Microsoft Excel is the small business' friend when it comes to creating checklists for a standard process you want followed over and over again. I used them personally during the six years I owned a small business. Then during over three years on the road as a small business consultant, I created checklists and procedures to document policy standard processes for clients.
While it takes time to set up, every time you use it afterwards, you save time. If you're paying someone to do the task for you, that translates into saving money too. I often create Excel spreadsheet checklists or Microsoft Word templates. I like how easy it is to change them, reorder the sequence or delete a step.
Reasons to Use Checklists
- Anchor to return after distractions
- Details steps for things you don't do often
- Don't have to think about what to do
- Training tool
- Quality control
Anchor to Return after Distractions
The Internet has trained us to be easily distracted. I find my checklists handy for enabling me to get back on track quickly.
Details Steps for Things You Don't Do Often
Checklists are invaluable for things you don't do often, like installing a blog. I have steps to do, what plugins to use and a separate tab for which plugins to avoid and why. Excel makes it easy to change and update.
Don't Have to Think About What to Do
Once you figure out what needs to be done the first time, checklists save you from having to figure it out again.
Checklists are essential for developing procedures for employees so as to standardize a job, ensuring quality. It is far easier to train others to do a new job if you have checklists. Train them to use the every time for those processes or tasks.
Whether you ever go after a quality certification for your small business or not, you still need to ensure quality in all you do. One of the main reasons customers stop buying from a business is being unable to depend on consistent quality. Following checklists ensures that you have covered all important steps.
How to Use an Excel Spreadsheet
One way I use an Excel spreadsheet is to list out the steps with a column reserved for the date I completed that step. In my small business consulting, I write blog posts and articles for Yahoo! Contributor Network. So I have a checklist for promoting my articles. I have a line for the title, the post URL (the web address), and a short URL* followed by columns for each site I want to notify about my new article.
*You can use popular sites like bit.ly or tinyurl.com to shorten URLs for your articles and blog posts leaving you room on your favorite social networking sites to actually say something about your post.
Saving a Checklist as a Template (for Windows)
If you want to save your checklists as templates that show up under Templates, when you create a "New" spreadsheet, you will need to turn on the display of "hidden files." Just bring up the Excel or Word Help (the "?" icon at the top right of your worksheet). Ask it to show hidden files. Then you can save in AppData. You'll find Templates under Microsoft in the Roaming folder.
Create your own checklists and templates to use for policy standard processes. Doing so will improve your quality control by ensuring you don't forget steps. It'll save time too because you don't have to think through what needs to be done when you get distracted or try to recall what you did three months ago.
*Note: This was written by a Yahoo! contributor. Do you have a story that you'd like to share? Sign up with the Yahoo! Contributor Network to start publishing your own finance articles.
More from this contributor :
- Technology & Electronics
- Microsoft Excel