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Level up with Fulcrum: automating workflows, part I

September 3, 2020

Fulcrum workflows automate the process of taking the data you collect and pushing into new processes — without any additional effort from data collectors or their supervisors. We’re excited about it because it’s the first step to helping you:

  • Increase productivity in safety, quality, and other inspections
  • Increase rigor and speed without sacrificing flexibility
  • Speed up your organization’s reaction time to events that happen in the field
  • Help your organization become more data-driven

We’ll spend a few blog posts showing how Fulcrum workflow automation delivers these benefits, and more, as you modernize your mobile workforce.

Increasing productivity in inspections

Safety and quality inspections can be difficult because they’re invasive. Someone has to step aside and let the inspector access their work. That puts a lot of pressure on the inspector to be quick — there’s no faster way to have people resent the time you spend “checking boxes” than to take a long time doing it.

(You want to prove that your efforts are about more than box-checking? That’s incredibly important, and we’ll spend more time on that when we talk about becoming more data-driven.)

Moreover, the inspection is just the beginning. Unsafe conditions and quality problems need to be detected, reported, and remediated as quickly as possible.

  • A problem with water quality should be reported to the people who use the water, as well as those who maintain the water system, as soon as possible. Even a short time with bad water can cause serious health problems.
  • A significant in-process quality control (IPQC) check on a manufacturing line might automatically update line managers, those in charge of materials management, and possibly even customer service. The longer it takes to communicate with everyone who needs to know, the worse your long-term issues are, such as storing too much raw material or finished inventory.
  • Feasibility studies happen at a time during a construction or engineering project where small amounts of time can make a big difference. Cutting the time it takes to produce and deliver reports can have a dramatic impact on the cost of the project.

Improving communication

Automating workflows with Fulcrum enables email or SMS message sending to necessary users. These users could be supervisors, clients, or regulators. The messages can include inspection details—specific data, comments, or notes on failed items. They can also contain fully formatted PDF reports with all inspection data or a relevant subset. Selecting the report to send is straightforward: see the green-highlighted drop-down box in the image below.

You can see how that could improve communication in any of the above situations. And it starts the moment the record is collected.

Streamlining integration

And when automating workflows, you can also drive data into other systems using webhooks. Some readers just got nervous: That sounds daunting. I get it — but don’t worry.

A webhook is a kind of “push” of data from one system to another, in this case from Fulcrum into other applications. Any time we’re describing how machines communicate with each other, there’s room for jargon and confusion.

The good news is that Fulcrum strips out as much of the confusing stuff as we can. Even someone who’s not a programmer can follow a plug-and-chug process that sends data from a record to another application, making that application react to the new data in an instant.

And that means non-programmers can make other programs dance to Fulcrum’s tune. The ability to instantly get a reaction from some other application reduces the follow-on time needed for your inspection processes. That leads to greater productivity, fewer data errors, and happier stakeholders — whether clients, business leaders, or the administrators who no longer need to laboriously copy your records from a piece of paper into an application screen.

In our next post, we’ll talk about increasing speed and rigor without sacrificing flexibility. In the meantime, check out this extended demo video that will show you some of the great ways workflows can be used.

Stay tuned!