Up and running with run sheets

Up and running with run sheets

A run sheet is a list of events and/or tasks set out in chronological sequence from start to finish. Each event on the list is assigned to a person and checked when completed. Run sheets minimise the risk of any task or event being missed along the way to a deadline.

Coming up to launch day and the size of things you need to get done are getting smaller and smaller. The pebble-sized points that, though small, are still important: update text, change dates, insert new components, issue comms, send tweets, change menu items, check links - all sorts of small but vital steps when getting content ready to launch.

Recently those little changes were flying around our heads like annoying gnats as we got ready to launch the result of 6 months of content work.

Sure we'd used road maps for the bigger picture, but we needed to track all those final, increasingly small items. But across different members of the team it was feeling increasingly fragmented and risky. It wasn't until we stood in front of the whiteboard, pulled all the items together in the form of a run sheet that we could clear those gnats away, exhale, and get on with getting the tasks done.

 Photograph of our white board run sheet - items listed in sequence, each assigned to a person to complete, and checked when completed.

Photograph of our white board run sheet - items listed in sequence, each assigned to a person to complete, and checked when completed.

A run sheet is often used for events so everyone knows who needs to do what and when. Ours wasn't fancy - just a list in date and time order written on the white board - we imagined how it might help as we captured our tasks one-by-one on the list.

Benefits learned from our run sheet

  • everyone in the team could see the list and knew what they had to do
  • any missed items could be added - one person never knows as much as the whole team
  • assignment of each task is imperative otherwise the work won't get done
  • the run sheet became more accurate as more info came to hand (agile mindset)
  • nervous/excited managers, stakeholders and other teams could see what and where we were up to
  • people understood our status without unnecessarily interrupting our work to be updated
  • satisfaction of "ticking all the boxes" and confident everything was done - last check box was "high fives"

Additional benefits

  • literal visibility that we knew what we were doing - for us and for others
  • made it obvious we were under control and on top of things
  • super plain to see we knew exactly what stage we were at as we ticked down to launch
  • we knew when we were done

One thing we would do differently with our next run sheet is use time stamps when the sheet was updated. By putting the time at the top of the whiteboard when the list changed would suffice, I think. That way team members'd know at a glance when to pay attention to new information.

I recommend trying a visible run sheet to capture all the steps needed to ensure a successful content launch. We'll certainly be using it again. Sometimes it's the simple things that pack the biggest punch.

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