The Real Difference Between Paper Audits and Audit Software

By on October 29, 2014 | Topics: Operations, Store Audits/Walks, Task Management

As a company grows from a small family-owned business to a regional superstar and eventually to a national powerhouse, it becomes more and more difficult to keep operations performance consistent from location to location. As a result, the customer experience tends to vary based on the day they visit and which location they visit. This is where store audits come in.

Through store audits, performance gaps are identified, issues are resolved, and training takes place to prevent the same issues from happening again in the future. But do existing pen and paper checklists truly help us maximize the return from all the time and energy spent conducting store audits?

Truthfully, they only serve as a single-day, single-store snapshot of how a company is doing. In order to turn these checklists into a useful management tool, a large amount of labor needs to be invested each week to combine each checklist into a single set of management reports.

Since creating those reports requires so much time, usually it never happens. The result is that store audits and the other checklists used throughout a company turn into something we just do, instead of something we can use to drive long term growth of the company.

This is where store audit software comes in. As data comes in from each location from a myriad of users, it is automatically compiled into reports. No labor time required. The real value, though, is what can be done with these reports. The two biggest benefits of these reports are a deeper understanding of the scope of issues and improved accountability.

Understand the Scope Of Issues:

An analogy I like to use is a bump in the road. Issues noticed during a store audit generally seem like bumps in the road. They can be overcome. When you are able to combine each store audit together, you are able to see which bumps are the largest for that store and which bumps are more like roadblocks to success for the entire company. Now as a management team, you know where to send the “construction crews.”

Improved Accountability:

There are so many pieces of the puzzle involved in running a successful retail store. While little details can be overlooked and standards may not always be met every day, it is important to know that the same issues are not happening over and over again. Reports are not only helpful in holding stores more accountable, it also drives improvement since the store staff now know that issues are on your radar and you will be following up soon.

So why can’t someone just take the time to create reports from existing pen and paper audits? It comes down to a well-known line in retail that time is money. Creating these reports takes time both at the store to type up an audit report and back at the corporate office to compile the audits together. Before that even happens, you will have to figure out what your reports need to look like. Instead, look for a turnkey software solution that saves time and helps you take store audits to the next level today.

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