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Buck Woody

Carpe Datum!

The Beauty/Danger of Checklists

I love checklists. They give you a set of steps to take and when to take them for your systems, and help you standardize processes and procedures. They help you stay consistent, and let you know when you should do something, even when you might not be aware that a particular step is required. They are a way of transmitting knowledge from those who understand to those who don’t.


Interestingly, we don’t have a lot of them in Books Online. In fact, I don’t think we have any. The reason is pretty simple – most tasks can’t safely be reduced to a checklist. You see, if you make the checklist have all of the “but if you have X, then you have to do Y” would make them almost unusable. And since Microsoft is always a big target, it’s safer not to put them in than to be blamed for missing a step or having something that isn’t suited for every circumstance.


I think if they are used properly, checklists are awesome. I also think that the benefits outweigh the trouble they can cause. In the next few weeks, I’ll be working with some friends to develop a few, with, of course, the caveat that you read and understand them – not just implement them blindly.

Published Thursday, December 31, 2009 7:10 AM by BuckWoody
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Finnigan said:

I love using checklists developed in-house for our operational tasks, which are fairly bounded (as opposed to what you describe above). I even love doing the developing of them. It makes it easy to farm work down to support staff, etc. But without thorough documentation on them, if they come from someone else, they're just voodoo to me.

January 5, 2010 1:28 PM
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