4 Types of Work in IT

The Phoenix Project by George Spafford, Kevin Behr, Gene Kim is a good read about IT management. The authors narrate the challenges an organization goes through as it transitions into an agile, streamlined machine through the eyes of Bill, an IT manager, at Parts Unlimited. Some of the topics covered included:

  • Challenges adopting project management, change management and streamlining processes through the use of Kanban Boards
  • Compliance requirements with SOX and adopting frameworks such as COBIT
  • Transitioning away from the traditional waterfall development SDLC processes to an organization whose mindset is aligned with Agile and DevOps approaches

However, none of these organization transitions are possible until IT leadership understands where their employees’ time is consumed with IT work and this is where the book shines the most.

Brenton Johnson summarizes the four types of IT work well, however, my synopsis on these four buckets of IT work is:

Business Projects. These include business initiatives that encompass most development projects e.g. In higher education, these can include a new building, launching the new university website with a different CMS. Typically these projects reside and are managed by the Project Management Office, which tracks official projects in the organization.

Internal Projects: These include projects to develop internal applications that help IT Teams deliver services faster. Unfortunately, though exciting for IT team members to work on, many Internal Projects do not get the attention of the Project Management Office and thus are managed internally and independently with little oversite on scope, cost, and feature overruns. Since internal projects consume untold amounts of IT staff time and resources, these projects will often adversely affect progress on Business Projects.

Operational Changes: These include daily work performed by IT teams to plan, assess, build, test and deploy routine changes to keep the infrastructure running e.g. patching application, application upgrades, vendor software updates. Typically, this work directly supports finished Internal or Business Projects and can be referred to as Keeping Lights On (KLO) work.

Unplanned Work: These include tasks and work that is a direct result of a Business or Internal Project deliverable going down or a system issue affecting business operations. This type of work trumps all other categories and This type of work has the ability to put everything else on the backburner and impacts the go-live date for other categories of work.

Related Links:

The Phoenix Project: A Novel about IT, DevOps, and Helping Your Business Win

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