Processes, procedures, and checklists should be used on everything in your business from CAD standards to sending out drawings to get printed.
Having a repeatable process not only saves you time but also frees up your mental energy from having to remember things. I hate the “…I feel like I’m forgetting something feeling”. Whenever someone on the team says ‘next time we need to remember to…’ we add it to Smartsheet. Needless to say, we’ve embraced the checklist.
A checklist is great because it not only gets it out of our heads - more importantly, it allows the full team to see and use it. Having a process solely in your head can not only lead to forgetting steps but can also create a misalignment of task expectations. Even when you’re telling someone how to do it, we’re all human and can forget to tell a key step to make something happen. Having a checklist can help principals communicate with staff and contractors the baseline expectation of the task and help ensure a higher level of success.
As great as checklists are, making the process easy to edit and adapt is also crucial so the checklists are actually used and updated. Are there any repeating issues that keep getting forgotten because people say ‘we should add that to the list’ but no one ever does? That’s a give away that updating your checklists are too cumbersome. Having an outdated checklist that is cumbersome to find and edit is only slightly better than having no checklist or process at all.
Initially, I spent too much time overthinking how to set up the processes - a Word doc saved as a pdf or multiple linked Excel files. I worried about the files getting overwritten or corrupted due to multiple people accessing them within the Dropbox folders. Once we started using Smartsheet I realized that we could keep everything native in the Smartsheet system and not have to worry about files getting corrupted.
“When a system is easier to use than it is to ignore, it will then be a successful system.”
There are multiple ways to create and track checklists in Smartsheet - a series of sheets within a folder, a dashboard with rich text widgets, or simply linking existing pdfs to a Smartsheet dashboard for easy aggregating. Having a centralized place for your checklists and not having to remember a convoluted path to where something is saved can make all the difference between a checklist being used.
To keep it simple, I recommend utilizing a series of sheets within a folder and creating a separate sheet for each process. This will allow you a quick and easy way to scan the table of contents to see which processes are already there.
Updating and organizing the checklists in Smartsheet is quick, simple, and always current for all team members with access to the sheet. If you want to control who can change the data you could also set up a new Workspace for the checklists (instead of a folder in an existing workspace), set a few people as editors, and make everyone else a viewer. Smartsheet gives you options.
Every firm will have different checklists and processes. The E-Myth Architect is a fantastic place to get more inspiration and guidance on what to document. Here are some quick places to start:
Do you have a QA/QC checklist to verify permit sets have the basics: title block, drawing names, north arrows, stamps, etc.
What about the process for new employees or remote workers? Think through what Day 1 looks like and document all the things that are obvious to your current team but a new person would need to know - where is time tracked? What’s the company font? How do phone calls get transferred? etc. If you had 10 new people (remote or in office) starting to work for you over the course of the week could you onboard them without wasting too much billable time showing repetitive tasks that a checklist could handle.
Smarthsheet can help you document and manage your checklists. Regardless of how you decide to document your systems, remember the point is to keep the checklists easy to access and simple to edit.