These are the signs of the times; everything getting more digital and online, even in the property worlds. Whether that’s online file storage, swanky software and database systems, or flashy apps and things to help process tasks easier and quicker.
Recording a property inspection is a prime candidate for this, and being able to somehow store the endless photos and comments that you come across is a good benefit of the advancement in technology.
Property inspection be for a whole host of reasons, for example an inventory or schedule of condition for a new tenant, a health & safety inspection, or just a general property management viewing.
People will already be tending to use mobile and tablet devices anyway, for example taking photos and then downloading or sending by email. But the next stage is to have a piece of digital real-estate that nicely ties all this together and makes it look pretty.
The Site Audit Pro
One example is an app called Site Audit Pro, which is basically an app to download for around £15 to use on a mobile phone or tablet.
Someone recommended it a while ago as a popular one, and we’ve therefore given it a go. We haven’t looked at alternative ones which may have slightly better features, but simply get on with using this particular one and coming up with some practical pointers for how you can then use within property management.
And as an overall app it seems pretty good really, enabling you to use photos being taken at a property, jazz them up with annotations and comments, and then present all this in a final report.
7 Top Tips For The App
To begin with, here are 7 particular features of the app that are useful to know:
1. Organisational Structure
The way in which information is organised in the app is quite simple really – you have a set ‘project’ and then ‘issues’ within it.
A project is probably any one particular inspection at a certain time, to a certain property, for a certain reason – and therefore records what ‘issues’ you then spot on this.
Drilling down further, each issue can then have 4 parts to it – a title, an assignee or rather person responsible for this, a written comment, and then a photo.
2. Marking Up Images
When you have a picture loaded within an issue, then you have a pencil icon to press which will allow you to annotate this with either a shape, arrow, or any kind of wiggly line.
This is great for quickly highlighting a particular part of a picture to spot, maybe a small crack on a wall, or a pile of rubbish in the background.
One drawback though is that you can’t make any further annotations such as symbols or even written text, although practically these coloured annotations can do the trick and you can always add more in the general comment of the issue at hand.
3. Deleting Projects & Issues
As a small point, it wasn’t at first obvious how to delete these that are no longer applicable, which not only helps de-clutter things in the app but stops them coming out as blank things on the report feature.
For issues, press the top right ‘edit’ button to then press the red spot against the issue to delete.
For projects, once you open this up go to ‘more actions’ to see the delete feature.
4. Multiple Photos
There’s some good news and bad news when it comes to using more than one photo.
The good news is that you can upload multiple ones, and the app automatically creates a separate issue for each photo installed. If you’re uploading from, say, stored photos on your phone then you can go in and amend each created issue.
The bad news is that you can’t upload multiple photos for any one issue, which can cause a problem in that you may need to refer to several different shots for any one issue. However, the app creators are considering this being a new feature in the future.
5. Using Assignees
This is basically the name of a person who is ‘assigned’ the responsibility of the issue at hand, and handy to then dish-out tasks and jobs to several people afterwards.
Plus you can always look to use this for more general purposes, so, say, a contractor or wider departmental name. In fact you can even change the standard ‘assignee’ name in settings to make more understandable.
One downside though is that these are just static names that appear in a report, with no ability to use the same standard-saved names, or any form of hyperlinking or contact of them direct feature.
6. Report Customisation
The end reports are cool to then have a summary of all the issues and pictures with it, which is ideal just to simply email as a PDF to have a digital record of things off the app platform.
There’s lots of ways these can be customised which are worth considering, direct in each one or through general settings – right from logos and new descriptions, to actual templates and designs.
7. Online Facility
A final point worth noting is that this is all using an app platform, which is basically within the piece of software on your phone or tablet.
Now, although these can talk to each other between different ones to synchronise – so between your mobile on site and tablet back at home or office – you need to remember what tools are needed for each stage.
So when you’re back home, remember to do any final tweaks through the app on your mobile or tablet.
Ideally this could do with being online and cloud-based as well, so you can log in through a website on your desktop or laptop and finish off as well.
4 Top Tips for Applying the App
Okay you may have a great piece of software to take pictures and log them on a property inspections, but the way in which you practically do this has a huge effect on things.
This is where some good property-management skills and experience come into play, with 4 top ones being here:
1. Taking Photos of Writing
Now this may strange, but you can use such digital technology to simply take a picture of otherwise written information.
So, you may complete a standard property inspection form anyway with handwritten information on there – so you could take a photo of this and use this as an ‘issue’ within the app to log the final detail.
Okay, this can be a little over the top, with such forms being completed anyway and the quality of any photo not being great in the final report, but hey it’s worth trying.
Also, you may want to make handwritten notes as you go along and simply take a photo of them as a reminder.
Or if you need to identify, say, a certain emergency door number, then hold the number written onto paper against the door before taking a picture.
2. Still Taking Photos on Your Camera
Although the app will allow any photos taken to be launched straight into the app, it’s probably worth first taking these as normal ones on your mobile or tablet and then separately uploading them.
Firstly, this allows you time to go through them afterwards to select the best ones, and secondly you will still have a digital log off the app that you can refer to or deal with separately.
3. Check Reports Before Issuing Them
Even after you have done all your customisation for the final app report as above, make sure you remember to check over it before any final issue to other people.
So just email back to your own email, to then open and go over – if you’re happy you can then re-send from your own email making it look more official, and you can bottom-out any obvious errors straight away.
In fact, it’s even better to print a hard copy off and go through as you’ll tend to spot other things. Even if they are technically correct then make sure they’re looking pukka and not coming across as a generic report.
4. Using it on a Macro Level
By this we mean taking a step back and using the facility for more general and overall issues not just every single inspection.
So maybe every quarter or month you need to report on general issues that may mean a snap-shot of all kinds of other smaller issues and inspections that you’ve covered within that period.
Or maybe there’s another party who needs things presenting in a different way, and not simply an ‘assignee’ in every report.
Therefore, see if you can use just on these more higher-level opportunities.
Getting With The Times
If you’re a young millennial then an app like this Site Audit Pro will seem like magic, and a logical way to manage a property inspection. Using it will be easy peasy, you can finally bring digital technology right into real-life property management duties.
For those not used to this, then it will appear more daunting and complicated. Well, the good news is that it isn’t, and actually very simple to use and therefore certainly worth giving a go.
However, one word of caution is that this will have limitations, as after all it is only a tool, and in actual fact the simplicity of using this can mean restrictions in use.
Bottom line – it’s there to help group endless photos together online, and then present them in a certain fashion.
Therefore, you may still carry out the property inspection as normal with just photos and notes, and only use this to then tidy things up afterwards.
And then when you do produce an end-report on this, then make sure it is all looking the part as well, and think around how you can still include vital information that may not automatically be there.
If you can bottom this out, and bring technology like this into real-life property experience, then you’re onto a winner.
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