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What Your Construction Firm Needs in an Employee Portal March 25, 2014

Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, payroll.
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Paystubs and Earnings on an Employee Portal
Employee Portals are a way for construction companies to provide a self-service to their employees, providing access to weekly pay stubs and W-2s. This is especially helpful around tax time and frees up many requests to your Human Resources Department. This eliminates the need to encrypt files that you email to your employees and addresses more than the weekly electronic paystub for employee’s using direct deposit. Let’s look at what your construction firm should look for in an employee portal.

Employee Portal Integration to Your Construction Accounting Software and Intranet
Forget imports and exports, jury-rigging two disparate systems. Your Employee Portal needs seamless integration that delivers an experience where you remain in control. If your employee changes their last name, address, and number of dependents in the employee portal, your HR department should receive a notification to validate and control when an update occurs to an employee record inside your construction accounting software. There should be no rekeying of any data, and the HR department should have options to update payroll records only, update HR records only or both automatically. This should include standard fields as well as all the custom user-defined fields you may want your employees to update.

There should be no need to configure users or SQL accounts if it’s all tied right into your existing Employee Master. If your construction firm has an existing Intranet, you’ll want a solution that also has a web service API.

Access the Employee Portal from Android, iPhone or iPad Portal Access on Smartphones, iPads and tablets
Web-based employee portals are great as your team can access their information from any computer. It’s just as important to offer access in the field for mobile devices. Make sure your employee portal has access on both smartphones and tablets. Your project superintendents and project managers will appreciate the effort and will find it invaluable when on the job site or commuting home from the project on the weekends.

Paperwork Should Flow
If your employee is changing their number of dependents, your portal should generate an email to that employee with the appropriate forms and instructions attached(W-4, etc). Automating forms distribution and notifications can then tie back to the Payroll or HR records. This also applies to Paid Time Off (PTO). Employees should have access to when they have used their PTO including vacation, sick and holiday time. There should also be an automated procedure for them to electronically request time off. Employee requests that require forms streamline the approval process for the field and office. Let your portal improve your employee relations and reduce the mundane tasks in your HR or payroll departments simultaneously.

Ok, by now you’re wondering where can you find such a solution. Since becoming a Viewpoint Business Development Partner I’ve kept abreast of each new software development partner and Keystyle Data Solutions caught my eye. Reach out directly to the Founder, Kevin Fisher (you can email him here) and tell him I sent you.

Construction Budgeting Resource for Arizona December 8, 2011

Posted by carolhagen in budgeting, Construction Industry - Cash Flow Forecasting.
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Construction company budgets are heavily weighted to the salary and compensation plans of their employees. Whether it’s the chief estimator, accountant or IT director, knowing what the going rates are in your area can help you budget and ultimately attract the best talent to your construction firm. Here in Arizona, the Valley of the Sun Chapter of the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA) is conducting an on-line Construction industry salary survey. You can get this resource for free just by participating.

Take the AZ Construction Salary Survey on-line: https://novisurvey.net/n/7g2.aspx

Many of the regional associations have been invited to participate including:

  • Arizona Builders Alliance
  • American Subcontractors Association
  • Arizona Roofing Contractors Association
  • Associated General Contractors of America
  • Construction Financial Management Association
  • Independent Electrical Contractors Association of Arizona
  • National Association of Women in Construction
  • National Electrical Contractors Association
  • National Utility Contractors Association of Arizona
  • Plumbing Heating Cooling Contractors Association of Arizona
  • The results will be broken down by company demographics: number of employees and type of contractor so you can make meaningful comparisons. There are questions on economic indicators, employee development, employee benefits and employee compensation.

    View the questions before taking the survey: 2011 AZ Construction Salary Survey

    All contractors (GCs, highway/heavy and trades) doing business in the state are welcome to participate. Every firm that completes the survey will receive a copy of the results for free in early 2012. Everyone else will have to pay $100. Deadline is December 15, 2011. Start the survey now on-line: https://novisurvey.net/n/7g2.aspx

    Copies can be purchased on-line. For more information visit http://chapters.cfma.org/ValleyOfTheSun/index.htm

    Please share this with others in the industry as the more contractors who participate, the more valuable this construction resource will be.

    Construction Payment Innovation August 12, 2010

    Posted by carolhagen in Accounts Payable, Construction Industry - Software, equipment expense, Equipment Tracking, payroll.
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    travel and expense receiptsConstruction payment disbursements for payroll, travel, fuel, and entertainment purchases are accounting tasks in every construction firm. A mountain of receipts with handwritten notes arrive in the office, perhaps with a spreadsheet the employee has prepared itemizing the details. There is an alternative that streamlines this process, has built-in exception reporting and makes reconciliations a breeze. The construction industry is always looking for ways to control expenses while improving efficiencies and I happened to meet Betsy Berlin, Regional Sales Manager from Comdata who believes they have an appealing family of solutions for contractors.

