COVID-19 has disrupted the business world with all the subtlety of a wrecking ball. It’s cleared out offices, frozen budgets, and scarred markets beyond recognition. It’s also lit the supply chain assurance landscape on fire, with seventy-five percent of companies reporting supply chain disruptions. This is a field that’s been falling behind in the race toward location independence for years. In its purest form, it still counts on all five senses to conduct face-to-face audits. Without those senses, entire industries can corrode on the back of unassessed risk and shoddy surveillance. Remote assurance has clambered out of the ashes to face the world anew, though. The industry has innovated on a grand digital scale, proving that the pressure of the Roaring Twenties can, indeed, have positive results.
The Modern Remote Assurance Landscape
Entire industries count on remote assurance for their safety and integrity of collected data. It’s not easy to assess personnel, equipment, or site conditions if you can’t engage with them face-to-face, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible. If you can capture high-quality evidence, you can produce equally useful assurance outcomes. Live stream video technology can travel halfway across the world with nary a cough to threaten it. Sometimes, it can assess supply chains even better than a human auditor. Today’s digital assurance tools include ISO 28, 000-compliant e-procurement systems for managing workflows and vendor contracts.
Digital collaboration tools and electronic agreements must, of course, follow, but the toughest challenge is remote data-collection. If your mind is already drifting towards digital tools, not so fast. One of the most valuable remote assurance tools is the old-fashioned sample-based pilot survey. If you can vary your collection strategies, even better, so the industry is using trade data, government input, and landing site interviews to cross-check for mistakes. You don’t have to create your own data in order to use it. There’s a wealth of information at your fingertips already. Add risk assessment frameworks and impact measures to the mix, and you have the power to achieve more precision than ever before. Now all the industry needs is a way to fill all of its redundant jet-setting time.
Moving into a Digital World
The assurance industry didn’t need a pandemic to encourage digital integration. It’s been using real-time visibility tools to capture production processes and defect rates for years. Its risk assessment and identification methodologies have had decades to refine themselves, and leaders like Deloitte have been using remote-operated drones since 2017. Remote instrument analysis has been in use since 1950 (instrument test processing used to be done by the seismic processors)
but Verif-i has been doing it since 1998, allowing assurance teams to support operations from a distance. The industry has also developed machine learning tools that add to that transformation by finding important areas of interest among a morass of prose.
Remote assurance teams can now lay out a path long before their crews arrive on the site. When you’re dealing with locations that are difficult to reach, you can’t afford to build your infrastructure on-the-go. Your conditions and equipment need to be perfect long before you even buy a plane ticket, but with strong scenario planning and geospatial mapping tools, you have a crystal ball into the future.
With cyber tools on their side, small teams can protect billions of dollars in revenue, juggling multiple risks at once. Remote auditors can do interviews and site inspections through digital media. They can assess probabilities and impact in enough depth to mitigate risk thanks to the extraordinary power of digital analytics. They can even live stream their audits to co-witnesses, so today’s businesses can prospect from their living rooms.
Fortunately, the IT industry has been rolling out collaborative tools at a dizzying pace in recent years, so software excellence is at its peak. A few Zoom meetings aren’t enough, though. Its software must mimic everything a field crew would do on-site, and the cream of the auditing world can do exactly that. Remote assurance must also fit the requirements of its regulatory environment, and it can in almost all cases. It’s never been easier to secure ISO certification.
Navigating such an innovative technological world isn’t easy. The need for technological literacy has created a seismic shift in required skillsets, but that’s made the industry more exacting than ever before. That kind of rigour reflects heavily on your bottom line.
The Importance of Bias
Even the most precise information can be misconstrued by an undisciplined auditor, so your assurance team needs the skill to view data without bias. That’s harder to achieve than you might think, but internal control systems can mitigate much of that risk, as can careful cross-checking. Inexperienced eyes won’t achieve much with those habits alone, though. Disciplined objectivity can fail. There’s a good reason that the most successful remote assurance teams specialise in a specific industry. Context counts. Without knowledge, data will never have context. Without context, you’ll see a 3D world in only two dimensions.
Nuance is one of the most important ways to validate remote data sources, so methods need to include everything from compliance information and biological evidence to operations data and cost analytics. That process won’t add any minutes to your lunch break, but nor does flying to inspection sites.
Closing the Gap
With software reducing your assessment to raw data, reconciliation is mere moments away. That gives you the power to make decisions on-the-run. An agile business is a profitable business, but until recently, no assurance process could achieve anything remotely nimble. In the virtual world, everything moves quickly, and no human decision-makers need to be cut out of the process.
The seismic industry must navigate a huge range of extreme biomes, from rain forests to massive ocean expanses, so safety is a key concern. Time-lapse monitoring is an important development in this area. It offers continuous observation and comprehensive data capturing, so it lets your auditors respond to risks before they become reality.
Geographical exploration has never been easy or cheap, but technology is making it simpler and easier on the pocket. Two-dimensional seismic data comes with aeromagnetic interpretations for creating 3D models. GIS mapping has covered massive swathes of earth, and now it’s interactive enough to update with the passing of time. Data can be remotely sensed, so all you need is a skilled interpreter. With faults and fractures mapped out through spectral signatures, minerals are easier to track down. In the future, multispectral thermal IR images are expected to offer even more accuracy.
If you bake a cake by throwing all the ingredients together at once, the results will be inedible, and technical auditing is the same. Technology has reinvented the industry, but without human partnerships and solid strategies, it’s prone to making expensive mistakes. When you choose software-based assurance, you must also choose a skilled human team who turns your systems into a seamless collaboration.
If you’d like to know more about how we can help harness the powers of the latest technologies to improve your companies explorations, get in touch.