Documenting step-by-step processes that are easy to follow, repeatable, and transferable, is a great way to create institutional knowledge. It makes your organization more cyber mature, and therefore, more resilient. Checklists are one of the methodologies that you can use to make that happen.
A checklist is a document that clearly identifies the specific steps required to accomplish a certain task. Checklists must drive to a specific result. They can be used for repeatable jobs and should be easily transferred to another worker without any confusion of what is expected. Your checklist also becomes an auditable record once the task is completed.
Checklists can benefit your organization by helping to:
- Eliminate gaps;
- Identify inefficiencies;
- Provide a baseline for program metrics;
- Assist with information sharing;
- Enhance reporting; and
- Build institutional knowledge.
Let’s take a look at some tools that can help you make a checklist habit.
If you have a ticketing system, it may already have the capability to generate recurring checklists. If available, investigate setting it up for this purpose. You can enter each step required to complete a task and set it up as a workflow. Then on the specified date, you can go through and launch the ticket, go through the ticket to the tasks, then close the ticket when complete. This is also a great way to create a record of what you’ve accomplished.
If you don’t have access to a ticketing system or your ticketing system doesn’t have the ability to create recurring tickets, Microsoft Outlook Tasks is a great alternative.
It’s great because once you assign a task to a person, progress tracking is built-in and setting up recurrence is very intuitive. As the person works through and updates the task, it is simultaneously updated in the task list of the person who assigned it. When completed, an automatic message is generated showing the task completed, and the person who completed the task can add any notes, if necessary. You can create a task, then insert a checklist. Tasks can also be categorized and a priority can be set for each task.
If you organization uses Microsoft SharePoint, there is a set of built-in functions designed for task creation. Tasks can be set-up to send email alerts as individual steps are completed. Dashboard creation is available for reporting.
You can also develop your own solution, but beware the pitfalls of homegrown solutions. The overhead can be high if you're creating your own complicated spreadsheet or elaborate application to keep track of checklists. You really want to make sure that the solution that you create doesn't put you in a tough spot if the person designing and implementing the solution isn't available to support it any longer.
At the end of the day it’s really easy for people to forget things. When completing a task that involves many steps, chances are you’ll forget one or two of them. Using checklists ensures that you won’t forget anything. So, for tasks that need to be repeated again and again, or for tasks that aren’t done that often, use a checklist if you want to do it right every time.