Double-checking is bad design

Are you proud of your system for double-checking your work? Why? 

Do you periodically ask yourself and your team why you need to double or  triple check your work? If your data entry requires extra checking, your system needs an overhaul. 

Computers are dense and concrete about intentions and wishes. However, they are rarely inconsistent or sloppy. Humans are both inconsistent and sloppy, so we check our work all the time. Surgeons have to mark which leg they're about to amputate, and some of us resort to putting pieces of string on our fingers to remember tasks.

Example: you're entering invoice information into QuickBooks and want to ensure that your line items are accurate. You double check it if your order entry system is detached from Quickbooks. The double entry is where there’s room for error. 

The time you're putting into being extra careful is preventing you from doing your actual business. The fix? Use built-in integrations that eliminate the need for double entry,  or invest in an automated tool that exports and imports the information so that you don't need to retype anything.


Your employees are likely checking and double-checking their work constantly. These tasks or requirements in process usually come from previous situations that ended poorly. The manager was furious and asked the employee “how did this happen?” The conversation ended with “ok I’ll double check it next time” and both the manager and employee walk away frustrated: the manager is afraid of a recurrence, and the employee feels distrusted and now has more steps to do each time.  

Think of the times you've gotten up to your hotel room and the key didn't work. Yes, the hotel could have checked and double-checked the key, but that's a ton of work. So they don't. What's the fix? Triple checking? No, it's making a key entry system based on a card you already own, like your own credit card, or making one that's based on your fingerprint or another idea that's out of the box, yet to be innovated.

Eliminate all the "thoroughness” you've been adding. Look for all the extra checking in your business and engineer it out. You’ll free up more time for innovating, building and helping your customers.

For more specific tips on reducing double-checking your spreadsheets, see https://www.mann.com/post/doublechecking

Mann Consulting, LLC

282 Second St. #400

San Francisco, CA 94105

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