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How to Slay the Dragon of Enterprise Work


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Work chaos is the fiend that plagues enterprise teams. It emerges as a result of serious work mismanagement and it can take many forms.

Work chaos can be caused by a lot of things, including: random input processes, disconnected activities and poor visibility into work and resources.

Read this eBook and learn:

-Sources of your work chaos
-Why most solutions are failing you
-The true cost of work chaos
-7 stages of the enterprise work lifecycle
-Best practices for each stage of the enterprise work lifecycle
-How to slay your work chaos dragon for good

By slaying the dragon of enterprise work you will be able to simplify your processes, connect team members to their work and each other, save time, money, and more.

Published in: Technology, Business

How to Slay the Dragon of Enterprise Work

  1. 1. ENTERPRISE WORK MANAGEMENT: How to Slay the Dragon of Enterprise Work
  2. 2. 2 CONTENTS The Dragon of Enterprise Work 3 The Ugly Face of the Dragon 5 When the Dragon Breathes Fire 7 Don’t Just Treat the Burn 9 The Problem is Bigger than You Think 11 “Pet” Dragons Cost You, Big Time 13 Slaying the Dragon Requires a Different Weapon 15 The Complete Enterprise Work Lifecycle 17 The Enterprise Work Management Approach 19 Now You’re Ready for Battle 21 Lifecycles Aren’t One-Size-Fits-All 22 The Rewards of Slaying the Dragon 23 Your Ultimate Weapon 24
  4. 4. 4 THIS MEANS WAR If you’re reading this eBook, it’s probably because you’ve got a pest control problem. This isn’t just an irritating lizard infestation, though. This is larger and nastier than lizards; it’s a huge, nasty, fire-breathing, hard to ignore, dragon. The dragon of work chaos. And you need to know how to slay it. Well, there’s no need to fear. This eBook will teach you the right—and necessary—weapons to help you extinguish the fire, examine your burn wounds, and exterminate the work chaos dragon for good.
  5. 5. 5 All you really need is to know who’s working on what, if people are working on the right work, do they have the resources they need, and will work be completed on time. But every time you try, you end up getting burned by the dragon. THE UGLY FACE OF THE DRAGON Work chaos is the fiend that plagues enterprise teams. It emerges as a result of serious work mismanagement and it can take many forms, including: Random Input Processes. No one knows the ‘correct’waytomakea request, so requests come in at all times of the day, in all shapes and sizes—without the key information you need. It’s insane trying to keep up with them all. Wasted time. Your team spends too much time on phone calls, in email, making desk visits, attending status meetings, and trying to gather data instead of actually executing. Disconnected activities. Your strategy direction is disconnected from commitments, which are disconnected from work, which is disconnected from performance tracking and management, etc. No Adoption. Project managers, team members, and executives don’t engage in your tools because the tools aren’t relevant to their work, and have terrible usability. Poor visibility into work. Everypersonandteam isusingdifferentsiloed tools for work, like document sharing, PPM, spreadsheets, email, whiteboards, task management tools, etc., which leads to scattered work data that takes hours to gather. Poor resource visibility. It’s difficult to know how effectively or ineffectively resources are utilized to deliver on your business commitments.
  6. 6. 6 WHEN THE DRAGON BREATHES FIRE... Unfortunately, the effects of not exterminating the chaos dragon are that you and your team are: Burned out. The chaos and frustration of disconnected work leads to unhealthy stress, long hours, too many caffeinated drinks, and eventually, extreme dissatisfaction with your job. Running with your hair on fire. Work chaos and low visibility mean that you and your team members are always running around like your hair’s on fire trying to get the data that you need to appease executives and stakeholders. Constantly facing fire drills. Without the information you need for process improvement or the right amount of resource visibility, you have no way to justify priorities or timelines, which results in constantly putting out fires instead of doing strategic work.
