What makes inspection scheduling difficult and how to solve it.

Steve McBride  |    Feb 12, 2022  |    7 min read

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    Digitizing an inspection schedule takes some effort, so you want to get it right the first time. As you have probably discovered if you’re managing an inspection schedule, it can be very complex. Each individual inspection requires unique instruction, data capture requirements and associated workflow in the event of a failed condition. Paper forms and spreadsheets are not up to the job. They offer opportunities for errors and lack the real-time visibility you require to understand where things are at.

    Inspections are necessary and important...

    Whether you manage safety at a manufacturing organization or compliance for a construction company, inspection schedules are a necessary thing. They are required by internal SOPs, regulations and, in some cases, voluntary industry groups into which your organization has opted-in. They are a great way to understand problems and prevent them from recurring and they can be used to identify opportunities for improvement.

     ..and the stakes are high.

    If inspections are completed incorrectly, they are not fully doing their job, so there is a chance those issues will recur. There is also a risk that they will not stand up to a regulatory audit, which can result in fines, or worse.

    Complexity makes them difficult to manage.

    Inspections schedules are a collection of unique inspections that each contain their own schedules, instructions, data capture requirement, conditions, failure workflows and approval workflows. Also, machine and equipment downtime can play havoc with your schedule. All of this culminates in a complex infrastructure that is difficult to manage and understand.

    How to simplify inspections and get it right.

    At Weever, we have helped organizations of all different shapes and sizes create and manage highly efficient and effective inspections schedules that enable safety, quality, compliance, maintenance and continuous improvement management. Here is a list of 5 things you can do today to simplify inspection schedules.

    Keep it simple

    Your frontline staff are busy and what they are doing right now is usually more important to their perception of “success” than executing an inspection. Some inspections can be fairly involved and intimidating.

    Try to keep each inspection as simple to understand as possible so the staff member has a clear understanding of the goal of the inspection and the steps involved.

    Adding instructions to the forms reduces training because you know that they will have a “refresher” available on-demand when they need it. You can use software to provide one or multiple quick video overviews of the inspection steps so that staff can refresh on the details.

    Big “Pass/Fail” fields with automated workflows creates a simpler process for staff and ensures that follow-up action items required to be compliant will happen.

    Photo capture helps to provide context for a “Failure” and taking a photo is easy to do.

    Conditional (or “step” logic) allows you to reveal applicable fields only based on what the staff member selects. For example, you can choose to only require a photo and description if a failure occurs. Conditional logic helps to declutter forms so staff can move through them quickly.

    Don’t introduce everything all at once
    start small and grow quickly

    When digitizing your inspection schedule, we usually recommend our customers start by digitizing one inspection. Keep the “pilot” team limited to your most engaged team. They can provide valuable feedback that you can then apply and roll-out to the larger group. Test it with staff members and work out any issues.

    This is a great way to include staff in the process and build employee engagement. When staff are involved in building the solution they are more likely to support the roll out.

    When building the inspection, ensure you are considering what Key Performance Indicators (KPI) you want to monitor. Establishing a baseline KPI for inspection performance before digitization is helpful if you want to measure the ROI of your digitization project.

    Our Customer Success team usually helps new customers build out the first inspections and uses the time to train administrators on how to use the Form Builder.

    Avoid common scheduling software pitfalls

    If you’re a veteran in managing inspection schedules, you probably know that there are a lot of nuances that can add complexity to the process.

    If the software you “hire” to administer your schedule does not work for the following, you might find yourself spending more time than you bargained for making changes and dealing with issues.

    Effective schedule management software should help you efficiently manage assets, downtime and shifts.

    Manage Assets 

    What we usually mean when we are talking about managing assets is create a digital twin of your facility. Creating a “digital twin” is when you build an infrastructure through software that mirrors your facility’s environment. So you basically add all of your facility’s departments, work areas, lines, machines & equipment as what we call “Asset Management”.

    Once this is complete, you can create KPIs that you want to monitor for each elements within your facility. This intel is super valuable in managing preventive and predictive maintenance, safety programs, compliance and continuous improvement processes.

    Manage Shifts

    Ensure you can create shifts that span over to the next day - not a lot of scheduling software can do this.

    Manage Uptime/Downtime

    Ensure your software can efficiently handle downtime. Creating an inspection schedule is something that a lot of software can do, but not many are great at handling on-off schedule changes that happen all the time. 

    You will find that you need to pause a schedule for many reasons including breakdowns, holidays, routine planned maintenance, etc. If the software does not provide this functionality, it becomes a mess to manage. 

    Weever’s platform makes it easy to pause specific inspections or entire lines for a certain date range. 

    Automate Accountability
    inspection schedule on tv on production floor

    Accountability is very important in ensuring staff are doing what needs to be done. It’s a huge part of Employee Engagement, which is a top topic for Operations Management in general.

    Keeping employees accountable can turn into what feels like a lot of nagging if managed incorrectly. This can be time consuming and a drain on your culture.

    Automating accountability outsources the “nagging” to software, which frees up time and also redirects negativity from people to an algorithm. Weever’s platform creates automated alerts for overdue items that are assigned to specific people. Some of our customers also use large monitors on the floor and in the break rooms to promote inspection schedule performance so everyone can see who’s doing their job.

    Manage everything in one place

    Having different specialized software solving different problems can work well, but there becomes a point where it is too much to manage. Staff have to login to, and remember how to use, multiple systems and Managers are forced to derive reports from multiple sources.

    Whether you are in safety, quality, compliance, continuous improvement, production or maintenance, the software requirements for managing a schedule of inspections is the same.

    • Provide instructions
    • Capture data including “Pass” and “Fail”
    • Evaluate results and initiate corrective or preventive actions
    • Understand what’s due, what’s happened and what hasn't
    • Report on KPIs

    Having one software program that does all of this across multiple departments is the best case scenario because staff can learn and become comfortable with the functionality of one platform.

    Inspection Schedules

    • Customize inspection Form Templates
    • Create a "Digital Twin" of your facility including assets, machines and equipment
    • Build and Manage Inspection Schedules. Easily manage "downtime" changes
    • Guide staff through the process with on-demand training
    • Automate work orders and real-time KPI reporting
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