Paper vs Digital Checklists and the Crucial Questions of Accountability

By MeazureUp February 26, 2020 Blog, Restaurant
A Digital Checklist Adds a Layer of Accountability

This morning, I was sitting at a local coffee shop catching up on some missed work. I had just ordered my usual breakfast and thought I had the chance to run to the restroom before they brought my breakfast to my table. Little did I know, the bathroom looked and smelled like a New York city dumpster in August (which is really gross). I left the restroom immediately to see a blank bathroom checklist hanging on the back of the door.

My jaw dropped.

I could not believe that such a successful restaurant chain let their cleanliness hinge on the completion of a paper checklist.

I was ready to let the barista know that I didn’t want the breakfast anymore and that I probably wouldn’t be back for a while. Two other thoughts popped into my head:

  1. If the bathroom inspection wasn’t done today, was the kitchen inspection done?
  2. There’s 15 more coffee shops like this one, are none of them running through their checklists?

That’s the issue with paper checklists, there’s no accountability.

Especially if someone in management can’t make their way to every store everyday, it’s almost naive to assume that employees are completing paper checklists unsupervised. Put yourself in your employee’s shoes – you know your manager wouldn’t be in until noon, who cares if the bathroom wasn’t inspected until 11:30am? Well, I did and I won’t be returning to ANY locations in that chain anytime soon.

free guide on 8 ways to survive the labor shortage graphicThere has to be a solution… Right?

All of that being said, it seemed that this problem was too simple to lack a solution. There are a couple options…

First, do nothing. Ignorance is bliss!

Second, use a mobile inspection tool that can replace all of your paper checklists with a digital version. Technology is often embraced by younger employees, but does it really improve the chances of an employee completing a checklist?

Let’s look at how a mobile inspection tool helps answer some basic questions an operations or training executive may have about the execution of a store inspection process for a chain business.

Use a Mobile Inspection Tool to Replace Paper Checklists With a Digital Version

Which stores completed all of their checklists? Which didn’t?

Paper Checklist: A copy of all checklists must be sent to the area manager by the end of the day. Each area manager is responsible for informing the executives which checklists were completed and which weren’t. In some organizations, this information does not reach the executive level.

Digital Checklist: Completion of checklists marked off automatically on an online dashboard, saving time for executives. Anyone can log on to see if their stores are complying.

For my stores, what do the results look like?

Paper Checklist: Each area manager would prepare a report summarizing results from each assessment. The area manager would then email this report to the store’s relevant stakeholders. A very time consuming process for a report that is often unused.

Digital Checklist: Insights are collected automatically and emailed to all relevant stakeholders. Insights may include the overall assessment score, completion time and location and items that failed multiple times.

Were the assessments completed at the store? How long did the assessment take?

Paper Checklist: You would hope that the store manager is signing off on assessments only if they’re done for the correct store and for an appropriate amount of time. If the person completing the checklist is willing to forge a signature, and they usually are, then you’ve just gotta believe!

Digital Checklist: Each assessment is given a time stamp and a location stamp to show how long and where each assessment is done.

Are failed items being acted on? How will management be kept in the loop?

Paper Checklist: You’re relying pretty heavily on your store managers for this one. They’re responsible for communicating issues found in the assessments to their staff and reporting back to their area managers when the issues have been resolved. The area managers would need to keep an independent log of outstanding issues in each store, marking each one ‘fixed’ as the store manager continues to update the area manager.

Digital Checklist: When a task fails, users are prompted to assign an ‘action plan’ to correct an issue. An action plan consists of a task, a due date and an assignee, who is responsible for correcting the task. As the due date for the action plan approaches, the assignee is reminded to complete and close out the action to alert all other stakeholders that the item has been corrected within the allotted time.

The reality is that everyone works better when being held accountable and sometimes, processes need to be implemented to prevent employees from being complacent. While using paper checklists seem like the easier route to take, just know that you run the risk of your bathroom resembling a New York City dumpster.

Okay, hopefully that is not the case in any of your stores, but with a digital checklist solution, you’ll always be kept in the loop.

To learn more on how digital checklists can improve your company’s operations, ensure consistency and enforce accountability, contact us today.