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You Need Mobile Inspection Software. Here’s How to Choose

Industry Insights

Moving from paper processes to mobile inspection software can boost your portfolio’s operational excellence, efficiency and resident relations — but what should you look for in a solution?

Read on or Download our Top 12 Must-Have Mobile Inspection Features Cheatsheet.

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If you’re hesitant to transform your Multifamily Operations by switching from a paper-based inspection workflow to software, you’re probably leery of creating more work for yourself and your team as you to attempt to transition your core business functions to new technology.

You’ve seen that onboarding the wrong software can take forever to deploy, fail to integrate with your existing mission-critical systems, drain significant human resources to implement and support, and yield confusion and low adoption rates among your workforce — but you’re locked into an annual contract. Faced with the prospect of transitioning off the platform, which can be just as resource-intensive as its deployment, you end up renewing software your organization would be better off extracting from your business systems.

It’s hard to think of a more disappointing software scenario, but even great business leaders can make poor decisions when it comes to choosing a software solution. So on the one hand, you have reason to approach onboarding a new inspection tool with caution. But, on the other hand, you know that every day you defer the adoption of a mobile operations platform is another day you’ve sacrificed dramatic improvement in operational efficiency and excellence: from faster response times to resident requests to decreased labor costs, higher compliance, lower liability risk and increased damage recoveries.

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"Every day you defer the adoption of a mobile operations platform is another day you’ve sacrificed dramatic improvement in operational efficiency and excellence: from faster response times to resident requests to decreased labor costs, higher compliance, lower liability risk and increased damage recoveries."

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Business Woman Choosing

The reasons you need a mobile inspection solution span the gamut of driving successful Multifamily operations. From common area and amenity upkeep to preventing apartment fires and bed bug infestations, to energy and water efficiency, to routine maintenance, documentation and QA, to more efficient, consistent unit turns, moving from paper-based processes to a mobile strategy can dramatically improve your resident satisfaction and occupancy rates, labor efficiency and risk profile.

Paper-Based Inspections are Hurting Your Business

To start with, paper systems are expensive in more ways than one, and they just don’t cut it in today’s business environment of high resident expectations and competitors seeking to out-execute one another. Paper gets lost, makes data collection difficult and slow, and lacks consistency and legibility.

Business Woman Choosing

The reasons you need a mobile inspection solution span the gamut of driving successful Multifamily operations. From common area and amenity upkeep to preventing apartment fires and bed bug infestations, to energy and water efficiency, to routine maintenance, documentation and QA, to more efficient, consistent unit turns, moving from paper-based processes to a mobile strategy can dramatically improve your resident satisfaction and occupancy rates, labor efficiency and risk profile.

Paper-Based Inspections are Hurting Your Business

To start with, paper systems are expensive in more ways than one, and they just don’t cut it in today’s business environment of high resident expectations and competitors seeking to out-execute one another. Paper gets lost, makes data collection difficult and slow, and lacks consistency and legibility.

In addition, with a paper workflow, residents’ maintenance requests take longer to fulfill and satisfaction drops. Office staff have to spend time attaching photos to reports, filing documents, and later searching through those same files to locate old inspections.

With your property data and records in such poor shape, negligence lawsuits are both more likely and more costly. Most traditional inspections don’t create the kind of rigorous documentation that owners and managers need to stave off large legal settlements and judgments. And they rarely include relevant time-stamped photographs to prove that areas are kept safe, secure and aligned with quality assurance standards on a regular basis – an indispensable feature of the best inspection software.

Man Thinking About Paper

Most critically, using paper-based workflows limit management’s visibility into onsite operations, — making property benchmarking, rapid issue resolution and superlative property compliance extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The reasons you need inspection software are clear. But how do you choose the best solution for your organization?

First, let’s discuss the three main components of a full inspection platform and the important features of each. Then let’s address the typical concerns regarding new business software — speed of deployment, cost, security, integration with current systems, end user experience and commitment of human resources — and consider how to choose the best inspection software based on this information.

Most critically, using paper-based workflows limit management’s visibility into onsite operations, — making property benchmarking, rapid issue resolution and superlative property compliance extremely difficult, if not impossible.

The reasons you need inspection software are clear. But how do you choose the best solution for your organization?

First, let’s discuss the three main components of a full inspection platform and the important features of each. Then let’s address the typical concerns regarding new business software — speed of deployment, cost, security, integration with current systems, end user experience and commitment of human resources — and consider how to choose the best inspection software based on this information.

Man Thinking About Paper

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By rolling out HappyCo’s inspection software...



