The Problem Paper Checklists Create

By Jason Bench November 19, 2020 All, Blog
manager using paper checklist

Here’s a claim you’ll likely find controversial: Paper checklists hinder the growth and success of your business.

“What?!” We can hear you say. “We have to do all these compliance and safety checks, to name just two examples — and we have to document them! We can’t be in business and NOT use paper checklists!”

And that’s where your argument breaks down…

Whether they be restaurant kitchen checklists, cleaning checklists, or any other type, tracking your compliance and safety information on paper ensures that each of your locations functions much of the time on its own. It’s an island, an outpost where interaction with your main office or other locations is sporadic and difficult to maintain.

Why is this?

Because processing paper checklists takes up valuable administrative time – precious hours, days and weeks to distribute, digest, and process. The extra time spent on processing paper checklists could be freed up to focus on other important business functions like solving core concerns and taking advantage of money-making activities. But all too often these opportunities have been buried in reams of paper, and no one can decode them in time for them to be meaningful.

Paper Hinders Business Operations

Using paper checklists does meet the bare minimum of your business’ legal and operational requirements. However, there are two main problems:

1. Paper checklists absorb a considerable amount of time for employees at every level of your operation.

It starts with the employees who manually fill them out by hand. Managers have to check and process them, re-enter contents into a spreadsheet, file them, or get them back to your main office.

Then there are the staffers at your office who have to archive the paper and, later, sort through the paper in order to pull information for any regulatory audits, for instance. If any problems are uncovered by the checklists, the action plans to address these problems also take place on paper and require a similar time-consuming process to complete.

2. Paper checklists are limited in what information they can record.

Paper is by definition a finite channel. These checklists often don’t record all the pertinent details of who, when and why actions must be taken – and that can lead to real issues with errors being made and lack of accountability. No information can be recorded except what can be handwritten or printed out and physically attached – which requires more time.

A mobile, digital checklist solves many of these challenges.

All the training and checklists needed for each location can be built and filled out online. Each checklist and audit template can be customized to your business’ specific needs and automatically standardized across every shift at every location. The app can require certain fields to be updated and certain benchmarks to be maintained; all entries are automatically tracked by GPS and time-stamped for your official records, helping ensure that no ‘pencil whipping’ is being done. When updates are needed to any list, you update the template once and it rolls out simultaneously to all users; no one’s paperwork is ever out of date.

The same ease of use applies to action plans. Individual plans can be created from templates in just a couple minutes; it takes just a couple clicks to record the problem and roll out a corrective plan, including assigning responsibilities and establishing the due date for completion.

Finally, with a digital solution, everyone who currently puts their time into managing paper can put that time to other uses that better support your bottom line. These uses include training, providing mentorship, engaging in meaningful dialog with franchisees, etc. Your managers and employees are free to put more time into establishing the quality of your products and services.

Paper Hinders Scalability

With your current paper processes in mind, consider this thought experiment: What if one of your locations has nailed a best practice that could benefit your other locations – something like an updated procedure on your restaurant kitchen cleaning checklist?

How would you know?

And how can you quickly and effectively share that practice?

This highlights the other problem with paper: it’s static and it’s hard to share. One checklist means one sheet of paper for one shift in one location; the sheets keep stacking up for that one location, and it’s hard for anyone to go back later and try to correlate the checkmarks on any form from any location to a larger, cohesive whole.

What you need is the ability to quickly see the results of any checklist, both for that one location and also as compared to the same checklist from every other location. If you’re paper-based, that idea probably seems laughable.

A mobile digital checklist solution does all this work for you, automatically and in real time.

As soon as any employee in the field hits submit, your app dashboard updates with an instant and clear summary; anyone in your organization can easily find any specific data they need — either by location or aggregated over time and across locations. Your team is prepared to identify and take action on any issues that arise before they become serious. This paves the way for all your locations to develop and maintain the high-quality, consistent customer experience that develops repeat business.

But it isn’t just about identifying and addressing underperformance. These enterprise-wide analytics also make it easy to identify best practices from one successful location and recreate them in any other. It becomes much easier to bring individual locations in line with brand and operational standards, while at the same time identifying previously hidden opportunities. Based on evaluating all assessment results across the organization, management is able to adjust and enhance operational processes to ensure success.

Solve the Paper Problem

A digital checklist solution can support the success of your business.

It ensures the right actions are being taken on time, every time, by every employee – and you can confirm exactly what they’ve done in real time. Your workflows are simplified, allowing you to invest more quality time in your employees. And you gain unprecedented visibility inside every location as well as your entire organization.

If you’d like more information about how MeazureUp solves the problem of paper, contact us today.