People, teams, and businesses all gain efficiency and reduce costly errors when repeatable processes are documented and followed. Additional time and cost savings are realized when processes are automated. To achieve all these benefits, use master checklist templates to document your processes and workflows. Then, use those same templates to generate and run individual, automated checklists as needed.

 
In this article, you'll learn how to create master templates for your repeatable processes. Here are the topics we will cover:

  • The difference between a Checklist and a Checklist Template
  • How to create a Checklist Template
  • How to start new Checklists from a Template
  • How to update, share, and delete Checklist Templates

What's the difference between a Checklist and a Checklist Template?

Checklist Templates give you a way to create and share a "master checklist" for your repeatable processes.

Once published in the Template Library, any Manager in your Account can view the Template and use it to start as many new Checklist-driven workflows as needed. This makes Checklist Templates an ideal way to drive process consistency and make sure things get done right. 

An Example

Imagine you want to create a repeatable onboarding process for new team members. That process involves the new employee, their manager, and people from HR, facilities, and other teams. You want the same official process to be followed every time and you want the Checklist Template to handle the fact that task assignees, due dates, and other content of the checklist (e.g. their desk location) will be different each time.

Here's what a Template for your process might look like. The Checklist Template looks just like any other Checklist you might create in TeamworkIQ, except there's significantly more use of placeholders for roles, relative due dates, and other content that might need to be different each time a new Checklist is made from the Template.

Key Concepts

Outline Your Process Using Numbered or Bulleted Lists
To get started, outline the workflow steps and tasks as you would if you outlined the process using a bulleted lists in word processor like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.

  • Use List Types to Outline Your Process
    you'll use the List Type to select "Step By Step" or "Any Order" lists. The List Type tells TeamworkIQ if you want the workflow steps to be done in sequence or if the order does not matter.
  • Sub-processes and Sub-tasks
    To create sub-steps or sub-tasks in your workflow, press the Indent Step or Outdent Step buttons in the toolbar.

When creating templates, it's best to use placeholders for parts of the standard checklist template that could be different for each checklist made from the template. Use placeholder for task assignments, due dates, relative due dates, and bits of text. Values for these placeholders can then be entered when a new checklist is started from the Template. For example:

Here are all the types of placeholders you can use:

  • Roles
    Use roles (e.g. @HR Representative, @Manager, etc...) to describe the job function of the assignee. When a new checklist is made from the template a specific person can then be assigned to that role. All tasks associated with that role are then the responsibility of that person.
  • Text Variables
    Use text variables to provide a placeholder for key bits of content that may be different in each checklist made from the template.  For example, {New Employee} can be used to hold the name of the new employee.
  • Date Variables
    Use date variables to allow key dates to be set when a new checklist is made from a template. (e.g. {hire date}).

    Tip: To make your variable a date variable, include the word "date", "day" or "time" in its name.
  • Relative Due Dates
    In Templates, being able to define a due date relative to the start date of the checklist or the value of another date variable is very useful. The example above shows relative due dates for both "3 days before {hire date} and "1 week after {hire date}". Thus the timelines for this checklist are all relative to the new employee's hire date.

We'll explain more about how to create Roles, Text Variables, Date Variables and Relative Due Dates later in this article. However, (spoiler alert) as with most things in TeamworkIQ, you can create these simply by typing them up.

Now you know the key concepts and are on your way to becoming master Checklist Template maker. 

Next, let's go through the steps to create, update, share, and delete Checklist Templates.

How To Create a Checklist Template

1. Go to the Template Library

Access the Template Library from the Templates link in the Main Menu. 

The full set of Template related features is available to any member of the account with Manager level feature access. If you need access to these features, ask the Account Owner or an Account Admin.

Within the Template Library you'll find several lists of templates:

  • My Templates tab lists all the templates for which you are an Author. As an Author you can make revisions to these templates, publish updated versions, or remove the template if needed.
  • Account Templates tab lists all the published templates for the account. The name of your account will be shown in the name for the tab.
     

2. Create a New Template

There are several ways to create a new template:

  • Start with a Blank Template
    To create a template from scratch, go to the Template Library and click the + New button in the top-right corner, or, from the Main Menu click + New then select Template from the list.
  • To create a template from an existing checklist, go to the checklist that you want to turn into a template, open the ... menu and click Save as new template.


Once the template is created, add some content, save your work, then publish the template.

  • Create the contents of the template. Authoring the contents of your template is just like authoring a checklist. Simply type up who needs to do what outlining and indenting items as needed. Remember it's best to assign tasks to @Roles instead of individual people and to use text variables, date variables, and relative due dates where needed. More on that in sections 3, 4, 5, and 6 of this article below.
  • Save your template. When you do it gets saved as an "Unpublished Revision" and is not yet visible in the Account Templates listing. You, and anyone else you have added as an Author of this template can find it in the My Templates list.
  • Publish your template. When you are ready for other people to discover and use your template, click Publish. As soon as you publish the template, it will appear in the Account Templates list within the Template Library for all Managers in the account to see and use.

