Organize, Manage, Reuse Work

In the last article we discussed the concepts around reusing work.  In this article we will discuss some basics around organizing and managing the work.  At a high level, work comes to the organization with the potential to be either planned or unplanned.  Unplanned work usually arrives with little notice and a high degree of urgency, sometimes referred to as reactive work.  The IT services business can have a high volume of unplanned/reactive work.  Work without urgency has the potential to become planned work.

Planned Work:

  • Organize into the smallest possible batch size. Think in terms of phases, milestones, tasks, and sub-tasks.  This works well with the concept of reusing work.
  • Manage to the lowest skillsets. Once the work is organized, resources and skillsets can be matched with tasks.
  • Do it right the first time. Make sure that all worked performed is completely aligned to the standards and best practices (think reusing work).
  • “Done” and “but” should never be used in the same sentence. Finish all work and do not leave any loose ends.

Key:  When planned work is not executed properly, it has a tendency to come back into the system as unplanned work.  An example:  the barrage of support desk tickets created after a poorly run project.

Unplanned Work:

  • Whenever possible, turn it into planned work. It can mean slowing the process down, assessing the work, scheduling a resource, and constant expectation management.
  • When unplanned work is unavoidable, prioritize tasks, over-communicate, document the work, and test the work.

Key:  When unplanned work is not executed properly, it has a tendency to come back into the system as MORE unplanned work.   An example: the hastily implemented change that creates another issue.

The concept of managing and organizing work cannot be over-emphasized.  Planning the work affords the opportunity to get the right resources and tasks aligned within the time constraints of the activity.  It smooths out workflow and minimizes the amount of time sensitive, urgent work.

“Give me six hours to chop down a tree and I will spend the first sharpening the axe.”
                                                                                     Abe Lincoln

Next up, how reusing work solves a tight labor market and talent shortages.