Just checking, do you use checklists?

Use ChecklistsDo you use checklists in your daily work? For instance to check if your software is ready to be delivered to customers? Or when you are finishing a User Story, to check if it is fully “Done”? Or do you hate checklists, and think that they are a waste of time? That they are being misused to bother professionals and aren’t helpful? What’s your experience with checklists?

I like checklists! think that they help you to do your work more efficiently. They do not replace knowledge and experience: My opinion is that a checklist only works when people understand what they are doing, because it only consists of short sentences or a single word. Somebody who is not trained and experienced enough cannot use a checklist, because (s)he wouldn’t know what to check, or how to check it.

Trained people use checklist all the time. I use a checklist when I prepare myself to give a presentation or course, and I keep on adapting it. In CMMI-assessments and audits I use checklists to see which practices people do, and I also use checklists in projects to manage risks, take decisions, and check milestones and toll-gates.

ok sign buddy check

As a trained divemaster, I always do a buddycheck before entering the water to go diving. Better safe then sorry, I enjoy living and I want to live a long and healthy life. Also I’d rather fly with a pilot who uses a checklist before taking off, then with a pilot who’s going through the flight training manuals in the cockpit  ;-).

So what’s your experience with checklists? Like them or hate them? Why?

More information about checklists:

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About BenLinders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices: continuous improvement, collaboration and communication, and professional development, to deliver business value to customers. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.
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4 Responses to Just checking, do you use checklists?

  1. Derk-Jan de Grood says:

    Hi Ben, I love to use checklists. As DoD, or as more strategic tool. One of my favorite is the checklist that supports the business case for Test Automation: see http://djdegrood.wordpress.com/2012/06/22/test-automation-day-should-we-do-ta/

  2. Ben Linders says:

    A comment that I received through LinkedIn from Benno de Jong, suggesting an interesting book:

    “Hi Ben, I like checklists as Quality Management Systems are getting more complex. I recommend you to read The Checklist Manifesto by Dr Atul Gawande. Excellent book about benefits of using checklists in different industries.”

    Thanks Benno!

  3. Pingback: Self-assessing How Agile You Are | Bridge Global IT Staffing

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