  • Equity Residential has increased its damage chargebacks by 9%, equivalent to $850,000 in cost recovery, reduced labor by 30 – 60 minutes per inspection across 50,000 inspections annually and substantially decreased disputes, with some properties reporting up to 50% fewer disputes at move out.


  • Tarragon Property Services has improved resident dispute response times from a couple of days to less than a minute, cut inspection times from 30 to 10 minutes, reduced hotline complaints by 75% and decreased resident move-out disputes by 50%.

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What to Look for in an Inspection Solution

The Happy Inspector app



Mobile Tool: Standardize your inspections across your operations with a Mobile App your teams can use on a tablet or smartphone to collect consistent, high quality data on any and all of your assets. Whether you require periodic, MIMO, grounds or other inspections, a mobile inspection app can enable your teams to document unit and property conditions, quality and safety standards, staff performance and more.

You need a perfect fit for your workflow, so look for an app that offers customizable forms that allow you to tailor audits to your operational needs. Rather than waiting for an IT team to edit your forms for you, choose a tool that enables you to precisely match the layouts for each unit at every property.

The Happy Inspector app

Mobile Tool: Standardize your inspections across your operations with a Mobile App your teams can use on a tablet or smartphone to collect consistent, high quality data on any and all of your assets. Whether you require periodic, MIMO, grounds or other inspections, a mobile inspection app can enable your teams to document unit and property conditions, quality and safety standards, staff performance and more.

You need a perfect fit for your workflow, so look for an app that offers customizable forms that allow you to tailor audits to your operational needs. Rather than waiting for an IT team to edit your forms for you, choose a tool that enables you to precisely match the layouts for each unit at every property.

Be sure to consider the UI. Is the app easy for your teams to learn with a broad range user-friendly icons and color options? Can they add per-item comments during their walk? Good UI can mean the difference between a smooth rollout and a difficult one.

To quantify and compare conditions and performance between properties, you’ll need to take advantage of features like Scoring and the ability to assign per-item Costs for replace and repair. Time-stamped photos and digital signatures are two of the most important aspects for achieving significant lift on your damage recoveries – not to mention they yield significant time savings since staff no longer has to separately record photos, track down signatures, and upload them to a server or append to a paper file. And they provide irrefutable evidence in legal disputes.

And a mobile app with 100% offline forms means your teams can perform inspections without access to cellular data or WiFi, allowing for uninterrupted workflows and saving you from having to buy data plans. Also ensure your mobile tool includes automatic backup to the cloud and instant availability to management so you don’t lose your data and can immediately follow up on any urgent items.

Web Console

Web Console: As soon as your teams have collected property-level data, a Web Control Center can give you visibility into your operations portfolio-wide, so you can manage multiple properties effectively and in real time. Look for anytime access to inspections, the ability to edit forms and dispatch updates instantly; as well as the ability to schedule inspections and manage users and permissions — so you can identify and resolve issues the moment they’re spotted on the ground.

A control center that is web-based rather than a desktop app offers you two distinct advantages. One — you don’t have to constantly update your software because updates and new features get added automatically. Two — you can use any internet-connected device to sign in, meaning you aren’t dependent on a single computer or tablet.

The real-time visibility and control your web console offers will be your gateway to driving higher inspection compliance and ultimately higher resident satisfaction and better property conditions.

Operational Dashboards



Reporting: Once your data has been collected with a mobile inspection solution, Operational Dashboards empower you to use the data instantly by helping you spot trends. This analytics side of your new inspection software aggregates and organizes the data you’ve collected across all properties in real time so you can act on issues immediately, enabling you to make data-driven decisions for achieving key performance indicators. Look for the ability to monitor unit turns, quality standards, benchmark property performance and policy compliance as well as the power to identify global trends over time or across locations and create an actionable report that red-flags problems.

Reporting: Once your data has been collected with a mobile inspection solution, Operational Dashboards empower you to use the data instantly by helping you spot trends. This analytics side of your new inspection software aggregates and organizes the data you’ve collected across all properties in real time so you can act on issues immediately, enabling you to make data-driven decisions for achieving key performance indicators. Look for the ability to monitor unit turns, quality standards, benchmark property performance and policy compliance as well as the power to identify global trends over time or across locations and create an actionable report that red-flags problems.

Operational Dashboards

Your capacity for preserving brand equity, resident loyalties and premium rents is only as strong as your ability to monitor quality compliance and maintenance performance through data insights. Choose an inspection solution with solid analytics and you’ll also save big on repairs and retrofitting by spotting patterns instead of patching isolated issues.

Now that we’ve covered the three main components of a robust inspection platform, let’s talk about the foremost concerns of most corporate teams regarding implementing new software.

