May 5, 2015 // By Michael McGettigan
Holiday season is upon us and we will undoubtedly be making lists, outlining what to purchase for a party, what to pack for a trip or what to buy as a gift. The end of the year is definitely full of lists for me. I was reminded of lists recently when I spotted a new book by Atul Gawande, MD. Dr. Gawande is the surgeon who wrote The Checklist Manifesto a few years ago to primarily address medical errors.
The premise of using the humble checklist to minimize errors and divert disasters in medicine, aviation and other industries, including ours, is critical. We all rely on the airline pilot to follow the checklist prior to takeoff, but our clients also rely on us to follow checklists before, during and after any QA or development project. Dr. Gawande points out that we may “believe our jobs are too complicated to reduce to a checklist.” The problem with this stance is that we don’t have a perfect memory, often get distracted and occasionally skip steps.
Most jobs are complex. And while a good checklist is usually simple, its creation and – more importantly – implementation are often not. When I am on a project, I make an effort to make a list, sometimes brief, of what is necessary to avoid errors and be successful in the assigned tasks. A list might cover project coding standards, documentation or project deliverables, test steps or a deployment list. What will ensure the best outcome of your project is active use of checklists, where appropriate, as a reference for you and your team.