannot expect to be successful without the use of technology. Although, the majority of business embrace technology there are still a few business owners who are hesitant to adopt technology and embed it into their business infrastructure. If you are still hesitant to part with your Luddite tendencies, let me tell you something, technology is not going anywhere. On the contrary, technology will become more and more predominant as time goes by from here on out.

A business which does not take advantage of the cloud, software and fast computers is at a huge disadvantage because more than likely their competitors are constantly looking for new ways to streamline their day to day operations with the use of modern solutions both hardware and software based. From experience, I will share an example regarding text messaging. In the early 2000’s text messaging was relatively new and the business I was working for at that time was hesitant to its adoption. Some employees had a company paid phone and we were all for having the text messaging added to the phone plan. Naturally the challenge was to explain the advantages texting would bring versus the financial cost to management and have them approve the change. It is completely understandable from a business stand point to be reluctant to make the change. During the early 2000’s texting was looked as something only a teenager would do for fun or to socialize with friends, not to execute a job task. Slowly, but surely management came around and started to see the benefits of being able to send a text message with instructions in just a few seconds as opposed to making a phone call and having leaving a message if the person you were trying to reach was not available. Shortly after the company started using texting, I started to see a significant and positive impact on how operations were carried out. I was to send a coworker and update via text message and allow that person to save time or change how they carried out their duties more efficiently. Since then text messaging has evolved tremendously with smartphones becoming more mainstream. Now a media message can include a lot more than just text; a message can now include images, video or links to internet sites making the possibilities almost infinite.

Messaging is only one of the plethora of advances in technology that could have a positive impact on your business. The download speeds of modern internet connections allow for new cloud services to be developed and existing ones to be refined at a staggering rate. Computing has also advanced, that also offers possibilities to be exploited by your business.

Advances in technology should be a factor when planning and implementing your business strategy. The winning businesses will not stand out only for having a good product/service and good staff, but also by the efficiency they are able to integrate technology solutions to reduce friction on their day to day operations, which elevates the overall efficiency of the business. Technology is very important in the workplace and finding a way to bring old paper-dependent processes into the modern era will dictate which businesses will be successful. The implementation of technology in your business is not optional anymore.

Why You Should Seek the Service of a Construction Consultant

construction professionals

As we are probably aware that construction work is a very long as well as difficult with the challenges level and even risk of malfunction raising as the job becomes bigger. As the construction supervisor, it is actually your responsibility to supervise every part of the construction from planning to eventual earnings, as well as to make sure that the construction goes smoothly. Your work is an extremely significant one, perhaps even little mistakes can turn out to be something else.

A construction consultant can be important to your operations, offering important services which will make the project go easily as well as decrease expensive mistakes Among a few of the solutions that construction consultants are typically required to offer are:

• Project planning
• Outstanding management
• Construction health and safety

A commercial construction job of any size would require the planning stage. By having an excellent plan in place, you can expect to increase the possibility of getting the good results you want while lowering the danger of expensive errors or perhaps safety difficulties. It would be useful to seek the services of a construction consultant from the beginning of the planning process. The majority of such specialists are trained engineers, so they should be able to assist you to provide you with a construction strategy that meets your requirements and also fits into your financial budget. This is certainly a vital issue considering that most construction tasks have extremely strict budget constraints.

Apart from spending budget concerns, quality is yet another important aspect of construction. As the construction supervisor, you will need to make sure the integrity as well as durability of the building. It is also important that you identify areas of problem as early in the building project as possible, because they could be expensive and even dangerous when abandoned undetected. A construction consultant could possibly help all through each and every stage of the construction operation, pinpointing potential issue areas and also recommending possible methods.

Safety assurance is an additional area in which construction consultants tend to be very helpful. In any construction project, there will always be a high degree of danger and also complexity of the project. With the help of a construction consultant experience in the different aspects of risk management, the consultant will make sure that the safety of the construction workers and everybody involved in the project is carefully taken care of.

A construction consultant is a very specialized professional that is knowledgeable with different areas of the construction business. However, the costs of employing such an expert may seem unnecessary in the event that you already have quite a lot of projects under your hands, do not ignore the advantages that such expert can provide.

3 Essential Time Management Tips for Contractors

“The hurrier I go, the behinder I get.”

The White Rabbit

     Lewis Carroll’s “Alice in Wonderland”

There’s a reason it’s called the rat race; you feel like you are running on a wheel and getting nowhere. That’s not good for business. In today’s competitive environment, you must work smarter (even if you are sick of hearing that phrase) and the best place to start is to manage your time.

