Of all the likely end users of a software system for managing compliance, safety inspection and field quality audit procedures; auditors, assessors or surveyors are asked to do the most, with the least.
Auditors are often deployed with templates, checklists, case files and spreadsheets, but not much in the way of technology tools for streamlining their data collection and reporting.
Organizations charged with certifying, auditing or assessing compliance find these challenges to be common:
- It can be difficult to deploy mobile solutions for audit management given the broad spectrum of devices that surveyors use. This is especially true of organizations whose auditor pool is made up of contractors rather than full time staff.
- Auditors apply experience and personal preference/bias to the way they go about their business during an inspection. With so many differing approaches, it can be daunting to consider standardization of the process around a technology solution.
- Surveyors are often viewed as an overhead or break-even in terms of cost. This can leave financial leaders struggling to determine the ROI when investing in software specifically for the field quality assessment procedures.
Last week I had a conversation with a friend who oversees IT for an organization that performs thousands of audits per year. Although his group has for many years developed process and document management functionality for both the internal staff and for the customer base, they had finally come around to developing an initiative to ease some of the burden on their auditors in the field.
In hindsight he offered that the organization should have made more technical efforts in improving auditor efficiency long ago.
Through this effort measurable ROI in a few key areas has quickly become apparent:
- Service standards have increased – auditors are now able to turn a report around in half the time it once took.
- Audit time has decreased – the time required conducting field inspections has shown a marked decrease with no depreciation in value perceived by the customers.
- Time to incident resolution has decreased – customer corrective action response time is also shortened given the immediacy and availability of the audit results and reports.
The consensus is that this is the tip of the iceberg. The group is currently working on standardizing many of the findings, comments and recommendations that auditors provide. This will not only continue to add efficiency to the audit process, but, in the future can lead to advanced analysis on non-compliance trends.