In preparation for the Hitec Toronto 2017 conference next week, we wanted to focus on the importance of checklists especially in the hospitality industry. Hitec is the world’s largest hospitality technology conference that showcases the hottest upcoming software, innovations, and technology in the hospitality space.

If you plan on attending, please stop by our booth at #1350 to see new updates and features to our EAM CMMS solution, Transcendent. We look forward to seeing you there.

Let’s discuss the importance of checklists, the efficiencies to these lists, how these lists can be input into an EAM CMMS solution, and the ROI hospitality sees from this simple process.

Simple Checklists Equal Simple Solutions

Have you ever made a simple mistake at work that in turn caused several problems to arise because of it? You would be lying if you said no; however, these mistakes could be avoided with a simple process like using a checklist to ensure mistakes are minimized by following a list.

Atul Gawande, MD, author of The Checklist Manifesto says just that. Even the best professionals in their fields make mistakes. Atul addresses these issues in the medical industry, but he applies it to several industries with complicated natures like engineers, lawyers, and pilots: anyone who has to carry an enormous amount of knowledge and experience and apply it effectively is prone to make a mistake sometimes.

Atul writes in his book We have accumulated stupendous know-how. We have put it in the hands of some of the most highly trained, highly skilled, and hardworking people in our society. And, with it, they have indeed accomplished extraordinary things. Nonetheless, that know-how is often unmanageable.

As more employees take on the role of a knowledge worker, they are expected to collect, interpret, and apply huge amounts of information and unfortunately are prone to these same errors.

It is said that the human brain can retain only 5-9 items at one time, so imagine carrying around an 8-10 hour work day of tasks in your head and expected to execute each task perfectly; there is going to come a day when something goes array due to the brain’s inability to retain all that information properly without a system in place.

Checklists in Hospitality

Good checklists are precise. They are efficient, to the point, and easy to use even in the most difficult situations. Good checklists are, above all, practical.

Atul Gawande

Atul Gawande emphasizes again the importance of checklist and how they help businesses manage employee behavior. Checklists are used for simple, complicated, and complex problems.

In The Checklist Manifesto: How to Get Things Right, Gawande tells the story of Marriott International- the employer of Atul Gawande- and how checklists are incorporated in all of Marriott’s brands.

For example, The Courtyard- one of Marriott’s Select Service brands- had undergone a repositioning in the market back in 2010. This caused for new renovations to the lobbies and rooms and a new ‘made to order’ food and beverage outlet for morning and evening service.

The physical changes to the properties, the changes to employee roles, and change to the service delivery strategy caused Marriott to incorporate a set of checklists to ensure a smooth and accurate transition.

One series of checklists was focused precisely on high guest-facing service behaviors which included how to properly greet a customer. These checklists included the proper greeting behavior for both employees and supervisors to ensure that correct behavior is performed in the proper order.

This is just one of several checklists that Marriott has adopted. More complicated checklists include their daily maintenance checklists and operation of the food and beverage outlet. This goes to show that checklists can be an instrumental tool no matter what size or stature your company is today.

Checklists in the Workplace

Checklists seem able to defend anyone, even the experienced, against failure in many more tasks than we realized.

industrial engineer writing on notepad in factory

Atul Gawande

Before you make a checklist, you need the right components to make a good one. It needs to be useful not a burden.

In Gawande’s program, doctor’s were forced to use his surgical checklist by hospital administration which often made it feel intrusion to employees.

Gawande stated, Ticking boxes is not the ultimate goal here; the goal is to embrace a culture of team work and discipline. Using this checklist as a base can be helpful, but it should be customized to fit the workflow of the employee to become useful.

There are several fields and industries that checklists can be applied to and here are just a few:

  1. Financial: Reporting tax, scanning receipts, and reviewing spending
  2. Technicians: Tracking word orders, scanning assets, reporting, and documentation
  3. Administrative: Completing reports, backing up important files, creating presentations, and tracking employee information
Checklists on a Handheld

There are several types of checklists: paper and pen, app based, but then there are software programs on handhelds that can be more efficient and effective for workers in the field.

Technicians can have their checklists on their mobile phone or iPad and have it accessible at all points during the day which is critical. The ability to login to a system, see the work at hand, check off what’s completed, and even have the ability to send completed work reports to managers will save time from writing reports and filing at the end of the day.

Technicians and maintenance workers can also complete pending work, save work, and create new lists to complete for themselves and peers; the checklist process goes far beyond the general “checking” off to-do’s.

Managers can also access their work and add or comment on projects which will eliminate errors, speed up the work process, and increase communication on all levels of business.

So, here are the tools and now it’s time to make a process and as Gawande states We know the patterns. We see the costs. It’s time to try something else. Try a checklist.