There are a few instances where paper beats digital. Origami, thank you cards, arts and crafts–all benefit from the physicality of paper.

When it comes to process audits, however, this is definitely not the case. Paper-based audit methods are hard to maintain. They’re prone to error, and squeezing any insight out of them can be a huge effort.  

We already use our phones for, well, everything. So why not routine process audits? 

In this guide, we’ll walk you through Tulip’s mobile process audit application. 

We’ll show you:

  1. How mobile apps streamline audits
  2. How to Tulip simplifies audit management
  3. The results you can expect with real-time audit data

Streamlining Audits with Mobile Apps

Why go with mobile apps anyway?

In our experience, audit programs follow a common trajectory. It might sound familiar. 

Somewhere in the business, a group agrees that operations could benefit from more systematic process audits. Whether it’s kamishibai, layered-process audits, or any other auditing methodology matters little. The point is that the team is onboard, and ready to work auditing into the culture. 

The first few weeks are great. Nonconformances are found, logged, and corrected. KPIs start to improve. Things are looking good.

But then auditing just… stops. Maybe there’s a period where auditors are just going through the motions, pencil-whipping the checklist. Or it just falls off all together. 

What happened? How did a well intentioned program get sidetracked so fast? 

It turns out that the problem was never with the audits themselves. It was with how we performed the audits. Often, operations teams wind up spending more time managing audits than managing processes. As a result, auditing becomes one more administrative burden, failing to deliver its promised value. 

The key here is to reduce the friction points in your auditing process. In other words, eliminate the paper, the communication layers, and data entry that kill auditing programs. 

We’ve found that digitizing audit processes with mobile apps is the best way to achieve this goal.

https://youtu.be/09XkEGX4OKI

The anatomy of a mobile auditing application

When it comes down to it, mobile audit applications are simple.

They breakdown into four clear steps:

  1. Create a new audit
  2. Perform the audit
  3. View audit results
  4. Manage open corrective actions 

Let’s look at each in turn.

1.) Create a new audit

The first step toward streamlining your audit process is to create a new audit.

Create mobile audits that match your exact auditing needs
Create mobile audits that match your exact needs

Here, you’ll specify

  • The name of the audit
  • Where the audit will take place
  • Any further images or instructions the team needs to keep in mind

This will give you the option to create several audits (maybe you need a new audit for each line or process).

Managing multiple audits in the apps is good for more than reducing admin work. It will let you view analytics specific to each audit. And it will give you an easy way of collecting and managing open corrective actions. 

2.) Perform the audit

Theoretically, this is the easy part. It just requires a little setup.

In a traditional audit scenario, an auditor will walk the floor and take a record of what they observe.

image of a mobile process audit application
Put images and instructions in audit steps to ensure accurate results

In this case, each audit is represented by a screen on the app. Each audit can include a title, location, instructions, and images of the desired state.

Then, the auditor is presented with a binary choice: each audit item is either compliant or not.

If things are found in order, the app logs the positive result and moves on the next step. If things need a corrective action, the app will automatically create and log an open action. If additional individuals need to get involved, you can set each audit step to send notifications upon a “fail.” 

View Results

Here’s where the big improvements come. Traditional audits rarely deliver as much value as they should. And that’s because operations teams rarely take the time to record and analyze data over the (perhaps short) lifespan of an audit program.

Instant analytics help you see the most common causes of nonconformances
Instant analytics help you see the most common causes of nonconformances

Mobile auditing apps change this. Because they take data automatically, they eliminate the need for manual analysis. Here you can see a Pareto chart detailing the most common nonconformances.

Think of how huge of a change this is from the status quo. No more data entry. No more excel analysis. No more ad hoc logs of actions or sketchy data.

For each audit, you’ll be able to see the results over time, give you answers to your most pressing questions. What audit items most consistently fail? Do some lines have more noncomformances than others? Some shifts? Are we missing opportunities for more impactful improvements?

With the audit app, it’s at your fingertips.

Manage open actions

The whole point of audits is catch risks to safety or quality while there’s time.

mobile audit applications let you see all of your open audits in one place
All of your open actions in one place

Tulip’s mobile app makes managing those actions trivial. As soon as an auditor notes a nonconformance, the app creates an action (linking nonconformances to corrective actions is easy, and just takes translating your SOPs into the app). The actions are stored in a list, letting you tackle items one-by-one.

Each corrective action has a date, an owner, a description, and instructions. If the fix is complex, you can even link corrective actions with digital work instructions.

The point,  however, is simply to create a better system of accounting to go with your audits.

Log your findings, create an action, assign an owner, and be done with it. It shouldn’t be any harder than that. 

Getting Started 

So far we’ve outlined how Tulip applications can simplify your audit program.

To start building a process a audit application, start a free trial of Tulip.