Performing regularly scheduled site audits is an important facet of any company’s facilities management program. Whether you’re responsible for retail stores, restaurants, convenience stores, healthcare centers, properties, buildings or any type of facility, it’s essential you regularly and properly assess the conditions your customers, partners and employees experience.
Only through a site audit can you be regularly assured that problems are identified, open issues don’t fester, potential dangers are avoided and brand standards are maintained.
Reducing Risk and Improving Brand Uptime
Executed properly, a site audit can be a key component of an effective risk management strategy. Alternatively, lacking the visibility gleaned from proper site audits, you run the risk of minor problems morphing into larger ones, potentially vastly increasing your company’s risk profile.
Successful site audits also are a key component of Brand Uptime, the concept of how your customers perceive your brand based on the conditions of your locations. Or simply, how your facilities have direct impact on perception of your brand.
Conducting consistent site audits can go a long way to maintaining all the physical aspects of your company or organization, and thus ensuring a positive brand experience for your customers. Otherwise, you run the risk of missing items needing to be addressed, and customers walking away with negative attitudes about your company’s brand - and walking away without ringing up the register either!
Ensuring Site Audit Success
A site audit sounds easy in concept but we've found there is often no process in place to ensure continuous, productive and successful site audits. They’re often one-off, independent events that are incomplete and inconsistent. This week’s audit may be quite different from last week’s or last month’s!
Importantly, the audit itself often is the begin and end of the process; there’s little to no actionable data (e.g., no work orders created in response to what’s identified) or even a ‘to do’ list generated that would lead to improved conditions.
So, how does one go about making sure site audits are done properly, every time, and everywhere? We’ve seen many best practices followed by numerous multi-site companies, and have identified five principal elements to ensure successful site audits that drive real value:
- Comprehensive - One of the most important success criteria in conducting a site audit is to consistently and thoroughly capture everything important about your facilities and their equipment. What’s important is to have a complete and exhaustive list of everything you consider important to managing your brand.
Too many companies take a ‘scheduled’ audit by walking around the location, looking for anything that might be amiss or obviously needing repair. We find that this results in high degree in variability in findings, especially when audits are conducted by different auditors. Make sure to have a pre-defined audit scope, repeatable process to follow and pre-set audit schedule.
- Consistency - It’s imperative that site audits not vary by location or by the person performing the audit. A successful audit program makes sure everyone performs the same set of tasks, reviews the same aspects of every location the same way, every time. In fact, with the proper tool(s), anyone should be able to conduct a comprehensive audit, identifying any problems that may exist.
A consistent audit scope ensures consistent data for analysis to identify what types of issues are most common which can impact your maintenance schedule and/or training. A data-driven site audit program can prove to be a key factor in everything from capex planning, to identifying common repair issues to capacity planning.
- Immediacy - Tie site audit findings to remediation by logging work orders - on the spot- during audits. It’s important to make sure that appropriate work orders are created, ideally in real-time, so repair and maintenance is neither forgotten nor delayed.
Using a proper audit tool, particularly a mobile based one enables issues to be captured and documented with all requisite detail including pictures. This way, repairs can be addressed immediately, minimizing brand impact.
- Efficiency - Ensure your audits are performed as quickly as possible. Too many companies have paper checklists, often out of date, that make for a highly inefficient auditing process. In such scenarios, double entry of findings is required which slows down time-to-completion and increases error rates.
With a systematic approach to auditing your locations, the process can happen quicker as well as something performed more often. Rather than postponing a site audit because an ‘auditor’ is not available or doing them as rarely as possible because of the time they take or low value gained, a modern FM software system with site audit capabilities enables anyone to efficiently perform a comprehensive assessment. You can make sure that audits are a more regular part of operations, driving overall improved experiences.
- Actionable - Performing a site audit is often just something that has to happen on a somewhat regular basis, simply to placate management that the facilities management team is “on top of any location problems.” Once this information is captured, making any finding-based decision is usually very difficult as information is not organized in any kind of consistent or comprehensive way, or consolidated in any useful format.
With a focus on boosting transparency across your organization, issues can be identified and drive necessary service requests and work orders to remedy any problems. In addition, by capturing data consistently across all your locations, you can identify trends to be addressed, recurring issues that may require procedure or training changes and specific types of equipment causing above average number of problems. With this type of visibility and data, you can improve decisions from repair/replace to supplier selection.