You are on page 1of 15

6 tips to be an IT warrior

(NOT A PROJECT MANAGEMENT NOOB)


LIFE
4X
2
GAI N CONTROL OF YOUR WORK:
BECOME THE I T GAME MASTER
The rules of this game are tough. Whether you are part of a small IT team or a global organization with a large IT department,
the same rules apply: budgets are tight, resources are limited, and work requests come at you so fast you feel like youre
leaping over reballs while battling mages and warlocks.

You search for the elusive golden resources that will allow you to get it all done and the magic keys to unlock the budget,
but it requires you accomplish some difcult tasks. You must justify your resources, correctly prioritize work, and maintain
efective collaboration with your team in order to gain resources and money. It feels like mission impossible. And with only
two lives left, youre scrambling just to stay in the game.

Never fear, theres still a way to win. Keep reading to learn the right way to manage your work so that accomplishing key
tasks is easy and getting the resources and budgets you need is possible. Youll no longer feel like a minion on the battleeld, but
like a Game Mastercompletely in control of your adventure.
LIFE
4X
3
THE RUN-AND-GUN WORLD OF REQUEST MANAGEMENT
The Goal: Catch and manage all incoming work requests without getting overwhelmed.
The Challenge: Requests for work are coming at you so fast from every direction that you feel
like youre in a run-and-gun situation. E-mails, meetings, hallway conversations, sticky notes,
phone calls, and text messagesthe requests never end. You move back and forth, trying to
catch all the important requests, while deecting the ones you know will take you of track. But
in the constant barrage, you just cant keep up. Inevitably, you get gunned down by missing
the important requests and spending too much time on too many irrelevant ones.
The dreaded fetch request

Often, work requests can feel just like a fetch quest,
appearing to have little, if any, purpose.
It seems there is a never- ending list of new
ideas to improve business operations as well as a
continual ood of smaller requests, from emergen-
cy xes, to one-of, adhoc tasks.
Software upgrades, user management, hardware
maintenanceyour operational duties must get
done even while you are working on new development
tasks. You're getting requests done as best you
can, but without better visibility into strategic
business goals, its difcult to prioritize your work.
Request order: random number
generator
With new work requests coming at you every day,
you try to defend yourself, but you don't know
where to start. You start with your favorite task,
the easiest to complete, those with the loudest
stakeholders, or even those from your favorite
person. Better yet, you let your random number
generator decide which task should take priority.
There is no rhyme or reason why one task gets
done before another.
This means the work that most needs to be done
to meet the strategic goals of your team and
enterprise isnt necessarily the work that is get-
ting done. But youre so bombarded in requests,
working nights and weekends to get it all done,
you cant tell which ones are crucial and which
ones arent.
73% of people work
more hours than paid
80% of people respond
to emails at home
72% of people take
work home with them
by choice or because it
is expected
1
LIFE
4X
4
CONQUERING WORK REQUESTS
Conquer this challenge by getting on top of the shower of requests raining down on you. As a
bonus, you will be rewarded with extra time, happier people, and more successful projects.
Centralize
request
management

Choose one system
to accept and manage
requests and stick
to it. This becomes
the single source
of record for all IT
work requests. The
penalty for going
around the system is
that the new request
wont be heard.
Provide
resource
visibility

Before you consider
any requests, you
should be able to
check everyone's
availability. Having
access to resource
skills and schedules
helps to target how
available people are
for new work and
lter through the
barrage of requests.
Enforce
business
cases

Make it a policy that
all new requests are
part of an approved
business case.
Requesters must
have all work requests
vetted against those
that will ofer the
greatest ROI and meet
strategic goals. This
ensures prioritization
from the top down.
Understand
the
tradeofs

New work requests
don't wait for current
asks to be nished,
and can interrupt
work in the pipeline
causing unnecessary
delays. For every
new request, its
imperative to under-
stand the tradeofs
and downstream
work impact.
Empower
each
worker

Team members need
to be empowered
to say no when
the request is not
aligned with strategic
objectives, won't
turn out acceptable
ROI, or there are
simply not enough
resources.
Align to
business
goals

