A comprehensive checklist is a powerful project management tool (The Power Of The Checklist), but its usefulness will be significantly greater if it’s thoughtfully crafted and carefully followed. We’ve put together a handful of strategies that will help your team get the most out of your checklists.

1 – Be thorough. A checklist is only as good as the information it includes, so be sure it’s comprehensive. Brainstorm everything that might be suitable for your checklist at the beginning of the project. It’s better to remove items from your list that are unnecessary for a particular project than it is to risk overlooking something important.


2 – Review your lists regularly throughout your project’s lifecycle. It’s a rare project that goes exactly according to plan, so insert opportunities in the schedule to go back over your checklists and make necessary changes. Will two vendor contracts be needed instead of one? Put it on the list. Did you find a way to consolidate tasks? Remove the ones that are no longer necessary.


3 – Put each list into some sort of order. Whether you break things down by area of responsibility, chronology, or even which vendor is involved, it’s useful to have a methodology for each list. You’ll often be able to spot omissions or areas of concern earlier in the project lifecycle if your brain is following a logical and repeatable process.


4 – Examine your checklists in every post-mortem analysis. The efficiency of future projects can be improved by taking the lessons you learn today and applying them to your next endeavor. No matter who discovered a new way to do something or why a better way hadn’t already been identified, it’s critical that you carry that knowledge forward. Just as you review other project activities, your checklists should be tweaked to be even more effective next time.

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