Technology Enabled Business Solutions
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Checklists are a common way to collect information. From inspections and maintenance checks to near-miss and behavior-based safety reporting, most companies regularly use some form of checklist to gather information that should help inform operational decisions. Checklists are important. They establish good employee practices for regularly reviewing operational areas. But the information gathered in checklists only adds value to the organization if the data collected is used.
What happens to your checklists once they are filled out? Are they submitted? Is the data reviewed? And importantly, how are you leveraging the data gathered to better understand and improve your organization
There are dozens of options available for gathering data through checklists. Paper checklists are largely becoming a thing of the past—and for good reason. Mobile forms and technology (e.g., Microsoft Forms, Google Forms) make completing checklists of almost any type easier and faster in the field. Mobile forms allow employees to quickly and easily complete forms from a mobile device—without logging in—from daily inspections to near-miss information as it is happening. Any daily, weekly, monthly form/checklist can be turned into a mobile form (e.g., Powered Industrial Truck inspection checklists, monthly tank inspection checklists, incident reports, non-conformance reports). Questions can be multiple choice, yes/no, text, numerical, rating scales, and several others.
Not only is completing an electronic form easy for employees, one of the largest benefits of gathering data via a mobile checklist is that the resulting data is already in digital format—and much more usable than a binder filled with paper checklists.
Checklists can be designed to move the data gathered from the form directly into a database, such as Microsoft SharePoint or a SQL database. Digital data from all electronic forms can then be stored in a centralized system; categorized for searchability; and easily accessed for review, comparison, and analysis.
With all data that is collected being stored in a central database, it then becomes possible to leverage and manipulate that data to graphically display high-level information on a dashboard through the use of technology like Microsoft Power BI. Google dashboards offer another user-friendly alternative for analyzing the resulting data. Dashboards serve as a user interface to display/highlight key information. When companies amass a lot of data in many different areas, the dashboard can provide an integrated view of data pulled from multiple checklists/modules in an easy-to-read display. Dashboards such as this:
- Provide greater visibility and alert to issues that need attention/resolution across the entire organization.
- Allow management to view outstanding issues under their responsibility.
- Display up-to-date graphics of how the organization is performing compared to goals.
- Generate graphs and charts from the data collected based on what information needs to be reported.
- Allow for the use of advanced data analytics to help identify patterns and trends, inform business decisions, and guide resources.
Many companies have a lot of great data at their fingertips but knowing to how access and leverage it can be a challenge. Checklists and forms provide a relatively simple and straightforward method for gathering electronic data and turning it into valuable information that can improve operations and help inform business decision-making.