Feature of the week – Communicating with your team in the field

With your team all onboarded to Knowify , communication is so easy! We provide many ways for you to communicate with the rest of your team and for them to communicate with you. You can connect with your team through comments on jobs, uploading photos, scheduling, and push notifications.

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Feature of the Week: Custom Proposals

“You never get a second chance to make a great first impression.” We have heard this time and again but sometimes we forget just how much that first impression matters in our businesses. While you may be the best around, if you are not organized, using up to date technology and professional, it will show through your bid, and you will surely lose some potential clients. Your bid is your true first impression to your clients and how you present yourself matters. Appearing professional will help your customers trust you and show them that you take your work seriously. At Knowify, we offer a custom templating service complimentary with your subscription. The templates that we create are organized and easy to read, use the latest technology and will make you appear professional to your clients.

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Feature of the Week: Job Logs

You’re busy – really busy. Running your business, working on many jobs at once, and expected to remember every detail of every job. How do you manage to remember these details? With Knowify of course! We have a handy Job Log that will track every step of the way: what has happened with a job, when it happened and who made it happen.

Incase this is a new feature to you, let me introduce you: meet your Job Log. Your job log displays a chronological timeline of your job and merges user actions, comments, documents and emails to capture the whole job history, giving you the ability to see and analyze how the job has evolved.

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6 Construction technology trends to look out for

The construction industry has a reputation for resisting change. OK, we admit: maybe that reputation is deserved. BUT – that doesn’t mean that change isn’t happening! In fact, it’s a very exciting time to be in construction tech: new technologies, approaches, and processes are beginning to fundamentally change the way buildings get built and maintained. Here are a few things to keep an eye on:


1. 3D Printing – Construction Scale

3D printing has emerged as a powerful tool across a wide variety of industries and applications. You might have thought that buildings were on a totally different scale though, and immune to the disruptive potential of 3D printing. Think again! Although 3D printing an entire building from start to finish may seem like science fiction, the truth is that we’re much closer than you think – thanks to Cazza, a Silicon Valley startup. Cazza is developing a 3D printing technology specifically for construction. They’ve already demonstrated proof-of-concept with low-rise buildings, and they’re currently working on enhancements that would enable high-rise construction as well. Could 3D printing dramatically reshape construction into a far less labor-intensive field? Stay-tuned!


2. Sustainable Construction

In an effort to reduce the ecological footprint of buildings – from construction materials that end up in landfills to inefficient buildings that waste electricity and water – builders have begun turning to emerging “green” technologies. Some examples include: (a) natural paints and mycelium bricks (look it up… very cool!) that decompose and do not emit toxins; (b) smart (electrochromic) glass, which uses ions to reflect UV rays during peak hours over the summer and dramatically increase the energy efficiency of a building; (c) and active solar panels that absorb UV rays during the colder months and warm the building’s interior. As construction methods change and become more efficient, we will likely see more and more companies integrate sustainable materials into standard practice.


3. Drones

Unmanned Aerial Vehicles (UAVs), also known as drones, have traditionally been used to survey areas with limited accessibility. Drones not only eliminate the need to rent expensive lifts or other such equipment but also offer efficiency and accuracy gains over human teams. Drone surveys can be compiled into 3D models to compare progress vs. the architectural plans, helping to give superintendents, project managers, and owners a better grasp of job status. No less important, drones improve job site safety. Falls make up the largest percentage of construction-related fatalities in the United States; with drones, construction firms now have the ability to look at hard-to-reach areas without risking the well being of one of their employees.


4. Wearables

With smart watches and bluetooth earbuds becoming the norm, it’s clear that wearable technology is here to stay. The construction industry could be a huge beneficiary of the emerging “Internet of Things” (IoT) movement, given the value of real-time updates and seamless communication between the field and the office. Safety appears to be leading the way: already some companies have begun deploying smart vests, which not only have an emergency button and use GPS to locate workers but also have built-in heart monitors to help PMs and foreman track the stress levels of their team members. On the other end of the spectrum, exoskeletons being built by startups like Ekso Bionics offer construction workers the promise of superhuman strength.


