Is your business “Self Aware?” Three Steps to Better Process Audits

Every company, regardless of its product, operates within a specific set of operational guidelines. Some are legally-binding regulation and some are internal processes, but they share equal power over your success.

Obeying the law of the land is an important part of keeping your business afloat and out of the red, but you can’t underestimate the value of regular self-inspections. For any business owner, this begs the question: How much does your organization know about itself?

Can your company pass the enterprise equivalent of a “Turing test,” or is it running on autopilot and merely pretending to be a manned vessel? Compliance with government rules and regulations aside, if let your internal processes go unchecked, you’re bound to run into problems with quality, accountability, and consistency.

That’s where process audit software comes in handy. Here are three steps to get the most out of process audits using integrated mobile software:

#1 Self-auditing for the right variables

For self-auditing to work in your teams, one thing to avoid is simply “checking all the boxes.” If you’re familiar with statistics, you already know that huge sample sizes and unrestricted variables make reaching clear conclusions next to impossible. Making a massive list of things to measure won’t accomplish much unless you know what you’re looking for.

Business Intelligence (BI) tools can cut through the noise of excessive data to reveal deeper truths— but, you’ll need an auditing platform that offers them. If you’re still taking down surveys or process audits on paper, you’re going to have to double enter every data point if you want to see any meaningful visualizations at all.

Ultimately the data you collect is up to you, but if you don’t have powerful analysis tools at your disposal, the best policy is to focus on variables you understand and can control. Don’t gather meaningless facts about every little thing that happens, but don’t ignore critical processes, either.

#2 Automate your manual processes

Introducing a mobile process auditing platform for makes perfect sense not just because it does away with various problems associated with paper reporting, but because it makes use of technology that the most people are familiar with and comfortable using: the smartphone.

That’s where mobile technology can help fill in the blanks— literally! Routine tasks such as form data input can be automated with pre-populated fields, while historical data can be added to tasks and data tables imported to save time. No more guesswork, no more memorizing lengthy company manuals or ISO regulations.

For process and quality control managers, strict regulations mean hours of their day are spent unraveling red tape to ensure operations are compliant. This work overload leaves them barely anytime to explore ways to improve, and ultimately keeps processes stagnant.

Think of process audits as their own distinct optimization procedure. For example, if a quality audit reveals product inconsistency in a specific location, the audit could automatically trigger this workflow, notifying the appropriate parties to arrange for the work to be done or even generating a task and assigning technicians.

If a manager on the floor is able to free his hands from this minutiae, he can spend more time investigating the root cause of the concern and less time going through the motions of setting things right. With the technology that’s now available, there’s no reason why process audit automation can’t be used effectively in virtually any industry where data-driven decisions occur.   

#3 Clarity, accountability, and safekeeping

Mobile forms that live in a digital cloud have real-time accuracy and flexibility on their side. They create a digital footprint with every submission which means you can trace data back to the source easily. Cloud-backed data collection also means that your information is stored safely away from physical hazards or prying eyes. But, most importantly, your platform itself is moldable and changeable, allowing you to easily and quickly modify, monitor, and manage forms on the fly.

Let’s say an inspector is unsure about the fail conditions on a given process. With a cloud-based mobile process audit, they can reference embedded documentation that describes what to look for and what success looks like. When carrying out process audits on-site, the ability to cross-reference observable evidence with company guidelines takes the guesswork out of time-consuming audits.

When managers have the ability to monitor performance and identify bottlenecks from the top level, it gives them the oversight and insight to make rapid and data-driven decisions about processes. Instead of relying on a tenuous report from an auditor who may not understand the quality parameters, managers can take every report into consideration. Systems like this don’t simply gather and organize data, they also ensure that the data is actionable.

A few parting words

Self-auditing your processes is the quickest and most effective way to ensure operations on the ground floor keep up with regulations both inside and outside the company. Your workers can enjoy peace of mind knowing that their output and procedures are in order, while supervisors are able to spot, fix, and prevent issues quickly. That leaves them with more time optimized processes, fewer long-term complications, and a better bottom line.

Now, think about your answer carefully: Does that level of self-awareness sound like your business?

Bio: Alex Brown is a technical content writer for Form.com. He writes informative tech articles for various publications as well as content related to digital distribution, branding, IT, and more.
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