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The 7 Biggest Problems with Paper T&M Tags

By: Cameron Page  |  February 9, 2021


Time & Material Tags (aka tickets, EWAs, FWOs, etc.) are synonymous with headaches in the commercial construction industry. Written by hand out in the field, they are painful to create and track and often more painful to receive. Here are the 7 biggest challenges tracking field-directed extra work using paper Time & Material Tags.

1. Handwritten tags are hard to read

This sounds obvious, but how many times have you stared at a T&M Tag, trying to decipher what it says? Contractors fill out hand-written paper Time & Material Tags to document labor, material and equipment, often in a hurry and in the field, making the Tags hard to read. This often results in processing delays when office staff have to go back and clarify the information. Even worse, Tags can be flat out rejected for being illegible.

2. No photo documentation

Photos are worth a thousand words and make it simple for customers to understand the work your T&M Tag represents. But how do you attach a photo to a piece of paper? First, you have to scan the handwritten tag, dig through your phone for photos, draft an email, attach the photos and explain what’s in each one.Who has time for that? If photo documentation isn’t included, your T&M Tag has a greater chance of being rejected.

3. Delays in processing time

The average time between receiving a signed T&M Tag and processing a Change Order is 24 days. Take a look at the typical process for using paper T&M Tags:
T&M Tag Process

No wonder it takes weeks! The bottom line: Paper Time & Material Tags ensure inefficiencies and delays in getting T&M Tags processed.

4. T&M Tags get lost

Do you know how many paper Tags are floating around on site, in your foreman’s truck, or elsewhere right now? Chances are, you don’t. Subcontractors estimate that anywhere from 2-5% of T&M tags go missing. Missing tags don’t get submitted, potentially adding up to thousands of dollars of lost revenue!

5. Lack of oversight prior to signatures

Have you or your foreman ever filled out a T&M Tag and not been able to get it signed? How do you keep tabs on which Tags are pending signatures or do you just give up or submit them without signatures?

With paper T&M Tags, it is hard to create a paper trail (pun intended) of when the Tag was created, when it was requested for signature and how many times you had to follow up, etc.

6. Subcontractors wind up financing projects

In the typical 24+ days between getting a T&M tag signed and a Change Order request issued, Subcontractors have spent real money on uncompensated work and are awaiting payment. This puts a financial strain on Subcontractors and presents huge risks if payments are denied or delayed.

7. No transparency between companies

In a perfect world, a General Contractor will log each paper T&M Tag and forecast the cost they just approved in their project’s financial reporting system. But given the realities of fast-paced, complicated construction projects, there is almost never time to do this efficiently. Instead, the GC project team is relying on the Subcontractor to professionally document their T&M work, quickly process an associated Change Order Request and present the costs to the General Contractor. If a General Contractor is tracking two weeks of overtime work, they are likely not going to know the true cost exposure until after the work is completed. This can lead to disputes, frustrations and unwanted financial surprises. Without the ability to see T&M costs accruing in real-time, the GC has no way to accurately inform clients where they stand financially.

The Solution

You know where we’re going with this. Using Extracker’s digital Time & Material Tags and a centralized Change Order Communication platform, you can eliminate these seven challenges of traditional paper processing.

Here’s how it works:

Extracker Process Graphic_GC Workflow

Extracker is the only Change Order Communication platform that puts Subcontractors, GCs and Owners all on the same page, sharing Change Order information in real time. Schedule a demo with our team to learn more!

Cameron Page
Cameron Page

Cameron is the CEO and founder of Extracker.

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