    Fueling up the vehicleComdata MasterCard Program for Construction combines fleet, purchasing, and travel and entertainment into a payment solution allowing you to take control of your corporate spending. Their Comdata Virtual Payment MasterCard electronically generates a unique account number for each vendor payable to provide settlement data and automates reconciliation with integration to popular financial systems including: ComputerEase, Dexter + Chaney, Timberline, JD Edwards and others. If you’re trying to figure out how much that will save you in administrative costs, it costs $1.51 to produce an AP Check. Finally the Comdata Paycard solution eliminates the distribution of weekly payroll checks and you can administer card funding just like direct deposit.

    There are a few things that impressed me about these solutions and the company.

  • You had choices of a plastic card, ghost card or virtual card (for one-time purchases that works like a manual check)
  • Financial controls can be implemented easily
  • Real-time History of Transactions
  • Detailed Exception Reporting
  • Reporting Customization as a free customer service
  • This last item is a big deal as I know many businesses that nickel & dime you to death with even minor changes to reports. It also reflects on their focus and dedication to their customer.

    How do I know that they’re the real deal? As of August 1st, Comdata is an official affinity partner with the Construction Financial Management Association (CFMA). For all current and future Comdata customers that belong to your local CFMA chapter, Comdata will contribute one basis point back to your chapter on all associated transactional spend with Comdata from those contractors. For those of you in Phoenix, Betsy plans to attend the CFMA luncheon on August 19th and is interested in meeting members that want to help their company and the CFMA Valley of the Sun Chapter as well. I’d be happy to introduce you.

    Anyone already using their services? Please share your experiences with my readers by adding a comment. Thanks.

    Lean Construction, Payroll and Equipment Tracking July 8, 2010

    Posted by carolhagen in Construction Industry - Software, Construction Industry Hardware, Equipment Tracking, Lean Construction, Payroll Time Collection.
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    Lean Construction has been a hot topic for the past few years and is still gaining momentum. Recently representatives of Mortenson spoke at a NAWIC Greater Phoenix Chapter meeting and discussed renewable energy (showcasing a wind farm project in Hawaii) and how lean construction practices have improved productivity and their bottom line. Since I just happened to attend the 2010 CFMA National Convention in Kona last week, I was able to see the wind mills in person. But I also had the opportunity to peruse the vendor exhibits at convention and found a tool that may solve multiple construction problems in one fell swoop…TeraHop.

    TeraHop screen view tracking people

    TeraHop in action - tracking people

    TeraHop Networks Inc provides On-Site asset monitoring without using satellite or cellular subscriptions. They call their solution the Construction Asset Monitoring System or CAMS for short. With Portable Data Collectors (PDCs) acting as local sensors and network routers, they track the movement of assets and create hopping paths to other PDCs and directly with TeraHop’s Wireless Data Uplink (WDU). The WDU holds the collected data until it is able to upload to a server via wireless or ethernet interface. WDUs also have a GPS receiver to permit localization of PDCs in the network. The WDU generated information from the site-wide data can be viewed from a computer or smartphone at the site or any other location with a wireless connection. So what can they track? Equipment, vehicles, inventory, tools and personnel…basically anything that moves on your jobsite!

    After talking with representatives it dawned on me that contractors using this technology are collecting information often gathered when beginning a lean evaluation. Tracking the steps of employees then asking why and what were you doing is one of the best ways to minimize waste and eliminate mistakes, the two mantras of LEAN. Since you can also redeploy you can revisit a jobsite after making lean improvements in task assignments that were to “save steps”, analyze the improvements and adjust again if necessary…a continuous improvement method in Lean. Now add this to the DataMaxx solution and you have streamlined, accurate time collection for payroll processing, inventory tracking and equipment run-time.

    Since CAMS can monitor equipment and vehicles, the ability to reduce excessive engine idle time (which impacts fuel costs and equipment wear) is a common by-product from the collected data analysis. Knowing actual equipment run-time will help manage preventative maintenance schedules, eliminate too frequent or late maintenance, and decrease the cost of ownership. You can use this on the jobsite or in your yard to make your fleet managers job easier.

    All these process improvements add up, make lean construction worthwhile and more profitable. If you’ve used the TeraHop system or something like it, I’d like you to share your experiences in the comments with my readers. If you think this is a good idea but have reservations, ask me questions. I’ll get TeraHop to respond quickly if I get stumped.

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