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How field inspection management software helps demonstrate the benefits of your Quality Assurance and Quality Control programs

September 15, 2020

When it comes to quality, people tend to notice when things go wrong rather than when they’re going right.

Whether you’re monitoring construction-site compliance or inspecting engine parts, as quality professionals, you and your team are responsible for protecting your company’s reputation.

But to be able to do your jobs effectively, people at every level of your organization need to understand the value of what you do — and not just when there’s a problem.

Otherwise, your team is seen as little more than box tickers whose job it is to disrupt workflows, point out shortcomings, and hinder productivity.

And if your teams are working with a pen and clipboard instead of quality inspection software, your problems are compounded.

Problems with paper checklists

Communication issues: When you conduct your inspections on paper, the folks doing the actual work don’t always get to see the results of your inspections, or what they mean for the organization as a whole. If they can’t see the big picture, they’re less likely to buy into the concept and cooperate with your inspectors. 

Inconsistencies: The reliability of inspection data can vary depending on how long an inspector has been on the job. Differing values (e.g. “looks good” vs. “pass”) and a different understanding of standards create irregularities that can let diminished quality go undetected.

Trouble keeping up to date: As standards or processes change, so will your inspections. That means updating, printing, and making sure every team member not only has access to the latest version, but is aware that it exists.

Uncertainty and extra follow-up: With a paper checklist, your QC inspectors are limited to what they can describe in writing. For instance, if machinery is damaged, inspectors might need to rate the severity, which is often subjective. However, a photo would offer clearer, quicker information. Naturally, this requires inspectors to carry a camera and later match the photo with the appropriate report.

A lack of visibility: When leadership doesn’t clearly see the value of your work, they’re not going to prioritize investing in your department. Without their financial support, maintaining quality products and processes gets a lot harder. 

Difficulty demonstrating compliance: Performing a paper-based audit of inspection activities can take weeks — time that would be better spent actually performing inspections. Misfiled, missing, or damaged documents can result in wasted time, fines, and lost confidence in your processes.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

plant manager with tablet and inspector with tablet - field inspection management software

Proving your value with field inspection management software

A field inspection management software platform solves the paper problem. It not only simplifies and streamlines your quality inspection processes, but increases their value by delivering data-driven insights.

It enables you to adapt quickly to changing processes and standards, making changes on the fly and deploying updated checklists to your teams so you can be sure everyone is following the proper procedures, all the time. (We’ve previously called Fulcrum a “no-code” platform because even non-developers can create or change quality inspection processes.)

This means that each team member, regardless of their experience, receives identical, step-by-step instructions. They can use pick-lists to choose an answer, ensuring data consistency among inspectors. Furthermore, you can establish mandatory fields. For instance, if damage is observed, you can mandate that the inspector must take a photo.

Maximizing efficiency and data utilization

Field inspection management software gathers all quality inspection data in one spot. This approach removes the need to align records with photos or other data forms. Moreover, once team members finalize an inspection and synchronize it with the cloud, the information is available right away. No waiting for data transcription, or even for the inspector to come back to the office with the completed checklist.

In fact, you can even kick off processes automatically based on the results of a quality inspection. For instance, with workflow automation, a maintenance crew can get an SMS notification when a machine is out of calibration any time an inspector checks the “out of calibration” box during an inspection. She doesn’t have to do anything to ensure that the notification gets sent. The app can also send reports to stakeholders directly from the field or push inspection data into external applications for bigger-picture insights.

The more consistent data your teams collect, the more it enters other workstreams, and the more efficiently it can be shared, the easier it is to demonstrate the value of your quality inspections to the entire organization.

Perhaps best of all, you don’t need to hire a team of developers or an agency to build your apps. You can create apps and workflows yourself using a visual, user-friendly interface.

Want to see field inspection management software in action? Request a Fulcrum demonstration today!