Back

Tech Manager—Checklists

It seems like people love checklists, or they hate them. Personally, I love them. (So does Santa) But they do not apply to everything. I would suggest you not have a checklist for proving you love your spouse. You may use a checklist when a big event is coming, but not to prove you love them. “See, I love you... I said it three times last week, as per the checklist and I made the bed once last week on my designated day. Of course I love you.” Checklists do however apply to a lot of things at work... and so I use them.

Back in Mid-2016, I wrote an article on Task Lists for AUGIWorld. Task Lists are a listing of the things I need to get done. That article provided ideas on why you need to manage your time and prioritize your work. I ended the article with ideas for making the Task List. Go back and read that when you have time.

Now I move on to the Checklist. But wait, aren’t they the same thing? They may look like it, but a Checklist differs from a Task List. Task Lists help you not forget to do something. Once completed, they can be removed from the list. Checklists organize what you need to do, review, or do over and over. It helps you not to forget something because the Task you are doing has become routine. It also assists you in training others. Checklists also help you verify that things are included, excluded, added, or removed.

NATIONAL CHECKLIST DAY

You may have missed it. It was on October 30th. According to nationaltoday.com, there are several reasons why we love checklists...

  1. It keeps you organized. Do you have a truckload of things to do and you don’t know where to start? First things first with a checklist. This will help you organize your thoughts and your tasks
  2. It makes things visual. Putting all your tasks down in your checklist will help you see what you need to get done in its entirety. In case you forget anything, you have a visual reminder. Consider color-coding your list.
  3. It brings a sense of accomplishment. It feels amazing to check off each completed task. When you do the hard tasks first, for the rest of the day, all your remaining tasks seem easier.

I agree with all of these and want to add a few more.

  1. It helps you repeat the same things again and again. When defining a process, this is critical. As you work through the checklist, you can add or remove things as you think of more or think of ways to expedite efforts.
  2. It helps training others or have people help you out. With a checklist, anyone can step in and take over, or learn to do it themselves.
  3. It helps you review all the items needed and may uncover automation opportunities or areas where you can reduce the checklist by uncovering non-needed items.
  4. It helps you NOT assume things are done. With a checklist, you can verify that everything is in place and completed.
  5. It lets you “trust but verify” – one of my mottos. Sure, I think I do a good job, but check the list to see if I did it all. Sure, I think you are good at what you do, but I check the list to make sure nothing slips through the cracks.

Checklists can be for procedures and processes. They can be in a specific order and numbered so that one thing is done before another. They can be simple check boxes and list out what is to be included or excluded. Like a list of what to take when you go camping. They can be grouped or free flowing. What makes the checklist is that they do not tell you how to do things, just what needs to be completed.

Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA), under the US Department of Labor, has a checklist for your computer workstation ergonomics. It helps you verify that you have thought of everything needed for comfort, health, and productivity. You can see it here - https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/etools/computerworkstations/checklist_evaluation.html

It takes into account your posture, chair, monitor, keyboard, mobile devices, accessories and more. Go check it out and see how you fair in your home office or work location.

Here is a highlight...

MONITOR – Consider these points when evaluating the monitor and its placement.

  1. The monitor has sufficient adjustability so the top of the screen is at or below eye level so the user can read it without bending their head or neck down/back.
  2. Adjustability is sufficient so users with bifocals/trifocals can read the screen without bending the head or neck backward.
  3. There is sufficient room so the monitor can be placed at a distance which allows the user to read the screen without leaning head, neck, or trunk forward/backward. (Generally, about 18 to 20 inches or arm length)
  4. Monitor position is directly in front of the user, so they do not have to twist head or neck.
  5. If multiple monitors are used, the position of the primary monitor is directly in front of the user and the other monitors are directly beside it. If time is split evenly between monitors, they are next to each other within a comfortable viewing angle with minimal head movement.
  6. Glare (from windows, lights) is not reflected on screen causing the user to squint or assume awkward postures to clearly see information on the screen.
  7. Monitor brightness and contrast is adjusted for comfort.

I did pretty good on this section, but others need some work.

Way back in the dark ages, I made a CAD Review Checklist for reviewing files prior to sending them to clients or consultants. You can see it at http://www.caddmanager.com/CMB/2007/01/cad-file-review-checklist/

Here is a portion:

+++++++

Checklist for reviewing CAD Files:

  1. Directory Structure
    1. Are the folders correctly named?
    2. Are there any unneeded folders?
  2. Files and File names
    1. Are the filenames correct?
    2. Are there any junk files that should be removed?
  3. Layers
    1. Is the layer list clean?
    2. Are the layer names correct?
    3. Are the objects on the right layer?
    4. Are the linetypes correct?
  4. XREF Attachments
    1. Are the attachments on the right layer?
    2. Are they in the correct location?

... much more

+++++++

IDEAS FOR CHECKLISTS

Here are some ideas and I am sure that you can come up with many more:

  • New project setup
  • Computer setup/refresh/swap – what needs to be done when giving a user a new computer
  • Diagnosing a file problem
  • Creating content for CAD libraries
  • Revit Family development
  • Project archiving
  • Training checklist
  • When vetting software for purchase
  • Quality Assurance – when accepting files/models from others
  • Checking files against CAD Standards

Once created, always look for things to add to the list or remove. Checklists are never static. As you learn new lessons, add items to the checklist.

WHEN NOT TO USE A CHECKLIST

Like I mentioned, expressing love to a spouse, or child may not be the best use of a checklist. Others might be when you are in a pinch and need to act fast. No time to go get out the checklist. Stop the bleeding and then go look for the list. And when you are researching options, no checklist may be viable once you really do not know where you might end up. Checklists usually are developed once you have an idea of what is needed.

Mark Kiker has more than 25 years of hands-on experience with technology. He is fully versed in every area of management from deployment planning, installation, and configuration to training and strategic planning. As an internationally known speaker and writer, he is a returning speaker at Autodesk University since 1996. Mark is currently serving as Director of IT for SIATech, a non-profit public charter high school focused on dropout recovery. He maintains two blog sites, www.caddmanager.com and www.bimmanager.com.

Back