Using Checklists to Establish a Higher Standard

by Cathleen Jacinto, SE, PE

Springtime tends to yield several project deadlines as construction season comes into full swing. In the midst of a busy season, QA/QC and project checking may perhaps fall to a lower priority to meet critical deliverables.

During these times, one of the most basic organizational tools – the simple checklist – can improve the proficiency of teams and individuals performing complex tasks. Effective checklists can form the backbone for a project’s success, a team’s communication, and an engineering office’s QA/QC standards. Checklists establish a higher standard of baseline performance, while protecting against or minimizing failures.

Below are a few tips to implementing engineering design or construction checklists:

  • Prioritize the completion of checklist items by deadlines – Schematic Design, Design Development, Permit, Construction Documents, etc. Add internal dates for completion of tasks
  • Assign team members to address specific checklist items
  • Use checklists as a teaching tool – A way to transfer knowledge from experienced engineers to a junior team of engineers
  • Set a recurring appointment on your calendar to commit perhaps an hour biweekly to review your or your office’s checklists
  • After you experience any ‘lesson learned’ on a project, add this to your checklist to avoid repeating the same mistake
  • Set a good example – If a project manager uses checklists, it is more likely his/her team will practice the habit of using checklists

However, the challenge is committing time to develop and implement checklists within aggressive project schedules. There are checklists available as part of our SE University subscription (and part of the SEU Resource Center) that will hopefully reduce your time in developing standards. We encourage the use of our checklists as a template to fit your office and project priorities. A few checklists released thus far include a Coordination Checklist for Elevator Design, Structural / Architectural Coordination Checklist, and a Steel Shop Drawing Review Checklist. Please see this link to a full summary of SEU Resource Center Documents available when you log into the SEU Resource Center.

The first 25 people to e-mail [email protected] will be given a checklist of their choice.  Simply let Brian know which one you would like.

We hope you will find the tips above and the resources we offer helpful for you and your office!

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