Oftentimes, public works departments are still using pen and paper for the majority of their inspections. The first step to efficiently conducting public works inspections is conducting these inspections online and collecting the data in real-time. While many departments would like to switch to an online system, it is not going to happen overnight. If you are having trouble convincing department heads to invest in technology for public works, there are steps you can take to prove your case.
The biggest advantages of utilizing an online inspection software is the time saved and value of data collected. The time saved is a no-brainer – when inspections are online, there is no need to re-enter any information collected in order to store reports in an online database. If paper inspections are scanned and filed away, there is no real value in the data collected. Yes, you can reference the scanned inspection report if needed, but you cannot start to collect actionable data on things like common infractions and problematic locations that can enable preventative maintenance programs that save your department time and money in the long run.
So how can you start collecting this information now to put in play best practices that will ensure an easy transition to an online inspection platform? If your inspections are done by pen and pencil, convert them to Excel spreadsheets. Excel is a very familiar platform to most employees and allows for structured data to be collected and analyzed because the data is uniform.
Below are the free downloads for an underground storage tank inspection and stormwater management inspection. If you already have inspection checklists, replace the questions in these templates with your own and share it with your team. If you do not have the resources to conduct the inspections with a laptop or tablet device, then there is an extra step of data entry after the inspection that you will have to take. This is a great example of the time you would save if your team all used an online inspection software and may help when justifying the switch.
Gathering Actionable Data through Reporting
Once your department is utilizing the same inspections in Excel, you can start to build out a report that analyzes your specific concerns. Does your department consistently see damages to hosing leading to underground storage tank leaks? Or maybe vegetation surrounding stormwater management facilities has becoming an increasing problem in your area. By including completed inspections in different tabs in Excel and creating a report summary, you can sum up critical non-conformities that lead to big problems in the future and get ahead of them. Be sure to check out our additional public works articles, including 9 Resources to Improve Underground Storage Tank Inspections and Five Stormwater Facility Maintenance Resources you Need to Read.