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The Importance of Checklists in the Workplace

By November 11, 2014 No Comments

Here is a tip that can make your day-to-day job easier and also your work results more accurate and predictable.  Make checklists for your common work tasks.  You can start with a general checklist of how to approach your workday or your week, to very specific checklists on how to perform a specific task at the office.  Checklists can be great for both complex and mundane office activities.

Example Internal Checklist

Imagine one of your duties is to write the monthly email newsletter for your organization. After 6 months of writing and distributing it regularly, it’s like second nature to you. You approach it every month, write your content, publish it online, send out the email and then repeat.  The problem with this routine is without taking time to really analyze what you are doing and why you are doing certain tasks you are bound to occasionally skip a step and are not providing a mechanism to guarantee you learn from past experiences.  This month maybe you forgot to do a test run so a link was broken.  Last month perhaps you forgot to import your most recent prospects from your contact database. The month prior maybe you had a typo because you authored it directly in the newsletter program rather than Word, and you should have known better.

Checklists can help improve your results with many of your routine tasks and have proven to be a huge success in the health industry, aviation and even the workplace.

How do we use checklists at Web Ascender?

Our most famous checklist at the office is our go-live checklist.  This checklist is followed step by step prior to any and every website launch and is comprised of 10+ years of experience and lessons learned.  These lessons are distilled into a simple-to-follow checklist with internal wiki links to learn more about that specific line item. If you are unfamiliar with why a specific item is important or how to accomplish it, you can follow the wiki link to get all the nitty-gritty details.

One of the items on our go-live checklist is the creation of 301 redirects when we launch a new website.  Take for example a website that we’re replacing with a new, updated site. If on the old site there was a page named yourcompany.com/history.html that was being replaced with a new page that was now named yourcompany.com/about, we need to tell the website to redirect any traffic that attempts to go to /history.html to /about.  This is important because Google may have been indexing the website for years and some people may have made bookmarks to those specific pages on the website.  When the new website launches those pages are going to disappear. Google and others will get – 404 file not found – errors without the specific redirects.  I have seen Fortune 500 companies launch new websites without doing this and break every one of their links in Google (not a client of ours of course).

Without proper processes, checklists, and a way to incorporate lessons learned back into your workplace, time and energy will be wasted making the same mistakes and trying to relearn different processes, especially by new employees. Let the new guy learn what’s important from existing checklists and by following your documented processes, not learn by continuing to make the same mistakes others have made in the past.

Checklists make great tools to train new employees.

Training is hard work, and it takes a lot of time and effort from staff to train new staff.  By already having quality processes and checklists in place, you are decreasing the effort it takes to train new people who enter the organization and are also making the quality of the work you produce better.  These checklists outline a path to success and a logical flow of how to get from point A to B to produce optimum results.  Yes, employees will still have to use their brain on each and every bullet point, but it gives them a way to get through each bullet point and ensure that it is all done properly.  They are not wondering what’s next or trying to mentally confirm they have completed all of the important steps.

How to Create a Workplace Checklist

Creating your first checklist is easy.  Open Microsoft Word, PowerPoint, a Google document or whatever program you like, and make some bullet points of the steps necessary in the process.  Print it out and use it next time you perform the task.  If you notice something missing, add it to your original source checklist and continue to use it and improve it. It’s that easy.

Interested in seeing a checklist for sending an email newsletter?

Download our newsletter checklist.

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