What are checklists, what advantages do they offer and where are they used?
Determine the status using a question catalog or criteria list
Checklists help in many situations. In some cases they contain a collection of questions on a specific topic, in others defined criteria in the form of a inspection list. Both the question catalogue and the checklist have three main objectives:
- the recording of the actual state,
- the documentation of the target status,
- the adherence to and control of a given process – i.e. from the actual state to the target state.
It is often claimed that effort can be reduced with questionnaires and inspection lists. This is true to a certain extent, because first of all the creation causes effort: application scenarios have to be identified and information has to be collected, documented and sorted. The structure, content and appropriate formats must be discussed, defined and optimised. Without this effort, however, important work steps could be overlooked or expected results not produced, and the effort required to correct such omissions later would probably be significantly greater.
When working with checklists, organisations should ensure that incompletely formulated checklists can lead to serious errors. Ideally, checklists should therefore be reviewed, optimised or even discarded again and again.
Advantages of a checklist
The advantages of working with a checklist are obvious: as a guideline, they are usually based on experience and expertise and ensure that the checklist is followed,
- that work steps are not overlooked or forgotten,
- or the agreed elements are processed or checked,
- actual conditions documented or
- expected results are produced.
Thus, the use of a checklist is almost always also a quality assurance measure and a documented best practice.
The application of checklists
The field of application of checklists is practically infinite. In the private environment there are numerous examples such as checklists for weddings, house construction, borrowing, car purchase, holidays, relocation, pregnancy, birth, tax declaration, etc. And in companies there are also numerous examples in various disciplines:
- In project management, for example, on organisational forms, project plans, risks, team building, project start, project crises, project review. In most cases, company-wide checklists are described in the project management manual, while project-specific checklists are described in the project manual.
- In requirements management, for example, on stakeholders, goals, requirement documents, system context, system architecture, use cases, prioritisation, etc.
- In human resources, e.g. for job interviews, feedback, certificate creation, etc.
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