Regular monitoring of field staff and contractor performance by dedicated field inspectors or supervisors.
Field inspections relate to the regular and unannounced monitoring of field staff and contractors by dedicated field inspectors or supervisors. Inspections may simply focus on attendance (e.g. of construction workers) as well as performance of staff and contractors.
PURPOSE & LINK TO INTEGRITY
Regular field inspections can unveil a low quality of work, theft of assets, and other illicit practices. In addition, the increased risk of getting caught prevents staff and contractors from acting illicitly. Therefore, inspections contribute to better value for money in construction, operation, and maintenance. Reports on field inspections can also provide the management with feedback about staff motivation, give hints to possible operational problems, and work as a tool for quality control.
- Does your organization have a clear organizational structure and job descriptions in place to ensure clarity on reporting lines and expectations of staff? (Also check the tool Job descriptions)
- Does your organization have clear policies and procedures that staff have to comply with in the field? (Also check tools the Anti-corruption policy, Payment procedures, Accounting & finance manual, Connection procedures, Disconnection & reconnection procedures, Meter reading procedures, etc.)
- Does your organization have clear policies and procedures that contractors have to comply with, and are contractors aware of these? (See also the tools Contractors’ sensitization and Integrity pacts)
Different methods exist to ensure inspections are successful, such as:
- Random sampling: An inspector reviews employees’ or contractors’ work through random sampling. A manager or another inspector goes back over an inspector’s reports and randomly reviews a certain percentage of these reports. This sampling will reveal a pattern, if any exists, in quality problems of work.
- Separation of duties: Another successful method is separating employee or contractor duties in inspection procedures. This can be explained in a quality plan, which details how to inspect every product or work step at each stage. Or it might be in the creation of an inspection form. For example, a cashier might use two employees to verify that an employee’s money is collected at the end of a cashier shift, and both employees would sign to confirm their findings.
- Customer complaint investigation: Quality inspections can also be more successful when utilities or public institutions use their inspectors to research customer complaints about quality. An investigation might reveal, for example, when a faulty product was installed because of a lapse in employee or contractor adherence to quality control procedures. In this sense, customer complaints are the first step to addressing problems in employee or contractor performance.
- Field inspectors should operate independently without direct interactions with meter readers and other field staff. Careful selection of honest staff for field inspections is important.
- Field inspections should not be limited to tasks of utility staff, but are especially important for projects and tasks in which external firms, i.e. contractors, are involved.
KEY GUIDING DOCUMENTS
Marin Municipal Water District, 2006, Customer Service Field Inspector, Marin Municipal Water District, http://www.marinwater.org/DocumentCenter/Home/View/801, accessed 19.11.2015
Melone, S., 2013, Quality Inspection Objectives, eHow, http://www.ehow.com/info_8543763_methods-ensure-quality-inspection-successful.html, accessed 19.11.2015