Woman holding mobile app in warehouse

A Beginner’s Guide to Checklist Apps

By The GoCanvas Team on April 2, 2021

Woman holding mobile app in warehouse


Checklists are essential for keeping your team or yourself organized. They are most often used for task management, project management, or workflow optimization.

If jobs at your workplace rely on checklists for the completion of tasks, investing in checklist apps can be a game-changer for increasing your productivity. At a very high level, this means that your staff is leveraging mobile devices (iOS/Apple or Android devices) that have customizable checklists for specific business purposes.

Most apps allow you to start from checklist templates and customize them to fit your needs. You can input due dates, create subtasks, collaborate with co-workers, automate tasks, and take advantage of the other types of advanced features that are included. In a business scenario, there are many benefits to using a mobile application rather than relying on a simple piece of paper.

Continue reading this article for an introduction to checklist best practices, key benefits of using an app for checklists, industry examples, and some free templates to get you started. 


What are the best practices in making a checklist?

To create a well-crafted checklist app, it all starts with making a good checklist. Any time you are collecting data, it’s important to give careful thought to how things are organized and to give specific direction on what’s required. Here are some of the best practices to consider when creating an effective checklist:


Identify your intent  

Clearly defining your intent is helpful for framing the checklist to reflect your specific needs. For example, the checklist may be used as a to-do list, an inspection checklist, a step-by-step guide, a task manager, or a tool to provide you with reminders.


Start with broad categories

It’s helpful to use broad categories when putting together your checklist or task list since there can be a variety of items that need to be included. Within each of those broad categories, checklist items can focus on basic tasks, subtasks, and other items that advance the checklist’s purpose.


Don’t be afraid to get granular

While broad items are an excellent way to start, getting granular in a checklist ensures that people address the specific items or steps when they go to complete the checklist. This level of granularity will help to avoid missing items and making mistakes.


Keep it simple

You should always keep checklists as simple as possible to ensure that your checklists are easy to use for anyone that needs to fill them out. Some use cases will require technical knowledge, but it’s important to remember that the purpose of a checklist is to make it easy for staff to complete. 


Consider extra space for note-taking

Sometimes it makes sense to have extra space on a checklist to add optional notes. This is helpful when people need to provide additional context to a checklist item. For example, people may need to explain why they couldn’t complete an item on the list, they may need to flag something for follow-up, or they may need to flag that a new task item needs to be added in the future. 


Create separate checklists when appropriate 

It’s sometimes tempting to include related lists together. But you should consider keeping separate lists for different purposes, so teams are always using the correct checklist for the right scenario.


What are the benefits of a checklist app?

Now that you have a framework for creating an effective and user-friendly checklist, it’s helpful to understand why a checklist app may be a better option for your business, rather than a regular paper checklist.

Checklist apps and platforms have various functionalities that improve the way teams work. Here are some of the top benefits of using checklist apps for business: 


Availability across multiple devices

With the rise in popularity of mobile devices, everyone is familiar with how to use apps on their phone, and this makes them incredibly convenient for people to access from anywhere.

Checklist apps today are available as mobile apps on both iOS and Android operating systems and through desktop software or web-based platforms. All of the data is securely stored in the cloud, giving teams the ability to work from any device that’s preferred.


Easy to customize

Non-technical staff can easily build and customize their checklist apps, leveraging a familiar drag and drop functionality that doesn’t require help from IT or programmers. You can quickly build checklists and use the drag and drop feature to reorganize the layout based on your preferences. For businesses that want to embrace digital technologies but have limited technical resources, mobile apps are accessible and seriously easy to build for organizations and teams of all sizes.


Advanced features available

Another benefit to apps is that they allow you to incorporate many exciting and advanced features to boost your productivity. This includes things like adding different types of fields into checklists such as calendars, time stamps, required text fields, signature capture, image capture, and much more.

More advanced checklist apps and systems also allow for automating workflows. For example, if a checklist notes a malfunction or problem during that inspection, an organization can send an automated dispatch request to the proper team member. You can see how checklist apps are great for businesses that need to work more efficiently and really streamline their processes.


Access to templates

Not everyone wants to build a checklist from scratch. That’s why checklist apps come with pre-built templates that are put together for specific use cases and they are designed to be customized to fit your unique needs. Some providers of checklist apps will also work with you during onboarding to build the app to your needs, giving you the exact templates your business needs to get started.


Integrations to improve workflows

Another benefit is the ability to leverage integrations to other applications you already use today. This is done by using a pre-built integration, a custom integration using an API, or a connection to a platform like Zapier that allows you to connect with thousands of other cloud apps. This can truly change the way your business operates and checklist items can trigger various automated actions to occur in other platforms.

Many checklist platforms also integrate with commonly used work productivity tools such as Google Workspaces (e.g., Google Keep, Google Tasks, Google Sheets, Google Calendar, and Gmail), Microsoft Exchange, Trello, Slack, Asana, and more.


Collaboration with co-workers

Many businesses need to use checklists that are filled out collaboratively by different team members. Apps allow co-workers to collaborate and share their checklist app submissions in real-time so everyone can be on the same page. This type of syncing capability helps workers and businesses be more productive and spend less time on manual processes.


What industries use checklist apps?

Checklist apps are used by many companies across a number of different industries. Here are some of the top use cases by industry:

  • Construction, Repair, and Improvement companies use checklist apps as components of building inspections, safety inspections, punch lists, maintenance checks, site inspections, compliance checks, and more. 


  • Transportation & Warehousing companies use checklist apps to improve the safety of drivers and vehicles on the road, with apps like the pre-trip driver checklist.  Inspection checklist apps are also used to ensure the longevity of machinery and equipment. 


  • Field Service Providers use checklist apps for contractors and employees that are performing work in the field and they need to ensure consistency with services being provided. These companies also have field service projects that use checklists to perform routine safety checks on jobsites.


  • Manufacturing industry operators use checklist apps to significantly improve workflows, efficiency, and manufacturing outputs. They’re also used to help improve worker safety and the safety of end-users of products. For example, food manufacturers use checklist apps that are geared towards food safety.


GoCanvas checklist apps

Creating a checklist on paper forms often leads to incomplete, inaccurate, or inconsistent data that’s hard for businesses to manage. A better way to manage checklists for your business is to use a mobile app that guides your staff on how to fill in all of the required information correctly. 

GoCanvas is an easy-to-use and powerful platform that enables businesses to create new checklist apps from scratch or take existing checklist templates in the GoCanvas store and tailor them to meet specific use cases. GoCanvas apps can integrate easily with a wide range of third-party providers and tools to increase your workflow efficiency and create opportunities to automate your business processes. The world of technology is easier than its ever been for businesses of all types to leverage these types of cloud applications to work smarter and be more productive at work.