  7. 7. 7 EVERYTHING YOU’VE TRIED ONLY TREATS THE BURN Managers have tried all kinds of things to help slay the chaos dragon that plagues them. Unfortunately, these things merely treat their burn wounds instead of slaying the actual problem: the dragon. Business Books. “Maybe if everybody reads this revolutionary new book, it will change everything.” More People. “If we just had a few more headcount, that would solve all our problems.” Methodology Merry-Go-Rounds. “Maybe going Lean this month will help us function better...” Industry Trends. “The blogosphere is saying that all we have to do is empower people more.” New Point Solutions. “We’ll just use another free tool to patch that hole in our process.” Consultants. “All we have to do is get an expert in here to teach us how to be more organized.” The average consultant charges $125 per hour. (That’s $1000 per day!) 1 If you’ve ever tried any of those things, then you get the idea. Here’s the thing, every single one of those “helps” costs money. And that’s an awful lot of money to spend on temporary fixes. Now, there’s a reason their effect isn’t permanent. It’s because we have a bigger problem on our hands that they fail to address.
  8. 8. 8 THE PROBLEM IS BIGGER THAN YOU THINK The truth is, the dragon you’re facing isn’t actually the chaos or the project failure or the inefficiencies. The real dragon is the creator of the chaos: a nasty thing called disconnectedness. Disconnected tools. How many different tools are you using to manage your work? Several? More than five? Yeah, that’s nuts! And chances are, you use your own “favorite tools” to manage your work life while each individual on your team is using their own. No wonder it’s next to impossible to get updates on what’s really going on. Disconnected processes. With everyone using different tools, it’s chaotic trying to get everyone on the same page and using the same processes. Because most of the time, different tools don’t play nicely with one another. That means getting project and work data has to happen manually, which wastes a ton of time. Disconnected people. With disconnected tools and processes, not only are team members in the dark about what the rest of their team is doing and where dependencies are, but other departments in the organization are having the same problems, so trying to stay connected interdepartmentally is just…(you guessed it!) more chaos.
  9. 9. 9 PET DRAGONS COST YOU, BIG TIME What organizations fail to realize is how much all this disconnectedness is costing them, in dollars, efficiency, and productivity. Silos. Individuals working in different, disconnected tools inevitably results in team silos and little- to-no work visibility. “As systems fail to interact and data becomes trapped and unavailable to deci- sion-makers outside the silo, people are less likely to inter- act…they avoid sharing data and information outside of their silos. It’s a vicious cycle, one that can cost an organi- zation in agility, productivity, and responsiveness.” 2 —Evan Rosen Lost work. When you have work requests flying at you from all directions, sometimes they fall through the cracks and time is lost. This can hold back entire projects, tangle up your resources, dis- rupt strategies, and jeopardize your competitive advantage. Lost data. Storing data in disconnected tools with disconnected processes is like playing information hot potato. Work data gets tossed around from tool to tool and person to person, making gathering information and compiling reports a time-consuming, error-ridden nightmare. Wasted time. Disconnectedness means more employee time is spent in status meetings and emails while everyone tries frantically to get on the same page. It also means that manual processes eat up a ton of your average worker’s day. Distractions. Businesses lose $650 billion a year related to the lack of job performance and creativity due to distractions. 4 Failure. PMI reports that less than two-thirds of projects actually meet their goals and business intent. In fact, it is estimated that for every $1 billion spent on a failed project, $135 million is lost forever…unrecoverable.” 5 Frustration. Disconnection causes individual team members massive amounts of stress because of low visibility into work and dependencies, inefficient processes, and scattered work information. In fact, three-fourths of American workers describe their work as stressful. 6 3 wasted worker hours/day, at an average salary of $50k, costs you $128/day, $638/week, $2,550/month, and $7,650/quarter. Multiply that by 6 people on your team and you’re wasting $91,800/year! 3 Workplace stress costs U.S. employers an estimated $200 billion per year in absen- teeism, lower productivity, staff turnover, worker compensation, medical insurance and other stress-related expenses. 7
  10. 10. 10 SLAYING THE DRAGON REQUIRES A DIFFERENT WEAPON The best way to eliminate disconnectedness and chaos is to unify. Unifying, in the correct way, requires that you start to look at the way you do work in a different way. There are two crucial parts to unifying: 1. unify your tools. Using five or more tools scatters your work data, low- ers visibility, kills productivity, and increases chaos. It’s time to stop disconnectedness once and for all by implementing one unified, centralized tool for manag- ing all of your work. 2. Unify your processes. Disconnected tools inevitably leads to disconnected processes, especially when you’re using separate tools to manage different stages of the project life- cycle and additional tools to manage the rest of your work. The secret to unifying processes is to manage the end-to-end lifecycle of enterprise work, not just parts of the project lifecycle.
