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May 6, 2019 | IN User Stories | BY Wayne Smith
Case Study: Improving Quality through Consistency - Using Active Oversight To Improve Inspections

 

Active Oversight (AO) is a cloud-based application that drives quality management through guided site inspections and automated reporting and notification. AO drives a fundamental shift in how projects are managed and measured. It sets a higher standard in construction performance and drives quality and efficiency improvements.

Who is Vertex?

Vertex supports network operators, equipment manufacturers, contractors, and others in the telecommunications industry to improve communication, public safety, and profitability. Some of the largest carriers in the world rely on Vertex to support their operations.

Accurate, efficient, and timely site inspections ensure every project is completed per project specifications and provides a traceable record that decreases risk.  

What is the Value of an Inspection Without Specifications?

How do you define a site inspection?

Ask five construction managers, and you are likely to get five different answers… at least, that is what Vertex was finding. While everyone on the team agreed that site inspections alert teams to potential build issues, provide a traceable record of work, and are necessary to verify the project meets standards, each inspector had his or her own way of getting that done.

Vertex site inspections adhered to a loose set of guidelines:

  1. Each project receives three inspections – Civil Construction, Installation, Final
  2. The inspector is to provide photo verification of the check
  3. The results of the inspection are to be shared with the team

Vertex found that these guidelines were not enough to drive the kind of consistency and efficiency necessary for providing world-class support to their clients and continuing to grow as a company.

Inconsistencies occurred as each inspector provided their own answers to these questions:

  • Which specific aspects of the project should be inspected and what are the particular requirements for passing the inspection at each phase of the project?
  • How many photos are required for each inspection requirement? What should the photos clearly show?
  • How should the results of the inspection be shared with the team? Which team members should receive the report? How is the report stored?

standardization-of-work

Both Civil Construction and Installation inspections were completed without any guiding documentation. Instead, the inspector arrived on-site, completed a review based on their own experiences and insight, obtained any number of photos and emailed the results to an undefined set of team members.

Only the Final Inspection was guided by a written set of requirements. However, the conditions were only available as a PDF that was printed and completed, by hand, as the inspector walked through the site. The inspector used his or her phone to snap pictures to verify inspection requirements and hand-wrote comments on the Final Inspection checklist.

The checklist did not correlate to the specific requirements of the project nor did it mandate the number of photos required, or define complete/not complete criteria. After finishing the manual inspection, the scanned checklist was sent via email and fax to an undefined set of team members. The photographs were attached to the email or provided via a link to an external drive.

In short, there was no consistency among the inspections. Some inspectors would spend an entire day completing an inspection while others only spent a few hours. The company found it challenging to locate the results of each inspection and tie it to specific projects since the completed reports were often a scanned PDF and an array of attached, date/time stamped photographs.

Answering a specific inspection question meant combing through months of emails, deciphering scanned copies of hand-written reports, and painstakingly searching through hundreds of photographs to find the right one.

How To Do Site Inspections that Matter

After implementing Active Oversight, Vertex has seen a dramatic improvement in both the value and the efficiency of build site inspections.

At the Civil Construction inspection, a defined list of tasks that verify that the construction is off to a good start. It includes checking that the ground is at the project specified level, that the foundations are going in, and that there are no access issues.

Among other things, the Installation inspection confirms that ground wire, which will attach to the antenna, is dug into the ground and checks the status of the foundation.

Inspectors use a tablet to perform inspections, and the required photographs and pass/fail criteria are clearly defined. The inspector is prompted to check specific criteria, enter the results, and then snap a photograph (if needed). All aspects of the inspection are accomplished as a seamless, linear task. At the end of the inspection, the results are immediately compiled and stored with the project files. A predefined set of team members is notified when the report is ready for review.

Since there is consistency between inspectors and inspection sites, the results are aggregated and compared to identify inspection opportunities and building trends. As a result, quality has improved dramatically. Final inspections, which used to take at least 8 hours to complete are now done in half the time (doubling inspection capacity) and all with less project risk as each inspection requirement is clearly defined. The increase in consistency has improved quality management while simultaneously decreasing inspection time. The Vertex team is identifying potential project pitfalls at the earliest stages of the project when they are the least costly to fix, and delivering superior support to their customers.

Tags: User Stories, Standardization, Case Studies

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