5. AR & VR

In an ideal world, every member of your team, in the office and on the field, should know the project’s end goal and be able to visualize it. With augmented reality and virtual reality, this dream may yet come true. So what’s the difference between VR and AR? Virtual reality completely replaces what you can see with something else: if you put on VR goggles, your entire environment changes. Augmented reality, on the other hand, takes something virtual and transposes it to the real world. VR can be very useful in project planning from the start, while AR technology can project 3D images directly on the job site to measure building materials and ensure the design is built exactly as intended. With the potential to significantly reduce error and increase efficiency, AR and VR have a bright future ahead of them in construction.


6. Project Management Software

The first step in taking advantage of construction technology is switching to a cloud-based software so everyone is kept in the loop. The cloud isn’t new to construction tech trends, but now more than ever it is essential to any project management. The ability to share information and track profits in real time is a powerful tool that enables everyone stays updated immediately. No more worrying that your computer will crash and all your data will be lost. With cloud-based software, data is constantly backed up and always accessible no matter where you are or what happened to your computer.


Of course, with new technology, comes new rules and regulations. Before much of this can be implemented into your daily routine, there is still extensive testing to be done in order to ensure the safety of everyone on the job site. However, as we begin a long journey of technological change, it seems we’ve only scratched the surface of the future of construction.

How to make the most of your 14-day free trial with Knowify

Welcome to Knowify! We’re thrilled you’ve started your trial and we hope you can take some time to explore our features and get comfortable with the software. Here are some great ways to make the most out of your first two weeks.

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5 ways to get your team on board with new software

Experts say it takes about 2 months to form a new habit. When it comes to implementing new technology into the workplace, it may take even longer to get your teams used to a change in routine.

Although there are many benefits to construction software – real time project updates, easily accessible and readily available documents, and boosted efficiency to name a few – the construction world is sometimes stuck in a “this is how we’ve been doing it for years” mentality. With new technology comes constant change; with that being said, here are some ways to give your team the extra nudge toward enactment.

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Get Contracts and Change Orders E-Signed

By now you are probably familiar with our e-signature tools. They allow you to email your proposals and changes orders to your customers so that they can view and sign them. This is one of our most popular features and it really shows your customers a level of professionalism that can set you apart from your competitors. However, the e-signature tool is not just a cool marketing feature: getting these documents signed will protect your business and improve your relationships with your customers.

At Knowify, we believe that a clear and transparent signature process is essential for any contracting business. It helps that one of our founders is a former attorney that in his previous life had to deal with multiple disputes around contracts. With that experience in mind, we designed the contract management tools in Knowify that will help you build safer and more reliable business relationships with your customers.

These are some of the advantages of using electronic signatures:

  • Professionalism: You start the relationship with your customer on the right foot. If you level of organization around the bidding process is impeccable, they will feel more comfortable giving you the job.
  • Clarity: The customer can review the terms of the agreement and request changes if they need to. Immediately after the e-signature, you and your customer get a signed copy of the agreement. There are no misunderstandings about what was approved and that helps you get started with confidence.
  • Efficiency: No more paper copies being circulated around and no more delays because the paperwork is not signed. Nowadays, everyone has internet connection, either on their phones, at the office or at home. Besides, once the document is signed, you don’t have to worry about storing the paper copy in one of your folders. Knowify automatically stores it in the your Documents section and you can reference it whenever you need to. Many of our users have the really good practice of sending the signed contract along with the invoices when they bill the client. Customers appreciate that.
  • Time savings: By entering the terms of the agreement in Knowify, you are already streamlining the rest of work at the office. You can turn the contract into a plan to track your job or bill your customer knowing that the invoice will reflect the terms of the agreement. This is ideal if you have multiple people in the office involved in the bidding/billing process.
  • Legal coverage: Disputes around jobs are a serious issue. You want to avoid them by all means and having a signed document with the terms of the agreement can be a life saver. In both the US and Canada, e-signatures have the same validity as paper signatures. We would argue that they are even stronger: you have an email trail of the document being sent to the customer and signed back, and we store additional information on our end about this transaction in case you ever need it.

We’ve worked with thousands of contractors over the years and the best ones always have a high level of organization around their contracts. Do not wait until it’s too late to get organized. Start today.

