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What can Checklist do for you?

by Employee on ‎03-04-2010 10:19 AM

Pardon my attempt to put a funny spin on the iconic UPS “What can Brown do for you?” slogan, the phrase struck me recently while commuting to work and I just couldn’t resist using it.

The Checklist Manifesto...

While travelling, I often visit the airport bookstore to peruse the latest best sellers – particularly the business and personal growth offerings. As often happens, at least one of the titles proves intriguing enough that I buy the book and take advantage of my captive flying time to attempt to finish the entire book in a single well focused read. One of my more recent discoveries was “The Checklist Manifesto – How to get things right” by Dr. Atul Gawande, published by Metropolitan Books.


Dr. Gawande proposes checklists for surgeries
Dr. Gawande is both an accomplished surgeon and successful author. He looked at the field of surgery and was convinced that many issues, mistakes and oversights could be avoided – and outcomes could be improved – by using checklists. He was inspired by military and commercial aviation. Both professions had experts with vast amounts of knowledge where those experts needed to apply that knowledge to complex problems under tight time constraints with high impact outcomes. Dr. Gawande discovered that experts resisted checklists, doubting the ability to address complex and dynamic situations. Though not often expressed openly, he believed personality and ego may have added to that resistance as the suggestion that simple checklists could equal the importance of the surgeons specialized expertise in determining the final surgical outcome was difficult to accept for many.

The Aviation Industry – a model for checklist success
The aviation industry was effectively forced into using checklists by the increasing complexity of modern aircraft technology. Aviation checklists are commonplace today and are attributed with saving countless lives, including the Jan 15, 2009 emergency water landing of US Airways flight 1549 on the Hudson River. Dr. Gawande met with key aviation leaders to study what they had learned about checklist creation as well as how to procedurally put them to use.

Initial use in surgery – moving from resistance to fully embracing the checklist

When Dr. Gawande proposed implementing an initial “Before Incision” checklist at his hospital, he immediately met with resistance. His eventual breakthrough was to work with the World Health Organization (WHO), a group that was far more receptive to trying new ideas in an effort to provide more and better medical care with limited staff, supplies and facilities. After some refinements, the initial checklist proved to be a resounding success. Many other surgical procedure checklists were developed as well as recommendations for how to go about using the checklists in the very real world scenario of the operating room and urgent care arenas. The idea that Dr. Gawande and his colleagues began has taken hold and is steadily spreading – with some resistance – to hospitals around the world.

So… What can Checklist do for CRM?
In the CRM domain there are many opportunities for checklists both from the Consulting/Customize/Implementation side as well as from various perspectives of the CRM daily use side including:
•    Checklists for Sales and Marketing
•    Checklists for Customer Support
•    Checklists for Implementing Sage SalesLogix
•    Checklists for Developer/Customizers

Checklists for Sales and Marketing
Looking at the popular Sales Methodology Systems like Miller-Heiman, Sandler Sales, Target Account Selling (TAS), and others – it becomes apparent that at their core these sales methodologies are based on expertly developed and refined checklists which are then combined with expert rules and heuristics often leading to subsequent checklists. Based on the popularity of Sales methodologies and the successes many organizations attribute to them, it seems that checklists really are a powerful CRM Sales tool.

Checklists for Customer Support
I’m sure we have all experienced the collection of information and facts by customer support personnel, particularly in the software industry, that aid them in determining the nature of the problem and in not omitting any key facts. A good set of checklists help to more efficiently and quickly arrive at the correct diagnosis and solution.
Checklists for Implementing Sage SalesLogix
Sage SalesLogix partners and some customer technical staff are no doubt familiar with what is effectively a large, comprehensive checklist supplied with the SalesLogix product in the form of the Sage SalesLogix Implementation Guide and the Upgrade Workplan guides that are provided with service pack upgrades.

Checklists for Consultants and Developer/Customizers
Over the years we in the Sage Professional Services Groups, as with many of the Sage SalesLogix partners, have developed rough checklists for performing various requirements gathering, environment documentation and preparation, software installation, application configuration, and customization programming tasks. Clearly there is an opportunity to formalize, organize and publish these checklists for the betterment of the product, partner community and ultimately the organizations using our products and solutions. The Sage PSG team plans to refine and release various checklists in the near future as part of a larger Best Practices and Standards guide. Community and partner participation will be solicited for sharing successful checklists as part of that effort.

Now ask yourself, What can Checklist do for you?


on ‎03-09-2010 03:28 PM
Having borrowed this book from Todd, I have to agree that this concept would impact the success of professional services projects.  We certainly do use project outlines prior to, during an after engagements with clients\busines partners.  The idea of refining these outlines makes alot of sense to me, particularly when trying to adapt an outline suited for a large project to fit a smaller project.  "What sort of UAT should be expected?  What sort of training model (if any) should be used?".  Sometimes these items get lost when a project seems too small to incorporate them.
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