Project Tracking

4castplus e-LEM Solutions – Vendor Portal

Tracking Daily Costs from the Jobsite is challenging enough when you're tracking your own people. What about when you have to track your Vendor LEM costs as well? Getting all the daily cost data together from multiple sources can be a time-consuming and error-prone undertaking if you don't have a software solution to automate the process. 4castplus eLEM solutions for Vendor Tracking simplifies and streamlines the gathering and processing of daily jobsite costs. Check out the brief presentation below to get a glimpse of the new Vendor LEM Tracking and Portal. I think you're going to be amazed. 4castplus e-LEM vendor portal from 4castplus

How to Reduce Errors when Tracking LEM from the Jobsite

It’s typically not until the end of the day at the construction site that the field personnel sit down to collect and enter all the time & expenses for their crews, equipment and other charges for that day.  They’re tired, hungry, and this is likely their least favorite thing to do. They’re in a rush to get it done and they don’t often have the greatest computer skills – so it’s inevitable that mistakes are made. Things get coded to the wrong place, charges are missed, incorrect rates are used, etc.  And then all this error-filled information gets compiled and submitted and ultimately is routed to the back-office finance team for processing. And this is where the nightmare begins. If you put 5 site foremen in a room with 5 finance people, how much do you think they’ll have in common? Finance types are by nature very detailed, fastidious and are usually the ones responsible for making certain that everything is precisely correct before billing clients, paying vendors or routing charges through payroll. It’s not that a site foreman can’t be detailed by nature – it’s just that he or she has a very different spectrum of priorities; especially at the time of entering the LEM data.  What this translates to, is that it’s often the finance group who are left with the cleanup job of correcting and adjusting the chaos that’s recorded from the Jobsite. Shifting the Burden of Responsibility We refer to this as “shifting the burden of responsibility” to the last guy holding the bag.  It’s really a flawed approach from so many aspects – not least of which is that you end-up with a bloated finance group full of people whose

By |January 15th, 2016|Categories: Project Tracking|0 Comments

Managing the Complexities of Labor Rate Rules

  Simplifying Rates Management What happens when a Journeyman works a 16-hour shift? Well, first, he goes home tired and hungry and very keen on a cold beverage or two. But on top of that, he’s also got a smile in the back of his mind about the overtime and double-overtime he just earned. So, how much overtime was that exactly? Calculating how much of that 16 hours was regular, OT and Double-OT, can depend on a number of legal and contractual factors. The challenge many organizations face is: who is responsible for knowing the rules of how to allocate their hours to the correct buckets? It’s often the case that that allocation is done by the site foreman right at the jobsite when he’s recording his crew’s hours at the end of the day. But why not just let payroll or AP figure that out? Waiting for payroll or accounts payable to figure it out later is typically not an option since the Site Foreman needs to get their daily LEM sheet signed by the client on that day. Composite Rates Management This leads me to the discussion around what we call “Composite Rates”. In 4castplus, the Composite Rate Type feature enables administrators to preconfigure the quantity split for how labor timesheet entries should be allocated according to company and labor standards.  By pre-configuring these rules, the site personnel that are recording hours are alleviated from having to look-up or just know these rules for each member of the crew. All the site foreman has to enter is the total quantity of hours, and the system auto-distributes that time into the appropriate rate categories – such as Hourly, Overtime and

Field Capture Solutions from 4castplus

Jobsite LEM Tracking – What About Vendor Accruals?

All vendor expenses from the jobsite have to be on a purchase order right? Isn’t that how it’s supposed to work? Aren’t all projects so well planned and organized that there is a pre-issued PO for everything? Of course not. Even the most structured and planned projects have ad-hoc & unplanned purchases that happen at the jobsite almost daily. Other projects only issue purchase orders for a portion of the project; and the remaining vendor expenses just happen on the fly. Still other projects create no POs at all, and just give their field staff a stack of carbon paper Purchase Order Books they buy at Staples to record expenses as they occur. None of these scenarios are wrong of course – but as I’m sure you already know, the less pre-planned control you have over jobsite expenses, the more challenges you face with getting a good handle on project status and vendor accruals, amongst other things. In an ideal world, all vendor expenses should be controlled by issued purchase orders. These should be driven by the project budget – with committed costs recorded in the GL or procurement software, for every vendor cost: no exceptions. When expenses are recorded from a vendor, they should be recorded as an incurred cost against the original issued PO. This is the ultimate control because you know ahead of time all your budgeted and committed costs; and as your actuals are recorded, there is nothing that falls outside those committed amounts. There is full clarity around your accruals; and when the vendor invoices you, it’s an easy step to clear out that accrual. Even as change orders are approved, purchase orders are revised and committed amounts altered to

I Have Mastered the Art of Talking to Myself Without Moving My Lips

Hey, don’t laugh, it’s a key skill. The only creepy thing about it is I can look at someone right in the eye and be muttering to myself at the same time. And even though I have at least another 40 years before I’m at that station in life where muttering is just something you do,  I’m getting an early start because I’ve discovered that it has high value.  I’m not the first to discover this, as it turns out. Experiments have been done to prove that regularly talking to yourself is a positive thing: http://newsfeed.time.com/2012/04/25/talking-to-yourself-may-actually-be-a-good-idea/. All the scientific research aside, the value I get from my outward-inner-dialogue is the art of practicing my next line.  That’s because I so often find myself in boardroom meetings with very passionate people.  Which is probably not that uncommon.  What’s also not uncommon, is that the people in the room don’t all share the same views. They can be passionately expressing opposing views with each other while earnestly trying their best to do what’s best for their company.  I, on the other hand, am an outsider invited in – and I’m equally passionate about trying to mediate them towards achieving the ideal solution to some often delicate challenges. The muttering comes in handy because I can try-out ideas out loud, so to speak, before I actually say them. It’s funny how things can sound so different in your head, compared to how they sound when they’re actually spoken. Or mumbled. About a week ago I was a participant in a very heated debate on a company’s policy towards the layout of their standard work breakdown structure for their projects going forward. They were growing

