Get Rid of Paper Checklists: Use Mobile Performance Support Systems


During my first week at Expand, I was shown a very large binder that came from one of our clients. It was a mammoth book of job aids, forms and checklists. I’m not even sure it would fit inside of any normal-sized storage spaces. I had to chuckle when I was told what the binder contained. Over the course of my career, I’d put together similar binders for myself and others; a quick-reference book to keep on hand.

While I had the greatest intentions, people never ended up using these binders as much as I thought they would. They fell out of date quickly. They would fall into disarray when I was feeling short on time, because items wouldn’t be put back where they belonged. They were heavy and awkward to carry around, so if I was working remotely or in another location, it would be left behind, collecting dust and serving no purpose.

Like many companies (albeit, on a much grander scale) I’ve personally made a shift toward a more paperless existence, both at work and at home. Many people have come to find out that stacks of paper are more of a hindrance than a help.

  • They’re cumbersome to carry around and store.
  • Paper increases the margin for human error, bad handwriting and sloppy record-keeping.
  • Paper is really good at disappearing, and dogs seem to like it.
  • Processes are bogged down when paperwork needs to be dealt with, like waiting for signatures and rekeying data into a system.
  • Processes change, leaving you with heaps of outdated paperwork and/or the cost of printing and distributing new documents.
  • You can’t easily report or summarize data that’s recorded on paper.

While most of us can agree paperwork is a source of dread and frustration, some of the most important pieces of information are still disseminated via the printed page. This was the case with our client mentioned above, until they hired us to help them break the habit. Their field associates were relying on paper forms and checklists to a) complete specific tasks on the job and b) report back to superiors that these tasks were completed. Converting these forms and checklists to a format that could be completed on a mobile device and submitted electronically produced markedly improved results.

Below are 11 reasons to dump your paper forms and checklists into the nearest recycling bin, and make the switch to electronic, mobile support systems:

1. Save a few (hundred) trees. The ecological impact is huge.

2. Get organized. No more accumulating stacks of paper to ignore.

3. Reduce human errors, including misreads, mis-entries, and misplaced or destroyed documents.

4. Increase process compliance and consistency. Ensure everyone has up-to-date forms and performance support materials at their fingertips, and aren’t relying on outdated ones.

5. Improve timely reporting by capturing and analyzing data in real time, as soon as the “submit” button is clicked.

6. Historical data will be adequately archived in electronic files.

7. Reduce printing costs.

8. Reduce storage space needed. An iPad takes up much less space than reams of paper.

9. Improved security. Process documents, forms and checklists are only available to those with company login credentials. You don’t often see an iPad blowing down the street or tossed in a coffee shop trash can.

10. Reduce waste.

11. Data collected in electronic forms or checklists can be integrated with other internal systems, increasing productivity, reporting accuracy and speed.

Will Holland