Creating & Managing Observation Checklists

Discover how to create and manage observation checklists

Last Updated

February 2nd, 2021

Docebo Module


Reading Time

14 min

User Level


Learners and their managers often find it difficult to perform simple task monitoring in their working environments. Observation Checklists are an easy-to-use tool integrated in your learning platform, enabling you to observe and document how your learners and team members perform their tasks in a quick-to-configure checklist format.

You as a Superadmin can easily create observation checklists in multiple formats (e.g. single choice, multiple choice, dropdown, and other response types) for users to complete for themselves or for other users in the platform or for managers to complete for their team members. This tool gives you an at-a-glance view of the status of users progress related to certain tasks (inside or outside of the platform) across a specified period of time and enables you to monitor users compliance with certain requirements that you may have in your everyday on-the-job processes. Checklists can be triggered by specific events (such as course completion) or can be scheduled.

Furthermore, you can also add observation checklists as training material into a course, by importing into the course (of any course type) the checklists already created on the Observation Checklists management page. Remember that the same checklist can be both (and simultaneously) scheduled using the Observation Checklists management page (learn more details from the Scheduling and Selecting Users for a Checklist chapter below) and also be added as a training material in a course from the Course Management.

Use Case Scenarios

The Observation Checklists feature opens various opportunities, such as:

  • Monitoring and ensuring that users work in compliance with requirements or processes.
  • Quickly checking on how users perform specific work tasks.
  • Monitoring the status of user progress related to certain tasks inside or outside of the learning platform.
  • Ensuring that your learners are following what they’ve learned beyond formal training.

For example, if in your company new hires are enrolled into a learning plan containing courses that teach employees how to properly use, maintain, and service your company’s products, after new hires have completed their training, it is important that they can demonstrate their knowledge in practice. To accomplish this, managers and employees work together to fill out Observation Checklists, whose completion can be tracked in the platform. When managers complete the onboarding checklist for an employee, there is a reportable record for compliance purposes, and validation that the new hire’s competency is at the desired level.

Observation Checklists Language in the Localization Tool

Observation checklists are a very flexible tool, adapting to various use cases. This is why you are free to change the labels to best suit your needs using Docebo’s localization tool. For example, your checklist is originally composed of “items”, but perhaps you want them to be composed of “questions”. You as the Superadmin have the ability to customize the language of your checklist to meet your needs. The following table lists the keys that you can change:

Observation Checklists language localization tool

Creating an Observation Checklist

As a Superadmin, begin by accessing the Admin Menu from the gear icon in the top right corner of your platform to create an observation checklist. Then, select the Observation Checklists option in the E-Learning section. On the Observation Checklists page, you can create and manage your checklists.

Please Note: Power Users with granted permissions can create and manage their own checklists and manage the checklists created by the users assigned to them. Find out more about list of Power Users permissions.

If you haven’t created any checklists yet, you’ll find an empty page without any checklists displayed. If you have already created one or more checklists, you’ll find them listed on the Observation Checklists page, where you can view the details of the checklist, edit them, duplicate or delete the checklists.

To edit, duplicate or delete a checklist, click the ellipsis icon on the right side of the checklist, then select the corresponding option. When you duplicate a checklist, a new checklist is created and it will contain the same items (and group of items) and have the same configuration as the ones in the checklist you duplicated. Once you have duplicated one of your checklists, you can then edit and schedule it according to your needs. Of course, your new checklist won’t contain any schedules, so you won’t see any schedules in the Schedules column on the Observation Checklists page. Please refer to the Scheduling and Selecting Users for a Checklist section below in this article to learn how to schedule your checklist. Please note that you can also duplicate your duplicated checklist.

You cannot delete a checklist if it is associated with one or more courses. To be able to delete it, first you need to remove the checklist training material in each of the courses where it has been added.

