IT resources often do a blend of project, support, operational and informal work. At Entry Software, we have determined that the informal work creates “The Blur”.
The Blur is made up of informal work that is not centrally managed. As a result, capacity for projects, support, and operational work is altered in an un-measurable and un-predictable way.
The Blur is difficult to quantify because it is rarely tracked with the same rigor as proactive project work, operational work and reactive support work. It may be driven by urgency, since crisis situations are not well handled by project management tools that require forethought prior to execution. Sometimes it is driven by a lack of formality, when management requests that work be done without asking for a project plan.
In The Blur, work is informal. This can include project-related work that was not planned prior to execution, making it difficult to track. It can include support work that is not tracked by helpdesk and project management software. The Blur includes verbal requests and those found primarily in personal email records or written journals. Assignments in The Blur are not requested, delivered, managed, and tracked via centralized helpdesk and project management software.
The Blur places limitations on an organization. Since this work is not tracked, it cannot be audited or used for resource scheduling. Without a simple helpdesk and project management software system to manage urgent requests or reactive work, crisis management can become a weakness of the organization, rather than a strength. Time records cannot be validated, and therefore time estimates cannot be properly analyzed. Collaboration is difficult without centralization, and records never turn into a usable knowledge base. Most importantly, The Blur has an un-measurable and un-predictable effect on an organization’s resource capacity. Resource allocation remains to be very difficult and becomes little more than a prediction.
The Blur hides from management’s view behind busy people. They are likely doing exactly what they were asked to do, verbally or in writing. They are likely doing it right, and they will probably complete the work on time. But they likely have so many things to do, that they do not have a formal list that can be viewed by others. The Blur does not allow a manager to prioritize measure, manage, re-assign, or intervene without interrupting the worker. This makes it difficult to determine what people are doing, and what they should do next. It makes people feel like they are constantly in ‘crisis mode’. Sometimes, working in The Blur can cause a crisis.
Donais, Mark & Cousins, Barry, “The Blur”, www.entry.com, Entry Software Corporation, Oct 25, 2010.