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Your employees can work better: optimising processes with checklists

12.09.2016

Вusiness owners and company managers always think of what can be improved in order to increase overall performance of employees. For this purpose, various technologies are used, ranging from digital ones, such as hosted shared desktops and corporate social networks, to entire systems of control over employees, their working time allocation and their clock-ins and clock-outs. 

 

Workspaces are also being optimised, for example, many have reached a solution to organise comfortable open-spaces to develop a more creative atmosphere. However, for decades there has been a very simple and inexpensive way to optimise the working process, and that is a checklist. 

 

What do checklists look like

To put it simply, it is a sort of a to-do list for the day. Once an employee has performed a task from this list, it is crossed out (or somehow marked).

There is an opinion that checklists were derived from aviation sphere, where before the flight the first pilot has to check everything according to a special document, whereas the second pilot has to check whether the first one has checked everything right. Later, checklists passed into corporate culture.

In some companies, a checklist is written every morning on a board during a staff meeting (this is common place, for example, in the media). Checklists are often created in personal notebooks or daily journals. Some companies actively use large grid boards and stickers for this purpose. 

 

What are they needed for

It is impossible to keep everything in mind, especially if the action plan is drawn up not for the next hour, but, let’s say, for the whole next week or even a month. A checklist is also crucial as it helps you not to miss any important step in certain technologies. A checklist of phrases for the call center operator or a checklist for configuring complex equipment would be great examples to the case. 

Having an action plan you can work more effectively, especially if there is a random order of tasks assignment, you can arrange them in the checklist by level of importance, so you can be sure that no detail will be missed. This excludes any chance of oversights and negligence. 

Thanks to checklists, there is no need for long employee training. Instead of explaining the whole procedure several times, you can split it into certain goals on a checklist. 

 

Checklists and technologies

In the gadgets era, checklists have very successfully moved into a digital format. Applying them really helps to increase the efficiency of field workers - from the Internet equipment installers and builders to cleaners and couriers.

It is quite difficult to control the quality of the work performed as a manager can not travel to each job territory, and the clients' feedback may sometimes be far from being objective.

What is more, most companies in the field services sector do not have any prescribed problem-solving standards and their workers may simply do whatever they believe would best allow to achieve the set goal. 

This gives rise to a number of problems - it is impossible to guarantee quality, important stages of work can be missed, equipment is installed “by guesswork”, etc. Moreover, the quality of work is not guaranteed by the employees’ experience- both beginners and experienced masters make mistakes.

Using “standard” checklists written on paper may be of little help in this case since it is practically impossible to monitor the execution of them in remote work conditions as nothing prevents the employee from marking the task as a completed one without having actually fulfilled it. 

Implementing such practice as making photo reports upon completion of the order does not help either. A photo does not always show the quality of work, there are difficulties with transferring files to the office, many "forget" to take photos, etc.

It is quite different, though, when the checklist function is automatised and performed by a special application, as in the Planado service. Here, the checklist is activated at the start of the order - the worker has to perform actions sequentially, ticking the boxes in the application. You can’t leave out any step, otherwise the system will not allow the work to be completed. Once the order is completed, a photo report is sent to the office via the application.

This ensures complying with technology, so that even the employees who strive to optimise their work will not be able to overdo it and leave out an important step in the course of the task. As for beginners, having a checklist which describes the sequence of actions helps to avoid many mistakes.

 

Checklists only help those…( who help themselves)

Introducing checklists and software control tools by all means increases the efficiency of work and helps to avoid many mistakes, however, it cannot solve all the problems at once. A crucial role still belongs to the competent business management: e.g., in implementing other optimisation technologies like tracking the location of an employee on a map, monitoring their movements and the time spent at the workplace.

It is important that the employees understand that such measures are introduced not to infringe on their freedoms and rights, but to optimise and increase the efficiency of work. Also, in addition to the stick there is a carrot, such as different bonuses for achieving the results, etc. If managers can explain to their employees the reasons for the introduction of additional control tools and the advantages that this will give the business and to the employees themselves, this would be extremely supportive.

Of course, there will always be those who will oppose to the use of technological means and will look for some ways to bend the rules - and nothing can be done with such people as what they think about is not proper work, but the ways to make things easy for themselves and deceive the “authorities."

It is up to each leader to decide on what to do with such employees - but, in any case, their attempts to cheat will not go unnoticed.

For those who can and want to work honestly, checklists will become a good and convenient tool that allows you both to achieve high results and receive appropriate remuneration.

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