By clicking the icon in the Courses column in the table of the page, you will be redirected to the Courses tab, where you will see the list of courses the checklist has been associated with.

creating an observation checklist

To create a new checklist, press the plus icon (New Checklist) in the top right corner of the page. The Create New Observation Checklist right panel will open. In the Details section, insert a code, a name, and a description for your checklist. The only mandatory field is Name.

If you want to add an area for free notes at the end of each item of the checklist, select the corresponding checkbox in the Options section below. Additionally, if you want the observer (the person who fills out the checklist) to review the checklist responses in order to close it, select the acceptance review flag in the Options section. By enabling this option, at the end of the checklist, the observer will do an acceptance review of the completed checklist.

In order to close and send the checklist, the observer must select the thumbs up if he/she accepts the checklist responses, or the thumbs down if he/she doesn’t accept them.

Please note: The checklist will be completed regardless of the observer’s response, thumbs up and thumbs down.

When finished configuring the checklist properties, press Create and Edit.

Viewing and Editing Observation Checklists’ Properties

The page that will open after having selected Create and Edit is composed of five tabs relating to your checklist: Properties, Items, Preview, Schedules and Courses. In the Properties tab, you’ll find the info that you have just inserted in the Create New Observation Checklist right panel and you are free to edit it if you need to do so.

Adding Items to an Observation Checklist

Reach the Items tab on your checklist’s page to add new groups of items and new items inside each of the groups you just created. Here, you will view the structure of your checklist. You can create groups of items if you want to gather them by theme, subject, or if you need to group the items of your checklist depending on when each item is checked (for example, tasks to be performed before starting an activity, tasks to be performed during the activity, and tasks to be performed after having completed it).

items tab

Press the plus icon (new groups of items) to add a new group. A right panel will open, where you can configure the details of the newly created group of items. Fill in the Group Name (it is the only mandatory field) and the Description/Instructions text fields. Then, if you don’t want to show the group name in the checklist, flag the corresponding option. Otherwise, the group name is shown by default. When finished, select Create. Repeat this process to create new groups. Please note that there is not a limit to the number of groups that you can create.

Now, press the plus icon (new item) to add a new item to the group you have created, then insert the name of the item in the Item field, and choose a response type (short answer, paragraph, single choice, multiple choice, dropdown, date picker, or time picker). According to the response type you have chosen, the corresponding response fields will appear below the item.

To edit, delete or duplicate a group of items or to delete or duplicate a single item inside of a group, click the ellipsis icon in the right part of the group section or of the item section, then select the corresponding option. You can organize the order of the items or the groups in your checklist by dragging and dropping them. To do so, hover your mouse over the item’s or the group’s row on the far left until the icon appears, then drag and drop the item or the group.

Please note: If you edit your checklist’s groups of items after the start date you set for your checklist in the Schedule tab (meaning that your users or managers may have already completed that checklist), a new version of the checklist will be created. If your checklist is repeated every x days, weeks or months, the users and managers who complete it will display the new version the first time they fill out the checklist after your changes. On the Observation Checklist page, you’ll always view the last saved version. For more info about scheduling options, read the Scheduling and Selecting Users for a Checklist section.

Viewing Your Observation Checklist’s Preview

In the Preview tab on your checklist’s page you will see a preview of the checklist that you as the Superadmin created and then configured in the Properties and the Items tabs. Any changes you make (and save) in the Properties and Items tabs will be reflected in the checklist’s preview.

preview tab

The preview shows the checklist as it will be viewed by the user or manager that will complete it. If you want to know in advance how your users’ experience will be, you can also complete the checklist shown in the Preview tab.

