Everyone uses checklists, big and small, to organize tasks and increase productivity. In utilities, checklists form the backbone of much routine work, from walking through SOPs to following safety procedures. The checklist is so commonplace that few people recognize its versatility.
When we experience cognitive overload, our brains often skip over or drop certain information; checklists possess a tremendous power to fill in those gaps. In his book The Checklist Manifesto, surgeon Atul Gawande recounts the story of one Dr. Pronovost. (Get a taste of the discussion in this seminal New Yorker article.)
Working at John Hopkins Hospital, Pronovost realized that many ICU doctors, in the heat of the moment, often forgot to follow all the right steps while inserting IVs, resulting in an alarmingly high IV infection rate. Pronovost created a simple five-point checklist that incorporated the proper steps to prevent those infections, and gave nurses the power to ensure that doctors followed them.
After a pilot at Johns Hopkins that showed astonishingly good results, Provonost rolled out his checklist to underfunded hospitals in Detroit and eventually across Michigan, to extraordinary results: infection rates dropped 66% across Michigan ICUs, saving $175 million in infection-related costs and an estimated 1500 lives.
One checklist represents a completed task. But when you channel the power of multiple or many checklists, you end up with something completely different: a detailed picture of workforce performance and how to improve it.
Even using simple elements like names, signatures, locations, completion status, or answers to yes/no or limited multiple-choice questions will produce a massive database of intelligence after you complete and collect enough checklists.
But that’s only true if you can marshal the information that checklist users collect – which is hard, if not impossible, when checklists are paper-based. Yet utilities continue to rely on paper-based checklists instead of digitizing them, an upgrade that would unlock their data and deliver a constant stream of insights.
In brief, paper checklists are cumbersome and easily lost, susceptible to input and duplication errors, and fail to accommodate multimedia data. Transcribing and circulating paper checklists also wastes precious time and resources.
In addition to these many drawbacks, paper checklists also lack the consistency and flexibility that a utility company requires to leverage the full richness of their data right.
However, recent advances in technology now make it possible to harness the true potential of checklists through digitization. No-code mobile platforms bake consistency into easy-to-create digital checklists, purpose-built for teams to follow the exact step-by-step instructions but flexible enough to change on the fly as conditions evolve.
Let’s examine some fundamental ways digital checklists improve the consistency and flexibility of workflows for utility companies:
Leveraging the power of digital checklists, utility companies immediately integrate consistency and flexibility into the foundations of their everyday work and, from there, can build up to better-informed and better-performing business operations.
Access to reliable, real-time data widens your visibility, so you can better monitor a field’s team activities, from job progress to emergencies, and then plan accordingly. In this way, the consistency and flexibility of on-the-ground teams rise to the management and enterprise level, leading to a better allocation of resources and a continual streamlining of processes.
When your field teams digitize normal work processes into smart checklists, you convert their everyday tasks into useful data and transform your entire company into the smart workforce it needs to be.
Watch our webinar to learn how Fulcrum harnesses the power of digital checklists for effective process management.