Category Archives: Advice

Track Time and Materials in Manufacturing

Fact: If you don’t know how long it takes to manufacture your own products, you’ll be eaten.

Somebody is coming along to eat you.

Whether it is China or an upstart in your own country makes no difference. Technology is coming that will make your manual processes obsolete. That is, if you don’t improve your own first. Take a look around. Is your shop floor still largely human-powered? If so, you’re burning needless hours and keeping costs higher than they should be.

Why not try barcodes and RFID?

Scanning barcodes and RFID tag make time tracking quick and easy. Plus, it gives you new information you can use to improve. Do you know how long your products take to produce? How many employee hours are involved? Which processes are slow? Which ones are killing productivity?

Why not?

For a few bucks you can measure those things with a barcode scanner. Now you know. And now you can change. It’s really not that hard.  🙂

Here’s a video for inspiration.

Once you’ve watched it, go out to amazon and buy a cheap scanner. Then download “Standard Time” and try it out. Within a day, you’ll start seeing time records you can use to improve.

But yeah… start with the video below.

How to Save 1% in Manufacturing

Some smart guy said, If you can measure it, you can improve it. So if that’s true, you should be able to measure the amount of time employees spend on the shop floor, and improve it, true?

scroll down for the video

In other words, just by knowing how long things take in your manufacturing process could lead to clues and ideas about how to shorten them. But how do you know how long things take? You could ask each employee to write them down. Then another employee could type in that information. Then another employee could compile the data into reports.

Or, you could use a barcode scanner.

You may be surprised to find small areas you could trim. And then you could measure your time again. And trim again. Until you trimmed one percent from your manufacturing time.

One percent? That’s peanuts! That won’t help us!

True. One percent is small. But do that ten times, and you have ten percent. Do I have your attention now?

That’s the whole point of this video. It asks you to shoot for one percent… and hopes you’ll end up at ten or twenty. It’s all about continuous improvement. Continuous measurement. Continuous time savings. Sure, that may mean new investments in manufacturing automation, but in the long run, time is money. You will save money if you save time. That is a virtual guarantee.

Grab a barcode scanner and give this a try.

Freelancer Discovers Time Tracking

Discovering something helpful is very satisfying. Your world opens up a little wider, and new possibilities suddenly appear. The feeling is exhilarating. The logjam is broken, and suddenly there are new answers you never considered before.

That is what’s happening in this cute fictional cartoon.

But why can’t it happen to you too? In fact, it can… and probably has happened on multiple occasions. Let this be one of them. Discover the Standard Time® time tracking app. You might be a freelance consultant with just a few clients now. But you could own a complete consultancy with engineers and technicians working for you. It all starts with a discovery that changes your way of thinking.

Consultants are using this time tracking solution every day. Large organizations of consultants and engineers enter their time daily. Organizations run on ST. Yours could too.

Start a New Business

The immigrants right off the boat are learning what to do in the new world — start a new business! And they’re learning which time tracker to use. Watch and find out.

Consulting is a lucrative and satisfying occupation. When you have the right software, it’s pretty easy to make money. Of course, you will need some talent and domain knowledge that clients want. But the software makes a big difference. Make sure you have the tools to collect billable and non-billable hours. That’s the basics. Just about every time tracking app in the world promises that. But they don’t all deliver in the ways you need it. Got a timesheet with totals and dashboards? How about task timers? Email notifications? Without these basics, you’ll be fighting to collect hours that mean anything to you or the client.

Now jump up beyond the basics. Take a look at project tracking, mileage and expense tracking, PTO accruals for the whole organization. Those are some heavy hitters you should consider.

Welcome to the new world!

Bad Construction Foreman

Don’t worry it’s all government funded! This foreman does all the fun stuff for his employees and they love him. (watch below)

Hey, sometimes you just have to ignore all the prudent project management advice and use your track hoe as a swing. Or have jousting matches with your boring machines. So what if a few shoring boxes collapse and cripple your crews! Or a crew member flies off the track hoe swing and crashes into a building. You gotta get loose!

Hope you know we’re kidding! Don’t try this at home. Warning, warning, Extreme danger!

Seriously, breaking a few rules can be a good thing. It mixes things up and loosens people up. But the basic project tracking and management rules still apply, even if you change things up a little. You’ve got tasks that need to be completed. Budgets you must stay within. And deliverables people are expecting. In fact, those three competing demands will occupy most of your project management decisions. Time, Cost, and Scope.

