“Do you know the 4 types of work?”

“Do you know the 4 types of work?”

I was chatting to the TPO on the project I’m working at the moment earlier today.

We were chatting about the project, the way that we seem to be fighting so many fires at the moment and I asked him: “Well, do you know the 4 types of work?”

He didn’t, so I ran him through them:

The first type of work is external projects: What you create for the client, and what our current waterfall system is aiming towards. The issue is that so much of our work time goes towards this, that we aren’t focussing on the second type, which is…

Internal projects – Improving the systems and processes that we use on a day to day basis to track and improve our work and productivity. I’m working on the Jira system we use and making sure we can standardise things, but better than that would be if we could automate the ticket creation system.

The third type is the current fire: Changes. We’ve delivered the latest release that you guys have been working on for the past 6 months, and now the product needs to be changed, resulting in more work without more time or resources to go with it. The team still has the external work as well for the release in a few months time, so this in effect increases their workload and reduces their availability which is further decreased by…

Type four, unplanned work. This is the surprise 28 hours of work that has been handed down for this weekend.

And I know that we’re in the midst of some big changes, cycling of staff, etc, but until we can start to prioritise the important stuff from the urgent stuff, we will only ever be fighting fires, because that will have a roll on impact on the team’s availability, productivity and morale.

I strongly believe that one of the best exercises that any team can do to figure out where their energy is being spent across these 4 areas and try to balance more effectively.