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Have you ever had a project go off the rails simply because someone failed to complete a task assigned to them in a timely manner? In this blog, we’ll discuss how you can use checklists to operationalize your workflow.

Dropping the ball … it happens to the best of us. Yes, even to those of us here at ThreeWill, where keeping up with tasks associated with our project delivery process is critical to the running of our business. Still, we struggled to complete many of our post-project tasks, which caused many of our projects to remain open well beyond the actual delivery.

To counter this issue, we decided to implement an age-old classic – the checklist – but with a ThreeWill twist designed to help our project and engagement managers keep up with the minutia associated with the overall project status. So, to help you understand how you can operationalize your own workflows using a checklist, we’ll show you the solution we came up with for ourselves.

3 Principals for Designing Our Customized Project Checklist

Why do we go to all this trouble just to keep track of something we do every day?  Because having a formal checklist all project managers must follow offers many advantages.

Specifically, there were three key ideas we kept in mind while we were designing our checklist process.

#1 – Organization

Having all our projects in one checklist ensures that each project follows the same steps in roughly the same order.  It keeps important tasks from being overlooked while at the same time acting as a roadmap for the project to help maintain consistency and accuracy in deliverables.

#2 – Clarity

The checklist brings clarity to what needs to be done for a project manager.  It helps to reduce the back and forth and confusion around who should be doing what.  And by using a custom view which utilizes colors for different values, the managers can very quickly see what is still left to be done in a glance.

#3 – Accountability

With a checklist, each project manager knows what is expected of them and can be held accountable for their assigned tasks.  This helps encourage communication between the managers as they collaborate to complete tasks and provides a common reference point for discussing progress and identifying any challenges or bottlenecks.

The Technical Magic: Bringing the Checklist to Life with SharePoint Lists

Enough talk … I’m sure you’d like a glimpse at what our checklist looks like and to know a little bit about how we created it.

As you can see, we track A LOT of items for a project.  No wonder things were getting dropped! We really needed to use a checklist to operationalize our workflow.

To create this type of view, we first started with a regular SharePoint list. Lists allow you to add as many columns as you need and offers a variety of different column types to help represent the data you need and care about. For us, we started by adding key client and contract fields, plus tons of Choice fields with Yes, No, and sometimes N/A as their value choices.

Column formatting was then applied to each choice field using the standard out-of-the-box choice pills option.

We did adjust the colors for each value to our preference instead of using the default.

My favorite feature of column formatting is that once it is applied, the format is shown no matter where the column is used, even within an edit or view form; something that saved us quite a bit of time in development as we don’t have to customize each form or view individually.

 

 

The next step was to create gallery view (which uses tiles) and then apply list view formatting.  List view formatting can be a little more complicated, but is still considered low code.  This type of  formatting applies to all the columns and rows within a single view.  There are some out of the box formats that can be applied such as alternating row styles and conditional formatting but to create this view, we needed to dive into Advanced mode.

Maximizing Efficiency with Inline Editing and Advanced Formatting

Advanced formatting does require some basic knowledge of JSON (JavaScript Object Notation) in order to build out the format.  JSON is a lightweight text format that is built using a collection of name/value pairs, and is easy for most non-technical users to pick up.

There are a lot of great examples out there that can inspire you, many of which can easily be copied and pasted to suit your needs. Also, my colleague Will Holland wrote a fantastic blog for Microsoft that shows just how creative you can be with formatting: Getting started with SharePoint’s custom view formatting (pnp.github.io)

I won’t go further into the technical details of this as there are many great resources available to guide you through the process, here’s a great starting point for the basics: Use view formatting to customize SharePoint | Microsoft Learn

In our view, we are using colored emoji dots to indicate a Yes, No or N/A value.  When the dot is clicked, a small dialog is opened that allows you to select a value which is then saved back to the list.  It’s like magic and is easily one of our favorite features.  You can learn more about this and other advanced concepts by following this link: Advanced formatting concepts

Realizing Results: How Our Checklist Transformed Project Delivery

Our project checklist isn’t just a tool; it’s a transformational approach that ensures projects are completed on time and within budget, enhancing client satisfaction and team confidence. By simplifying the tracking of complex tasks, our managers can now focus more on strategic decision-making and less on daily minutiae.

This shift has not only improved our project delivery capabilities but has also been instrumental in enhancing the overall reputation of our business. Imagine applying similar efficiencies to your operations—what could that mean for your bottom line?

At ThreeWill, we’re committed to turning your challenges into opportunities for growth and efficiency. Our expertise in simplifying complex processes through tailored solutions in SharePoint, Teams, and the Power Platform could be the catalyst your business needs to scale new heights.

Are you ready to enhance your project delivery and operational efficiency? Let’s connect and explore how our innovative approaches can be tailored to your unique needs. Together, we can achieve more.

READY TO Use Checklists to Operationalize Your Workflow? CONTACT US TODAY!

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