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Level up with Fulcrum: automating workflows, part II

September 10, 2020

In our last post, we talked about how workflow automation can increase productivity in safety, quality, and other inspections.

But inspections don’t just need to be fast. They also need to be rigorous. How do we achieve that balance?

Increasing inspection speed and rigor without sacrificing flexibility

To get speed and flexibility, we need to set up our safety and quality inspectors for success — even in a dynamic environment with changing requirements.

First, inspectors need to know exactly what they’re looking for and take data appropriately. There should be minimal variance in the way they collect data, even as the specific data elements change.

Second, inspectors require quick support for changes. They must know new items to check, the standards, and specific data required. Without instant access to this information, significant inspection errors may occur.

For example:

  • They will skip the item through force of habit.
  • They will do as well as they can without guidance, but that will leave room for unwanted variances among different people — or even the same person during different inspections.
  • They will provide the data in a form that leaves room for interpretation after the fact, such as leaving the comment “adequate” instead of the measurement “38.2°F.”

Third, supervisors and managers of inspection teams need to be able to make changes rapidly and immediately have all inspectors using the same checklist in the same way.

Paper doesn’t cut it

Paper-based checklists aren’t as rigorous as we sometimes need. Even a well-thought-out paper checklist can leave a blank for a measurement, at which point an inspector can write “adequate” instead of “38.2°F,” as in our previous example.

Nor do they provide the speed that we need. Certain delays are built into the paper-checklist process:

  • Getting the paper spreadsheets from the office, or downloading and printing them.
  • Driving, mailing, or sending by courier the pieces of paper back to the office.
  • Transcribing them into applications or (Heaven forbid) spreadsheets.
  • Creating and sending post-inspection reports.

Worse, in their efforts to be precise, they often sacrifice flexibility.

  • Inserting a new item into a paper checklist means that everyone has to know to download or pick up the new version.
  • Changing standards means that inspectors have to pick up or download-and-print a separate document explaining it. If supervisors are worried about inspectors forgetting to download the new standard, then the requirements need to be embedded directly into the checklist.
Screenshot of job site equipment inventory app on Fulcrum - Level up with Fulcrum - workflow automation Part II feature

Modernizing inspections with a SaaS-based mobile app platform

When inspectors use a SaaS-based* no-code application platform, they avoid the problems associated with paper.

  • Checklist changes and instructions can be put directly into the mobile app.
  • The app, including all changes and instructions, synchronizes automatically with inspectors’ mobile devices.
  • Data automatically flows from the mobile device to the cloud.
  • Workflow automation drives reports and alerts instantly from the app to stakeholders and supervisors — with different stakeholders receiving different types of reports if necessary.
  • Enterprise applications can be updated immediately through workflows that drive data from new inspections into those applications through webhooks.

A no-code mobile app platform with workflow automation changes the game for health, safety, quality, and other inspections. Paper doesn’t come close.

Try Fulcrum free for 30 days to check out the difference.

In our next post, we’ll talk about how to speed up your organization’s reaction time to events that happen in the field.

* If you’re not familiar with SaaS, it stands for “Software as a Service.” SaaS or SaaS-based means you don’t need to install software on your own computers, and all of your data is protected in the cloud — like money in a bank. Salesforce, Facebook, and similar apps are all SaaS applications.