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?

Old-Timey: Time Tracking Apps

There are better ways to track project time than punch clocks, spreadsheets, and scraps of paper. (Scroll down to see how they do it in the modern world.)

The ladies in this video hope to get new timekeeping apps for their Android and iOS smartphones. But the boss is so stingy it may not happen for another hundred years. Problem is, he is wasting valuable human resources on standing in line and punching clocks. Couldn’t those human resources be used more efficiently for his core competencies?

Couldn’t they be contributing to the social media buzz around the company and it’s products? After all, these ladies have all proven to spin a good tale when in the company of prolific spinsters of their type.

Or couldn’t the ladies clean up the company website with those extra hours?  It is well known that the female constitution is best suited for cleaning and washing. Why not put the lady’s natural talents to good use?

In any case, the old methods of spreadsheets and hand-built timekeeping apps are out. Get a modern timesheet and the apps to support it.

Are we in deep doo-doo yet?  🙂

Whiteboard: Timesheet Approvals

There’s one really big advantage to timesheet approvals. In other words, having managers check employee timesheets for correctness. That advantage is the value you get from another set of eyes. Mistakes are easy to make; everyone does it. But having a backup eliminates most of them. That’s what timesheet approvals are all about.

Scroll down for video

Here is the process:

  1. Employee fills in timesheet
  2. Or, if the employee forgets to fill in the timesheet by Monday, an email reminder is sent
  3. Employee re-checks the numbers, and clicks “Submit for Approval”
  4. An email is sent to the manager
  5. Managers view a list of everyone who have submitted their timesheets
  6. Managers view each employee timesheet
  7. Numbers are re-checked
  8. Managers approve or reject timesheets
  9. Employees optionally fix rejected timesheets
  10. Managers lock timesheets so no more changes can be made
  11. Employee receive an error when attempting to change a locked timesheet

Old-Timey: Who Uses Time Tracking

Have a little fun with this old-timey video. Who tracks there time in the modern world?

Consultants track their time. Client billing and profitability depend on it. Here’s an easy app to track your billable hours, and bill clients for those hours.

Engineers track their time. Find out how many engineering hours are spent on each project and task. Compare actuals with estimates. Find out which projects you’re spending the most time on, and compare that with your priorities.

Manufacturing companies track time. Learn how much time is spent on each product, on each product line, and each item. Employee timesheets and manufacturing barcode systems answer the questions of how much time, who, and where the time is spent. Are you meeting planned objectives?

Whiteboard: Mileage Tracking

Consultants and road warriors now have a mileage tracking solution. Watch the video below and then check out ST. Track mileage and expenses for tax purposes.

There’s a really neat way to track odometer readings for multiple vehicles. Just tap on the vehicle field, and choose the one you’re driving. The last odometer reading you entered pops up as the starting number. You can change that, or keep as is. Then enter either the mileage or the ending odometer reading. In either case, the ending value will pop up the next time you choose that vehicle. That small feature makes mileage entry easy.

You’ll find that your time, expenses, and mileage all sync with the cloud or desktop. So everything you see on your desktop is also on your phone.

Animated: 5 Things to do When Your Project Sucks

My project sucks! It’s 19 trillion dollars over budget! Even the rats are jumping ship! I think we’re going down. Help!!!

We know the feeling. Once a project gets out of control, morale is gone and everyone believes the project is doomed so they won’t lift a finger to fix it. Fortunately, there are some simple steps to restore confidence. The video below has some ideas.

Confidence returns when people know the project is being managed properly. Of course, it’s easy to oversimplify and claim that these simple things can fix any issue. Things can get very complex, but consider the possibility that the complexities may have moved you away from the basics. In other words, you may no longer be practicing the basics that keep projects in line. Your complexities may have pushed those basics aside.

Try going back to the basics and see what happens. It might work. 🙂

Quick Questions: Billable and Non-Billable Time

When you’re a consultant, you log billable hours. No big secret there. But you probably also log non-billable hours for internal or administrative non-project work. After all, you want to keep track of all your time, not just the client billable hours.

Each time log in ST has a checkbox for “Billable.” That let’s you select between client work, and internal work. Actually… you might perform non-billable work for a client, so this checkbox doesn’t clearly designate non-client work.

To clearly differentiate between client and non-client work, you should create a “client” for your own company. Any time you log internal hours, consider using your own company for that time. Set up internal admin projects that are assign to your own company. Create non-billable tasks for those admin projects. When you log time to those tasks (under those admin projects) you’ll be logging time to your company. The “Billable” checkbox will be unchecked, plus the client will be your own company. That fully resolves the internal-verses-external client question.  It also means that client invoices will never contain your internal time and expenses.

Animated: Why Standard Time is Hot in Manufacturing

Guess what’s hot in manufacturing project tracking?

Barcode scanning. (scroll down for the video)

Turns out you can scan a few simple barcodes to track manufacturing time.  Scan your employee badge to let the system know who you are. Scan a task name to let it know which job or product you’re on. A timer records the exact starting time for the work. Scan the word “STOP” and the timer stops.

In those few scans, you have just collected the following information:

  1. How much time each employee takes to do their work
  2. How much time each product takes
  3. The total time for each product or package
  4. Average time for each kind of job

Manufacturing is all about efficiency and cost. A few barcodes may surprise you. You may be spending more time than you thought. Or certain jobs are costing you a lot more than you ever imagined. Or secondary jobs may be crowding out your core competencies. Without the exact time measurements, you may never know.

Whiteboard: Timesheet Pay Periods

Most project timesheets display just one week of days: M – F plus Sat and Sun. That’s cool, but there’s an option in ST to display a full pay period.

What’s ST? Watch this video and find out.  🙂

Pay periods are usually set up to match payroll.  Let’s say you get paid on the 15th of over month, and then the last day of the month. Those are pay periods. Between those dates, you need to know exactly which days to log hours, and the total hours for the pay period. Fortunately, you can configure your timesheet to do that.

You’ll see every day of the pay period, and be able to scroll through them. Pay period totals show how many hours are scheduled for the date range, and how many have been logged so far. That lets you compare your actual hours with expected hours, since expected hours may change for each pay period.

Whiteboard: Email Notifications

Oh, I forgot again! Putting your time into a timesheet is a pesky thing but if you want to get a paycheck it has to be done. It’s so nice to have a personal robot to remind you and Standard Time® offers one.