Rolling out a Checklist? Three steps to get people to use it

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Many builders use QC checklists to verify critical milestones in the construction process. Checklists standardize how work is performed and ensure the job is completed per the builder’s quality standards. Checklists can be tailored to accommodate specific jobs, and be as simple or as detailed as needed. Plus users can be within any position in the builder’s organization, from Trade to Construction to Operations to even Sales.

But once a checklist is in place, it must be used to be effective. Sometimes that can be a challenge, especially if there is a disconnect between the builder’s leadership and the people performing the work. Implementing a new checklist—or a QC checklist system for the first time—can feel intimidating to the user. Initially, it can be viewed as “micromanaging their job” or “corporate red tape” or even “busy work.”

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So, when implementing a QC checklist, there are three steps to create buy-in and improve the roll-out process.

  1. Explain the purpose & expectations
    When introducing the checklist, be clear about the intent: This checklist is designed to reduce errors, reduce cycle time, reduce callbacks, etc.  Also explain how the results will be monitored and recorded. Are there reports that are updated with this info? Will management audit its usage? Finally, don’t mince words about compliance. There are consequences for those who “pencil whip through it” or just outright ignore it—for both the builder (a reduction in quality & brand reputation) and the user (a reprimand or job loss). Positive reinforcement though could mean an incentive for those who utilize the checklist correctly, especially if it’s generating results.
  1. Double check that everyone understands the content
    Comprehension is key from the start. Users must fully understand the items on the checklist at introduction. That’s the time for questions and explanations. Once the checklist is rolled out, it needs to perform. Otherwise, errors and defects continue, the QC Program fails, and the quality of the completed project suffers.It goes without saying that the checklist must be accurate and complete at roll out as well. Vague line items can be misinterpreted, if not ignored all together. Outdated and irrelevant items will reinforce the perception that the checklist is just busy work.
  1. Provide a real-life example
    Finally, during the introduction, tell a story that explains why this checklist is necessary. People relate to stories. They respond to real life examples, opposed to corporate edicts. A story about Homeowners having to put-up with their new home being ripped apart to repair a mistake that could’ve been prevented during construction will go a long way toward establishing the need for inspections and checklists.

Once the checklist has been implemented, the results must be monitored and communicated to the users. Give positive feedback whenever possible. If warranty is seeing a decrease in claims due to the QC checks, celebrate it. If a trade has decreased call backs, get the word out. Positive results will boost trust in the QC checklist and ensure continued usage.

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