How Can Inspection Management Software Assist With Your Daily Activities ?
I recently encountered a number of potential customers who wanted to know how they can justify spending corporate money on a system that automates their inspections. My response indicated that the first aspect to take into consideration when justifying spending money is 'intangible' benefits that assist with daily activities. The second aspect addresses management and budget considerations using a simple 'rule of thumb' to conservatively estimate tangible benefits.
I will use the term 'Inspections' in the widest possible definition that encompasses a variety of activities performed against a piece of equipment, asset, or property. This includes data collection, periodic inspections, daily visual inspections, weekly/monthly inspections, semi-annual/annual audits, and tracking of deficiencies and corrective actions. Therefore, the same software solution can address a myriad of issues and business processes within your organization, including safety audits of fall protection equipment, cranes, OHS, fire protection, OSHA requirements, property audits, etc.
Specifically, how will an Inspection Management Software help you (and your company)?
Simplify daily activities:
If done correctly, automating inspections can dramatically simplify daily processes and speed up tasks compared with paper-based data collection. For example, using barcodes or RFID tags can expedite daily routines with minimal effort and simple setup. Using features such as 'quick pass,' which records the results of your visual inspections with literally 'one click,' is another way to improve efficiencies.
Comply with standards and regulations:
Electronic inspections can be based on pre-defined checklists which reference standards and guidelines and ensure that all required information is easily accessible. For example, some of our customers use a variety of standards such as OSHA Construction Safety (OSHA 1926 and 1910) which link their inspection findings with the appropriate regulations. Electronic references of such requirements save an enormous amount of time and ensure that reporting is timely and accurate.
Guarantee that activities are performed on schedule:
Paper based activities require significant time investment and/or administrative assistance to ensure that they are performed on time. Inspection software can automatically send reminders and alerts, ensuring that you are informed when inspections are due and alerted when they become overdue.
Maintain and easily access organized records:
Have you ever tried 'hunting for' documents and records, finding that they often seem to be 'misplaced' or even worse - cannot be found at all? A couple of years ago we received a call from one of our customers who was using our software to conduct Fire Safety inspections. They had a fire in their facility and the Fire Marshal who was investigating the fire wanted to see their monthly inspection records for the specific floor in which the fire had occurred. To expedite access to their information, they called to ask for assistance, and a few minutes later we provided them with the information in a spreadsheet. To our surprise, they called us back about an hour later 'beaming with delight' stating: "Thank you, the Fire Marshal left". How can one put a dollar value on such occurrences?
Improve management reporting, forecasts and trends analysis:
Many organizations require their safety teams to produce periodic management summaries regarding their inspections and deficiencies, usually accompanied with graphs or charts. When I first became involved with automating inspections more than 13 years ago, I was amazed by how much time it took managers to compile such reports. Properly implemented inspection software can produce such reports periodically or upon request, allowing managers to focus on the content of the reports instead of on the process of compiling them.
Supports BYOD implementations (Bring Your Own Device):
Automating inspections usually includes a number of tools that enable electronic data collection, such as PDAs, Tablets or mobile phones. Supporting industry-standard devices and allowing customers to use their own devices can significantly reduce the overall implementation costs of such inspection system.
Improving daily activities and highlighting 'Intangible' benefits is usually the first step of justifying automation. In my next blog I will focus on the tangible benefits of inspection software and attempt to demonstrate simple steps to calculate ROI.