  11. 11. 11 MANAGING THE COMPLETE ENTERPRISE WORK LIFECYCLE Unfortunately, most of the solutions available to help manage work, fail to manage it through the end-to-end work lifecycle. At best, they only focus on one or two stages.. PPM Tools. Most PPM tools fail to accommodate work other than projects (i.e. unstructured work, everyday“lights on” work, ad hoc requests, etc.). And PPM tools may work fine for project planning and coordinating, but they leave you with gaps to fill for the rest. Task Management Tools. There are thousands of task management tools out there for you to choose from, but they are usually as simplistic as apps and they only help manage work execution; you’ll have to find other tools to help you plan, prioritize, collabo- rate, and measure. Social Tools. Most social tools are apps or add-ons that don’t even allow you to collaborate in the context of your work, meaning that collaboration is unconnected from the actual work it’s related to. With these social tools, collaboration doesn’t flow through the entire work lifecycle. Your ultimate unification weapon is useless if it doesn’t unify the complete enterprise work lifecycle. PPM Tools Task management tools Social tools ENTERPRISE WORK LIFECYCLE
  13. 13. 13 NOW YOU’RE READY FOR BATTLE The remainder of this eBook will walk you through each stage of the enterprise work lifecycle and highlight what needs to change, in conjunction with enterprise work management best practices, so you can slay your work chaos dragon for good.
  14. 14. 14 1 IDENTIFY Typical Situation: Requests for work happen in more places and more ways than ever before because of the structure of enterprise/matrix organizations. They come as emails, sticky notes, phone calls, conversations in the hallway, instant messages, desk drive-bys, etc., and sometimes they come so frequently that it’s chaotic trying to stay on top of them, let alone prioritize them. Best practice: standardize. Designate one place for inputs and requests, so regardless of whether requests come from within your team, clients, or other departments, they’ll arrive in the same way, to the same place, where they’ll never be overlooked or improperly prioritized. Only 23% of companies use standard- ized project management practices throughout their organizations. 8 77+23+R23%
  15. 15. 15 2 PRIORITIZE Typical Situation: There are two ways people typically prioritize their work: The 1-2-3 Approach. People work on requests from their boss first, requests from other people second, and everything else last. The pants on fire approach. People work on whatever is going to bite them in the butt next—usually whatever is due tomorrow. Best practice: There are three important best practices for prioritizing work: 1. Know when to say “No.” It’s important to be able to say “no” to requests when: ∞∞ You don’t have time ∞∞ You don’t have resources ∞∞ They aren’t aligned with your organization’s strategic objectives ∞∞ They won’t turn out acceptable ROI 2. Explain yourself. Whenever you say “no” or “not right now” to a work request, it’s imperative that you be able to explain and/ or show the requester why you’re saying no. For this, contextual visibility is needed. You need to be able to say, “I’m sorry, we won't be able to fulfill your work request this quarter because we are already maxed to capacity on projects more aligned with our business goals,” and be able to show within your tool that what you’re saying is true. 3. Stay aligned. Work is pointless if it doesn’t benefit the business. That’s why prioritizing work based on what will bring the most ROI or benefit to your organization is vital. “Without direct links to the strategic plan, selecting the right projects at the right times is more political than strategic.” 10 —Margo Visitacion, Forrester “Saying no in business—to customers, employees, vendors, colleagues, etc.— is not only acceptable, it can even be an action that saves your business.” 9 —George Roberts
  16. 16. 16 3 PLAN Typical Situation: Without the visibility that comes from unified tools and processes, work planning often includes overly optimistic deadlines and a failure to account for all the necessary requirements. With unstructured and ad-hoc work, sufficient planning may not even happen. Best practice: include the team early. Getting input from those on the front lines will help you forecast a more realistic timeline and scope, as well as catch requirements you may have missed otherwise. Additionally, this practice helps keep everyone on the same page about process, expectations, and dependencies, helping eliminate disconnectedness. “If members are assigned tasks without their input or agreement, it can cause dissension or poor work performance within the group.” 11 —Rhonda Carlson
  17. 17. 17 4 COORDINATE Typical Situation: Trying to coordinate work usually means disconnected communication due to inefficient collaboration methods such as time-sucking meetings, long email chains, and social tool add-ons. Best practice: 1. Get out of the way of work. Give people the ability to accept work assignments, make visible commitments, and make important deci- sions. You will find that doing so increases their com- mitment to the work, which will help unify your people to your processes. Gartner Analyst, Robert Handler, advises, “Experiment with self-selection, essentially allowing resources to have some autonomy deciding which projects they work on.” 12 2. Real collaboration. First and foremost, status meetings and emails are not “collaboration.” Second, unification comes largely from learning how to collaborate on the right things at the right times. However, don’t collaborate just for the sake of collaborating. Too much collaboration can bog down processes and create the dreaded “too many cooks in the kitchen” syndrome. Collaborate in such a way that information is collected in the context of specific work items, including only those relevant to the work, and no more. “A sense of autonomy has a powerful effect on individual performance and attitude.” 13 —Daniel Pink
