An End to Pen and Paper?
Scribbled notes and hand-written reports have worked fine for unit inspectors for decades. Yet with operations going digital, and the size and scope of inspections increasing, is it time to leave pen and paper in the past?
“It's become a different industry, which requires different tools,” says Adam Chiarotto, Business Analyst with SuiteSpot Technology. “For years, unit turnover professionals have been able to do their jobs effectively with pen and paper, but those jobs are getting much more sophisticated and demanding.”
Without a doubt, times are changing. Asset portfolios are expanding, expectations are rising, and property management companies are turning to digital systems in their search for greater efficiencies, data-driven insights, and cross-enterprise connectivity. This is all part of the industry's natural evolution, but it requires everyone to be on the same virtual page.
Paper vs. Mobile
Unit turnover professionals have always aimed for speed and accuracy, and those goals remain the same. What has changed, is the size and scope of their day-to-day activities, which demand faster results and a more integrated approach.
Pen and paper may have served the industry well, but with expectations on the rise, there are reasons why now may be the time to let mobile inspections apps take up the task.
Consistent outcomes: Some may argue that pen and paper is a faster method for capturing and completing unit inspections, but that doesn't always equate to accurate and efficient.
“A paper inspection may be fast, but what matters is the overall speed of the turnover cycle,” says Chiarotto. “True, you may be able to conduct a unit inspection faster with a paper form on a clipboard, but then you have to check that report for accuracy, share it with stakeholders, write up your work orders, and physically go back to the office if you need to check out past records. That all take extra time.”
Herein, he adds, mobile unit inspection apps not only streamline the unit inspection process with ready-made templates and easily accessible information, but they also enable users to share their results in real-time and significant cut down on the post-inspection legwork.
Creating a trail: As quick as it is to write up an inspection, it can take time and additional resources to file, manage, and secure those reports appropriately. Here again, mobile apps take advantage of cloud computing to enable unit inspectors to share their results, pull up vital information on the fly, or search through old files with the click of a screen.
“Given the sheer volume of data property management companies are working with, there's an advantage to having all that in a secure digital environment where it remains part of the unit history for future audit trail and spend reports,” explains Chiarotto.
Work orders to go: Unit repairs and restorations can delay unit turnovers. Sophisticated mobile inspection apps fast-track this process by allowing inspectors to create and send work orders on the fly, and then proceed to track the progress of those requests until the job is done. Managing work orders digitally can save hours (if not days) of back-and-forth communication, thereby contributing to a faster turnaround and higher-quality outcomes.
Time-saving insights: Access to relevant, accurate, and up-to-date data provides property managers with the ability to generate critical insights across their entire portfolio. These insights can inform more efficient and standardized strategies which, in turn, enables all stakeholders to do their jobs faster.
“When you enhance your capabilities around data analytics, you equip your team with the information and insights to make more informed decisions in less amount of time,” says Chiarotto. “That makes a huge impact on the overall unit turnover cycle.”
Making the transition
Old habits die hard. And while there are many examples of how mobile inspection apps contribute to a faster overall unit turnover cycle, it may not be enough to convince professionals who swear by traditional methods.
“There is a change management element that needs to happen if you hope to take advantage of mobile unit inspection technology,” admits Chiarotto. “Not everyone is going to be open to learning new systems; and even if they are, they'll need training and experience with a mobile app before they start using it effectively.”
Certainly, bringing in any new 'time-saving' technology into an organization is bound to create slowdowns at first. With a degree of training and support, however, it's never long until the benefits take shape.
“Even if using a mobile inspection app does take a small amount of time to get used to, it quickly becomes second nature and dramatically improves unit turnover cycle,” says Chiarotto.
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