Speed of Deployment: Today’s non-monolithic mobile-first and cloud-first applications can be deployed in a matter of weeks. Unlike typical ERPs (Enterprise Resource Planning software) offered by incumbents like IBM, Oracle and SAP, whose rollouts typically take a minimum of 15 to 20 months, new mobile and SaaS-based (Software as a Service) platforms offer speedy deployments due to easy learning curves, high end user adoption and minimal involvement from your IT department. As you shop for software, keep an eye out for a great SaaS and mobile-first vendor that can demonstrate a rapid and smooth implementation.

Cost: Unlike ERPs that traditionally require a very large capital investment from the outset, mobile and SaaS platforms don’t require large investments in hardware nor the IT staff to maintain and optimize that equipment. Since software updates are automatically pushed to end users on mobile through MDM (mobile device management) or the Apple App Store or Google Play Store — and for web applications, updates are automatically delivered by the software vendor you select over the Internet, — sky-high professional services fees typical of ERP software are eliminated. The trend toward BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) wherein employees use their personal devices on the job, disposes of the need to invest in new compatible devices, but be sure your new software works on both iOS and Android. A mobile, SaaS strategy can be just the ticket for lower cost, higher value software.

Security: You may feel that software needs to be self-hosted to ensure security. This misconception is based on fair concerns about compliance breaches and data leaks. But the truth is data has never been more secure. Cloud storage facilities are also being subjected to the highest standards of security and are required to fulfil certain criteria to be eligible for their ISO certifications. These include building secure datacenters that are independently audited, and adhere to standards such as Soc 2 Type II. As you consider solutions, look for bank-grade encryption for your sensitive data and ensure automatic backups to the cloud.

Integration

Integration with Current Systems: Adopting new software makes for a headache when it has trouble “speaking” to your existing mission-critical technologies. Thankfully, advances in software communication have made integrations between corporate applications and databases easier and faster. If you want seamless workflows and reporting, you should look for a vendor offering an API (Application Programming Interface) based on gRPC, a secure modern communication protocol open sourced by Google that bridges the gap between software platforms, simplifying client-server coding and speeding up implementation.

Integration

Integration with Current Systems: Adopting new software makes for a headache when it has trouble “speaking” to your existing mission-critical technologies. Thankfully, advances in software communication have made integrations between corporate applications and databases easier and faster. If you want seamless workflows and reporting, you should look for a vendor offering an API (Application Programming Interface) based on gRPC, a secure modern communication protocol open sourced by Google that bridges the gap between software platforms, simplifying client-server coding and speeding up implementation.

End User Experience: Software usability, functionality and visual appeal impact your organization-wide adoption rates and so determine the success or failure of your new software. Your employees have come to expect software that is easy and delightful to use because of the mass penetration of mobile apps. Smartphone penetration in the U.S. is 80% today and is forecast at 93% by 2020, in just 3 years. Your team has become accustomed to great software and will no longer adopt clunky, difficult-to-use products. The best mobile-first software delivers a well-designed and approachable User Interface that results in positive feedback from every organizational level.

Human Resources Commitment: With a mobile-first, cloud-based strategy, small teams can fully manage the service lifecycle of your new platform with minimal IT support. Choose software that integrates best-in-class solutions with plug-and-play simplicity , so that you can have the leading mobile operations solution without sacrificing the simplicity of a single platform. An excellent customer success team and approachable support resources also boost your ability to implement with speed, grace and minimal commitments from your human resources.

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Today, your organization’s ability to capture data plays a key role in your success. As Paul Blase and Anand Rao, two advisory principals with PwC astutely note, “companies that don’t mine and cultivate their information as if it is their most important asset ultimately are leaving it to be monetized by their competitors.” We’re now in the era of real-time business, so your ability to respond immediately to consumer expectations is paramount to your success in our current environment of instant gratification. The right mobile inspection tool paired with mission-critical data insights will impact your bottom line, improve resident relations, and drive better business decisions across your portfolio.

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Don’t Tolerate Bad Enterprise Software.
Here are the 12 most important features to look for in a mobile inspection solution.


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About the author

Avatar

Ben Chadwell
Marketing Manager

Ben hails from the gentle, rolling hills of Pennsylvania, where he achieved a BA in a degree program of his own design - a combo of Conservation Biology, Spanish and International Business - at West Chester University. He brings his background in nonprofit development and writing to the transformative work of HappyCo and especially enjoys crafting thought leadership pieces. When he isn't creating content and collateral, Ben delights in reading, doing improv theatre and blues dancing.

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