You decide: is this a bad foreman?

Quick Questions: Sync Apps with Cloud

You can use your smartphone for tracking time and expenses. The information goes directly to your boss. Well sort of.  🙂

It goes up to the cloud or desktop, depending on how you sync your time and expenses.

Is that better?

The good thing is that your Android or iOS time tracking app syncs with something. It gets data from the phone to your on-premise database.  Just give it a URL to sync with, and any records you enter will automatically be sent.

That means you can track time anywhere. Even in the office. Think about that… you can pull out your phone and track project time, even in a meeting, or in front of your computer. You don’t to touch a keyboard if you don’t want to.

Manufacturing Barcode Scanning

If you’re a manufacturer using Standard Time® for your time tracking needs, it is significant to your business. You can affix barcodes to the products that will be manufactured and be able to follow it in every aspect of production. Know how long the assembly took to produce and also know which employee was working on it.

Scroll down for video.

Scan a barcode on each item during manufacturing, and you will get the following information:

  1. Time spent for each part
  2. Time for each project
  3. Time for each task
  4. Time that each employee spent on manufacturing

With this information you can:

  1. Reduce the cost for each part
  2. Reduce project time
  3. report employee efficiency

Employee Skill Availability

Ever wonder if an employee is scheduled for tasks next month?  Or next week?

How would you know?  Ask them?

There’s another way.  Schedule some tasks, assign employees, and then open this resource availability window.  You’ll see a graph of all the hours an employee has available to them.  If there are gaps, schedule more tasks.  Maybe you should ask them first, but then do it, and you’ll have some nice documentation that shows who is scheduled and who is not.

And, there’s a flip-side to this.

Resource allocation is the flip-side to employee availability.  In other words, an employee is available when they are not allocated to tasks.

You might have a need to find resources by their skillsets.  Looking for an ‘Engineer 1’ or ‘Engineer 2’ qualification?  Use this tool to find them.  You can then assign them to your project… after asking them first.  (People aren’t machines.  And you probably shouldn’t call them ‘resources’ either.  They are human beings and like to be consulted before blindly signed up for anything.)

Watch the video to see if this might be useful to you and your project.

Simple Timesheet Notes

Standard Time® allows you to put notes in with your time. Keep track of projects and remind yourself along the way!

These timesheet notes can serve many purposes.  They can find their way onto client invoices.  They can act as project status in a report.  Or, they can simply remind you of what you did.  Consider this the biggest project communication tool you have.  It is your memory… it is your direct communication to clients and consumers of your project work… and it is historical documentation your organization can rely on.

All that from a simple edit field in a project timesheet?

Not really… there are other time log fields that serve the same purpose.  Don’t overlook the start and stop times.  Those simple fields mean a lot to consumers of your work.  The date alone is big.  The timestamp is better, but not always necessary or used.  And consider that the project, subproject, client, and category all help to categorize the work you do.  All that is collected without a lot of effort, but those who view your historical records find it invaluable.

 

Better Than a Spreadsheet

Don’t use a spreadsheet to track your projects. This video will show you a better way.

I guess every hardcore project manager knows that.  But it’s worth a reminder.  Watch the video.

Here’s the first point.  You can’t sync Android and iOS with a spreadsheet.  That means somebody is stuck entering time on a desktop.  What about your employees in the field?  How do they get their hours back to your project?  Why not just use an app that syncs?

Second: In a spreadsheet, your billing rates will get so out of whack you’ll want to off yourself.  There are tools for this sort of thing you know.  Just sayin’  🙂

Third, your spreadsheet is not likely to look for user mistakes.  So you’ll be correcting them every week.  Is that a good use of your time?  And what if you make a mistake.  10% of those mistakes never get found.  Multiply those hours times your billing rate.  That’s how much you lose in human error.  Uggh…

Fourth, sure, you can create some charts to show project status in a spreadsheet.  But are they all encompassing?  Or do you update them every time something changes.

Fifth: Can you log in with the web.  Sort of… I guess.  But now you have sharing issues.

And lastly, you really don’t get a lot of project management in spreadsheets.  Standard Time has PM aplenty.  Like that word, aplenty.  Me to.  😉  PM aplenty.