In a perfect world, performing quality assurance audits would be as simple as taking a coffee break: you grab a mug, fill it up, and get a quick buzz going before heading back to work. But what if it wasn’t that simple? What if a coffee break meant you had to trudge out into the fields to pick your beans before hauling them back to the office to grind and brew a cup? Not a very efficient usage of time, is it?
The same logic can apply to quality assurance audits. For a procedure that should be as easy as a spur-of-the-moment coffee break, there’s usually a mountain of work that goes into pre-audit preparation…and that’s before any real auditing can even start. In fact, what’s meant to be a subtle check of behaviors, equipment, and uniforms can quickly turn into a huge hassle – especially if you’ve been recording observations with clipboards and paper.Plus, how will you know if you’re actually improving? Are my audit results getting better over time? Or are things getting worse? Are there any particular problem areas that can be singled out to help us improve?
In order to gather the data needed to answer these questions using a paper and pen approach, auditors need to manually enter all of the results from each audit into a program. They then need to make sure that the program they’re using can actually do something with the information they’ve gathered. Carrying around a laptop and entering information into spreadsheets isn’t any better in an audit scenario. Laptops can be unwieldy, and increase the potential for errors through manual data entry and bad formulas (not to mention some serious back pain).
To make QA audits as simple and impactful as a much-needed coffee break, you need the right tool for the job. Let’s say something unusual pops up during an audit that needs to quickly be corrected on the fly. Auditors need to be flexible enough to quickly gather data, notify stakeholders, and set a plan in place to ensure the appropriate corrections are made. That’s not going to happen when you’re trying to account for every issue by fumbling around with a bunch of spreadsheets or paper-based forms.
But with mobile audit software, you can turn complex paperwork into user-friendly forms, making workflows easy to navigate. And with a system on a mobile device designed for the way they work, auditors can easily observe behaviors, add data to their reports, and perform corrective actions on the fly based on information included in submitted forms.
Even if you need to write up multiple people for the same problem at the same time, mobile software can speed through it all with one form — auditors will never have to fill out the same information over and over again. Plus, once an auditor discovers improper behavior, they can immediately issue an action plan directly from their mobile device, or automatically send alerts to relevant employees.
Mobile forms can also provide accountability in the form of timestamps and GPS data for when and where the form was filled out. You’ll always know that the auditor was actually at the location at the time they said they were (and not just filling out a bunch of fake forms from a bar somewhere).
At the end of the day, QA should be a natural part of a daily work routine (just like grabbing an impromptu coffee). Quality assurance audits should never require a boatload of prep work before someone can actually go out into the field and start making observations. After all, the most effective quality assurance audits are those where auditors can be agile, and have the ability to quickly and easily record observations before setting the appropriate actions in place. But if workers are spending more time dealing with the hassles of paper or spreadsheet-based forms than actually making observations, QA will never be that simple.
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