All businesses have processes and procedures to follow. Some are simple, and others are complex. The simple ones could relate to a preferred method of invoicing, and the complex ones could refer to critical matters. Critical matters include procedures about patient care, surgical procedures and infection control in a hospital. Both simple and complex procedures are important, but in the latter example, lives could be at risk if processes and are not followed to the letter.
The procedures an airport has to follow, to manage the significant number of travelling passengers are complex. They are not as critical, however, as those that have to be followed to by airlines and pilots. When human lives depend upon every procedure being carried out correctly, every single time, checklists can make an extraordinary difference in preventing accidents and mistakes.
Why Checklists Are Important
In non-critical organisations, providing employees with checklists can be the difference between a streamlined business and an inefficient, loss-making one. Humans are, by nature, not very disciplined and thus having a set of given checks to follow creates structure and good business habits.
By making routine (but essential) tasks the feature of a checklist, more time can be spent on creative tasks and strategic planning.
Types of Checklist
There are many types of checklists, including:
- Administrative ones
- Task orientated ones
- Communication checklists
- Training checklists.
Whether the process is simple or complex, having a checklist to remind people of the precise steps to follow in any given situation gives rise to greater efficiency. The margin for error and potentially devasting mistakes is significantly reduced or even eliminated. It also encourages consistency, which is especially important in industries where there is high staff turnover, such as hospitality.
What Makes a Good Checklist?
For a checklist to be effective, it should be simple, clear and concise. When a list becomes endless paragraphs of detailed action steps, it loses its power to be followed clearly. Checklists can be either a ‘read and do’ type of list or a ‘tick when completed’ sort of checklist. Both are equally as effective.
As Atul Gawande, author of the best-selling ‘The Checklist Manifesto’ says “Good checklists, on the other hand are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. They do not try to spell out everything–a checklist cannot fly a plane. Instead, they provide reminders of only the most critical and important steps–the ones that even the highly skilled professional using them could miss. Good checklists are, above all, practical.”
How to Manage Your Checklists
Giving employees access to all checklists relevant to their job role enhances efficiency and streamlines company processes. This can be achieved through an online system that contains hotlinks and Post-it® reminders. Such a digital system allows employees to access each checklist they need, from wherever they are working and at any time. It also enables leadership teams to easily update or change lists and communicate this instantly to employees.
If you are looking to streamline your company’s processes, please contact us today.