by Jindou Lee

Time for facility inspections to become digital

Mar 07, 2017
Big DataCloud ComputingEnterprise Applications

A mobile, digital inspection platform offers advantages over paper- or spreadsheet-based inspection forms

Whether your company owns or manages property, inspections are an absolute must to keep everything running smoothly. Inspections keep residents happy and can play a critical role in avoiding unfortunate mishaps.

Unfortunately, facility inspections are often held back by outdated, inefficient paper-based forms, or maybe an Excel spreadsheet on a laptop. These slow and plodding processes are not only inefficient, but they fail to leverage the business benefits a robust mobile platform provides.

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Facility inspections aren’t about slogging through a list of issues and hoping you don’t notice anything amiss. They’re about creating and maintaining best practices to keep facilities in such excellent repair as to minimize labor and maximize output. Instead of putting off inspections to avoid facing the music, the way someone running low on cash puts off checking their bank balance until they’re overdrawn, facility owners and managers should perform regular, diligent, thorough inspections to maximize the value of the inspection practice and maintain quality standards that prevent serious issues.

Inspections are the key to proper maintenance, and as such, their value is impossible to overstate. I don’t just mean the value of peace of mind and satisfied customers or renters—which are themselves priceless. I mean cold hard cash, and lots of it. Every inspection is a chance to catch problems that could cost thousands of dollars (or hundreds of thousands and beyond) if left unrepaired for too long. Inspections can pinpoint potential safety hazards that—if not addressed—could lead to massive punitive damages. Just the act of performing regular inspections can prove due diligence and responsible stewardship to a court to fend off accusations of negligence.

Paper- or spreadsheet-based inspection forms don’t cut it

But it’s hard to get the full value out of inspections using antiquated tools like paper- or spreadsheet-based inspection forms. Paper forms offer analog solutions in a digital world and spreadsheets, while digital, miss out on the myriad advantages of a mobile platform. A paper inspection form usually consists of a photocopied worksheet that’s tedious to fill out, arduous to organize, and in which it’s very difficult to enforce any sort of standardized annotation or organization method.

A spreadsheet is by nature more organized but also less flexible and customizable. Spreadsheets also aren’t great for storing media like photographs, which are vital in documenting the condition of facilities and items. Paper is even worse, relying on staples and paperclips. Let’s face it: Neither of these methods is state of the art. Why drive a Dodge Dart (no offense GM) when you can have a Tesla?

Mobile inspection platform the Tesla of facility inspections

A mobile, digital inspection platform is the Tesla in this metaphor. Mobile inspection software does everything paper and spreadsheets can do but better, and it boasts features older platforms can’t even touch. Not only are mobile platforms incredibly convenient, but they can also be customized to fit a business’s needs at every location it operates. Easy and engaging to use, mobile platforms skip the cramped hands of pen and paper and the squinty eyes of a spreadsheet for a simple, engaging touch-based interface that turns every inspection into a fun activity rather than a boring chore, encouraging staff to enjoy inspections and perform them often and thoroughly.

Mobile inspection platforms offer advantages such as in-line photography and annotation. Rather than stapling printed images or sending email attachments, pictures used to catalog damage or repairs are added directly to the appropriate line item to prevent confusion, as are notes, creating a standardized system across all inspections and locations and eliminating the need to parse handwriting or individual annotation methods.

And mobile means cloud-capable. Completed inspections are automatically organized and stored in the cloud for any stakeholder to pluck down from the cloud whether to check for issues or present evidence in a lawsuit.

You need the data that digital inspections provide

Finally, mobile digital inspections provide standardized data, which means the capability to use it for real-time analysis. Big data is the hottest thing in business today, and a mobile platform puts all their predictive and problem-solving power at the disposal of property owners. Analytics can reveal widespread trends not only at individual properties, but at the owner’s entire portfolio, helping to save costs on bulk repairs and preemptive solutions.

In future posts, we’ll discuss just how powerful and versatile digital technology can make the inspection process, as well as much easier and more approachable. We’ll cover the advantages and uses of features such as note taking, photography and cloud access only available through digital technology. We live in an online, mobile, digital world. Shouldn’t these be the tools we use to maintain the spaces where we play, work, and live?