Logo preload
close Logo

How quality assurance inspection software is critical for an effective quality program

By The Fulcrum Team
February 27, 2023

Quality assurance inspections keep operations running smoothly but require effective data collection to assess if work is up to standards, identify problem areas to improve, and avoid rework. 

But not all data, or the means to collect it, is created equal – how data is collected drastically impacts its overall reliability and usefulness. 

For example, most organizations collect data online and offline, with smartphones being an especially popular method. However, despite technological advances, a full 70% of respondents from an informal survey in one of our recent webinars indicate they still collect some data using pen and paper. 

The downsides of using a paper-based system to collect inspection data – especially for something as important as assuring quality work – are many and well-documented, pointing to the critical need for organizations to modernize their collection efforts. 

Join us as we examine how quality assurance inspection software enhances your inspection process with better, more reliable data. First, let’s look at the most important requirements for a quality inspection and the obstacles that slow this down or even prevent it. 

Obstacles to getting the right data

Complexity of data collection: Spread across different sites, employees, tasks, and SOPs, collecting data is a complex undertaking that may require specialized knowledge or sophisticated tools to understand and interpret, potentially leading to misinterpretation or missed opportunities for improvement.

Value-added data:  Inspectors may need to collect value-added data like images and video to truly capture the scope of a specific issue, difficult to do in a paper-based system. 

Volume of data collection: The volume of data that needs to be consistently collected to ensure quality work can overwhelm lesser collection methods, potentially leading to missed insights or incorrect conclusions.

Too many steps in data collection: Having too many steps in the data collection process increases the time and effort to complete inspections. Prolonged inspections waste resources and decrease efficiency, while also putting the accuracy and reliability of data at risk because of the higher likelihood of mistakes. 

Training staff: Training takes time, resources, and effort to ensure that all field inspectors have the necessary skills and knowledge to perform their duties effectively – something that organizations operating on thin margins may not be able to accomplish consistently, especially as training is a continuous process that requires ongoing support.

High staff turnover: An increasingly pressing problem in a volatile economy, high staff turnover results in a lack of continuity, institutional knowledge, and experience, which increases the costs for hiring and training, as well as lowers the overall efficiency and effectiveness of the inspection process.

Organizational field inspection needs

To overcome these obstacles and produce timely, accurate, and reliable information, organizations need a data collection process built around very specific requirements, including:

Saving time and speeding data entry: Given their complexity, quality inspections need the means to speed up data entry to save time and more quickly complete the collection process, while still yielding accurate, reliable results.

Simplifying tools and workflows: Simplified tools and workflows reduce the complexity of the inspection process, streamlining data collection and increasing user-friendliness so that even inexperienced staff can more efficiently collect accurate and reliable data.

Customizable data collection: Having customizable digital inspection processes allows quality managers to tailor collection requirements to the granular specifics of each inspection, increasing the relevance and accuracy of collected data. 

Real-time visibility of assets and on-the-fly rescheduling: Inspections don’t happen in a vacuum. To execute timely and effective inspections, quality managers and inspectors need agile methods and tools that respond to on-the-ground changes in the inspection environment by allowing for a real-time purview into unfolding issues and on-the-fly rescheduling.

Enabling easier/faster data analysis: Once data is collected, quality assurance inspections need easy, fast data analysis to make informed decisions and identify trends that stave off potential rework and support continuous process improvement.

Better data capture technology solutions: A truly effective and modern quality assurance program needs to move beyond paper and spreadsheets and leverage better data capture technology solutions that streamline the data collection process, increase the accuracy and reliability of results, and provide real-time visibility into inspection progress.

Industrial engineer using quality assurance inspection software on a tablet to perform inspection

Why you need a robust digital quality program

With the wide availability of in-market software, there’s never been a better time to build a digital quality assurance program, the benefits of which span across both business and human factors. 

Business factors

  • Catch issues early: By identifying problems early in the inspection process, an effective digital quality assurance program lets you resolve them before they become more serious and more expensive to fix. 
  • Decrease risk of rework: By capturing accurate data and verifying it in real-time, digital inspection software helps reduce errors that lead to costly rework. 
  • Reduce schedule overruns: By automating the many processes involved in quality inspections and giving managers better visibility, software both speeds up the inspection process and reduces schedule overruns, helping companies meet deadlines, improve efficiency, and reduce costs.
  • Improve reputation: With digital inspection software, companies can more easily and reliably demonstrate a commitment to quality and accuracy. This helps improve their reputation and attract new business opportunities, leading to more projects and work in the future.

Human Factors

  • Improve customer satisfaction: Efficient and reliable service will always increase customer satisfaction, and an automated inspection process that reduces human error helps companies meet quality specs, deadlines, and budgets. 
  • Enhance ability to attract skilled workers: A user-friendly, efficient digital inspection program attracts and retains skilled workers who thrive in effective and innovative work environments, arguably the most crucial factor in maintaining a critical competitive edge.   
  • Increased employee morale: Job satisfaction and work-life balance increase when workers can perform their tasks more efficiently and without frustration. With morale improved, workers are more motivated and invested in their work, leading to improved productivity and performance.

Keeping quality high

How you collect data directly affects more than just the inspection process, but also the overall quality of work and health of an organization. Without an effective and efficient means to ensure the proper execution of tasks, mistakes accumulate, compound, and multiply over time, leading to costly delays, rework, and a tarnished reputation. 

And a traditional paper-based collection process, rife with setbacks at almost every step of the process, makes it difficult to ensure quality work in a timely and reliable way. 

Quality assurance inspection software overcomes the many obstacles facing the inspection process by meeting and then surpassing all the basic requirements that make for quicker, more accurate results and the foundation of a robust quality assurance program. 

To elevate your inspection process and consistently ensure quality work, start a free trial of Fulcrum’s industry-leading quality assurance inspection software today!