Scheduling and Selecting Users for a Checklist

On your checklist’s page, move to the Schedules tab, where you can configure and schedule the observation checklist that you are creating or manage the schedule of an existing checklist. If you haven’t scheduled the checklist yet, you’ll find an empty page without any schedules for that checklist. If you have already scheduled that checklist, you’ll find all of the schedules for that checklist in the table in the Schedules tab.

schedule tab

To schedule your checklist, press the clock icon (schedule checklist) in the top right corner of the page. The Schedule Checklist right panel will open. This area is divided into three steps:

First Step: Select the Users to Check

In the first step, decide the users who will be checked. You as the Superadmin can choose users assigned to a group, users associated with a branch or single users. Then, select the group(s), the branch(es) or the single user(s) (remember that you can select up to 10 single users) from the corresponding table at the bottom of the Schedule Checklist panel.

users to check

Please note: When you select a branch, its sub-branches are not automatically selected. If you want to select one or more sub-branches, you need to click the arrow button on the right side of the branch row and manually select the sub-branches you want to add.  

Find out more about groups and branches. When you have completed this step, select Next to go to the second step.

Second Step: Set the Checklist Observer and the Checklist Approval

In this step, you can decide who will fill out the checklist (the observer), and you can also choose a person in charge of approving the checklist.

Checklist Observer

checklist observer

You can set if the checklist will be completed by the users who are checked (Self Observer option), by a manager (Manager Observation option) or by another user in the platform (Custom User option). If you choose the Self Observer option, the users that you selected in the first step will fill out the checklist on their own.

If you choose the manager option, the managers of the users selected in the first step (single learners or learners who are part of the group(s) or branch(es) you selected) have to complete the observation checklist. When you choose the manager option, you must also select the manager type from the dropdown list. Managers who have to fill out the checklist will receive a notification in the platform’s Notification area, and then manage, from their My Team page, the checklists where their team is observed. Instead, managers will use the My Checklists page to find all the checklists that they need to complete in one place. Refer to this article for more information about how managers can complete and manage observation checklists for their teams.

If you choose the Custom User option, the checklist’s observer who will complete the checklist will be a peer user that you choose from the list of users that appears in the menu below the option after you start typing the name of the peer user. Users who have to complete the checklist will receive a notification in the platform’s Notification area, and then fill out the checklists assigned to them in their My Checklists built-in page. You must add the My Checklist page to the users’ main menu in order for them to quickly and easily access that page. Remember to add this page for your users, because it is not enabled by default. More info about how users can fill out and manage their observation checklists

Checklist Approval

You can also decide if the checklist that you are configuring needs to be approved by another person or not by flagging the corresponding checkbox.

checklist approval

Once selected the checkbox, two options will appear below. You can choose between a manager and a custom user who is in charge of approving your checklist, then select Next to go to the following step.

If you select the manager option (and choose the manager type), the managers of the users selected in the first step of the configuration (single learners or learners who are part of the group(s) or branch(es) you selected) have to approve or reject the checklist.

If you want the checklist to be approved (or rejected) by a specific peer user, select the Custom User option and insert the name of the user in the field below the option.

Managers or users who have to approve the checklist will receive a notification in the platform’s Notification area, and then review the checklist assigned to them for the approval, deciding whether to approve the checklist, or to reject it. If it is rejected, the checklist is sent back to the user who completed it (the observer) so that he/she can correct the responses he/she gave. In both cases, observers receive a notification informing them about the approval or rejection of the checklists they filled out.

Once again, when you have completed this step, select Next to go to the following step.

Third Step: Schedule a Time Frame for Your Checklist

schedule time frame

In the Time Frame step, you can set when the observation checklist is activated. If you choose the Anytime option and set the start date, the checklist is always available (starting from the date you set). Users can complete the checklist as many times as they want and their checklist is always available, also after they complete it (it is available immediately after completion).

When you select the Schedule a time frame option, the checklist will be available in the time frame defined by the start and end dates you set. If you want your checklist to be repeated, set the repetition from the Repeats dropdown menu. Remember that you can also set the current date as the start date of your checklist.

