The truth is that many businesses are still not aware that they are stuck in the past. It may seem like paper forms and excel spreadsheets are inexpensive ways to audit and document; they are simple and accessible. And transitioning to more advanced digital tools can seem like an investment that can be put off. However, paper-based manual processes will actually cost you more in the long run.
The problem with paper-based manual processes is that they are time-consuming and expensive. They require additional personnel, which increases costs for businesses both in terms of payroll as well as training new employees on the process. The task of auditing can become tedious because it involves reviewing multiple documents to ensure their accuracy, rather than just looking at numbers or figures that summarize your business performance.
Using paper and a clipboard to take notes on-site means you have to transcribe everything onto a computer later, doubling the work. You also probably had to take photos of your findings, which means you’ll need to upload those to your reports manually. And manually having to redo all that work exposes you to human error, which immediately leads to incorrect calculations and inaccurate dates. Manual data entry is also prone to inconsistencies, especially when different people are filing their reports separately.
Also, using construction site audit templates in paper form means you can’t easily customize reports to fit your company’s specific needs. While everyone is doing their best, chances are each person will have their own style and method of documentation. Many of these inconsistencies involve naming conventions; for example, one person may spell out the whole word while another will use an abbreviation. You may try to implement mandatory fields and other requirements to achieve consistency; however, it’s not common for people to fall into their old habits and use methods that work for them, such as color-coding.
The Benefits of Digital Tools
Inspection and audit software are digital tools designed to make data collection more consistent. These tools will have mandatory fields, drop-downs, and menus to ensure audits are conducted the same by each person each time. Important features of these digital auditing tools are timestamps and e-signatures that effectively track users’ activities; it may even include the site’s GPS location to provide proof that the inspection happened where it was claimed to have taken place.
Auditing by phone or tablet takes away the manual task of writing things on paper, only to later enter the data in a computer at the office. Since most devices come with a camera, images can be easily attached to reports. Notes and comments can be added on the spot. And using the same device on which the information and photos were recorded, you can distribute the report to your mailing list and even get notifications and reminders. Reports also look more professional.
Manual data can get stuck in process bottlenecks and buried in shared drives. By communicating findings more efficiently and quicker, you not only achieve compliance but communicate quality and safety problems faster – prompting corrective action to be taken immediately.