By REMODELING Magazine Staff. A job cost system depends on accurate time-sheet information from the field. Here are some tips to make your time sheet work for you:

Print cost categories on the sheet. Otherwise, each employee will describe what they were doing differently and the data will be difficult to input and analyze.

Limit the number of categories. Don't ask for more information than you need. If employees are overwhelmed by choices, they won't be as accurate. Cost codes should match your estimating system.

Fill out time sheets every day. This is the only way to ensure accuracy. Employees are more likely to cooperate if they have input into the estimating process, followed up by regular summary reports that show how actual performance compares to what was estimated.

Include codes for "non-productive" tasks. This includes supervision, clean up, gophering, and other activities that don't fit neatly into other categories. Also consider providing separate codes for call-backs, allowances, and change orders. If you're consistently running over budget on a particular phase, temporarily add extra cost codes that break down the phase into smaller parts. Once you've pinpointed the problem, remove the extra codes.