About the author
Fulcrum is a field inspection management platform built to streamline safety and quality processes, field operations, and asset inspections, especially for mobile teams.
Whether critical installations or safety inspections, field teams perform a wide range of essential functions for many companies. By the nature of their work, however, field teams risk being isolated from not just the main office, but from the very processes which produce quality work. When field teams fall behind a quality curve, potential rework and unchecked safety hazards can threaten both bottom-lines and business reputations. And if they’re isolated, field teams may not adopt the culture of quality that safety managers strive so hard to cultivate.
However, there is no reason field teams should be removed from pursuing quality simply because they are remote. Field quality inspection software is a powerful force that unifies field teams across distances, bringing together their tasks, work, and data into a shared platform that helps grow a shared quality culture. In other words, it makes a big tent, leaving no field team behind.
In this post, we’ll consider how your field teams produce and collect data affect quality and look at how quality inspection software draws field teams into a culture of quality by overcoming the major challenges they regularly face.
Between SOPs, scheduled inspections, and issue reporting, every field operation will traffic in significant amounts of data. But exactly how a team goes about using and collecting this data will impact more than just its ability to complete quality work – it will have far-reaching consequences on worker engagement.
A paper-and-pen operation, for example, produces lesser quality data, disengages your field teams from its reliable collection, and contributes to their isolation. Digital tools, on the other hand, keep everyone on point and engaged to improve the quality of not just the data that emerges but your field operations themselves.
To illustrate, we’ll look at how these two different data collection methods address recurring major field team challenges.
Field teams are mobile and their distance from the office presents an ongoing challenge, especially when forced to execute tasks with paper SOPs and fill out paper inspection forms. Managing required documents becomes physically burdensome because paper users often make input errors and tend to lose documents.
More than that, paper is slow. Slow to track down all the paperwork before field teams head out, slow to respond to unfolding events when on-site, slow to transcribe and collate data in a convenient format when they get back.
Digital tools have no distance or speed limits. Field quality inspection software houses all your SOPs and inspections information in one location, eliminating the need for paper and the burdens that come with it. Cloud-connected, any directives can be updated in real-time, keeping field teams engaged and on track for quality work.
With clear directions and no paper to carry around or lose, field teams free themselves from time-wasting errors and administrative duties that lead to lesser quality work and alienate them from their jobs.
Transit time is another recurring headache for teams and supervisors alike. Teams come to a standstill when they spend hours on the road. They discover that their paper SOPs lack essential information or don’t align with on-site conditions. This situation is a source of frustration for supervisors, who see it as an inefficiency. Field team members, on the other hand, simply want to finish the job without redundant travel.
With digital checklists, field teams do the job right the first time, every time. All they need to perform quality work is in their mobile device, clearly laid out in easy-to-follow checklists and dropdown menus.
When connected to a network, you can instantly sync up records and request assistance from supervisors. When out of network range, you are confident that the information will sync as soon as you regain connectivity.
Automated workflows and virtual supervision make field work responsive and collaborative so that everyone leaves feeling part of a team that did great quality work together, and on the first go around.
Seamless communication is imperative for field teams. However, the movement of SOP and inspection data through a paper-based system encounters consistent roadblocks. These obstacles slow down and complicate the communication process.
Think about the journey a standard operating procedure (SOP) document goes through as it changes hands and locations. It starts with the initial drafting phase and progresses to the dispatch stage. A field team picks it up and adds it to a pile at the site. It’s then driven out to the field, where ideally it matches the current situation. The team triple-checks the data to ensure correct input. Hours later, it returns to the office. There, the data is input, and it might be reviewed by supervisors.
Barriers like this make communication less efficient and less frequent, which leads to delayed or lesser quality work. Field teams may be hesitant to work if information is missing, opting to wait until they’re back at HQ for clarification or even leaving it for another day – not a recipe for efficient, quality work.
Using digital inspection platforms, communication is automatic and real-time. There is no waiting time, phone calls, or driving back to the office just to push the ball forward. With this improved agility, field teams immediately focus on exactly what needs to be done, ready to respond to emerging issues.
With better communication comes better data. Synchronized communication tools facilitate the execution of standardized SOPs and incident reporting, ensuring the collection of timely and reliable data. This data can then be used to generate issue and performance metrics, enabling supervisors to make better-informed decisions.
If you’re looking to keep your quality game on point even when your teams are miles away, the intelligent automation and process rigor of digital field inspection platforms can maximize engagement, performance, and agility.
Digital tools collapse distance and accelerate speed, enabling better data collection for real-time visibility into task execution and performance. Field teams gain empowerment to detect potential problems early and engage in ongoing conversations with each other and supervisors. This leads to the ultimate improvement of field operations and the fostering of a culture that prioritizes quality.
Join the over 2,500 Fulcrum customers who have improved field inspection processes. Sign up for a free trial to see for yourself how your teams can consistently do better-quality work with digital SOPs, field quality inspection and data collection processes.