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Use checklists efficiently

This instrument will soon be 100 years old. The Boeing Company used them back in 1934 to help pilots avoid mistakes in aircraft management. Curiously enough, this innovation saved the manufacturer from ruin. Checklists have been and continue to be used successfully in medicine. For example, their use in the process of surgical operations has reduced the number of deaths by 50%.

Naturally, the commerce could not miss such an innovation, and checklists as a tool to control operational processes moved to retail. However, in practice, their use is not always as effective as we would like it to be. The main reasons are ignorance or disregard of the main postulates. We are going to talk about them. 

Don't forget the main thing

Many companies, inspired by the ideology of checklists, are trying to make a questionnaire that would cover all aspects of business operations at once. Of course, you will be able to make such a checklist, but it will turn out to be too large, it will not focus on strategic objectives and priority business operations. In addition, it will take you a whole day to fill it out, maybe more. Is it worth the cost? More likely no than yes.

Follow these two simple rules to create an effective checklist.

Identify control objects

The objects can be operating processes, such as "delivery receipt", "revaluation", "primary cash records", "personnel records management", and the outlet areas, such as "sales floor", "cash zone", "utility rooms".

Each control object can usually be divided into smaller structures. For example, in a fashion-shop it is convenient to divide the sales area into gender zones: women, men, children. In turn, stylistic directions can be identified in each zone: Men casual, Men sport, etc. It is also applicable in the Food area — in a grocery store you can isolate fresh zones, dairy products, bakery products, etc.

Structural division of the audit objects allows you to understand in detail the situation with the implementation of the company's standards and get detailed analytical data on the audit results.

Highlight priority objects

It is important to choose from among all the objects the priority, strategically important ones — to determine them according to the goals of the current season. You need to create a key checklist for them.

The remaining test objects can be taken in the next time period, after the priority tasks have been completed. It is also possible to link them into additional checklists that are used less frequently.

Formulate the questions correctly

The way the checklist question is formulated determines both the way the checklist is understood by the auditor and the way he perceives his own assessment. The question should be clear, understandable, with distinct assessment criteria with no ambiguity. It is also desirable that the question suggests the answers "Yes" or "No".

Examples of checklist questions to control the area of women's clothing in the fashion store:

  1. The product category of the new collection is decorated with POS-materials "New collection".

  2. Frontal presentation models are ironed.

  3. All profile models are displayed by dimensional correspondence.

The affirmative answer of "Yes" implies that the task is fulfilled 100% in accordance with the company's standard. If there is even a minimal discrepancy, the answer is no.

Another important principle in the wording of the checklist questions is to reflect one and only the most important assessment criterion. With this approach, you are guaranteed to solve the specifics problem.


Evaluation criteria

Rules for the presentation of goods on the interchangeability principle are observed.

Compliance with the interchangeability principle.

The rules of product presentation by quantity, color, size, model, interchangeability principle, principles of product presentation are observed.

Compliance with the principle of quantity.

Compliance with color matching.

Compliance with size requirements.

Compliance with model requirements.

Compliance with interchangeability requirements.

Compliance with product presentation requirements.

In the first case, there are no questions from either party. The second is the opposite situation. Such wording will put the auditor at a standstill and cause confusion, as it is not clear what to check and how to evaluate it all. As a result, a pre-conflict situation may be provoked.

Much depends on the system

Traditionally, paper forms are used to work with checklists. In principle, you can work with such a tool up to a certain stage and overcome a lot of inconveniences.

The fight against "windmills" is not for progressive business and we have come up with a system that will help you not to waste valuable time accumulating and processing volumetric data, to respond online to the audit results and to operate in real time analytics throughout the network.

Be more specific

In addition to the convenience and speed of information transfer, MD Audit solves the problem of ambiguous perception of checklist issues by different auditors.

There are 2 approaches implemented in the system:

  • verbal tips — an explanatory text that adds specificity to the issue and clearly indicates the criterion for evaluation;

  • photo tips — a reference image to compare with the current situation.

For example, the question "There is no queue in the cash register" is ambiguous, because one of the auditors will perceive a queue as 10 people and the other as 3. In that case, the following would help to clarify: "The queue is 4 or more people."

However, sometimes you need to check the processes according to the checklist that are difficult to describe in words, for example, the freshness of bananas. It is technically possible to give a detailed description, but it is likely to be too large and difficult to perceive. A classic checklist cannot solve this task, but MD Audit can. It is enough to attach a reference photo as a description of a "fresh banana" and an auditor will compare the goods.

Solve several tasks at once

The checklists are originally designed to control operating processes, but with MD Audit you can expand your horizons. For example, to work out the tasks of personnel training and building communications.

Since all checklists are based on corporate standards, which are supplemented and modified, it always stimulates the auditor to constantly update his knowledge. For example, the system requires the auditor to explain each negative answer, which is only possible if he has expert knowledge of the audit. The person under check, in turn, can always defend a personal position, providing strong arguments if he is familiar with the standards.

Analyze the results

It is obvious that without the results analysis, the purpose of the audit is lost. The more accurate and detailed the analysis is, the more useful it is. Manual analysis does not always allow you to get the necessary information and MD Audit offers a wide range of analytical tools for both tabular and visual reports of BI-systems.

Users have access to advanced filters that can provide a variety of information from the same audit. For example:

  • check the performance of managers as part of the planned and actual execution of audits (planned/actual ratio);

  • build a rating of stores, regions, divisions, auditors.

Find out which process/question is significant in a particular store and is consistent in the company (for example, in the children's zone (process) price tags are updated with delay (question), which causes conflicts with customers).

Checklists alone aren't enough

Hopefully, now you are even more convinced that checklists are an important and necessary tool, but in the classic form of paper templates are not effective enough. You can get the most out of it with MD Audit. Optimize the work of your employees, save time, get objective online results and immediately influence the identified development areas.

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Tags setting goals , results analytics
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