Whether you’re inspecting products to see if they’re meeting desired specifications or conducting safety inspections for your entire business, your inspections matter. With the right tools, you can make sure your manufactured products will satisfy your customers. And with the right processes, you can maximize safety and ensure regulatory compliance.
So what steps can you take to conduct better inspections overall?
Tips for Better Inspections
These are some of the most important ways to conduct better inspections in your business:
- Know what you’re inspecting. What is it, exactly, that you want to inspect in your business, and why are you inspecting it? If you’re inspecting something to ensure you’re meeting regulatory standards, or to protect the health of your employees, it’s a higher priority than, say, making sure you’re following project management guidelines.
- Invest in the right tools and equipment. It’s also important to invest in better tools and better equipment. If you have better measuring devices, which can give you more accurate readouts and be used by your staff members more easily and consistently, you’ll end up with better measurements. This is an area you can’t afford to skimp on.
- Keep a consistent schedule. Effective inspections are all about consistency. If you’re supposed to do them once a month, but you only do them when you remember to do them, you’ll end up with gaps in your performance. Set clear times and dates for your upcoming inspections and make sure all your employees know who’s responsible for what (and when). There’s one exception to this; in some contexts, surprise inspections or inspections that intentionally violate the routine can be valuable. For example, surprise health inspections at restaurants can ensure the business is operating responsibly even when they aren’t prepared.
- Designate an authority. It’s a good idea to designate an authority for inspections in your organization – a person who will be responsible for overseeing inspections, making sure they get done, and taking action, if necessary, to fix whatever’s wrong. This person can, in turn, designate other sub-authorities to carry out the work – but at the end of the day, they’ll be held accountable for the inspections.
- Conduct proper training. Don’t just assume that your employees will figure out how to run inspections properly. It’s important to take the time to train them appropriately. Depending on your organization and the types of inspections you’re going to be conducting, you may be able to train them yourself, hire a third party to train them, or encourage them to seek training and education elsewhere.
- Document everything. This should go without saying, but it’s important to document everything when conducting inspections. Use templates and blank forms to guide the inspection process, keep tabs on the inspection results, and write down both when the inspection occurred and who oversaw it. This is going to be critically important if you run into issues later on – or if you need to prove that you’ve been inspecting responsibly.
- Foster a culture that appreciates inspections. It’s also important to make changes to your company culture to support an environment that welcomes and understands the importance of inspections. Oftentimes, employers and employees alike treat inspections as a boring or painful chore that only needs to be done to fulfill some external requirement. In reality, inspections are what preserve the safety and quality of your work – so try to foster that mindset from the top down, and educate employees who don’t seem to understand that.
- Work with third parties when possible. You might have highly trained employees who take inspections seriously, but there are still some limits to what you can do internally. Occasionally, and in certain contexts, it’s a good idea to hire third parties to conduct inspections of your business from an outsider’s perspective.
- Institute checks and balances. Excellent inspection systems have checks and balances. If one person doesn’t find anything wrong, is there someone else there to double-check their work? Is someone reviewing inspection reports to ensure they’ve been filled out and executed accurately? If there’s a single failure point, do you have redundancies in place to ensure there isn’t a second?
- Don’t get complacent. Once you establish a solid inspection routine, it’s easy to become complacent. The routine becomes a mindless habit, and your work starts to slip. Don’t let this happen; try to keep a fresh perspective and treat inspections as consistently important.
Perfecting Your Approach
Good, thorough, routine inspections don’t come easily or immediately. You’ll need to take your time, make adjustments, and gradually work to perfect your approach. Get feedback from your employees whenever possible and maintain a critical attitude; there’s always room for improving, and it’s always worth striving for more.