A checklist is an ordered list with the provision to mark each list item as completed. It sounds very simple and it is. The challenge is to create the proper checklists for the tasks. There are many professions that use checklists. The airplane pilots, medical doctors, in quality assurance of software engineering, there are part of standard operation procedures in various industries.
Dr. Atul Gawande author of “The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right” explains, in detail, the benefits of the checklist. He points out some hints about the checklists. For example if the list is too long the people will not use it. Checklists are not only for simple things, as he points out, but also for complex things, especially when the unexpected occurs. In unexpected situations our stress level increases blurring our thinking. Checklists and training can rescue us from such situations. A situation like this was the US Airways 1549, where 90 seconds after takeoff and while was climbing it crossed the path of the geese. They lost power of both the engines. The main pilot, Sullenberg, took over the plane from his copilot and his copilot immediately pulled out the engine failure checklists to see if he could put them back online. With the help of luck and the professionalism of the pilots, the airplane was saved.
I have great personal experience creating and using checklists. I am using checklists daily both at work and home. I am using a checklist when I create a new project, when I gather project requirements, when I do risk management, when I check test plans, when I deploy software to production servers. I am keeping a version number of my checklists and make sure that I have and use only the latest version. I have realized additional benefits using checklists. They are great to capture experience. I am updating the list to include checks or tasks that prevent delays and / or failures. This is a great time saver which is another great characteristic of the checklists. Having great checklists helps you also to delegate some tasks more efficiently. You do not have to explain everything if they have the required training they can just follow the steps to get the right result.
I am looking forward to hear your experience with checklists.