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New Thoughts on Checklists

We use checklists regularly in our internal processes. I have written about our approach to checklists in a previous article, and I want to show an example of one of our checklists, and share approaches to using them. For every repetitive and/or complex task that has to be done, we use a checklist. One of the best examples which we do frequently is start new projects.

Check out our checklist for launching a new project.

Checklists always need to be up-to-date, so it’s best if they are easy to edit by anyone, and don’t require permissions for every update. That's why we use Google Docs for checklists. You can easily edit, add comments, and duplicate a checklist if needed. Some people also recommend an alternative service, HackPad or Trello, to manage their shared documents.

If someone on the team asks you how to do something, you can simply direct them to your checklist at any time. It’s necessary to build a good habit out of keeping checklists updated and frequently used in the organisation. Otherwise, checklists can quickly become obsolete and forgotten. You need to remember and get back to your checklists constantly.

We like our checklists to be super precise and have all the important little details, but at the same time keep them short and easy to skim through. The checklist wording has to be short, polite and precise. We also make multiple checklists or link to other documents or blog posts if necessary.

Sanity checks are helpful every now and then. Constant editing and commenting sometimes can turn your checklist upside down and you don’t want that. It’s a good practise to read your checklist every now and then, and ask yourself if it’s still accurate.

Last but not least - keep it simple, don’t over complicate it, don’t overthink it at the beginning. Keep it simple.

PS. Netguru’s clients are always included throughout the creation process of their applications. 5 Communication Tactics For Building Great Web Applications describes tricks & hints we use to keep everyone is on the same page.

On 02.12.2013 in Our Way