If you need your users or managers to complete a checklist in conjunction with a specific event (when they complete a course), select the Based on course completion option and then type the course name in the text field below. When selecting this activation mode, please consider the following:

  • once the schedule is activated, the platform looks for the courses completed in the last 24 hours and sends the checklist to the users who completed those courses in that time frame. This means that if the schedule is created at 10:00AM,  the checklist will be sent to all of the users who completed a course after 10:01AM of the previous day.
  • if the user is unenrolled from the course linked to the checklist either by a Superadmin or a Power User (with granted permissions), or because the user is renewing the certification linked to the course, the checklist will be automatically re-scheduled and re-sent when the user re-completes the course.

Once finished, press Confirm. Now, a message at the bottom of the page will inform you that your checklist has been successfully scheduled.

Your checklist may be available to your users up to three hours after you schedule it. Also remember that the time frame you set is a soft deadline, meaning that the observers you chose in the previous step of the configuration process can complete the checklists even after the end date you set. You can easily recognize when your users are late in filling out their checklists by the warning in the Checklist Validity column of the table of schedules in the Schedule tab.

Once finished scheduling your checklist, it will appear in your checklist’s schedules table shown in the Schedules tab. Here, you can edit or delete the schedules if you need it. To do so, click the ellipsis icon at the end of the checklist row that you want to edit or delete and select the corresponding option from the dropdown menu. Please note that when deleting a schedule of your checklist, you can choose to delete also the checklists that have already been assigned to users, but that haven’t been completed yet.

Please note that if you create a checklist and complete its scheduling (deciding the users who are checked, who will fill out the checklist and when), but without adding any items to the checklist, it will not be assigned to any users, so no user will be asked to complete it.

Viewing the Checklist Associations with Courses

In the table of the Courses tab on your checklist’s page, you will see all of the courses where the checklist has been imported as a training material. More information on adding a checklist as training material into a course.

courses tab

In the table, you can see the course name, when the checklist has been added to the course (Association Date), and the info about the observer, the approval step, and the completion that have been configured when importing the checklist training material in the course.

By clicking the name of a course in the table, you will be redirected to the course page in the Course Management.


If you want your users and managers to immediately know when they have a checklist to be completed or approved, make sure that the Notifications app is active in your platform, and that you have correctly created and configured the following notifications:

For checklist completion:

  • New Manager Observation Checklists to Complete (sent if you selected the Manager option in the second step of the checklist configuration).
  • New Self Observation Checklists to Complete (sent if you selected the Self Observer option).
  • New Peer Observation Checklists to Complete (sent if you selected the Custom User option).

For checklist approval:

  • New Observation Checklist to Approve
  • Observation Checklist Approved
  • Observation Checklist Rejected

When you as the Superadmin configure an observation checklist that should be completed or approved by a manager or by a user, the managers or the users involved will receive a notification informing them that they have to complete or approve a new observation checklist.

Please Note: Users and managers will only receive notifications about their checklists if the Notification feature is active in the platform and if you as the Superadmin have properly set up the notifications listed above.

Viewing Checklists Info in the Observation Checklists Dashboard

In the Observation Checklists Dashboard you can view various data related to the observation checklists defined in your platform and the users (observers) who completed the checklists. More info about how to view and navigate your way around the Observation Checklists Dashboard.

Best Practices

If in your company, as a Superadmin, you enroll new hires into a learning plan containing courses that teach them practical skills relating to your company’s products and then, when they have completed their training, you want to demonstrate the knowledge that they acquired in practice, you can create a new Observation Checklist, and add the items and topics that managers should check during the final competency validation. (This is the last use case included in the Use Case Scenarios section above in this article)

When configuring the checklist, under the Schedule options, you will select the New Hires group for the Users to Check option, and the Direct Manager for the Observer option. Then, you’ll select the option to make the checklist available upon course completion and choose the last course in the new hire’s learning plan as the trigger.

Once the last course of the learning plan is completed, the checklist becomes available for the manager and a notification for the event New Manager Observation Checklists to Complete is also triggered and sent to the manager, letting him/her know that the new hire is ready to be checked off.

After the observation checklist is filled out, you as a Superadmin are able to view all completed checklists from the Observation Checklist Dashboard.