Undeniably, checklists are extremely effective in improving quality and ensuring standardization. In fact, the “checklist” has saved countless lives, as chronicled in Atul Gawande’s book Checklist Manifesto.
However, as many accounting professionals have found, checklists have several downfalls.
They don’t train your team to be better
Checklists simply list what needs to be done, such as do a bank rec, check AR for old items, capitalize expenses etc. They don’t actually guide your team on how to do it and how to do it well. When you don’t understand why something is done, a task may be checked off yet the goal may not be accomplished. For example, a checklist item may be “complete a bank rec and ensure there are no outstanding items”. A bookkeeper may complete the task by booking the reconciling difference into Uncategorized Expense. As horrific as this sounds, it does happen! Task checked off, but the goal of accuracy and quality isn’t accomplished.
They drain productivity
Checklists work if they are followed. In fact, the longer the checklist, the higher the consistency and the higher the quality. On the other hand, long checklists drain productivity. Filling out checklists drains time; reviewing checklists drains time; adjusting checklists drains time; version control drains time.
They won’t be 100% followed 100% of the time
Moreover, checklists drain energy. Why? They aren’t fun. When it’s not fun, it won’t be followed. Checklist tracking is perfect, so it’s quite difficult to which employees have filled out their checklists. When checklists aren’t religiously followed, they lose their effectiveness.
They don’t give real-time, aggregate visibility
Is there a particular step that often gets missed? Is there a most common error? Do employees need certain training in an area? It’s quite impossible for checklists to provide such data.
Valuable data isn’t tracked and used
Checklists are hard to consolidate and analyze. Which team member is performing better? Which team member is following the checklist process most closely? Managers and firm-owners currently find it difficult to get data on their overall business.
How do we evolve this arcane tool? It’s time we shake things up.
There has to be a better way
The answer is to leverage an Automatic Quality Assurance (AQuA) tool, such as VERIFYiQ. VERIFYiQ uses an always-improving algorithm to scan a QuickBooks Online or Xero file for all of the most common errors. Not only does it catch the errors, it also teaches your bookkeepers how to fix these errors, thereby elevating the skillset of your team.
Because the quality check is automatic, there is no drain to productivity. In fact, the more comprehensive the algorithm, the more productive your team will be. Because VERIFYiQ is so easy to use, your team will be delighted to use it, thereby increasing compliance. In fact, through the dashboard, you can easily check who has reviewed which file so you can be certain that each client file has gone through the same quality assurance process.
In the future, VERIFYiQ will provide reporting tools that show the most common errors, providing a training roadmap for managers to upskill their team.
In summary, we know that checklists are effective, but they are so last century. The future of “checklist” is here – VERIFYiQ.
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