Checklists are one of the most powerful project management methods.
Everybody is familiar with the checklists used by aircraft pilots before taking off. One of the most dramatic uses I heard of was their use during the forced landing on the Hudson of US Airways Flight 1549 on 15 January 2009. In his autobiography, the captain Chesley Sullenberger talks of thumbing through pages of checklists as the Airbus without power sank towards the water.
Checklists provide a structured and simple way to remember everything. If something was overlooked or extra care is required the next time, corrections and additions can be added during the projects closing stages.This means that:
- The more a checklist is used, the more it will improve.
- Even if a draft list based on personal experience, it can be used to start the process of evolving reliable and comprehensive checklists.
- A checklist can be passed easily from one generation of staff to the next.
Very little in project management is either as simple or as powerful as this.