Building an audit platform

Whether you operate a retail chain, a restaurant, an auto repair shop, a health club, a gym, a gas station, an assembly plant or something completely different, frequent audits are vital.

An audit can be carried out using various tools, from a piece of paper to online platforms like Instore Excellence. Your choice, should depend on factors such as volume, complexity of audit, number and type of audits and required features such as images, links to external resources, embedded videos, automatic business logic, scoring, data analysis, etc. Paper or digital platform; a well-structured audit is mandatory. In the following we will walk you through the fundamentals of Instore Excellence and hopefully inspire you.

Locations

Dividing your Site[1] into multiple locations is helpful to the Auditor, crucial to the analyst, and eases your work building and updating the audit. As an example, the Site could be a retail store, and the locations various physical areas in the store. Also, think about how best to sort the locations. Well sorted locations will guide the auditor through the store in a natural way. Locations atastore could look like this:

  1. Window
  2. Entrance
  3. Campaign Area
  4. Product Category A
  5. Product Category B
  6. Product Category C
  7. Tills
  8. Office
  9. Lunchroom
  10. Toilet
  11. Storage Room

The analyst will be able to identify patterns across sites, locations, and time. The operations manager can base his optimization dialogue with site managers on data and the auditor can focus on one location/area at a time.

Categories

While formulating audit questions, decide on question categories. Adding a category to each question enables an operational level of analysis, answering questions like: “On which parameters do our operations lack the most”? Category examples:

  • Cleanliness
  • Orderliness
  • Hygiene
  • Merchandising
  • Operations
  • Marketing
  • Branding
  • Loss Prevention
  • Safety
  • Security

Questions and answer options

Next, formulate the questions. Start with the first location and write all important conditions that need to be in place. For a window in a retail store it could look like this:

  1. “Is the window clean and intact”?
    1. Yes
    1. No – not clean
    1. No – not intact
    1. No
  2. “Is the window decorated as per company guide”?
    1. Yes
    1. No – Marketing Material Missing
    1. No – Products Missing
    1. No
  3. “Are all products tagged with a visible price tag”?
    1. Yes
    1. 1-3 price tags missing
    1. 4-5 price tags missing
    1. 5+ price tags missing
    1. No price tags at all

Notice how one question can produce more precise answers by changing the question text and adding more answer options. This approach will result in a “leaner” Audit and much better data quality.

In the above example, questions and answer options are based on observations, however, what if you need users to answer using a rating scale?

Example of an answer rating scale:

“Indicate the degree to which product category X meets the company guideline:”

  1. Perfect
  2. Very Good
  3. Good
  4. Bad
  5. Very Bad

Such types of questions are open to subjectivity, where perception likely differs by the auditor. Since the question is not quantitative, we can never overcome this 100%, but adding context in the form of descriptions, guidelines and links to your concept manual[2] can help a lot. Instore Excellence enables both guidelines to a question, external links, embedding videos and deep linking to your concept manual. 

Scored audits

Adding scores to answer options enables easy benchmarking and analysis. An easy way to scoring is simply by giving the positive option 10 points and the negative option 0 points. This, however, might not be the correct option if some questions are more important than others. There are no rights or wrongs here. Only you, as the business owner, knows how to quantify the importance of each question. One practical approach is simply starting with identical points for each question, and then adjusting the more important questions, raising points on positive answer options and maybe even lowering on the negative (points can be negative if unacceptable, thus drawing the total score)

Instore Excellence calculates a combined total score from all answers (achieved score against maximum score), and the score is added to each site dashboard for easy monitoring.


[1]Site = Retail Store, Restaurant, Auto Repair Shop, Health Club, Gym, Gas Station, Assembly Plant etc.

[2]Concept Manual is an A-Z description of the company’s look, feel and workflow.