Inducing Agile Workforce Management in
the Construction Industry
Through Online Time Attendance System
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Booming Big
The construction industry renders a significant role in the development of any nation's economic and social progress. Along the years, this industry has been enjoying an indisputable expansion globally, especially in the developing countries. In reference to the Global Construction 2020 (2011), despite the global economic vulnerabilities, the industry is forecasted to grow to $12trilllion by 2020, where it marks an escalation of almost 70 percent of the previous years (Beven, 2010). Commercial buildings, institutional buildings, single and multifamily housing developments are among the most common forms of project endeavors ventured in this industry. On the grand scales are the public works, which often features a federal and private collaboration with an extensive investment mode, like highway and bridge constructions. From the extravaganza architecture to the most fashionable outlooks, these projects are maturing and stabilizing in terms of the return on investment (ROI).
Flag at the Peak of Efficiency
Acknowledging the accelerated growth of this industry, many existing investors are actively looking forward to expand their territory within the industry. As the business aggrandizes, workforce management becomes the foothold of the company's growth. In the US alone the breakdown of the most recent construction recruits is pushing the up button by 18,000 as per the most recent statistic (January 2016). Meanwhile, jobs in construction of buildings advanced by 13,000, and residential building is predicted to share 8,000 of the gain. Residential specialty trade contractors added 13,000 jobs in January. (Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics survey, 2016). (Refer to the graph below)
Realizing the rapid expansion, business owners are constantly looking for ways to further impose improvements on their workforce management to curtail disintegration. Studies drilling down on construction competence, in variation to productivity has reported 20 to 50 percent wastages derives from poor coordination and labour management. (Tulacz and Armistead, 2007). As such, a loss of $15.6billion per year was recorded due to the lack of interoperability (Tulacz and Armistead, 2007).

Managing the construction labor pool can be rather challenging in terms of its rigid deadlines, flexible requirements of manpower mobility, foreign labor admissions and language barriers. Another considerably extensive part of this industry is the frequent third party involvements such as the local or federal state miscellaneous, comprising licensing affairs and at times the punctuation of public infrastructures, like a temporary re-routing of roads to make way for the construction jobs. As such, a comprehensive workforce management system is vital to always flag at the peak of efficiency and to conclude the end product as desired.

Expel the Hassle
According to K.K.Chitraka in the book "Construction Project Management", manpower is one of the main factors in the successful execution of projects and there are many factors also that could affect the productivity of manpower such as weather condition, nature of work and leadership as well as labour turnover, sickness, and absenteeism. It's imperative for project management to consider working hours, overtime and other incentives when deciding on the manpower schedules. Definitely, a schedule is not the total solution to fix the variables that can affect manpower's productivity but by having an efficient schedule, these can be reduced significantly.

Some of the frequent complications faced by construction developers who are not equipped with a good Time Management System are inaccurate records, data tampering, unnecessary stress due to arguments between the workers and the management as a result of ambiguous data accumulations which sequence in overpaying or underpaying the construction employees. For instance, a sense of dissatisfaction may arise if the construction workers feel that the employers are counting short on their clock-in, clock-out time, when perhaps the situation might be a sole misunderstanding due to the poor attendance recording system and most importantly, the schedule of construction might be jeopardized when the manpower element is not properly managed by efficient system.

As for construction companies, which remained intact with the good old day's manual attendance system, payroll management can be time-consuming, expensive and tedious. Despite the efforts of many re-checks, adopting a manual system is very much prone to human error.

Understanding the importance of systematic and automated time attendance and scheduling system, the market has been constantly developing new solutions to facilitate the enormous growth in the construction industry. To keep up with the demand of the industry, construction companies need to opt and filter out the most compatible time and attendance system to manage their vast amount of manpower smoothly. It's important to evaluate and understand the areas of improvements and the end result you are looking for before recruiting a solution.

What's Trending?
Current Scoop - Cloud-Based Time and Attendance System
The world is moving like a speedball and evolving along, are the nature of the businesses and technologies. Every day there's something new, something to improve on. As such, the Cloud-Based Attendance System is happily trending on the current mode, a solution that discards the need of a physical server and a set of in-house skilled manpower to operate and maintain the back-ends.

