It's Time to Go Paperless: 5 Reasons to Switch to Digital Checklists

18 June 2020

Operations

You probably remember your old VHS collection and walkman fondly (if you're old enough).

But these things stay where they belong - in the 90s - because there's a more efficient and more enjoyable way of doing things today. 

Well, it's finally time for paper checklists in the workplace to follow suit and go digital.  

Here are a few examples of what checklists are used for: 

  • Quality inspections
  • Health & Safety audits
  • Incident reports
  • Opening and closing checklists of stores, restaurants and physical sites
  • Non-conformance reports
  • Inbound / outbound inspections
  • Store visits

What do all of these procedures have in common?

First of all,  they're all vital to smooth operations, maintaining high-quality products and keeping employees and customers safe. 

And secondly, they're predominantly still done on paper. 

55% of businesses in retail, hospitality, manufacturing, logistics and transportation are still using paper for their procedures, according to a study by Zebra Technologies.

These industries run on checklists, which employees use every day.

The continued use of paper checklists in the workplace can pose some serious consequences, even if things seem fine as they are at the moment. 

Digitizing workplace checklists can profoundly impact efficiency, employee workloads and exposure to risk at an organizational level. 

Here are 5 reasons why you should make the switch and convert checklists from paper to digital. 

1) Digital checklists make employees more productive

Time is saved. Time is lost on box-ticking, data collection and manual data input that could be spent on what really drives results. For store and restaurant employees, this could be spending more time with customers. For manufacturing and logistics employees, this could be completing tasks more quickly and improving their productivity metrics. 

There's more clarity for employees. Digital checklists are easier to update, so instructions and steps are clearer and easier for employees to understand and complete. Embedding pictures gives checklists a more defined structure that has a more logical flow, too.

They're mobile-friendly. If you use a digital checklist app, employees can complete checklists on a phone or tablet. Carrying a clipboard everywhere gets annoying, and so does always losing your pen. 

2) Digital checklists are more accurate and easier to control

Human error is less likely.  Recording data by hand and then manually inputting it into Excel or another system are both extremely prone to human error. Despite our best intentions, distractions happen, time is tight, and sometimes we can't read our own handwriting. With a digitized checklist, collection and inputting of data is only done once, information from the field is more accurate. 

Updating procedures is simpler. Changing one question on a paper checklist entails printing out new copies and distributing them to every location. And then comes the hardest part - making sure everyone uses the new version instead of the old one. With digital checklists, making changes, version control and roll out is easier. 

Consistency is built in. After all, the whole point of a checklist is to make sure something is done correctly every time. But with paper, it's unlikely that everyone is on the same page (see what we did there). With digital checklists, and especially a digital checklist app, businesses can be certain procedures are done consistently, wherever the checklists are used. 

3) Digital checklists provide accountability 

Audit trails are clearer. After all, you want to be able to see which checklists were completed, when they were completed and who they were completed by in case an audit comes up, or your business needs to demonstrate compliance with regulations. If your "paper trail" is actually on paper, it's more like the vapor trail a 747 leaves in the sky, which quickly vanishes into the air around it. Digital checklists provide a complete audit trail that you can find in a flash. 

Finding and correcting errors is faster and easier. When an error crops up, precious time is lost finding a paper checklist and deciphering who signed off on it.  With digital checklists, finding out who completed the checklist is a mouse-click away. You can take action to fix the error immediately. Mistakes always happen - but with the accountability built into digital checklists, you can find the root of the problem faster and fix it, and that's what matters most. 

Recognizing and rewarding employees is easier. Recognition is crucial in industries like manufacturing and logistics, where efficiency is the name of the game. Since employees aren't office based, however, they're prone to feeling disengaged. Digital checklists make employees accountable - whether it's for their stellar productivity metrics and accuracy, or mistakes that need to be fixed. 

4) Digital checklists open up a goldmine of data

There's more data to analyze. There's a goldmine of data hiding in comments, and with paper checklists these are harder to record because they're handwritten. And don't forget, pictures are data too! A digital checklist platform or app that supports pictures gives business leaders an even more complete picture of what's going on out in the field. 

There's no more time-consuming data entry. Data can be pulled right away when checklists are digital. You can get all the answers you need about metrics, compliance and more, all in real-time.

More visibility. Business units that use checklists the most tend to be places the organization doesn't have a direct line of sight into. Data from checklists is like a telescope - leadership can use it to identify inefficiencies and give additional support to underperforming teams and locations. If you digitize your checklists with a mobile platform like YOOBIC, you can see your data in a real-time dashboard whenever and wherever you need to! 

5) Digital checklists cost less than paper checklists

No more printing costs. Not only do printing fees and ink cartridges get expensive, but so does fixing printers when they break down, which seems to be anytime you really want to use them. 

No more paper storage costs. Checklists have to go somewhere once they're completed.  Purchasing filing cabinets and even storage space to store and archive checklists gets expensive very quickly. 

No more document disposal costs. Getting rid of paper checklists can get expensive too, especially if they contain sensitive or confidential information and need specialist disposal services.

No more environmental costs. Funny how businesses include a line about thinking of the trees before printing an email, but then use stacks of paper checklists in warehouses and stores. Digital checklists are more environmentally friendly. 

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Digitized checklists make life easier for employees, reduce risk and give organizations insight into areas of the business they wouldn't have visibility into otherwise. 

It's time to toss paper checklists where they belong - in the recycling bin.

Digitize all your checklists, processes and forms with YOOBIC's task management platform and get real-time analytics on what's going on in the field!  

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