For some surveyors, work-life balance isn’t a familiar term, with many working long hours under high pressure. However, as vital as speed and efficiency are in an industry as demanding as this, surveyors cannot rush their work – it’s the attention to detail that helps them stand out.
Between 2020 and 2021, the number of chartered surveyors in the UK fell, so when you add to that the market turmoil and a raft of economic pressures, it’s fair to say that surveyors felt the crunch in 2022 after what was a frenetic period following the pandemic. With more work on the table and fewer people to do it, surveyors really felt the strain.
Because of this, many surveyors are now turning to technology to help improve their existing processes or to find new ways to carry out their daily tasks. The upshot of this, of course, is improved efficiency without compromising on quality, so they can claw back more time to focus on the things that matter.
Improving communication across the organisation, enabling collaboration between departments and stakeholders and analysing business performance using data are often cited as the key drivers for technological adoption, with firms across the country keen to capitalise on the benefits technology brings to their organisation.
But with so many options on the market, it can be difficult for surveyors to find the most effective solution for their needs. Capturing relevant information, managing documents and digitising existing paper-based processes are all top of the agenda, but there are a few lesser-known surveyor app features that have the biggest impact.
So, with that in mind, here are ten features every property surveyor needs from their inspections and reporting app.
The best features every surveyor app needs
- Site Notes
- Mobile & Desktop App
- Offline Mode
- RICS Reports
- Report Editing
- Built-in Billing
In simple terms, integrations help you connect many platforms together into one combined system. This is usually achieved through an API, which stands for ‘application programming interface’. This handy piece of tech works behind the scenes to enable two or more systems to “talk” to each other.
Enabling a 360-degree view of all information and data across a range of platforms is the key outcome of any good integration, and they can either be cloud-based or on-premises, helping businesses share data and information between different applications and providing more features and functionality across the tech stack.
One of the most significant gripes surveyors have with inspection and reporting software is space. They can’t get enough of it! After all, is there much point in completely digitising your processes if you have to make hard copies to free up storage on the system? And where does all the photographic and video evidence go?
Sure, you could go the hardware route and use external drives, but the best surveyor apps come into their own when they offer unlimited storage on the cloud. Sometimes this can come at a premium, while other times it’s included as standard.
Aside from this, there are a couple of other storage-related things to consider when choosing an inspection app. For example, is it mobile-friendly? There’s nothing worse than only being able to access your documents on a desktop back in the office. Surveyors need access to their files wherever they are. Also, is it secure? Surveyors deal with a lot of sensitive information, so check that the app developer takes data security seriously.
For some firms out there, affordability isn’t all that important. But there are many smaller firms and independents looking to enjoy the benefits of cutting-edge tech without the associated costs. Inspection and reporting software that does the simplest things exceptionally well shouldn’t cost the earth, so many are free to choose a solution that aligns with their budget.
Full access to an inspection and reporting tool should be available from as little as £45 per month, with a range of tiers depending on your team size or needs. If you’re unsure about the price but you’re drawn to the features, why not make the most of a free trial?
When it comes to efficiency, one of the things that really takes the strain out of the daily duties of a surveyor is templates. Digital, ready-made and custom-branded inspection templates that can be called upon at instant speed will save hours of prep work, so when looking for a solution ensure they have those built in.
Though surveyors at the top of their game will know their job inside and out, templates can guide you through the inspection process in a more streamlined fashion, helping you stay on top of all the minutiae associated with high-quality surveying.
Some providers, like Property Inspect, will also create custom templates that can be branded with your company logo, so if you’re familiar with a certain type of report you’ll always have it to hand with your company’s identity and contact information taking pride of place.
5. Site Notes
For surveyors, context is essential. Not only does it help inform their work back at the office, but it also comes into play when explaining certain decisions to clients. A property inspection and reporting app that allows for the capture of detailed site information, including time-stamped photographic evidence, will mean no more notepads and pens going missing.
6. Mobile & Desktop App
As we’ve previously mentioned, being able to access your data and documents anywhere and at any time, is crucial. Property inspection tools that offer mobile, tablet and desktop applications that work seamlessly can spare surveyors the chore of sending and receiving documents from different devices.
7. Offline Mode
Surveyors work in a variety of locations, from far-flung rural settings to built-up cities. Occasionally you’ll run into a communications dead spot without the slightest hint of wifi or cellular data. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t be able to continue business as usual. Digitising your operations is all well and good, but if you’re out in the middle of nowhere with an iPad and no signal, you might as well be working with pen and paper.
Fortunately, the best surveyor apps work without an internet connection, so you can carry on with your tasks and collect all the necessary information and evidence. When your device finally connects to the internet, all of it will be uploaded to storage, ready to be sent to clients, team members or other stakeholders.
8. RICS Reports
RICS is the gold standard for surveyors, and they’re well aware of the gravity that the Royal Institute of Chartered Surveyors name brings to the table. Over the years, RICS has worked with its members to craft templates for its surveyors, all of which are consistently aligned with its core building surveying standards. So it’s safe to say that if your surveying app is not an accredited RICS partner or doesn’t feature RICS-branded templates, it’s probably not worth signing up for.
9. Report Editing
Once a surveyor has carried out an inspection, there’s still a chance they’ll need to amend the information contained within, especially when they get back to the office and run through their site notes. Being able to edit your digital reports is therefore vital, so you don’t have to go back over old ground and input all that data and information again on a different device or template.
It’s not just about retrospective editing though, some cutting-edge apps for surveyors now include live editing, so as you type you’ll see auto-suggested phrases or terms to speed up your information gathering. This frees you up from the repetitive nature of property inspections and surveys, so you can focus on the finer details.
10. Built-in Billing
When all is said and done, being able to send the report off and bill clients or contractors from within the app is a real-time saver. No more clerical work at the end of the day or head-scratching estimates, just simple, easy-to-use billing.