When you first start your business, all you really need are a clipboard, a few reams of bond paper, and a coffee mug full of spare pens. Up to this point, paper met your company’s needs— frankly, it’s easy to see why many small organizations still fill, send, and file physical forms. Like the saying goes, “If it ain’t broke, why fix it?”
As your company evolves and grows, your auditing needs expand, too. Over the long haul, placing your enterprise at the mercy of tedious, unreliable paper-based inspections harms your profits. Eventually, while you’re still slaving away and manually whipping paperwork into shape, you’ll find that other businesses have already met their safety and compliance standards weeks prior.
Your current auditing system might “work,” but there’s a better way to keep track of your employees, assets, and production quality: mobile forms. A flexible, custom quality control software platform can help you hone your business to provide a better product, happier customers, and a stronger bottom line.
There are many ways a digital auditing solution can save your business money. Here are some of the most significant:
1. Higher accuracy makes a better product
Scrawling every bit of info on paper may have been the most precise method for data collection a few decades ago, but it’s long been outmoded by digital systems. When placed side-by-side with mobile forms, physical paperwork looks downright dangerous to your profits.
For example, think about your typical quality control audit.
Scratching out her findings on paper, your QA inspector completes a form and routes it into your filing system. Your paper template relies on this inspector getting everything right the first time. Once it enters your paper-based auditing labyrinth, it’s out of her hands.
If she makes a mistake, or if the staff you hired to interpret, double-enter, and respond correctly to it fall short, you could send out a faulty product. Tiny mistakes, such as an incorrect date or a spelling error, can completely defeat the purpose of quality control. This is where digital audits really shine.
Mobile forms can be configured to interpret data models from your existing database so that while inspectors fill out forms, the software auto-completes text boxes, checkboxes, and drop-down menus automatically. You get digitally-assured data accuracy, and it reduces the likelihood of human error. That kind of precision means fewer returned products, happier clients, and a better reputation overall.
2. Less paper means more pocket change
According to a study published by Mashable, the average U.S office worker uses 10,000 sheets of paper each year. That tallies up to an annual cost of around $80 on paper per employee. For a growing organization with dozens of staff, that’s thousands of dollars being spent every year on paper alone. Then there are the associated costs of pens, clipboards, printers, ink, and office supply storage.
More importantly, it’s better for the environment: over 40% of solid waste in the US alone comes from paper products, many of which can’t be recycled because of toxic chemicals in ink and industrial treatments. It’s not just about avoiding pollution, though; it’s also about creating a sustainable business model that you can be proud to display for your customers.
When you consider that a mobile-based quality control system comes at a fraction of the cost and integrates seamlessly with the APIs, systems, and technology that your business already uses, it seems impractical to keep investing in paper processes.
It may not be the case for every business, of course. Your business may not have literal mountains of paperwork that require steam shovels to take them from your headquarters off to a dingy landfill. Regardless of the amount of paper-based red tape you see in your enterprise, it’s worth thinking about how much it might be costing your business— especially when a better, environmentally-friendly alternative is just a click away,
3. The unbroken truth is delivered— minus downtime
Paper forms are easily outclassed by mobile forms when it comes to delivering a comprehensive version of the truth. Action taken based on a paper incident report is limited by the words provided by the inspector. While this suffices in certain instances, it takes time and effort to make sure data gets where it’s going both intact and with all the relevant supporting materials.
Contrast this with a mobile platform in which forms dynamically adjust based on who is filling them out, what they’re doing, and where they are.
Forms like these can pre-populate with the information they already know about the user, product, and location. When your quality inspector uses her smartphone to access and complete an inspection in real-time, she only sees fields relevant to the task at hand. No more filling out redundant data such as name, date, and site. No more skipping fields manually or wondering which column is germane to the context.
Inspections that used to take half an hour can now be achieved in a matter of minutes. Not only does speeding up the process dramatically increase efficiency and productivity, it ensures the quality of your output. If an inspection highlights a major flaw in a supplier’s stock, you can swiftly pull all of their elements from production. The fact that you can thoroughly document these issues digitally only reinforces your stance when you point to your existing SLA.
4. Faster, better, and smarter decisions save your wallet
Mobile auditing makes results immediately available for review from anywhere in the world. As your organization expands, the next steps could take your company and its child sites anywhere. If you’re not prepared to make decisions for remote locations and employees across the globe, you’re probably stunting your growth.
A mobile quality control platform generates the next steps automatically based on the actions taken when completing the form. You can know in real time whether the issue been resolved or if it requires more follow up actions. More importantly, you can ensure that the proper procedures are plainly communicated with detailed standards accessible within each form.
When you’re dealing with multiple facilities, inspectors, and products, you can’t oversee every little process. It helps to have evidence available for reference when you need to understand exactly what went wrong and how it was fixed.
Mobile forms allow images and video footage to be added to reports immediately, shot from a smartphone and uploaded in real-time. When an incident needs to be understood thoroughly, using images and embedded markup to reinforce reports can make things much clearer. This cuts down on the time-to-decision, meaning you can view results quickly enough to get the ball rolling again with minimal downtime.
5. Lower risk of loss generates reliable rewards
How would your data fare in the face of fire or flood? Maybe you have a fireproof external drive where you’ve double-entered all your forms for safekeeping. Maybe you’re still keeping all your paper forms in a flood-resistant container. According to data published by Small Business Trends, 140,000 hard drives fail in the United States each week, and 54% of SMBs don’t even have a data loss plan prepared.
If right now you’re thinking about how you’d have to sift through the soggy refuse after natural disaster strikes, you might be a strong candidate for migrating your paper-based processes to an off-premise cloud. If you’re storing all your backups on a disaster-”proof” device and expecting everything to be retrievable ad infinitum— well, don’t count your chickens before they hatch.
Mobile forms leave a digital footprint that ensures all users are accountable. Data is stored in the cloud and backed up by self-hosted data centers to guarantee safety and security. Where paper-based records put your business at risk, mobile systems protect your data from disaster, whether they’re natural or technical.
How much does your business rely on paper?
Maybe it’s time for a change. Mobile forms have transformed safety management and compliance for the better. Are you ready to hop on board with the next enterprise innovation, or are you going to plaster the walls of a sinking ship with reams of copier paper?