Skip to main content

Business Productivity and Checklists

Do you use checklists in your business?

I do, many of my clients do, and many other businesses do. They use them for one very good reason; they help to drive up productivity.

If you're not a convert of checklists then let me share a quick example with you.


Before using checklists one of my clients would launch their projects in a haphazard fashion. By this I mean that the first few weeks of the projects would be inconsistent (when compared to other projects) and these early days of the project would be chaotic. You could break their projects down into three distinct phases, as shown in the diagram below:


As you can see from the diagram there were two points that distinguished the phases of the project. The first one being the project manager getting a good handle on the project, and the second one being when they realised that they had lost too much time at the start of the project.

The two checklists that I helped to introduce were designed to make sure that there were no distinct phases like the example. The checks were made prior to launching the project and then the project was executed as all projects are (with their own ups and downs!). The end results? Better schedule adherence, improved profit and happier customers. 

These checklists were fundamentally no different to anyone else's. They were designed to make sure things weren't forgotten and the best practice that we had defined got followed consistently.

If you are considering using checklists then please consider these pointers:

  • Use past failures to help form your checks, using 'root cause analysis' where appropriate to identify effective items to check.
  • Get the view points of different functions / teams to help list out the checks.
  • Create a simple and easy to use format to use as a checklist.
  • Consider a sign off box at the bottom for the responsible person(s) to agree that the checklist is complete. This is especially useful if the checklist is part of a handover process.

Checklists can help increase a business' productivity by reducing effort at the back end of a process from a marginal increase at the front end. I hope that if you weren't a believer in checklists when you found this post that you are now!

Have fun with your checklists,


Giles Johnston
...optimising MRP systems and re-engineering business processes

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Kamishibai Boards

Some tools are incredibly simple to use, and also deliver some amazing results. Kamishibai boards are a great example and are superb when you want some visual control over routine tasks. By the way Kamishibai is pronounced "come-e-she-bye" in case you were wondering!
As simple as you could want it, a Kamishibai board is a T-card system that has red cards glued to green
cards (so that each T-card has a red side and a green side). The red cards are for the incomplete tasks, where as the green cards symbolise that the work has been done. See the photo below of a board in use.
On the red side of the card you write the name of the task that needs to be completed, and if appropriate you can include details of how the task is to be completed. This is not expected to replace standard operating procedures, but can be a good opportunity for an aide memoire.
The boards can be organised for daily, weekly and even monthly cycles. They are great as part of a 5S implementation (the Susta…

Do You Put Enough Effort Into Changing How Your Business Works?

If you're reading this blog post it is a fair guess that you are looking to improve how your business works. So, what do you think about the question I have posed as the title of this article?
The reality is that if you could make a change happen with the same amount of effort that you current expend in your business changes would be happening left, right and centre. If you want to make a change stick in your business you need to increase your levels of effort temporarily. Without this increase in effort it is unlikely that the change you want will take place and sustain.
I recall when I worked as a Production Manager and the OTIF (On Time In Full) performance of our business was certainly not where it needed to be. For years the business had struggled to raise its level of performance; no additional effort had been expended. I planned out sixteen small improvement projects to address this and I got started with the changes. It was hard work at times and the work was on top of my…

Seeing the Improvement Wood for the Chaos Trees!

How are you feeling about your business the moment?

Are you feeling frustrated and irritated by the apparent lack of progress being made with your improvements?

If you answer ‘yes’ to this second question, don’t worry, you are not alone!

We all feel this way at times and the reason I am writing this article is that if you feel this way right now then I want to reassure you that there is a simple way to get out of this situation. I have been in this situation many times in both my operational life and as a consultant. It is normal and taking a deep breath and stepping back from the noise of the day-to-day is essential.

Let me take you through the three quick steps of Stopping, Assessing and Acting.


Take stock of where you are right now

In order for us to step back and try and see some of the ‘improvement wood’ as I refer to in the title of this article we need to have a simple question to focus our attention. A question I recommend that you ask is:

“Do our current processes suit the need…