According to Forbes, nearly 70% of IT projects fail to meet their objectives – make sure your audit and inspection software is not one of them! Each organization is unique and is composed of many different roles. This post discusses some of the considerations when choosing an audit and inspection tool.
Please note we are using the term audit in this article, but this applies equally to inspections, safety walkthroughs, quality assurance, quality control, reviews and any other type of validation that a procedure or set of requirements are being followed.
Any software that is used in an organization will have different types of users. When selecting a piece of software it is critical to determine who are its intended users and what their intentions are. As they say, you cannot make everyone happy all the time – but you should at least try to maximize your investment in a new software tool.
When it comes to auditing and inspecting, there are typically three types of software users. Each one has a fairly different set of requirements and it is critical that you understand each one. The efficiency gains of an auditing software are primarily in two places: auditing (collecting data) and in reporting. Depending on the number of audits and inspections you plan on doing, it is likely that the biggest gains for your team are on the auditing front. Reporting, as unpleasant as it might be, is often a periodic event that has limited time savings across a large audit team.
Without further ado, the three main types of audit and inspection software users are:
This person (or people) are often responsible for scheduling and planning audits. They require a set of tools that allow them to:
- Set schedules for auditors
- Determine audit team responsibilities
- Dispatch information to various people
- Track audit progress and any gaps
Quality and Data Control
These people are responsible for making sure that audit findings, actions and other information is documented. They also verify that actions are completed on time and reports are filed. They train and support the audit team, ensure they understand the audit forms and standards that are to be followed. They should validate that the audits were properly executed, the correct data was entered into the system as required and that follow-up actions were issued to the correct people. These users will also often be responsible for extracting and manipulating the data collected, and potentially consolidating this data in other tools such as Business Intelligence software.
Auditors and Inspectors
These people are responsible for auditing on site or collaborating in remote audits. They gather information, conduct interviews and determine the compliance status of the various auditable items. They may also be involved in preparing for the audit, creating audit inspection forms and planning the site visits. Lastly these people may be involved in preparing and submitting reports to management and to supervisors.
In larger organizations you may have people dedicated to preparing reports for upper management or boards. While these people typically have limited data needs, it is critical that you determine the scope of this data within their reports so that you can ensure the system you are purchasing can meet their requirements.
Last, but certainly not least, are your report recipients. These can vary from:
- Boards of directors;
- Local site people, foremen, and managers;
- Stakeholders; and many others.
It is unlikely that you will find a system which will meet everyone’s expectations. It is therefore important that you outline what each person needs from a report and then determine if your system is flexible enough to change report formats and filter data according to their needs. A strong reporting and action tracking system is one of the most important elements of an audit system, so take the time to ensure you are picking the right solution.
When evaluating an audit and inspection tool, be sure to determine all the potential users, their use cases, the time they will be using the tools and their relative return on investment based on their costs to the organization. Too often software is purchased based on the needs of upper management or on a theoretical basis. This inevitably leads to frustration on the part of the actual users of the system. That frustration can lead them to stall the project or to abandon it entirely.