Checklists for the construction process can be used as a leverage tool and can create best practices and differentiate your company from competitors in the area, according to Bryan Kaplan of Construction Consulting. Something as simple as a checklist can ensure predictable results even when an owner is not present, Kaplan said during his education session "The Construction Checklist: Your Secret Weapon for Fewer Mistakes, More Profits & Satisfied Clients" at the 2020 International Builders Show in Las Vegas.
On the most basic level, checklists can help prevent mistakes and accidents that are common during the process of completing a job. Since the components of the checklist remain constant, it also serves as a measure of quality control for any given job. Effective checklists, according to Kaplan, can be read and answered, and encourage people to break down barriers.
"The power of a checklist is it gives you a place to go to get a repeatable result," Kaplan said. "It gives you a place to go, update, and iterate in something that's just happened. It's about enacting systems to prevent mistakes in the future. Otherwise, they will repeat themselves."
Kaplan said effective checklists should be created with the final result in mind and be simple, uncluttered, and easy to digest. Checklists should be tested to ensure that they are not burdensome in the workflow of a job and that they help detect errors when they can be corrected.
"Always include your team and understand the mistakes that are going to happen [on a job]," Kaplan said. "Remember, the errors that people make are not because they don't care, it's because they are human."
While acknowledging change is hard and the adoption process of checklists can be difficult, Kaplan said, it is important to start small. Checklists should be simple and should start with one process on one job monitored by one person. Once success is found in this one case study, then checklists can be layered with scale and repeatable processes that can become a staple of the business. Starting by trying to cover too much too quickly and failing to involve team members in the drafting stage of checklists can spell doom for checklists before they get off the ground, Kaplan said.
Beyond helping reduce mistakes, errors, and accidents on the job, checklists can serve as a valuable marketing tool, according to Kaplan. Checklists can be marketed to customers as a demonstrated commitment to improvement and as a promise that timelines will be controlled. Checklists can serve as a unique selling proposition and differentiate your business from others in the area.