Time management isn’t difficult but it does need your attention to set up processes that move you toward your goal with less wasted time. To get you there, try these tips on for size.

One: Prioritization

When everything is flying at you demanding to have your attention, it can be difficult to separate the important stuff from the time wasters and things-to-do-later list. The answer is deliberate prioritization.

Identify what is important and make sure it comes first. Start with a detailed work plan so you more accurately estimate completion dates and other important milestones. Keep this plan handy, even if you have to make a poster out of it, to keep it top of mind.

Having a prioritized plan can help you slay the dragon of procrastination. You know you have to stick to your plan so you won’t be putting the hard part, or any part, until later. The plan shores up your self-discipline to “Git ‘er done!”

You must retain power over your own time. It’s OK to say, “No” or “Not now.”

In addition, delegate tasks you don’t have to personally handle. Your employees will enjoy the new challenges and change of pace.

Two: Paperwork

These days, paperwork covers both the physical (still don’t have that paperless office) and the digital. Actual paper documents should be organized in an easy-to-use folder system. Alternatively, you can scan any document into a computer and store the physical paper elsewhere. Just make sure your computer files are as organized as the ones in the file cabinet.

You still need to keep time-sensitive documents handy:

  • Year-end financial statements
  • Insurance policies
  • Bank statements

But that’s a lot less paper than before, right?

Speaking of paperwork, payroll preparation is another area where documentation can be simplified and cleaned up. Take advantage of the available software solutions to save buckets of time in tracking hours worked, your budget, and scheduling.

Payroll preparation software often works off the familiar time sheet system that streamlines the process by using digital tools to connect everything. These solutions include the use of the cloud, mobile phones and tablets, and the office computer system.

  • Connect the office to the field or jobsite
  • Track employee hours per job.
  • Enter timecard entries into a smartphone from the jobsite (your foreman will love this)
  • Track labor expenses in real time
  • Compile time cards at the end of the pay period

Speed up data entry using preformatted templates. You will have more visibility into scheduling trade tasks while easily keeping track of your budget.

Three: Phone

Take charge of your phone so it helps you rather than hinders you.

First of all, and counterintuitively, you do not have to take every call as it comes in. Just make sure you return the calls by the end of the day. Most people understand you are running a business and don’t really expect you to be available every minute.

Schedule time each day to deal with phone messages and call-backs. This cuts down on interruptions and keeps your day on track.

Take advantage of the smart in your phone as well.

  • Email or text replies instead of talking
  • Use a smart app that makes one phone have two lines to keep personal calls separate from business.
  • Make sure project management tools are mobile friendly to cut down on trips to the office.

Time is valuable; to you, to your client, and to your employees. If it wasn’t valuable you wouldn’t pay for it. By setting priorities and using a detailed plan, streamlining your paperwork and payroll, and maximizing technology tools such as your smartphone, you can cut wasted time and provide realistic deadlines that you can stick to.

Construction needs man power to keep up with jobs

In the construction Industry, specifically subcontractors, they have been dealing with one issue in regards of growth and expansion, man power. Many construction employers deal with this dilemma in acquiring skilled labor workers to execute jobs. This causes many contractors to deny some of the work because they don’t have an efficient amount of skilled workers to do the job. As you can see this brings a trickling effect not just to the construction sector, but to the sellers and buyers. This causes a delay in production to have homes built on schedule. The question to ask is where did all the skilled labor go?

construction_workers

Here are some suggestions to reconnect construction industries with labor workers.

Construction Community

There are grants that are given to school districts and cities to train the upcoming work force or adults looking for a career change.  Getting connected with these career programs can help contractors to develop a connection with upcoming talent and or adults looking for a career change. This means that construction companies would need to participate in these communities where young adults and recent high school graduates are seeking to learn or venture into the construction industry.

training_young_talent

The Internet

The internet has proved itself has a way to reach out to the masses of online users. With all this social media going on, there is definitely a market of skilled labor workers that a company can communicate if put in the time developing an online presence.

Major changes have happen in regards of online application that services businesses and consumers on their daily activities. There are applications out there that are solving solutions for the construction industry.  Laborfindr.com is solving the problem of labor shortage by having skilled labor workers sign up to the website for free and be notified when there is a new job posting. Construction companies can also sign up to the service for free, to post their jobs. Another application helping with the construction community is buildboom.com which is helping industry professionals connect and create communities around projects.

