Just checking, do you use checklists?

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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, than 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 Ben Linders

I help organizations with effective software development and management practices. Active member of several networks on Agile, Lean and Quality, and a frequent speaker and writer.
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6 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

  4. I live check-lists. Cannot imagine living without them. I have loved the check-list Manifesto book whose theme is about check-lists in the med world.

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  • Ben Linders – Independent Consultant Agile, Lean, Quality, and Continuous Improvement

    Ben Linders
    Ik help organisaties om effectiever software te ontwikkelen. Neem contact op voor mijn diensten.

    I help organizations to effectively develop software. Contact me to hear about my services.