  18. 18. 18 5 EXECUTE Typical Situation: Disconnected processes often lead to wasteful redundancies; your team may have done a certain type of work several times before, but they always have to start from scratch because little standardization exists. Instead of focusing on making work better and more efficient, team members waste time trying to remember the best ways to execute. This type of frustration, without improvement, inevitably leads to disengaged employees Best practice: 1. Embrace process improvement. Work templates (and a single place to keep and use them) will save your life. Assignments, processes, and dependencies are built in, so your team always knows the correct steps for execution. In addition, templates help streamline repeatable, improvable workflows and allow you and your team to constantly learn from mistakes or inefficiencies and apply those learnings for next time. 2. Employee recognition. Recognizing employees in the context of their work, helps keep people engaged in their work by making them feel valued, important, “Employee recognition has a huge communication component! Recognizing people for their good work sends an extremely powerful message to the recipient, their work team and other employees through the grapevine and formal communication channels.” 14 —Kim Harrison and like they’re contributing to a higher cause. It’s an innate need of each individual to feel that they’ve done things right and like their contribution matters.
  19. 19. 19 6 DELIVER Typical Situation: For structured work, the typical “constraints” for final delivery are: ∞∞ On time ∞∞ On budget ∞∞ Within scope A common adage heard regarding this approach is,“Pick any two,” implying that the odds of achieving all three constraints are slim-to-none. With disconnectedness plaguing your department, that mentality is probably an unfortunate truth. Best practice: Think outside the triangle. It’s time to think about work delivery in a different way. Instead of confining work to the constraint triangle, define what “done” and “winning” should look like during the planning phase of work. Delivery, then, is successful when you’ve met the standards set at the beginning of the work lifecycle, which may be more, less, or different than scope, budget, and time. The key is to deliver what you committed to deliver. Make Outcomes Accessible. When you’ve delivered your finished work, don’t let your hard work go to waste. So often, it’s easy to send off your data, insights, and documents and that’s the end of it. When that happens, work gets lost or forgotten about and nobody else has any visibility into what you’ve accomplished. Make sure that the work you deliver is seen and acknowledged by the right people, and then saved, with context, in a central location where you can frequently refer back to it.
  20. 20. 20 7 MEASURE Typical Situation: Measurement is a commonly overlooked stage of the work lifecycle. When you’re using separate/ disparate tools to manage your work, “measuring” looks more like hours of manual data entry that you don’t entirely trust. Disconnectedness means that when it’s time to measure success, it’s hard to say what worked or who deserves a promotion because you couldn’t track team member activities and your data lives in too many different places. Best practice: 1. Keep everything in one place. Keep your work, your collaboration, and your documents in one place, or at least in as few tools as possible (strategic integrations are a huge plus). This helps keep all of your important data in one place, which will save you time in the long run. 2. Lessons learned. Keeping all your performance data in a central location is an improvement goldmine. Equally as important is team analysis of the data in a formalized Lessons Learned activity. Teams should discuss together what worked, what didn’t, and how they can be more efficient and successful next time. When you’re done, you can incorporate feedback into your templates to make sure next time runs more smoothly. “When systems interact, people are likely to interact. Establish common platforms and systems across the organization and give people access to the same data and information.” 15 —Evan Rosen
  21. 21. 21 LIFECYCLES ARE NEVER ONE-SIZE-FITS-ALL It’s important to remember that work processes and lifecycles vary depending on the different types of work being done and what is best for the organization. The Key? All work is different. Never try to force work into a lifecycle that wasn’t made for it. Unstructured work will be unsuccessful in a lifecycle for structured projects and vice versa. The key is to take the work lifecycle laid out for you here and customize it based on the specific types of work you do and what will work best for your organization, department, and team.
