The biggest pain point for field service businesses: Job costing & Payroll

Field service businesses have the most complex operations & payroll to manage. They usually have operations managers, billing managers and payroll managers who manage each aspect of their business. Many of the tasks they perform are complex and manual, making it time consuming and error prone and just difficult to manage. It only ends up hurting the business over the long run. 

This story about one of our customers could sound familiar to many of us. The company had a complex billing process that involved many manual steps due to custom job costing rules that were error prone and time consuming to calculate. They also found it challenging to track employee hours at various job sites well enough to generate accurate payroll reports. They felt that even if 60% of their payroll process could be automated, it would make a big difference. It was mission critical for their business to put in place a formalized and streamlined payroll process as well as a job cost tracking process for billing clients. The HR department needed to find some solution that would remove human-errors in payroll calculations while reducing their overall time from activity logs-to-payroll.

To address a situation like this complex, a systematic approach is needed that addresses all the complicated, intricate issues involved in this workflow. The first part of this workflow is for operations to be able to clearly monitor employees as they go about their work day. We need to separately capture the time tracking and the task tracking accurately. Time tracking will provide the hours worked as employees check in and out of job sites while task tracking will capture the exact time spent at various tasks including equipment used. And while time tracking data is sent to payroll, the task tracking data goes to the billing department to bill clients based on the jobs that were done specifically for them.

The name of the game is to automate time tracking and task tracking. Collecting time and task data is no trivial task. Businesses doing it manually simply cannot get accurate information and they usually come up with manual estimates. The right technology can make all the difference. Automating time tracking requires technologies like Geofencing to be able to know when a field employee arrives and leaves a job site making check in and check out automatic, requiring no manual input from the employee. Task tracking can be done with Geofencing and QR codes that can be scanned by the employee when using specific equipment or doing certain tasks. Automated capture of both time and tasks is critical to set us up for the next part of how we go about doing the billing and payroll.

Companies also use task tracking to understand how employees are performing the field, especially how much time they are spending on different types of jobs and how many jobs they are doing per day. These are critical KPIs that many operations teams track and measure against benchmarks. One of our customers who had over 750 property inspectors in the field was able to boost each employee’s productivity by 30 to 40 minutes per day, the equivalent of hiring over 60 new employees. 

Larger companies usually have different types of employees whose pay rates are very different. This information along with the time clocking hours are sent to payroll for processing. But how should this be done? If sent in an XL spreadsheet, then payroll has to import it into their payroll system before they can work on it. Again, this is where technology in the form of API Integration enables this data to be sent directly to a payroll system like ADP for example. The names of the employees, their pay rates, their hours, their mileage etc is captured and automatically uploaded into the payroll system making it easier for the payroll department to carry out their process quickly and efficiently.

Task tracking on the other hand has job codes with different rates associated with the jobs and tasks. Companies use rules to perform calculations and then send the data off to a billing system like Quickbooks. Again, through API integration, the data is directly synced into the billing system as opposed to a manual process that can be extremely complex. For example, a typical day for an employee may involve a QR scan at machine 1, job 1 followed by QR code at machine 2,  job 2 and then a break. After the break, the employee does a QR scan at job 2 followed by job 4. Then scans QR code for job 1 again. If all job 1 tasks are for client A, a smart system would be able to perform job costing by keeping track of all the costs involved with the appropriate rates for machines, equipment and so on. 

As we have walked through all the nuances of this workflow, we can see that a good job costing and payroll solution needs a lot of different pieces and technology to fall in place. What is reassuring is that the same set of technologies and tools –  Geofencing, QR codes,Mobile forms, with Employee & Customer profiles in sync with the company’s accounting platform can be used to generate payroll reports and job costing reports with custom pay rate logic. In addition, API integration enables time clock data to go to payroll systems (ADP, Paycom, Paycor etc) and job cost tracking data goes to accounting systems such as Quickbooks and ERP/analytics systems such as Dynamics, Google Sheet or MS 365 Excel to optimize operations. 

At allGeo, we work with field service businesses that face these issues on a daily basis. With a platform that can address both time & task tracking and integrates with payroll and billing systems, field service businesses can get to a better place where job cost tracking and payroll will no longer be their biggest concern.They can finally focus on growing their business.

Job Costing & Payroll Workflow:

allGeo's Job Costing and Payroll Workflow for field service businesses

About allGeo:

Abaqus, based in Silicon Valley, CA, is a leading provider of cloud-hosted, low-code / low-IT field service automation platform that helps midsize and Enterprise businesses achieve field service excellence. The allGeo platform helps businesses customize and automate their field service workflows to better manage and optimize their operations, field employees & assets.  With allGeo, Field service businesses can significantly reduce payroll and operations costs while improving productivity and accountability.  The allGeo platform hosts a suite of turnkey apps that can be rapidly deployed in a wide range of industries e.g. Scheduling, Time Clock, Tracking & Monitoring, Mileage, Dispatch, Electronic Visit Verification, Lone Worker Safety, and Field Inspection using QR / mobile forms. Visit www.allgeo.com for more information.