What do think of when someone mentions the word checklist? Is it a simple list of items which you tick off one by one; an aide-memoire ensuring that the key points are remembered?
Consider two examples:
- One from the World Health Organisation aimed at reducing morbidity and mortality.
- One used in the airline industry as a pre-flight checklist.
The World Health Organisation
The WHO Surgical Safety Checklist was developed after extensive consultation aiming to decrease errors and adverse events, and increase teamwork and communication in surgery. The 19-item checklist has gone on to show signiﬁcant reduction in both morbidity and mortality and is now used by a majority of surgical providers around the world.
Flight safety, discipline and importance of checklists
One of the first and main actions of pilots before a take-off is a checklist procedure, which is the key to why airline travel is the safest form of travel. In aviation, a pre-flight checklist is a list of tasks that should be performed by pilots and aircrew prior to a take-off. Pilots also use checklists for both normal and non-normal operations: for routine situations, for landings, take-offs, for malfunctions, and for emergencies.
An example extract from an A320 checklist (original source available here).
Implementation projects are complex. They involve multiple individuals from different backgrounds. Each will have subject matter expertise in their own right. When brought together, team members need to work as a coherent unit, playing their part to ensure effective delivery of the project.
Consider this example.
You are asked to arrange a technical planning session to be attended by representatives from your IT team and your solution suppliers. The purpose of the meeting is to agree the IT strategy for the finance system project.
What should be discussed at the meeting?
An initial call to an IT specialist and it is likely they will list out perhaps five or six items off the ‘top of their head’, to be agreed.
Sounds easy; the agenda is provided and the planning can take place…
Touchstone have five elements to the technical planning for a business solution project
- There are the infrastructure requirements (servers, operating systems, database) which will be needed depending on the size of the system, the number of users and so forth. This will be detailed in a technical requirements document.
- The clarification of the number of environments that require setting up e.g. Production, Test, Disaster Recovery, Training and so forth. This is detailed in an environment recommendations document.
- The delivery strategy definition which encompasses the deployment strategy, working together, pre-requisites, date planning, password considerations, change control procedures and other esoteric items to be considered. The items to be discussed are detailed in the technical planning agenda.
- The technical planning call to have a structured review of the previous three items, talking through the above detail
- The write up of the technical planning call bringing together all the elements discussed.
What about systems design?
A systems design workshop is there to identify the physical design requirements prior to the configuration of a software solution. For a purchase to pay solution there are six main areas to be discussed:
- Items and purchases
- Goods Receipting and Invoicing
- Reporting and Analysis
The Touchstone Purchase to Pay Design Preparation Document identifies 25 questions to answer prior to the commencement of a design workshop.
Checklists, detailed meeting agendas, and preparation documents are a way of codifying knowledge. Their use in sectors such as Health and Air Travel are there to prevent loss of life.
In business systems project delivery they are a valuable resource which:
- provides focus for the individuals to consider
- reduces the chances of something being missed in planning
- brings in lessons learned from previous projects as they encapsulate what has worked well or should be considered from similar implementations
- increases the productivity of a session providing a focal point
- allows for the more creative elements to take place, such as new process design, as the time is used to consider the requirement, not what needs to be included in the discussion.
TouchstoneFMS have embraced this approach to the collation of knowledge into a series of documents. Each one focused to cover a specific area of project delivery. You can click the links in this blog to request a copy, or email email@example.com with the subject “Request KBYGChecklists”
So next time you see a checklist, remember it is something that could literally save your life!