There are of course many other solutions in solving the labor shortage issue.  All it takes is effort to create a strategy that can be applied to your community and shared with other construction companies dealing with the same dilemma.

The Basics the Mechanics Lien process and implications

Mechanics Lien

The basics about Mechanics Liens

The first time I had any dealings with Mechanics Liens was almost 10 years ago. Here in California when the construction industry was booming (before the recession) subcontractors and suppliers did not worry about not getting paid for their services rendered or materials delivered to any of their job sites. Jobs were completed and payments was received, as simple as that. When the recession hit cases started to appear in which the suppliers did not get paid for materials provided and by 2009 – as I remember it – every job had to go through this mechanics lien process mostly for the sake of the supplier, although contractors also pursued the benefits of this process to ensure payment after work was completed.

What is a Mechanics Lien? 

As stated on the CSLB website:

“A mechanics lien is a “hold” against your property, filed by an unpaid contractor, subcontractor, laborer, or material supplier, and is recorded with the county recorder’s office. If unpaid, it allows a foreclosure action, forcing the sale of the property in lieu of compensation. 

A lien can result when the prime contractor (referred to as a “direct contractor” in mechanics lien revision statutes, effective July 1, 2012) has not paid subcontractors, laborers, or suppliers. Legally, the homeowner is ultimately responsible for payment — even if they already have paid the direct contractor.”

Ultimately the property owner is responsible for making sure everyone gets paid, otherwise your property might get a “hold” put against it. This can lead to foreclosure, double payment on improvements performed to the property, or a lien can be recorded on the property which would prevent the owner from borrowing money against the property, refinancing and selling the property.

How is it done? 

  • A preliminary notice has to be served (this is usually done by certified mail) by the suppliers and contractors working on the property to the property owner, lender and general contractor. From the contractor or supplier point of view this will be a notification letting the involved parties know you will be performing work on “their” property. This usually occurs with 20 days (before or after) of initial work or first materials delivered on site.
  • Direct contractors can file a lien before 90 days after the completion of the project or before the 60-day mark after the property owner files a notice of completion or cessation of the work (for cases in which the project will not be fully completed).
  • Subcontractors can file a lien before 90 days after the completion of the project or before the 30-day mark after the property owner files a notice of completion or cessation of the work (for cases in which the project will not be fully completed).
  • A lien must be served properly (guidelines can be found at the CSLB website) to the owner and foreclosure must be within the following 90 days for the mechanics lien to retain its valid claim.

Take away

Ignoring this information could proof to be very costly, especially for the property owner. All parties involved in a construction project should have some knowledge about the mechanics lien process to ensure or to maximize the chances of getting paid for work completed on all their projects. Here at Edifica, we think this a very important part of the construction industry and we are researching ways to expedite this process for our customers. We expect to have a solution (at least for California) in the next coming weeks. I obtained some of the information on this note here at the California State Licensing Board website and here.

Tackling the Skilled Labor Issue

It feels good to say that things are finally turning for the better in the construction industry. For years contractors were struggling to find work and they secured a contract it was normally out of town work, all this due to the recession.  The uncertainty plaguing construction workers was bearing down on them, not knowing whether they would be working the following week or in some cases the following day discouraged a lot of them to stick around and wait it out. Some of them relocated, others found work in another industry other than the construction field. Even if they earned less they preferred that smaller but, steady paycheck. Fast forward to 2015 and economy started to pick up along with the amount of work available to contractors in the construction industry. Although things were better in that, there was another issue arising. The labor pool had significantly shrunk. For years there was no apprenticeship system on the various construction trades and a lot of the journeymen were nowhere to be found. This presented great problem for small construction companies.

laborfindr logo

Today, this skilled labor issue still exists. For a few months now, the team here at Edifica has been working on a project to help with this transition. We are calling this solution laborfindr.com. It is a simple to register and use web application which will help connect employers with the sought out labor needed to complete projects on time. The way it works is simple. If you are a contractor looking for workers for a certain job, you sign up at no charge and post your job listing the type of skill you are requiring for that job. At this point laborfindr.com will search through its database to find matching job seekers and they will be provided with the contact information you opted to share with them to get in touch. Matching job seekers will then be notified of a new matching job. We could not have made that process any simpler, believe me we tried. Here at Edifica, we wanted to contribute to our community and we developed laborfindr.com as way to give back to our growing community and audience. As any other young endeavor there are features that need to be added to laborfindr.com and others which will need to be refined, but we truly do believe this will be a practical and useful tool for many out there. All feedback is welcome and in fact we encourage our users to let us know what they think of the product.