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Shifting From Paper to Digital Inspections

Molly McCormick
August 14, 2023

Fire Extinguisher Inspection

There are so many advantages to using a digital inspection system that it’s a good business decision to shift from paper to digital inspections. Those contractors already using digital inspection technology are reaping big rewards. For those contractors still relying on a paper-based inspection system, there are compelling reasons to set a goal to make that switch as soon as it’s feasible to do so. In the meantime, here are some considerations that highlight the importance of using digital inspection technology.

10 Reasons To Shift from Paper to Digital Inspections

Here’s a look at the top 10 reasons to switch from paper to digital inspections.

1. Immediate Inspection Results

When field inspectors are using a paper-based inspection system, there’s typically a delay of days or weeks for when the office staff gets the paper inspection forms. This delay is quite common, as many field inspectors only come by the office every week or two to drop off inspection forms. Delays in processing paper inspection forms is particularly problematic when inspectors have found a critical inspection deficiency that needs to be resolved as soon as possible. In contrast, a digital inspection system like ServiceTrade allows field inspectors to upload their inspection findings right after the inspection has been completed.


2. Improved Inspection Reports for Customers

On a practical level, paper inspection forms can get dirty, crinkled, wet, stained with coffee, and more. When paper inspection forms are soiled, it can show up in scans or copies. This can render the forms hard to read. In addition, soiled inspection forms that are scanned and sent to customers don’t look professional. In contrast, digital inspection reports both look professional and can be more easily branded with a contractor’s logo and colors.


3. Double Entry of Data Can Be Eliminated

With paper-based systems, office staff members typically have to enter the data into an office computer for generation of an inspection report. When inspections are hand-written, they can be difficult for the office staff to read, resulting in delays due to reaching out to the inspector to get clarification on what was written down. This scenario can add significant delays to the process and also can result in errors that create liability for the contractor. With digital inspection systems, inspection data is entered by field technicians, and the inspection results can be uploaded right from the inspection site. This results in fast, efficient generation of an inspection report.


4. Master Inventory List of Facility Devices Ready To Go

Paper-based systems typically don’t have a master list of the devices for each facility. With digital inspection systems like ServiceTrade, field inspectors enter the devices custom to each location once. Once the initial device information is loaded into a digital inspection system, field techs will have master lists of devices to inspect by facility.


5. Faster Handling of Inspection Deficiencies

It’s very common for deficiencies found during inspections to fall through the cracks when a paper-based inspection system is in use. Either that, or there’s a significant delay in getting inspection deficiencies resolved. With digital inspection systems, deficiencies are clearly identified and prioritized in terms of severity and resolved faster.


6. Time Savings for Field Techs

When field techs conduct inspections manually using a paper inspection form, they have to reinvent the wheel every time they conduct an inspection, because they have to input data again and again. With digital inspection systems, data associated with specific facilities is archived and ready for the next inspection. Digital inspection forms also can auto-populate historical data about the facility, which greatly speeds the inspection process.


7. Improved Documentation & Liability Protection

Paper-based systems provide limited documentation for liability protection. In contrast, digital inspection systems have many features that help mitigate liability, including time-stamped inspections & reports that can be used in a court of law in the event of litigation. 


8. NFPA Code Information Easily Available

With paper-based systems, field inspectors do not have all NFPA code information at their fingertips. Digital inspection systems actually provide NFPA code references embedded in the digital inspection forms. Digital inspection forms also can be structured with specific disclaimers that limit liability. NFPA code references embedded in a digital inspection form are helpful both for experienced inspectors and those just starting out in the industry.


9. Inspection Data Archived In The Cloud

Although the specifics vary from state to state, it’s required by law that inspection reports have to be saved for a number of years. With paper-based inspection systems, this means contractors & facilities departments must have extensive office storage space to be able to store all the inspection documents. With digital inspection systems, inspection data & reports are stored in the cloud, take no office space, and are easily accessible.


10. Additional Inspection Information Is Easily Available

With paper-based inspection forms, there’s no easy way to include photos with paper inspection forms. With digital inspection systems, inspectors can shoot photographs of deficiencies and attach the photo file to the digital inspection.


When owners or managers of fire-life safety contracting companies are considering new initiatives, the initiative that can transform the business is to switch from paper to digital inspections.

Interested in switching from paper to digital inspections? Chat with our team! 

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