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Give your Foremen a Break—It’s Time to go Paperless on Job Sites

Zachary Scheel, Rhumbix CEOApril 16, 2020 • 3 min read

The foreman is arguably the most important role on any construction site. As the first layer of leadership/management up from the crew, they’re responsible for planning the work and working the plan, as well as reporting progress and any issues impacting their ability to get the job done. They run around job sites all day long coordinating with other foremen, superintendents, project managers, and engineers to ensure that their workers have the materials, tools, equipment, manpower, approved drawings and permits needed to stay ahead of schedule and under budget. Put simply; foremen have the greatest ability to impact project performance, which is why it’s absolutely ridiculous that they can spend as much as 15-20% of their week doing paperwork.

Earlier this week I was walking in downtown San Francisco, a place where just about every street corner has a major construction project. And by major, we are talking Salesforce Tower worthy—the tallest building east of the Mississippi for those of you who aren’t familiar with the project. As I am walking, I notice a literal paper trail in front of me. Generally, I blow right by these sort of things, but on this day I paused to examine the paper strewn about the sidewalk. Lo and behold they were time cards from a nearby construction site. And not just the originals, but the photocopies as well, strewn about for half a block with not a soul around trying to wrangle the escaped paper.

The loss of both the photocopies and originals of a week’s or maybe two week’s worth of timecards creates a ton of additional, unnecessary work around the timekeeping process. The subcontractor will spend countless hours trying to figure out who worked what, likely delaying the week’s payroll processing, and leading to at least a handful of craftworkers who get paid late or incorrectly and won’t be happy about it – not to mention the fines for missing payroll for a Union workforce. And the worst part about this whole situation is that the foreman will probably be blamed for losing the timesheets.

I haven’t met a single foreman in my life who’s told me they enjoy the administrative responsibilities of their job. They joined the trades because they like building things with their hands and working hard to put work in place on project sites. They’re proud of their craftsmanship and the safety and quality of their work. You know what they hate? Paperwork.

So, if foremen have the greatest ability to impact project outcomes and hate doing paperwork, then why do we saddle them with the administrative burden of 4-6 hours of paperwork each week and refuse to provide them with digital solutions to ease the administrative burden we place on them?

Let’s give our foremen a break and invest in technology that eliminates the most-frustrating aspect of their weekly routines. We’ve deployed Rhumbix to thousands of foremen, and every single one of them has said something along the lines of, “Thank you. This saves me hours each week and helps me be better at my job as a foreman.” The downstream effects of going paperless in the field include increased morale, instant visibility into project performance, improved production and work planning, and a more-efficient weekly payroll process – yes, that’s right, no more Friday afternoon fire drills to get timecards in on time!

The reasons and benefits of going paperless are numerous, yet somehow the industry still struggles with letting go of the way we’ve always done things. It’s time to give our foremen a break and invest in technology that helps make their lives easier!

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