Difference Between Similar Terms and Objects

Difference Between Supervision and Inspection

Inspection and supervision terms are oftentimes used interchangeably in many applications. There is, however, a notable difference between the terms. Also, there is a significant difference between the scope of work done by inspectors and supervisors. This article unfolds these difference to clear the confusion in interchangeable usage of these two terms.


What is inspection?

An inspection is a task or assessment of fault-finding and fact-finding in many job settings. In the education system, for instance, an inspectorate system may be implemented to carry out inspection roles and responsibilities. The system’s duty would be to continually assess the standard and quality of education provided to learners. It will, among others, inspect how teachers deliver education, and how are the objectives of the national department achieved.

Inspectors in any job setting could be tasked with the roles to ensure that work is done effectively and perfectly. The inspection may be scheduled on a time to time basis whereas supervision, on the other hand, is oftentimes continuous.

There could be government inspection officers who inspect certain entities to ensure that laws, regulations and rules are being implemented. For example, the Chicago Department of Buildings may send inspectors for inspections of compliance with the building codes and standards set. These inspections may be on a scheduled basis or complainant-based.

Health inspectors, also, could be tasked to inspect restaurants and other food outlets to ensure the compliance of food safety standards. This is done to spot faults and perhaps enforce compliance or submit the inspection reports to relevant authorities. Inspection can be used to improve quality by making recommendations to relevant authorities about the pitfalls in a particular system.


What is supervision?

Supervision, on the other hand, gives an oversight on the subordinates on a continued basis to ensure that they are executing the tasks as requested. When an employee is under supervision, he or she is not allowed to do any task without the approval of the supervisor. He reports to the supervisor who may be the line manager.

In the education system, head of departments or school principals may act as supervisors of the teaching team to ensure that they continually teach. An inspectorate team may do fault-finding and fact-finding on the supervisors to proof if they are doing their supervision roles and responsibilities properly. A supervisor may issue a task to a subordinate and later inspect to see if the task has been completed. This shows some overlaps, although minor, between inspection and supervision. But, supervision is generally continuous, and supervisors are thus present on a day-to-day basis to ensure that tasks are being carried out as instructed.

Supervision may be hierarchical from immediate supervisors to senior management in any organization. The roles and responsibilities of supervisors are mainly the same across all organizations. Other organizations may incorporate inspection roles and responsibilities in supervision scope of work. This is what creates an interchangeable usage of the terms and thus a confusion.


Key Differences between Supervision and Inspection

Definitions of Supervision Vs. Inspection

Inspection is an act of assessing, among others, the job, objects, systems, people, and buildings to see if orders, quality standards, regulations, laws and rules are being followed.

Supervision, on other hand, is an act of giving an oversight on a continuous basis while giving orders and ensuring that they are carried out timeously, effectively and carefully.

Roles and responsibilities involved in Supervision Vs. Inspection

Inspectors are the professionals who carry out inspections. They may schedule the time frame to conduct inspections. Inspectors are not necessarily the order-givers. They may act as middlemen between relevant authorities and their subordinates to ensure that rules, safety or quality standards are being accomplished. Inspectors may make recommendations for improvement of systems. The work scope may be broad from on organization or government to the other.

Supervisors’ roles is to ensure that their subordinates carry orders as needed. Supervisors give orders and instructions. There may not be any need for supervisors to inspect that the employees have done the job because they are often present. They give regular supervision, and employees are not allowed to carry out any task without supervision.


Inspection is not applied on a continuous basis. It may be scheduled according to the time intervals. In some cases, inspection may be influenced by complaints. If, for example, consumers are reported to be getting ill due to consumption of food, inspectors may be prompted to inspect specific food outlets or manufacturers.

Supervision is, on the other hand, applied on a continuous basis. A supervisor may be present physically or a phone-call away from the subordinates.

Supervision Vs.  Inspection: Comparison Chart


Summary of Supervision Vs. Inspection

  • Inspection finds faults or facts. It ensures that standards, rules, laws or regulations are being followed
  • Supervision gives oversight to subordinates to ensure that they execute the tasks assigned
  • Inspection is applied on scheduled time frames or per complaints
  • Supervision is applied continuously because supervisors are oftentimes present at the workplace
  • Supervisors carry out supervision while inspectors carry out inspections
  • Inspectors do not necessarily inspect subordinates while supervisors supervise their subordinates.
  • Supervisors give orders
  • Inspectors may give recommendations to senior managers who may improve the standards or enforce compliance.

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  1. What a beautiful write-up! How I wished you could send the likes of this to me on regular basis.

  2. Very interesting and accurate I like your write up.

  3. Thanks for your so much struggle..carry on Ayesha fatima.may God bless u

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References :

[0]David Chappell (2015). Construction Contracts: Questions and Answers. Routledge – Technology & Engineering (24 March 2015). 

[1]A. V. Gadgil, (1982). Supervision in Education. Shubhada-Saraswat.

[2]Image credit: http://www.picserver.org/highway-signs2/images/inspection.jpg

[3]Image credit: https://www.flickr.com/photos/creative-heroes/9065947103

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