    Your published template will look like this...

3. Use @Roles to Assign Tasks

When creating templates it is best to use @Roles to assign tasks to various job functions rather than directly to a person. Why? When you use a @Role, you can assign different people to the @Role later.

Use @Roles to assign work to any job function. Simply type @ and the name of the job function, then select the role from the list to create the role assignment. @Roles can be named anything. For example: @Account Manager, @Sales Rep, @Director, @CFO, @Controller, @HR Rep, @Bookkeeper, @CPA, @Supervisor, @Inspector, etc.

4. Use Text Variables as Placeholders for Content

Text variables are placeholders for text that will be entered later and merged into a new checklist created from a template. As shown below the text variable {New Employee} will eventually be replaced by the name of a new employee. 

To create a text variable, type a { then type the name of the variable you want followed by a }. The { and } are called opening and closing curly brackets. They signify the start and end of your variable. You can also press the {..} icon in the toolbar to create a new variable.

As you type the variable name, you'll see other variables appear in a menu. This lets you pick and reuse existing variables.

If you want the variable you are creating to hold a date rather than text, select "value will be a date" from the menu. However, there's an easier way to create Date Variables. Read on...

5.  Use Date Variables as Placeholders for Due Date Values

Like Text Variables, Date Variables are used as placeholders for values that can be set when a new checklist is made from a Template. Date Variables however are for dates.

In the example below {hire date} is a date variable. Everything the @Manager needs to do is due by the {hire date}, the first day of work for the new employee.

You create Date Variables the same way as you would for Text Variables...

  • Type {, the name of the variable, and a closing }. 
  • However, if you include the word "date", "day", or "time" in the name of your variable, then TeamworkIQ will know it's a Date Variable
  • You can also pick "value will be a date" from the menu to create a Date Variable if needed.

Once a variable is created, it will also appear in the Checklist Variables list. Click the "gear" icon in the top right of the Template and you'll see all the Template Info including the Checklist Variables list.

Tip:  When creating the Template, leave the values for your variables blank to that anyone who makes a new checklist from the template will be prompted to enter the values they want to use. If you want to set a default value you can--but beware that people using the template might not know they can change the value from its default. (They can).

6.  Use Relative Due Dates to Dynamically Set Due Dates

Imagine you want certain sections of your checklist driven process due several hours or a few days before a key event. Or, perhaps due weeks or months after a key event. Use Relative Due Dates to do that. Here's how...

To create a Relative Due Date, type a phrase like any of the below. 

  • 3 days before {hire date}
  • 6 hours before {event time}
  • 1 week after {event time}
  • 3 months after {hire date}

Here's the pattern:

  1. Type a numeral (e.g. "5" or "15", not "five" or "fifteen") 
  2. Then a unit of time (e.g. days, hours, weeks, months.) 
  3. Then "before" or "after"
  4. Then type a { to create or select a date variable

If the date variables does not already exist, TeamworkIQ will create it. If you want to use an existing date variable, pick it form the list in the menu that appears.

How To Start a New Checklist from a Template

  • To start a new checklist from a template find the template you want to use in the Template Library and click to preview it. Then from the Template Preview, click the New Checklist from Template button, or select the same from the ... menu for the template. This will create a draft checklist from the template. 
  • Before you Start the new checklist you just made from the template be sure to set values for the following items...

    - Checklist title. The checklist you created has the name of the Template as it's title. In general it's good to leave that as it BUT add something unique to the end of it. For example if the starting title were "Onboard New Hire" and the new employee was Ann Branson, then add " - Ann Branson" to the title. That way you'll know it's the onboarding process for Ann Branson.

    - @Roles that need assignees. In the Checklist Settings panel, Click Assign to select the assignee. You can start the checklist even if you do not know the assignee. But anything not assigned will be assigned to the checklist owner.

    - Text and Date Variables that need values. In the Checklist Setting panel, enter values into the blank fields for each variable. A checklist cannot be started until every variable value has been entered.

How To Share a Template

  • When a Template is published to the Template Library, it becomes shared with every Manager in the your Account. That way other Managers can find and use the Template. 
  • If you want to share the template so that other people can help author it and keep it's content up to date, then Edit the master Checklist Template and add other Managers to the list of Authors in the top-right of the Template Info panel on the right.

How To Update an Existing Template

  • To update an existing template, go to the template, then press Edit. On smaller screens, screens select Edit from the ... menu instead.

How To Delete a Template

  • Delete a template or an unpublished revision by selecting the appropriate option from the ... menu for the template.
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