If you’re familiar with Atul Gawande’s New York Times bestselling book, The Checklist Manifesto, you know what a transformative role checklists can play in an organization, helping even the most skilled experts achieve optimum results and efficiency.

Technically, checklists can be created and completed with paper and pencil. However, as we’ve illustrated in other posts, a paper system is inherently flawed. It’s cumbersome, prone to mistakes, and isn’t fit for digital recordkeeping or analysis.

An interactive checklist, especially a mobile-optimized one, is much easier to embed right into the workday of the user. It can be accessed quickly, shrinks the margin for error and can be submitted and analyzed lightening-fast.

Interactive Checklists: A Use Case

We’ve been working with a client who came to us with a 500-point checklist. Yes, 500 items. Imagine having to complete that with paper and pen! Leadership recognized this checklist wasn’t fulfilling its potential and decided to make a change. They were on the right track by creating this checklist in the first place; it was just a matter of using modern technology to refine it to the point of becoming a very valuable tool.

The checklist was converted to an interactive one that’s completely responsive, so it can be completed on any device. It’s quicker and easier to work through each section, and once the checklist is submitted, the information collected is immediately analyzed for managerial reports. It’s powerful stuff and is redefining the way this organization manages its multi-location business.

I share this example to drive home the idea that interactive checklists are infinitely more powerful, more effective, and faster and easier to use than its paper-based ancestors. And there’s a lot you can do with them.

Interactive checklists can help people remember steps. They can make sure a process is completed thoroughly. They can be a source of data for reports. They can collect feedback. They can provide information. They can provide support for situations encountered less frequently.

Let’s dive into seven things you can do with an interactive checklist.

  1. Coaching: Learning to do something new takes time and practice, and a checklist can help you remember all the steps. Say you’ve brought on a new salesperson who is learning to use your CRM software and all that’s expected of him or her in using it. A handy checklist they can quickly pull up on their computer or phone will help remind them of everything they need to do in the CRM and how, so that no steps are missed. Not only is the company collecting the information it needs from the new rep, but the rep will feel as though he or she is acclimating to the new job quickly and avoid the frustrating hurdles of being the new person.
  2. Conduct Inspections: Inspections of a facility or piece of equipment ought to be thorough, especially when safety and regulatory mandates are a concern. Interactive checklists not only make sure an inspection is done thoroughly, but there is an immediate electronic record of each step being completed and marked as a pass/fail. In our client example above, they use these completed inspection checklists to identify trends and problem areas.
  3. Collect Feedback: An interactive checklist tool can also be a way to solicit feedback from a user base. A procedural checklist could include a question or two about how helpful the checklist is to the user.
  4. Gather Information: In the example above, completed inspection checklists are used to identify trends. Is a particular location repeatedly missing the mark in the same area? Looking for trends in inspection results helps management identifies problem areas for swift resolution.
  5. Emergency Response Protocol: Fortunately, emergencies don’t happen every day. But in the event something does happen, will your team feel confident in what steps to take? Checklists they can quickly access on any device will help them remain calm and instruct them how to handle the situation at hand, step-by-step.
  6. Quality Control/Process Improvement: Checklists not only make sure procedural tasks are completed—and completed properly—but allow for process refinement over time. Are any steps redundant? Should steps be completed in a different order to increase efficiency?
  7. Analytics and Reporting: Interactive checklists gather information that can be aggregated and turned into robust reports in near-real time. Data collected through paper checklists has to be manually entered into an analytics system before the information can really be of any use.

Has your organization relied on checklists to accomplish any of the above, or perhaps something we haven’t mentioned? Comment below to share your experience. We’d love to hear about it.