These systems are widely available in the market and are pretty much comprehensive whereby most package comes with the following features;

i. Clock In & Clock Out Data Gathering Via;
- Biometric Terminals
- Web Check-In
- Mobile Check-In
- NFC Tag Check-In
ii. Set Rules Accordingly to Comply with Your Company's Protocol
iii. Pay Roll Management
iv. Staff Scheduling
v. Reports and Analysis
vi. Cloud Based Data Storage
TimeTec TA
A Case Study of an Efficient Workforce Management Solution available in the Market

One such paradigm of a good time and attendance system to complement the construction industry is TimeTec TA by TimeTec Computing Sdn Bhd. TimeTec TA is an all-rounded time and attendance system that acts as a preventive step for tardiness, absenteeism, and other counterproductive work behaviour through its automated system, making it easy for companies to track time and evaluate the performance of each individual employee. The attributes of this solution will assist construction businesses to operate at its abounding potential as it centralizes all clocking data and gratifies as a mutual convenience for both the employer to monitor attendance and the employees to record their attendance respectively.

Time Tec TA also provides data access to connected PCs anytime and performs comprehensive functions in a friendly user interface. On the plus note, the system will also ensure Application of Work and Pay Rules are intact with the company's protocols. Below are some of the insights depicted from the TimeTec TA;

Flexi Scheduling
Most construction project sites usually deploy around the clock. This is due to the compact time frame and budget constraints that the developers face, as the longer the construction work precedes, the more cash outflows on the miscellaneous expenses and utility fees. As such workers often times are required to work more than 24 hours with a flexible schedule, as they are paid on an hourly or per-day-count. For instance, the workers are allowed to clock in any time of the day but has to meet the mandatory working hours set by the company before clocking out. If it is 12 hours then the respective employee has to comply by and clock-out upon completing the 12hours of pre-set shift in order to receive the salary as per the employment contract. Referring to the screenshot above, with TimeTec TA, the construction management will be able to record the attendance of their employees on a flexi mode. Users may select the schedule type as flexi and proceed with the attendance recording.
Regulating the Working Hours
In this kind of flexi scheduling pattern, employers often time fall short as a time theft victims. To regulate and control wastage of resources, employers may set a series of rules such as maximum and separation work hours to be considered as the same work day, double punching and etc as depicted in the screen capture above.
Monitoring Employee's Attendance Orderliness
Monitoring employee's attendance orderliness made easy via TimeTec TA's Attendance Sheet that displays all of the attendance data as well as the detailed information of each employee. Data in this sheet may be filtered by day, date, branches, attendance record, department, suspended and section.

The administrator can also edit the data on the attendance sheet if there's any miss punch or discrepancy on the data. For the HR personnel, this feature will be a great convenience to view and generate a series of reports such as reports on the employee leaves, extended breaks, absents, original clock in clock out data. Monthly report generation will no longer be a tedious process with such a paradigm adopted. On another plus note, the construction management may also enjoy a cost save on multiple skilled admin labours and ensure that the employees are genuine concerning their attendance discipline.

Managing Users Swiftly
Users play a dominant part in all software. There will be no use for attendance software if there are no users in it. Therefore, the User Tab plays a significant role in TimeTec TA. Developers can manage their company's individual employee profile in this tab, add relevant information to the staff to complete the employment details, import user, delete a user, change user issuance date as well as send the password link to the employee if he/she forgets their login password.

Via this medium, the HR department may also use the accumulated data for future review purposes, for instance during an appraisal, salary revision and etc.

Avoid Feuds in Volatile and Mobile Job Scope Management
Often times a particular developer will have more that one construction site with different job scopes from the crane operators, pipefitters, glaziers, to the carpenters and pile drivers. With TimeTec TA's System, employers may be versatile in allocating a series or different job scopes to different individuals and even to assign or transfer the employees to multiple sites. The system supported by GPRS trails and biometric terminals will auto synchronize working hours regardless the location and the respective job type to produce a cost analysis.
A multi-million dollar construction company in Malaysia has subscribed to TimeTecTA with the objective to manage its workers at multiple sites.
The company's major requirements were that the system should address and curb the rampant buddy-punching occurrences and at the same time should be able to monitor attendance clocking activities remotely and in real time. The combination of FingerTec biometric GPRS terminals and TimeTec TA's online time attendance system perfectly met their requirements. They sign for a 2-yr contract for 240 users and the user base is expected to increase to two thousand users in a year.

Mini Wrap Up - Dispense all tedious calculations, report accumulations, as TimeTec TA is outfitted with a cloud-based interface for branch management, HR, admin and other staff to access the system without much bickering.

References
Bureau of Labor Statistics, Current Employment Statistics survey, 2016
NAS, N. (2009). Advancing the Competitiveness and Efficiency of the US Construction Industry. National Academy of Sciences, Washington, DC.
Chitkara, K. K. (1998). Construction project management. Tata McGraw-Hill Education.
Beven, R (2010) London: Global Construction 2020 and Global Opportunities. [online] available at: http://www.tecniberia.es/documentos/GlobalConstruction2020andGlobalOpportunities.pdf [accessed: 22nd September 2016]