The Knowify Team

Getting Employees Setup on Knowify’s Smartphone App

Knowify’s smartphone application for field technicians is a great way to automate your job costing in real time from the job site. Giving employees access to Knowify on their phones can save you time dispatching workers, entering their time sheets, and reviewing reimbursement and expense requests. To get your employees started using the app, navigate to the Users tab of your Admin Section:

  1. First, you’ll want to choose User with Mobile Access to Knowify Only from the Type of Access field:
  2. Next, fill out all of the employees data, including their email address: This is also where you can add their Role for budgeting and scheduling. You can also add a Direct Manager and Approval Authority where Approval Authority controls the amount of purchases they can submit without approval, and the Direct Manager is the person who will have to review when they go over.
  3. Last, you’ll want to fill out the users permissions: Tracks their time will be the minimum requirement for mobile time tracking access. Is a foreman or can approve time cards will give them the ability to use the smartphone to Check In/Out other users that are working with them.
  4. When you click the Add User button at the bottom, it will send the user an email to the address entered in step 2 that they can open on their smartphone:
  5. Pressing Click Here to Activate Your Account will bring them to a screen where they can set their password: After entering the new password twice, they will see a confirmation screen:
  6. Next, they will want to go to the App Store (iPhone) or the Google Play Store (Android) and download the Knowify Application (it is free to download):
  7. Once the app is downloaded, simply open up Knowify, enter the email and password, and click Log in And they will be able to see what they have to work on that day to start tracking their time!

Tracking Labor Cost

One of Knowify’s many powerful tools is the ability to track real-time labor cost on each of your jobs. Using a loaded labor burden rate, all employee hours entered against jobs can show you an accurate view on how much you’re spending on labor, beyond just their pay rate. Also, with the help of Knowify’s Smartphone Application, employees can log their hours from the field by checking in and checking out of the jobsite, to give the most accurate timesheets possible.

The first step to tracking labor costs in Knowify is setting up the employees that you’ll be tracking. This will all be managed in the User’s tab of your Admin Section:

You can add three different types of user in your system:

  1. Users with Access to Knowify
  2. Users with Mobile Access to Knowify Only (this includes subcontractors or 1099 vendors)
  3. Users with No Access to Knowify

It is important to differentiate between the different types of users in your accounts when delegating responsibilities and privileges within your account. This chart provides some examples of access given to the different types of user accounts in Knowify:

Users with AccessUsers with Mobile Access OnlyUsers with NO Access
Create purchase orders and manage committed costsLog TimeCan be used to enter time manually against a job with a predetermined rate
Manage Jobs*Check-In/Out Other Employees
Create new projectsView Job Details
Adjust and Setup SchedulingCommunicate Internally
Invoicing and recording paymentsUpload Purchases
Creating/Reconciling Bills
Manually enter & approve time
Build & Send proposals for digital e-signatures

*Must be given Foreman Access in the users section

Any of these types of users can be tracked in your projects as labor cost, but first, you’ll need to set a loaded labor burden for each of them. This can be done in the Rates tab of your admin section:

Setting this rate will control how labor is costed to your jobs as hours are added to the system. You can input the employee’s base rate, any benefits collected, labor taxes, insurance/workman’s comp percentage, an estimated union rate, and any other overhead costs you’d like to factor in. The final column, labeled “Hr Rate” will show the final value being costed to the job each hour. Yearly rates will be used to calculate an estimated hourly burden for the sake of job costs (total yearly cost divided by an estimated 2,000 business hours).

Once all of this setup is complete, you can start tracking the labor cost on jobs by entering employees’ hours. The majority of this will be handled in your Time Tracker module:

Within the time tracker module, you can enter time for your employees manually, get a breakdown of all entries submitted through the smartphone application, review the time entries that have been submitted, and produce a number of different time reports for your reference.

Enter Time

The first section of the Time Tracker is called “Enter Time”. This is where you can manually enter time on an employee-specific basis. In other words, you can choose one of your employees from the drop down menu, and we will list all of the projects/dispatch jobs that they are currently scheduled on. You can then fill in the amount of hours worked for that project under any given day of the week: Simply click on the box to enter time for the date that corresponds to any job listed under the employee’s name. If your employee is not scheduled on a job, you can click “Add New Activity” to manually assign an employee to any of your jobs.