Tips and Tricks on Unit Price Contracts

Unit Price or Re-measurement contracts are a common way for owners to define the structure of how a project is to be quoted by contractors. This is especially true when there is uncertainty on the part of the owner as to the total quantity of each item that will be required to complete the project. A big part of the owner’s motivation for structuring it this way, is that they’re looking for a means to compare rates from the different quotes tendered. Using this technique, they can have an undetermined project size yet still compare vendor bids. With unit-price or re-measurement projects, the owner will provide a Bill of quantities (BOQ) to which the contractor is to quote against on a price-per-unit basis.  A BOQ item is an item of work that is stated and measured based on some unit amount; where a “Unit” could be, for example, “feet of pipeline” or “cubic yards of dirt” moved.  An example of a BOQ item could be, “Install 8,750 feet of pipeline”. The entire project is made up of many of these BOQ items, each with its own units and quantities.  The owner is primarily interested in seeing the price-per-unit for each BOQ item, along with the total project tallied up for a complete quote. As mentioned above, the quantities of the work at tender stage are deemed to be approximate and the actual volumes will be measured and paid as the work proceeds. This way of quoting, measuring and operating a project, is considered to be fair to both owner and contractor, as both are absorbing an equal amount of risk. As long as the contractor is good at figuring out his

Got projects going over budget?

You're Not Alone. Project cost overruns are common. Statistics will tell you that over 85% of projects go over budget. But Why? What are the mechanics behind project cost overruns and project schedule delays? Plenty of talented and experienced professionals engage in dialog about this very topic every day, and try to arrive at conclusions about how to stop projects from going over budget. In this article I’d like to shed some light on the underlying workings as to the root causes of cost overruns and schedule delays. In order to tackle the problem of how to eliminate overruns, it’s important to understand the main reasons why they happen. Obviously, there’s no one-sentence answer to these questions since every project is unique and the influences that trigger overruns can vary tremendously. Luckily, however, there’s been quite a bit of research and experimentation around this exact problem - since it is a pervasive issue that so many businesses, large and small, struggle with. As a result, there have emerged some key factors we can point to that are the major contributors to projects going over budget and suffering schedule delays. A lot of project managers and business owners have their own theories; and after a good deal of listening and reading, many will have you believe that it all comes down to one thing: Project Changes. Technically speaking project changes are arguably the biggest contributor to projects going over budget and blowing schedule deadlines, but for the purposes of this discussion, let’s leave Change and Change Management out of it. I’m saying that because I don’t believe changes are truly the root cause of cost overruns. I believe that if you approach a project anticipating that

Project Change: Strategies for Making the Best of it

A must-read article on the effects of change in projects by Arthur O’Leary called Coping with Changes during Construction takes a very savvy look at both the reasons changes happen, along with strategies around managing the risk. While O'Leary's focus is on construction projects, this advice and rules are equally valid for projects in any industry that have complexities such as: many moving parts, suppliers, subcontractors, customers, complex WBS, multiple resource types, etc. O’Leary states: “It is seldom that any construction contract can be pursued from start to finish without some changes having to be made. This is in spite of the best of intentions of all parties. Despite stories about fat contractor profits in changes during construction, in reality they are an onerous economic burden on all concerned. Contractors often have difficulty in breaking even on changes.”   So why is it that change has such a big effect on projects?  O’Leary goes on to discuss exactly that point: “Projects plagued by numerous changes can become mired in confusion if they are not administered in an orderly manner. Serious problems arise when multitudes of changes are in various stages of progress. Some in the stages of deciding what to do, redesign or engineering, pricing, reconsidering, negotiation of price, contention about responsibility, approval in part, final approval, or cancelation. Some changes will have a profound effect on scheduling while others will have unexpected effects on interfacing trades. Some parts of the work may have to be deferred while awaiting final decisions and ultimate approvals of proposed changes. In some cases the proposed changes, after careful consideration, are canceled, and the deferred work then becomes critical to the time schedule." "Often, controversy develops among owner, architect,

Ask the ‘Where Am I At’ questions

Wanting to know where things are at during all stages of a project is a healthy thing to do. Whether you’re the owner, operator or customer, there’s no question that every day of your project, you’ll want to know if things are moving along as expected.   And you’ll want to know details; because whether you’re running a $10 million or a $100 million project, going 10% over budget is a lot of money. So you’d better be asking a lot of questions. Where are we at with our suppliers? Where are we at with the Cement Crews? Where am I at with those materials commitments? Where am I at with Task XYZ? Where am I at with cash, did we get paid from our last 2 invoices In this post, I’d like to touch on the top 4 things you’ll need to have in place in order to have easy access to answers on the “Where am I at” questions that flow through the veins of the project manager or financial professional.   The first thing you need is a Reliable Estimate The first part of answering ‘where are things at’ is knowing where you expected you should be at - which is all about Estimating & Planning. You need to have spent sufficient upfront effort in detailing the component parts of the project to determine cost and complexity. (I hopefully don’t need to convince anyone of the need to plan out projects – but you’d be surprised).  What’s key to point out though, is the importance of being able to determine costs down to the resource level. This is absolutely vital to estimating accuracy. If you’re only estimating at the task, or phase level, you’re really only guessing