How Do You Prepare a Project Management Checklist?

How do you ensure that projects and tasks get completed on time, on budget, and to your quality standards? Creating a project management checklist can help you achieve this.  In this post, we’re going to share how you can create and integrate better project management checklists into your team’s workflow. 

Why are Checklists Important?

As you grow your team and delegate more projects, the quality of the work you deliver can suffer. You can mitigate this risk and prevent project management failures by building better systems, processes, and checklists and ensuring that everyone on your team follows them. This method can work across almost any functional area in a business, from sales and marketing to HR, finance, and customer service.  

The 6 Step Approach To Building a Project Management Checklist 

Here is a guide to designing a comprehensive checklist that fits into your team’s existing workflows.  

1. Start with a goal 

The first thing to determine as part of your project initiation is the goal of the project. This almost seems too obvious to include. However, before you can build a checklist, you need to define the goal of the project. A great question to ask – “What does a successful outcome look like?”

2. Determine the budget and any resources needed 

Projection Goals aim for the target

Once you know the goal, you can think through resource allocation and capacity planning to set a budget. Resource allocation doesn’t just include your team members, but it can also include project management software and additional documentation.

For example, if you are a Shopify web design agency, you are creating a checklist for how to onboard new web design clients, you are going to need access to Shopify (i.e. user credentials to their account) in addition to being looped into the account management details (i.e. onboarding forms, kickoff call, etc).  

3. Divide the goal into small deliverables with deadlines

Now, it is time to create your checklist. It is easy to get overwhelmed by a big project. One way to avoid the feeling of being overwhelmed is to divide the project into smaller, more manageable tasks. Let’s go back to our Shopify web design agency example if you want to build out a full client onboarding process. Instead of creating one giant checklist, you can divide it up into smaller, more manageable checklists by project phase. 

For example, you might have a checklist called “1st week.” In this phase, your checklist might include all of the following: 

  • Get login details of the client’s Shopify store. 
  • Send a welcome email and schedule a project kickoff call 
  • Collect the client’s website assets like brand style guidelines, copy, etc. 

Then, the second checklist for this project might be around building out the wireframes.

The third checklist in this project is to turn the wireframe into the first draft of the site.

The fourth checklist would be for internal QA. 

And so forth. 

Then, you can group all of these checklists into one big project for completing the first website build for a new Shopify client. 

Pro Tip: This same approach of breaking apart a complex process can also work for internal projects, like onboarding a new project manager to the team.

4. Create a communication plan

As you are building your checklist, you should also outline how you are going to keep all stakeholders up-to-speed on the project, especially if you are a remote project manager. Here are some things to consider:

Who will receive updates on the project?

  • How often will they receive updates?
  • What’s the format for your communication? 
  • Who is responding for sending them?

5. Identify any risks 

One of the biggest reasons why checklists don’t get used is because the person(s) who created it didn’t think through all of the potential dependencies. This is where you need to think about all of the steps in your checklist and identify any dependencies or risks where it could stall out. 

Going back to our Shopify website example, let’s say you are on the wireframes checklist. You are waiting on Becky in Design to create some website graphics. However, you just find out she is on vacation for 2 weeks. Now, the checklist is stalled out until Becky comes back. 

However, this could be avoided if you assign a back-up for each task. So, that if Becky is on vacation or out sick, then Billy can fill in on creating the design assets and keep the project rolling. While this is a simpler example, the more risks you can identify upfront and the more back-up plans you can create, the greater chance you are going to be to adapt in the event something goes wrong. 

6. Integrate your new checklist with your project management software

Finally, the most important part is making sure your new checklist is integrated directly into your project management software and team’s workflows.

Pro Tip: Don’t have a project management software or thinking about switching? Here are some tips for evaluating project management software. 

If you can make the checklist easy to use and highly visible, this will increase the likelihood that your team will use every time. 

How Do You Prepare a Project Management Checklist?

In sum, the 6 step approach to building project management checklists will keep your projects running smoothly and ensure that they complete on time and on budget. 

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