Every new request
should align with
business goals that
are part of strategic
initiatives. That means
weeding out the
"cool" ideas from
those that contribute
directly to the goals
of the enterprise.
Until we can
manage time,
we can manage
nothing else.
Peter F. Drucker
LIFE
4X
5
RESOURCE MANAGEMENTVILLE
The Goal: Collect all the right resources to achieve project success and
increase your worth.
The Challenge: You've been assigned to manage a new project and
need to nd resources quick! They are like ying gold coins in this game,
but they are limited, budgets are tight, and everyone is already busy.
You must gure out how to get what you need before the clock runs out.
No visibility into resources or priorities
Danger lurks around every corner when you can't see what your resources are working
on, how much additional work they can take on, or the status of current projects. When
you need resources but can't reach them, you take the risk and slot them in anyway, or
skip over them altogether.
Unfortunately, this results in discouraged team members. Some end up feeling
overburdened and frustrated. Others will be resentful for being overlooked on a
choice projectall because you didn't know.
Balancing workloads is risky
In IT, not only does each initiative have its own priorities, but each person working on
those initiatives has their own priorities. These may be based on direction from the top,
project timelines, or even emergencies. Needless to say, everyone in IT is busy!
It's a ne balancing act to keep your resources happy and still get them to do what you
need. If you're not careful, deadlines and budgets will get missed, and pretty soon, you'll
have stressed out resources who won't stick around for long.
66% of workers say they dont have
enough time to get their work done.
2

63% of workers have high levels of
stress, with extreme fatigue/feeling
out of control.
3
LIFE
4X
6
HIGH SCORE BONUS! COLLECT YOUR RESOURCES
The way to win the hearts and time of your resources is make sure they are working on tasks
that contribute to the success of the businessnot administrative overhead. The secret is to
keep them free of distractions so they can be productive.
Reduce the busy work

Your resources have enough to do without
having to spend time continually providing
status updates. Keep them focused on what
they do best and not on elding last-minute
requests and questions about schedules.
Start by establishing a streamlined request
management process to ensure that work
is initiated the right way. This will reduce the
distractions that come from work interruptions.
Understand the urgency of
every request
Although it sometimes seems that every
request is a matter of life or death, not every
new work request or project is urgent. You
need to know which requests can slip when
last-minute emergency requests, such as a
network crash, come into the pipeline. That
requires a solid understanding of priorities
and deadlines for every existing deliverable
and those new ones being requested.
Allow resources to
be people too
Theoretically, there are eight hours in a
workday. Realistically, no one works eight
hours non-stop. Aside from lunches and
bathroom breaks, today's workers, especially
those in IT, need time to stay current on
trends and technology. Today, 30% of
knowledge workers have no time at all for
research and reection. By building time into
your resource schedules, you will be re-
warded with more innovation and productivity.
Provide visibility into
commitment
No one wants to create additional stress, but
sometimes the only way to know if a resource
is available is to interrupt and ask. And, if
that information isn't shared, resources end
up getting interrupted over and over, wasting
even more time.
Make sure to efectively communicate to the
team what team members are working on and
whether they have any available bandwidth.
Employees who report being
happiest at work:
Stay twice as long in their jobs
Spend double their time at work
focused on what they are paid to do
Take 10 times less sick leave
Believe they are achieving their
potential twice as much
6
CONGRATULATIONS!
YOU SET A NEW
HIGH SCORE!!!
1,352,564,789
LIFE
4X
END
START
7
ITS A RACE COURSE: STAY ON TRACK WITH STATUS UPDATES
The Goal: Navigate the obstacles in the way of collecting status updates.
The Challenge: Providing status updates can be the bane of your existence. You know it needs
to be done and you spend hours doing it, but your status reports are already outdated by the time
they're presented to management. Providing real-time updates is next to impossible, but you keep
pushing the gas pedal, dodging constant changes, while trying to stay on track with whats going on.
Tracking down gremlins

