The future of auditing has arrived. It didn’t come in a slow progression; it came with a rush and a bang due to COVID-19.
Overnight, auditing by third parties stopped due to travel restrictions and health concerns. And at the same time, it became necessary to require employees to remember and perform new and ever-changing health and safety practices several times a day.
That’s a lot to ask of employees, and it’s an incredible influx of data to track and analyze.
It’s understandable that many companies, not just in the hospitality industry, are using laminated and paper checklists to track daily employee compliance; they’re fast and easy to implement in an emergency.
However, this means the manual effort for gathering data, organizing it, and finding meaningful insights went from difficult to nearly impossible. That’s why I believe the key to organizing and managing an influx of data is moving to a mindset of continuous quality via digital transformation.
A Model of Continuous Quality
The idea of continuous quality means getting new data constantly to strive for up-to-the-minute insights across your whole business. That sounds like a massive undertaking, and ultimately it is. But you don’t have to go from zero to sixty overnight.
In fact, you’ve already started moving toward a model of continuous quality by using more checklists, self-audits, and self-assessments (AKA gathering more data) in response to COVID-19. But an increase in manual data gathering and reporting could easily overwhelm your business without digital transformation.
In Digital Transformation We Trust
I wish I could tell you that I have a magical way to make spreadsheets and paper checklists do more work. But the reality is they will forever be manual tools. Additionally, what we thought would be a slow plod into the digital future is now an urgent necessity.
With digital transformation, the great news is that you do not have to abandon any process, program, or system you already have in place. Rather, it's a matter of transferring your current efforts into apps and platforms that create efficiencies, ultimately helping you save time and do more.
There are many benefits to digital transformation, so let’s compare what some of your processes may look like digitally versus manually.
Digital Data Collection Versus Manual
Scenario: Employees at a location are logging data faithfully, and those data-rich documents are being manually filed in the manager’s office. An incident occurs, and you need the documents and checklists related to that day, but they have been misfiled.
In this scenario, one small mistake in a manual process has led to time spent searching for a document that the manager may never find. If the document is lost, it can ultimately leave you open to legal risks or other liabilities.
With digital auditing, self-assessments, and checklists, the information can be recalled in seconds from anywhere (you don’t have to be on site), saving time and reducing risk for your brand. Additionally, the employees can perform checklists more easily and accurately, contributing to a model of continuous quality.
Digital Reporting & Analytics Versus Manual
Scenario: A regional manager has a system of spreadsheets to track the performance of each location. Their boss calls and asks to see a report that compares the results of a specific sanitation requirement across all locations. The regional manager is now spending days manually building a report that may not be accurate by the time it’s completed.
In this scenario, instead of giving support to locations, locating hotspots, or ensuring compliance, the regional manager’s time is spent pulling a report. This lack of attention can once again leave locations open to liabilities.
Reporting is critical to a healthy business, but that doesn’t mean it has to be the major part of any manager’s job at any level. With software that can automatically organize data and pull reports for you (sometimes in seconds), more time can be spend giving critical support where it’s needed at each location.
Additionally, there are many digital and software solutions that can analyze data for you — without a data scientist — and show you insights based on the specific criterium of your business. With clear insights in your lap in a timely manner, it becomes easier to proactively build quality and safety systems rather than reacting to issues as they crop up.
I believe that COVID-19 has proven that employees at the location level are the first line of defense in a time of crises. Empowering them with digital mobile auditing tools to collect more data efficiently can help you more easily organize and analyze more data for cleaner, better insights.
But remember, digital transformation doesn't mean you need to start from scratch. You can take all the hard work of your existing systems and programs and perform them digitally.