A common tool used in organizations to track and ensure quality are checklists.
Checklists are used to remind employees of steps in a process and critical milestones for completing job responsibilities.
I love to bake, and a lesson I learned long ago was to put ingredients in the mixing bowl in the order they are listed on the recipe.
Another trick I learned was the importance of going over the list a second time to ensure I didn’t miss anything.
I can say that there has been more than one time that I glazed over an ingredient and caught it during my “quality” check of the process.
This kind of check and balance is critical to all business processes.
Whether it is a checklist for cleaning the bathroom, maintenance on a vehicle, or changing intravenous tubing – using a job duties checklist, and having a check and balance helps to ensure a quality outcome.
Work Completion checklists are what quality systems are made of and following pre-determined checklists, and having someone double-check after another person, is the best way to ensure a quality service or product.
As humans, we often act out of routine, and we are all capable of “memorizing” steps to a process.
However, that same human side to us can be distracted – even momentarily – which can be long enough to miss a step and potentially cause an error in the process.
6 Reasons to Use Work Completion Checklists
1. Consistency In Process Steps
Checklists provide a framework for consistency in steps to a process.
Whether it is a script for answering the telephone or a checklist for packaging a product to ship, having defined and ordered steps helps minimize or eliminate errors in the process.
2. Reminders When Distracted
We are all human, and distractions are many and are ever-increasing with the fast pace with which we all live.
Checklists can help safeguard against those momentarily lapses in focus or concentration.
For instance, in the example of my baking, when I bake something, if one of my kids interrupted while I was measuring and mixing, the recipe served as a checklist to make sure I didn’t forget a key ingredient.
3. Working Document for Improvement
Another advantage of using checklists is that they become a working improvement document.
Use checklists and review them regularly to determine what works and what can be changed to improve the process.
For instance, if the receptionist is responsible for mailing the annual report, provide a checklist for sorting, stuffing, and mailing documents to ensure all reports are the same.
Then review with her what worked and what steps can be changed to make the process faster or more efficient.
Use checklists as working documents that are modified, updated, and improved regularly.
This is how organizations continually improve what they do and how they do it.
4. Contributes To Quality Services And Products
Successful quality initiatives typically have some sort of work checklist incorporated into a standardized product or service process.
Job checklists are one of the major contributors to quality products and services.
For instance, if you have a restaurant that does a lot of carryout meals, a checklist will help to ensure that whoever is packing the meal to go, does not miss an item that should be included.
5. Marketing tool – brag about what you do right!
I’m a proponent of leveraging what you do right.
When organizations have good quality systems and processes, they should be used as a marketing tool to educate the public about what they do right and why their product or service will deliver quality to the customer.
Being able to boast about a low error rate, great customer service, or a low product return rate is a great way to get customers interested in your product or service.
6. Training Consistency
Consistency is the name of the game when it comes to quality.
Employee training is a vulnerable area that, when left to rely on the memory of even the best employee, can prove to be disastrous if an essential step in the process is missed.
Most of us think of things in the order we do them and can miss a critical step to a process if there is not a checklist to refer to.
As competition continues to increase, ensuring the delivery of quality products or services is critical to meeting business goals.
Creating a standardized system and process that incorporates job checklists is one way to meet and exceed customer requirements and improve the bottom line.