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The Value of Using Checklists to Manage Your Business

Jun 13, 2008
Historically, checklists were simple to-do lists that served as reminders; attend the sales conference, fax or mail the contract to a customer, or distribute an employee memo. Even today, most dictionaries define a checklist as a document that serves as a reminder for a series of tasks to be completed. However, checklists have now evolved to important business management tools that do much more. In addition to listing action items, checklists are effective business processes that enable organizations to grow and progress systematically, and in a planned manner. They have become important organizational tools for business enterprises.

Business checklists enable you to evaluate organizational goals, and prioritize objectives so that while you are managing all the high priority actions, the smaller yet necessary tasks are also incorporated and dealt with. They allow you to stick to the planned course of action and recognize deviations before any adverse eventualities occur. Moreover, it is important for any business entity to move faster than its competitors. By prioritizing and organizing action items and schedules, checklists allow the company to save time and stay abreast, even ahead, of its industry.

Marketing checklists, business management checklists, employee development checklists, financial checklists, and several other such checklists enable you to plan business, marketing and sales strategies and organizational development along with moving the business down a well-defined path.

Checklists are valuable tools for long-term as well as short-term planning. They can be utilized by any member of a business organization involved in planning for organizational or business development, production and customer operations, or even human resource management. Checklists can be developed and used by any type of commercial enterprise, including a retail store or restaurant, technology company or producer of consumer durables such as automobiles.

Business owners and managers from all size businesses now acknowledge the benefits of and recognize the value of checklists as an important tool for business growth and profit. Checklists are not simply task lists, they also carry important details about strategy, key personnel responsible for activities, and required resources needed for success. Most importantly, business checklists drive all activity toward the target completion date and the intended business goal.

Business checklists are best used by the personnel directly involved in managing and coordinating specific activities. It is always advisable to make a single person responsible for tracking progress and, if necessary, updating the checklist. Multiple changes will only lead to confusion and errors. Periodic reviews will allow you to readily measure progress and better control application. If you have multiple locations and the checklist includes actions or tasks for long-distance workers, then you can easily make the checklist available via means such as web pages, company newsletters or the intranet.

The importance of using a professionally designed management checklist to serve as a guide for managing your business operations cannot be overstated. A sound checklist aids management by organizing important criteria, enhancing objectivity and guaranteeing reproducibility. A checklist makes planning, monitoring and guiding operations, and assessing business objectives, an easier and a far more efficient process. With such a tool, you greatly enhance your ability to provide consistent customer service, meet your financial and profit objectives, be focused and organized as well as operate your business more efficiently.
About the Author
Jim O'Donnell of Jaguar Consulting, Inc. in Kingston, NH provides a wide array of marketing and business development services for small business and has developed a series of Business Checklists designed to help small business owners achieve a higher level of growth and profitability. He can be reached at (603) 642-8338, JimODonnell@JaguarConsulting.com, or http://WWW.Checklists4Business.com to review all checklists that are currently available.
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