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Does your inspection process allow you to work efficiently and focus on what matters?

9 January 2024

Definition of an inspection: A process for which we have great respect, but which nonetheless gives managers headaches and generates tons of work; often leaving inspectors perplexed and unsure about inspections.  

  

  Inspection rounds are essential and important for organizations, for a number of reasons:

  • Identify hazards and take immediate or future corrective action to prevent accidents;   
  • Ensure regulatory compliance, thereby avoiding derogations, complaints and potential fines;   
  • Sensitize employees and contractors through discussions and interventions during inspection rounds;  
  • Ensure continuous improvement of procedures and practices using information gathered in the field;
    and finally,
  • Improve employee commitment through visible leadership in the workplace;  

    However, inspection rounds eat up valuable time and unfortunately can give the impression that they don’t really add any value. Is this what you experience too?  I’d like to suggest a few areas for improvement to help you work on the right things.  

  

 1. Is your process digitalized?  

  If you’re still working on paper forms, you could save precious time with the help of technology (which, by the way, is increasingly affordable).  Digitization will enable you to :    

  • Eliminate time-consuming transcription of information collected in the field;   
  • Quickly document good practices and non-conformities in real time, with photos or other relevant documents;  
  • Instantly generate Corrective and Preventive Actions (CAPA); and   
  • Obtain your level of compliance in real time and produce Leading KPIs.  

  

2. Are those performing inspections able to effectively detect a compliant item from a non-compliant one?   

The design of inspection templates rarely offers the possibility of specifying expectations and requirements for an item to be inspected, which can generate non-conformities that aren’t there, and even worse, omit those that really are because they remain undetected.  Which raises the following question:  Do you really have the time to work on non-conformities that aren’t there, and the luxury of letting real non-conformities slip through the cracks?  Certainly not!  So, how do you ensure a more effective detection of non-conformities? Certainly not with a paper document with a ton of lines and boxes written in small print.   

Digitization makes it possible to give details of the requirements for an inspection point, thus minimizing subjectivity. Here’s an example.  You need to inspect a mechanic shop for good order.  What does “good order in your organization” mean?  It probably means that :    

  • Tools are clean and hung on a shadow board;  
  • Trash cans are not overflowing and contain no hazardous materials;   
  • Floors are clean and free of oily products;  
  • Soiled rags are disposed of in an appropriate container;  
  • The work table is clean;
    and  
  • Tools are not damaged.    

The digitization of inspection forms makes it possible to add details of expectations with regard to an operational requirement.  This enables better visualization of compliant items and improved detection of non-conformities.     

 

3. Is CAPA management a nightmare?  

  Organizations not using CAPA digitization frequently rely on one or a few people to update CAPA inventories.  It’s a laborious task, and one that doesn’t make employees accountable for the progress of CAPAs.  There’s no need to ask how much time is spent on updating and producing performance indicators for this process.  

 

4. Is it time-consuming to generate KPIs for your inspections?  

  If your process is paper-based, it’s quite possible that you can’t easily extract performance data (KPIs) from your inspections for your sector or your organization as a whole.  If you do, you’ll probably have to go through substantial quantities of paper documents and account for it all in a spreadsheet of some kind.  

 

A small study among our customers enabled us to estimate that digitizing the process could reasonably (and conservatively) reduce the management of an inspection by 2.5 hours per inspection.     

  

  If your inspections give you headaches, let us help, so that you can get on with what matters most. 

Written by Monique Gervais