The Inspection Climate

For an extended period of time, the inspection space has relied on the employment of knowledgeable individuals who have years of experience in the trade in order to provide valuable feedback during an inspection. Traditionally you would build an inspection checklist that fits your use case and the industry standard, for example, a housing inspection. Upon building this inspection checklist you must ensure that it is robust while still concise enough to be feasible in execution. Once the checklist has been created you are then responsible for employing and training competent inspectors who are able to properly interpret and record data in a manner that provides usable feedback from a situation that can have a multitude of variables.

At this point you have only passed the initial hurdles, you are then presented with the issue of digesting the inspection data and properly acting upon the information that has been collected. While this approach has been implemented with success over many use cases the process can be quite cumbersome and daunting. Specifically the initial load of employing, training, and getting inspectors adequate amounts of experience to be able to act as a valuable resource. When you allow a large part of the information collection process to rely on people’s experiences you are allowing a major variable into the process. Typically you would want to eliminate as many variables as possible to ensure that the information you collect is accurate, reliable, and recreatable.

Technology’s impact on the inspection space

For many years the previously described practices of executing inspections have been believed to be the most reliable method, with the introduction of technology this may not be the case anymore. With the old checklist pass/fail inspection relying on people, there is a large amount of gray space when it comes down the information that is collected. This can be attributed to the inevitable knowledge gap that exists in the scenario of executing checklist inspections.  Fortunately, with the introduction of technology, the execution of decreasing this knowledge gap and allowing the inspectors to provide better information is more and more feasible.

A good example of using technology to improve the data collection process can be seen when using our product ExAM. ExAM allows you to build out inspections where the only limit of its data capture capabilities if your ability to cover all the bases of the inspection when setting it up. ExAM leverages decision tree style question that allows you to collect targeted information based on the inspector’s responses to a set of questions. The decision tree style of collecting information helps reduce the knowledge gap that may exist by prompting the inspector to answer specific questions based on their response.

An example of what a decision tree question chain might look like in practice is an inspector is presented with a traditional question that you would see on an inspection checklist, such as a simple pass/fail. In the event that an inspector indicated that the issue in question has failed they would be prompted to answer the increasingly more specific question on the scenario and deficiency until the adequate amount of information had been collected. This process is all configured before the inspection occurs meaning that the only limit to the complexity of the information collected is your ability to set up the decision tree. This style of information collection helps remove variables by guiding the inspector down a preset path resulting in reliable and recreatable data. While inspector experience will always be necessary when dealing with outlier cases the fact-based decision tree questions mitigates the issue of inspector experience playing a major role in the entire inspection process.

How does any of this actually benefits you

While the process of executing inspections via decision tree question may have its drawback, as does any method there has been an increasing amount of reason as to why you may want to implement it. We have personally seen a growing amount of evidence that these types of inspections reduce the amount of initial required training of the inspector as well as it embeds the process of prescribing deficiencies based on factual recreateable steps. As any knowledgeable person in the management space would be sure to corroborate is the less amount of time you are required to train an individual before they become a valuable asset to the process at hand the better! Not only does it decrease the absolute necessity of high experience inspectors it effectively trains and reinforces the inspection process during execution. When presented with the option of a lesser initial load to get an individual inspection ready while also solidifying the process and training during execution, logistically it just makes sense!

Additionally, on top of the logistical benefits, the decision tree styled inspection are notoriously good at eliminating grey space in the information that is collected along the inspection process. When properly created and thoroughly planned out they inherently produce reliable, recreatable data that is actionable. In the aspect of a simple checklist inspection, two inspectors could walk into the exact same scenario and return two wildly different interpretations of the information that is collect based on the reliance of inspector experience and perception. Fortunately for you when utilizing ExAM’s product this is an issue you will be much less likely to run into making your life a life a lot easier!