Tracking and accounting for employee time has come a long way from its simple beginnings.
WHICH CAME FIRST?
In this country, the credit for the first employee timekeeping device goes to Willard Le Grand Bundy who took out a patent in 1890 although his may not actually have been the first time clock. He and his brother, Harlow Bundy, started a company under the name of Bundy Manufacturing Company which eventually became known as IBM.
Believe it or not, paper timesheets actually came along much later than the time clock. William G Ross, in his book, The Honest Hour: The Ethics of Time-based Billing by Attorneys, traces the first use of timesheets to a New York law firm in 1945. What is interesting is that the timesheet was created as a cost tracking tool and not for billing purposes. In that particular era, attorneys used fixed-fee schedules instead of hourly billing. By the 1950s, lawyers began switching to hourly billing, and various studies indicated that firms that tracked their time, produced greater net incomes that those that did not.
Today, time clocks still have their place. Many are equipped with biometric scanners to eliminate buddy punching and are particularly effective on big jobs with hundreds or even thousands of employees.
Paper timesheets however, are quickly being left behind. Many have been replaced by spreadsheet-based systems which, while more efficient and accurate than paper-based systems, still lack many of the features offered by today’s automated mobile time tracking systems.
To understand the transformation of mobile technology, we have to examine the evolution of the mobile phone. Motorola introduced the first hand-held mobile phone in 1973. It was quite bulky, provided only 30 minutes of talk time, and required 10 hours to re-charge. It took almost twenty years for the first smartphone to make its appearance, but it was not until the introduction of 3G technology, with its high-speed connectivity, in the mid 2000’s that the smartphone really started to become a tool rather than merely a device to communicate with.
Today, more and more companies are taking advantage of high-speed networks to utilize mobile technology. 4G networks can now easily process large amounts of data. The difference between processing times on the desktop and the mobile device continues to narrow. Much of what was once strictly the domain of the office desktop computer is now being done on smartphones, tablets, and other mobile devices. With all of these changes, mobile computing for the enterprise is now becoming widespread.
The latest change involving mobile technology could be the biggest. Mobile cloud computing is quickly changing the landscape in which mobile applications operate. You probably have heard the term “cloud computing” before, but you may be wondering what it really means. The short answer is it’s an operation where the processing and storage of information is done outside of the mobile device. Mobile cloud services are accessed either through a dedicated mobile app or a browser like Internet Explorer, Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, etc.
WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS OF CLOUD COMPUTING FOR REMODELERS?
There are many potential benefits to using a cloud-based system:
- New levels of sharing and collaboration. Office workers can still do their jobs while working remotely. Field workers can send and receive vital information like labor hours worked, units completed, pictures, inspections, etc. Collaboration can be done by all regardless of location.
- Reduced cost for hardware and IT support. Some work can now be done on tablets instead of more expensive laptops. Since the company is no longer managing the software, not as many support personnel are needed.
- Capital expenditures for hardware and software are virtually eliminated.
- Automatic software updates.
- Security. No need to secure data on lost laptops.
- Environmentally friendly. Businesses using cloud computing use less energy than those with on-site servers.
You should also consider the potential drawbacks as well:
- Security. Today, more than ever, security breaches are a real possibility.
- Lack of Internet service. Internet connections are more reliable but still subject to occasional outages.
- Lack of support. Many cloud-based apps make it difficult to get prompt customer service.
- Long term cost. Although you may save cash by not having a to shell out a lot of it in the near term, over the course of several years, you will ultimately pay more with a cloud based system.
Is cloud computing for you?
You can only answer this question by thoroughly analyzing your situation.
- What is your financial situation? Does your current cash situation allow you to make a large investment in software or hardware? Or do you prefer to have a regular monthly expense that you can easily budget for and keep your cash for other capital expenditures.
- What is the level of in-house technical expertise? If you do not have a qualified person to administer your network, you probably want to let a third-party do that for you.
- Are you open to innovation? The cloud may afford you new opportunities to upgrade your current processes or even develop innovative new business models.
In today’s world the remodeler faces many choices for mobile time and attendance, ranging anywhere from paper timesheets to cloud computing services. In order to pick the one that is the best fit for you, do research on what options are available to you including what they do, how much they cost, how is their customer service, and do they integrate with your accounting software. While many of you do the same type of work, your processes may be different. When looking at your options, always keep in mind what those processes and how they fit the system you are evaluating.
What about you?
Are you in the cloud or thinking about being there? Please let us know in the comment section below.