“But .. but, they are just doing busy work!!!” blurted out the division head, in charge of overseeing many small teams within a massive IT house. The team, in question, was one of several we were actively working with. We knew them to be sincere, hard working and yes, skilled in their art. Not one that would just “pretend” to be busy. So, a little perplexed, we probed deeper. Apparently, there were projects assigned to the team that has not moved for a while and the Chief had no idea what the team was busy with. It turned out, the team was spending 80% of their time in “boring and routine” operations and maintenance tasks. Tasks that were not in the radar of the division head.
Every development team I have worked in and worked with does “some” operations and maintenance (O&M) type work. Well, for some teams, like the team in the story above, the regular O&M work may eat up majority of their time, especially in the absence of automation. If you keep the boring O&M work you do in the closet, your stakeholders will always wonder what-in-the-world you are doing with all the time and money and resources. Your speed of delivering value to your stakeholders will always lag behind their expectation.
Avoid being accused of just doing “busy work”. Make work visible, all of it. Go even further. Keep an account of the types of work you do and the percent split that is delivering value to your stakeholders vs that is deemed mere O&M.
- You will identify your biggest time sinks and therefore your biggest candidates for automation. “Look, John’s spending 50% of the time each sprint backing up 500 TB data. Let’s do something about it.”
- Your stakeholder will understand and may even empathize.
- The stats you have of your work type split will help you justify the need for additional resources.