Foreman View

The “Foreman View” is a way for us to also enter time manually, but instead of searching by employee, this is a way for us to search by job. Click on Foreman View, then search for your job (if necessary, you can select a different date). Once you have your job, you can select the corresponding job phase that you want to enter time towards. Once you select the job phase, you will see a list of all the employees from your users section, as well as an indication as to who is scheduled on the job for that day. In the foreman view, you will see who is scheduled to work, you can enter the amount of time each employee worked (whether they are scheduled or not), and also add in any relevant description/comments for each time entry.

Check In/Out View

The next section is the “Check In/Out View”, where you can see all the check in/out entries submitted through the mobile app, as well as add a manual check in/out. When you select the date range, we will display all check ins and outs for that period of time as well as some additional information for you: You can see in the screenshot above, we display the day, employee name, job and job phase they checked in for, a timestamp of when they checked in and out, and the total time spent on the job between checking in and out. We also display, with respect to the job site address, whether the employee was on site or how far off site they were when they submitted this entry. To the far right, we will also show if the time was approved yet (foreshadowing…) as well as what type of phone/tablet was used.

You also can always add a manual check in as well by clicking “Add New Entry”, located next to the date range. Once you click here, you can choose your employee, the job you want the check them into, as well as the date and start time. You also have the option of setting the time out to complete the time entry, however if that is left blank, you can come back into this check in/out view later and check them out with one click. Also, if you manually check in an employee and don’t set the time out, they will be able to check in from their mobile application:

Review Time

The last section of the Time Tracker module is “Review Time”. Here you will be able to see all of the entries submitted over a given time frame and have the option to approve, reject, or adjust each entry.

In the review time section, you get the date of each entry, the employee name, job and phase worked on, and total elapsed time spent for each time entry. You can select time entries by checking the box to the left (select all is an option) and perform various actions by choosing to approve, reject, adjust (see below screenshot), or delete at the bottom of the page. *You will also notice one of my entries in the screenshot above shows “Syncing” to the far right of the page. This relates to our sync with Quickbooks Weekly Timesheet, where for any employee setup and linked in both Knowify and Quickbooks, we will sync over to Quickbooks the hours you approve in this section of Knowify. It is important to note, the cost you use in Knowify is purely for job costing purposes and DOES NOT sync to Quickbooks. We only sync the hours to your “Weekly Timesheets” section of Quickbooks.

When you choose to adjust any of the time entries selected, you have a few options on how to do move forward. First, you can select “Set Time” and just enter the adjusted time entry here (hh:mm format). However if you select the “Add/Subtract” option, you can either add or remove time from the existing entry. In the example below, I can subtract 30 minutes off of the existing entry to account for a lunch break by entering the information as follows:

Time Reports

Knowify can also generate a number of Time Reports with these entries in the “Reports” section of Knowify. You will get an exported PDF or XLSX document downloaded for whichever report you choose. Each report presents a different piece of information:

  1. Time Report (PDF)– Sorts by client/department and by employee:
  2. Time Rate Report (PDF)– Sorted by list of jobs: shows date, employee name, services provided (job phase, comments, check in/out), and the amount of time
  3. Time Card Report (XLSX) – Gives you a breakdown of all check in/out entries for a given time frame
  4. Timesheet Report (XLSX) – AKA Service Report: list each day as a separate column within the date range specified and marks the amount of hours each employee worked for each particular day
  5. Foreman Report (XLSX) – lists each employee, their total hours worked in the range, and total $ of reimbursements in the date range specified
  6. Payroll Report (XLSX) – Breakdown of total hours worked for a given time frame, overtime hours accrued, total gross amount owed, as well additional fields for you to manually put in additional information (for example: vacation time).

To learn more about labor costing and entering time in Knowify, you can check out the tutorial video on time tracking by clicking here.

Pulling credit card transactions into Knowify from QuickBooks Online

QuickBooks Online has an awesome feature that can automatically load your Credit Card transactions into your QBO account. Knowify has an awesome feature that can automatically load your QBO transactions into your jobs. Put the two of them together, and you get some great automated job costing!

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