  22. 22. 22 ONCE YOU’VE CONQUERED THE DRAGON, YOU WILL BE REWARDED The benefits that come from unifying (eliminating disconnectedness) are more specific than just “killing chaos.” Simplification. Unifying your tools and processes means no more switching back and forth between disparate tools or badgering team members for status updates. Connection. Team members are connected to their work and to each other because everyone is on the same page, able to collaborate within the context of their work, and using the same processes. Visibility. Everyone has the visibility they need in order to do their jobmoreefficiently.Teammemberscanseedependencies and timelines, managers can see statuses, progress, and proper resource allocation, and executives have what they need in order to justify costs. Saved Time. Time-sucking status meetings and navigating long email chains for data become a thing of the past. When tools and processes are unified, you get contextual collaboration that saves everyone time. Saved Money. Buying books, paying for several different tools or consultants, and bad processes that waste team member’s time cost you in thelongrun.Unification eliminates all of those extra costs. Happiness. When you’re unified, everyone is happy. People are engaged in their work, feel like their contribution matters, and no longer feel frustration from being over allocated or left in the dark.
  23. 23. 23 Enterprise Work Management is your ultimate weapon for unifying your tools and your processes and slaying work disconnectedness once and for all. Manage the end-to- end work lifecycle. It’s one system that manages the entire lifecycle of all types of work—both structured and unstructured—from initial request to delivery and measurement. Unify collaboration. It’s one system that reduces the information overload you feel by cutting out excess tools and connecting collaboration with work. This means more context, less meetings. Improve your work. It’s one system that streamlines your repeatable work processes using custom built templates and process improvement to improve your team’s productivity and efficiency. Unify your tools. It’s one system that combines everyone’s individual work management needs and processes into a single tool, eliminating silos and frustration. Increase adoption. It’s one system that people will actually use because it’s easy, relevant, and works the way people naturally work so it isn’t just another step in an already complicated process. Gain work visibility. It’s one system that provides all levels of an organization with visibility and insights into the truth about workloads, depen- dencies, and when things will really be done. Gain people visibility. It’s one system that gives managers and senior managers visibility into who is working on what, who has bandwidth, and how to justify the resources you have, and the ones you still need. YOUR ULTIMATE WEAPON: ENTERPRISE WORK MANAGEMENT
  24. 24. ATTASK ENTERPRISE WORK CLOUD: TRUSTED DRAGON SLAYER, WORLDWIDE AtTask is the only provider of cloud-based Enterprise Work Management solutions for enterprise teams. AtTask can help you slay the dragon of work chaos in your organization. Contact us today to learn more. + 1.866.441.0001 + 44 (0)845
  25. 25. 25 WORKS CITED 1. 2. ca2010025_358633.htm 3. Conflict_Example.pdf 4. ing-32419.html 5.    PMI’s Pulse of the Profession: The High Cost of Low Perfor- mance. March 2013 6. 7. 8.    PMI’s Pulse of the Profession: The High Cost of Low Performance. March 2013 9. ship-lessons-from-my-25-year-software-career/#the-impor- tance-of-saying-no-in-business-and-explaining-why-not 10.    Margo Visitacion. Forrester. It’s 3PM; Do You Know Where Your Portfolio Is? 11. cive-Team-Project-Planning 12.    Handler, Robert A., et al. Predicts 2013: PPM Leaders Must Embrace Constant Innovation and Change. Gartner. 2013 13.    Pink, Daniel H. Drive: The Surprising Truth About What Mo- tivates Us. Riverhead Books. New York: 2009. 88. 14. portant.asp 15. ca2010025_358633.htm