Remote inspections via mobile tools have huge benefits from the front line to the back office and from the field team to upper management. They can improve appointment efficiency; connect workers with trainings, peers, and remote experts in real time; adapt to changing needs, such as an increase in requests for service; and offer stakeholders a clearer picture of what’s happening inside and outside their businesses.
Mobile solutions arestrategic technologies that lead to strategic advantages. They enhance existing processes and procedures in order to drive business performance and differentiate services. A relatively straightforward example is paperwork. Mobile tools can decrease time spent manually inputting reports, photos, videos, and other documentation. That, of course, results in increased productivity and a better workflow.
But remote, or mobile, inspections aren’t the answer all the time. Sometimes, you have to have a flesh-and-blood person at the site. How you determine when to inspect on-site or remote comes down to five areas: environment, aptitude, processes and procedures, deployment, and business value.
Remote inspections are great in theory, but they can differ greatly from reality. Your field team might be ready for mobile tools. The environment where they work on a day-to-day basis might not be.
For example, if you provide inspection services in the mining industry, your connectivity might be nil. Remote inspections simply can’t happen 400 feet underground. In addition, some inspections legally require the presence of a person. There’s no way around it.
Takeaway: Assess your inspection environments. Also research applicable laws. It’ll save you grief and, potentially, money if you do some digging upfront. No, you may not be able to use a mobile solution for remote inspections in a mine, but the technology might be of use elsewhere. Taking an audit of environmental concerns and regulations will establish the best use cases for your business.
Not every workforce is ready for mobile solutions. People in the back office may use mobile apps all the time, but that statement may not be true of people in the field or upper management.
It’s important to know who your people are and what they’re ready for. An inspector may be completely ready for mobility but not want to give up the in-person customer contact. Another employee isn’t ready for mobility in any shape or form.
Takeaway: Talk with your employees. Ask them how they get work done now. Send out a survey. Take inventory of where people are in their technology journeys and what they enjoy (or don’t) about existing workflows.
Processes and Procedures
Mobile solutions aren’t a genie in a bottle. They won’t magically make everything better if they’re deployed. In fact,they can sometimes be more of a hassle if they’re aren’t implemented correctly.
A use case can be found in the oil and gas industry. If an inspector is sent to assess a pipe, do they only need to see that a seal is holding? Or will they need to inspect the condition of the seal and test it for elasticity? Knowing processes and procedures out in the field makes a huge difference to your overall success with mobile tools.
Takeaway: Write down everything involved in the most complicated inspection. Now go through the list and assess where a remote inspection will or will not work.
Mobile tools should always be deployed in stages. Example in point: deploying a mobile inspection solution like our EyeSight to your customers.
While we love the idea and its impact on your balance sheet, it can be difficult to implement straight out of the gate. A wiser choice is to familiarize customers with the new technology via your inspectors. Once everyone is comfortable with smartphones and glasses being used to solve problems or assure compliance, customers will be more open to using the tools themselves.
Takeaway: Start small with a mobile solution and expand outward. If you do want customers to use EyeSight, think through some of the issues outlined above. Which customers have the aptitude and willingness to use the tool? What processes and procedures will still require a licensed inspector? How will you manage the new service model? How will you handle the service model financially?
Mobile is an essential investment today, not an operational cost or “the hip thing to do.” Aberdeen says, “The value driving this technology [mobile] comes from how these tools can help speed service delivery, create better interactions with customers, and provide a clearer view of the front line for the back office.”
That being the case, mobile should be treated accordingly. View it as an investment that will affect the entire business--because it will. It will change how people work as well as how you meet business objectives.
Takeaway: Get away from the hype and drive down to value. Do a five-year risk assessment. What will the biggest gap in your organization be? Where will you hurt the most if action isn’t taken now? How could mobile solutions and remote inspections help in that area? What is the quantifiable return on investment?
Remote inspections may not be the answer all the time, but you won’t know that until you ask the question: “When should I inspect on-site or remote?” Answering the question will set you up for success. You’ll be armed with realistic expectations and goals, a plan of action for deployment, and, most importantly, metrics to measure against.
Have more questions about when to inspect on-site or remote? Give us a call at 1-855-545-3777. We’ll help you ask the right questions so that you get the right results with remote inspections.
Image: Royal Opera House Covent Gardens (Creative Commons)