Where would we be without checklists?

We’d be forgetting a lot of stuff, that’s where.

Almost every productive person uses some sort of daily to-do checklist to prevent them from forgetting something important and to keep them on track. In our personal lives, we’re constantly using checklists for things such as grocery shopping, household chores, or preparing for a vacation. In the commercial world, checklists are used in countless ways that range from the highly technical (surgery, pre-flight checks) to the relatively uncomplicated (closing up a business at night, basic inventory).

checklist_on_handThere are many causes for overlooking things. Time pressures, distractions, apathy, stress, and fatigue can all lead to us to neglect a task we really needed to do. Sometimes, the cause is simply that we don’t know what’s important to remember.

That’s where checklists come in. Checklists can be as simple as a few items on a napkin, or as sophisticated as checklist software programs. They all have the same purpose, though—to counter for the limitations of human memory, focus, and knowledge. The simple concept of checking off items as they’re done, in the order they’re supposed to be done, keeps us from screwing up.

However, all checklists—from the humblest to the most complex—need to have certain basic features to make them effective.

1.  All items that need to be included should be included. (Obviously, the value of any checklist is negated if it doesn’t include all the necessary items for the successful accomplishment of a process.)

2. No items should be included if they don’t need to be checked. (Unnecessary items create confusion about what needs to be checked and what doesn’t.)

3. Items should be listed in a logical order, so they can easily be found. (For example, listing items on a grocery list by store section keeps you from backtracking.)

These are very common-sense features to include in a checklist. Anyone can see their importance.  That’s why it’s difficult to understand why many businesses fail to use checklists with these basic but vital characteristics.

The Checker Solution

In business, where checklists usually involve more complex processes than daily living tasks, it pays to use professionally designed checklists. But if they don’t have the basic features we just discussed, they’re not going to provide the benefits that checklists should.

If your checklists aren’t fundamentally sound, you can remedy that situation with The Checker inspection books or mobile software. The Checker can be used to inspect, audit, or assess almost any type of asset—and it has all the fundamental characteristics of checklists that get the job done.

1.  Our checklists are designed for very specific types of assets. For example, unlike many checklists you’ll find on the market, we don’t just have a “vehicle” inspection. Instead, we have checklists for specific types of vehicles— all the vital items for that particular type of vehicle will be included. It’s that way with all of our hundreds of pre-designed checklists, and you can also customize checklists for particularly unique needs.

2. Checklists that are too generic must, by their nature, include items that don’t apply in every situation. With our asset-specific checklists, The Checker doesn’t have that problem.

3. We don’t list items alphabetically, which makes sense in some cases, but not in walk-around or walk-through situations such as commercial equipment inspections or facility safety audits. We certainly don’t list items arbitrarily, as some checklists seem to do. We list the items in the logical sequence they will be encountered during the inspecting process.


The Checker can provide numerous benefits, helping you manage, monitor, and plan inspection and auditing processes. But it all starts with a checklist design that has the fundamentals of an effective checklist. Regardless of whether you use The Checker, if you’re not using a checklist with these essential features, you will be well-served by remedying that problem.

Learn more about selecting the right inspection checklists by downloading “The Checker Checklist: The Value of Using Checklists,”  a checklist of what to look for in checklists.

Tags: inspection checklists, checklist design


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