Get an inspection app that works for you
Congratulations, your team is considering implementing a top-of-the-line digital solution to make your inspections faster and more accurate. We have the biggest grins on our faces thinking about how happy you’ll be when the huge time-savings start kicking in. But… we have a feeling that, if you’re the one tasked with selecting the app, you may not be smiling just yet. Navigating the dense field of inspection apps, as well as preparing your team to adopt a new process you aren’t entirely familiar with yourself, can be overwhelming. Don’t panic! We can help walk through some of the basics.
Goals first, features second
Before we get carried away talking about inspection app features we love , let’s be perfectly clear: the most important thing about your inspection app is that is does what you need it to do. Nothing more, nothing less. Prior to vetting software providers and watching demos, we suggest you meet with your team internally and document exactly what business problems you’re trying to solve. Do you want a tool that simply digitizes your inspection data? Are you aiming to speed up your process? Are you trying to improve the quality of your inspections? Capturing your operational goals clearly and succinctly before you start talking to software folks is a smart move.
That said, here are some feature recommendations you may want to consider when shopping around – and why.
1. Super customizable fields
It may sound like we’re stating the obvious, but it’s a good idea to make sure the app you’re selecting has customizable fields. Just note that this goes far beyond the ability to copy the same fields your technicians are used to seeing on paper forms. Customizable fields can include options like whether or not a field is mandatory, allowing for different field types (dropdowns, numeric values, yes/no criteria, etc.) and the ability to log comments. Moving to a digital platform shouldn’t just be a direct transfer. Rather, it can be opportunity to assess and optimize your inspection criteria.
2. Field verification
An inspection is only as valuable as the data collected. That’s why field verification (or, “fat thumb protection,” in layman’s terms) is a cool little feature you may want to consider. Basically, this means that you can configure what a normal range of data for any given field may be. Then, if a technician accidentally presses the wrong button or holds down a button for too long, entering something like 222 instead of 2 for a value, the app will flag this as atypical. It’s just a convenient, immediate backup to help ensure that the data entered is correct and you aren’t throwing off an entire data set over a slip of the thumb.
3. Photo uploading
We’re all familiar with the notion that a picture is worth a thousand words, right? Here’s how it applies to inspection apps. If your app allows your technicians to upload photos, they no longer have to strictly rely on memory. For example, if a tech is inspecting a piece of equipment and notices that a component is starting to show signs of corrosion, he or she can upload a photo of the wearing part. Next inspection, there’re no need to dig way back into a memory from 6 months or even a year ago to determine how much the issue has accelerated. Rather, the tech can just pull up the pic and compare in real time. This is also a huge benefit if different technicians are inspecting the same equipment over time.
4. Speech-to-text integration
This one may sound like an extraneous feature that some sales guy is just trying to wow you with. But, here’s the deal: in addition to speeding up inspections and making the process more intuitive in environments where safety is a concern, voice recognition is fast becoming something we just can’t ignore. Roughly half of all online searches are now by voice command and by 2022, more than half of all U.S. homes will have a voice-activated smart speaker. It’s now a way of life – and work. In fact, 65 percent of 25 to 49-year-olds report using voice recognition technology daily. Consider it a way to future-proof your operation. When your 55+ technicians start retiring, the Millennials who replace them will desire easy, technology-driven work processes.
5. Flags and alerts
The core reason pretty much anyone performs routine inspections is to catch issues before they become big problems that lead to costly downtime and repairs. That’s why it’s critical that the inspection app you choose has a clearly defined system for flagging issues and alerting the people who need to address them. That could take a lot of forms – from color-coded statues and criticality lists to work order integrations and push notifications. There is a wide range of solutions for this, but just make sure that you consider the ways your technicians need to identify issues and how your maintenance and operations teams need to be made aware of them.
We know you have a lot of work to do with your selection process, so we’ll leave you to it. Go on, start inspecting the inspection apps. But, if you have any questions about features or functions, or even what your goals should be, we’ll be happy to see if we can answer them.