Walk into any IT department and you'll instantly
feel the buzz of activity. Phones are ringing.
Keyboards are clacking, and whiteboards
are full of scribbles. Everyone is working hard
but do you know if they're on track? Are
you on budget?
Leadership is waiting for your weekly status
report. But getting status updates from
everyone is like chasing moving gremlins.
You've tried sending e-mail, asking for updates
you'll either never get or that will change
before the day's end. You've also tried holding
standing meetings that key people miss or
that end up interrupting critical work time.
You often get updates that are already out of
date, which you then have to go back and
enter into a spreadsheet and email it up
the chain.
Things are happening fast, meaning you
really don't have a good handle on the
true percent completion of a particular
task at any given time. If a task is slipping
due dates, you need to know now. Without
real-time updates, it's tough to know exactly
when the task will be completed and the
resource will be available again. The last
thing you'd want is to overlap anyone's
commitments or leave a gap.
2 8R
2 out of 5
on average, two in five
projects do not meet
their original goals
and business intent,
and one-half of those
unsuccessful projects
are related to ineffective
communications.
7
LIFE
4X
8
Reduce the resistance

Develop a process that allows users to collaborate on deliverables,
review requests, check status, and communicate, all from a single
location. This reduces the disparate email chains, deleted voicemails,
and forgotten hallway conversationseliminating information overload.
Then, standardize what you need to communicate and to whom.
Keep update requests to a minimum by asking team members to provide
updates based on the criteria, frequency, and content you've established.
Make status a value-add

When people miss your meetings and don't respond to email, it
may seem like they don't value your communication. And, maybe
they don't! Sitting through an hour-long status meeting only to
provide a two-minute update is denitely not valuable.
Establish a process that allows team members to quickly update
their task status, review other tasks, and respond with feedback.
When its easy to update and access information about work requests
and tasks, they are more apt to do it
Provide customized communication

Diferent stakeholders have diferent things they need to know at
diferent times. Management may need budget information. Staf
needs to understand what is coming their way and when. Project
managers need to be able to use data from one project to more
accurately estimate another.
When asking for and providing work updates, you need to provide access
to information that gives users what they require. Take the time to
learn what your stakeholders needs are.
GET MORE VISIBILITY TO WIN THE RACE
To make it to managements ofce with accurate status updates, you need to know what diferent
resources are doing and which tasks are behind schedule so that you can take appropriate actions.
You need to have access to status in real-time.
Efective communication is associated
with a 17 percent increase in nishing
projects within budget.
6

LIFE
4X
9
DODGING THE ANGRY SLINGSHOT
OF COLLABORATION
The Goal: Gain super power by creating a collaborative work environment.
The Challenge: With documents and conversations ying, nd a way to
share that information with as many team members as you can.
Slingshots don't work
These days, team members are scattered.
Many are working remotely, and especially in IT,
workers are often outsourced or of-shored,
not even working for the same company. You
can't just swing by and share design ideas
or help someone work through a coding error.
So, you and everyone else are left to your
own devicesusing your slingshot to launch
email exchanges, leave phone messages,
or even stick sticky notes to printed copies
of your work. But, it happens all too of-
tenyou ask a question in an email and
forget to attach the newest version of the
document. Then, when the email chain
progresses with the document, people are
still responding to what is now an outdated
version. Additionally, when another team
member who wasn't included in the email
accesses the document, they may never
know the conversation that went along with it.
Of course, you can always pounce on your

teammate at the next status meeting. You
nd those around every corner. In fact,
status meetings are typically where the
work gets handed of. But who can aford
the delay when team members have been
captured by other villains and can't make
the meeting? You're back to the slingshot
and trying to improve your aim.

The slingshot not only launches conversa-
tions but also documents. IT teams rely on
the ability to share their work documents
and manage version control. Sure, you
probably have a number of ways to track
your work. You may be good with spread-
sheets or great at email organization,
but unfortunately, no one uses the same
slingshot and these documents can land
anywhere. Most likely, your slingshots have
created tool chaos. You're now spending
more time trying to manage the work than
actually getting it done.
LIFE
4X
10
POWER-UP THROUGH SHARING
Experience new powers by promoting collaboration. Share conversations and documentation and
collect the power pellets of simpler, more relevant, and easier-to-access information. Teams that
share and communicate well see the benets of better knowledge sharing and faster problem resolution.
Value collaboration

In order to improve collaboration and sharing, it must be valued. It helps when leader-
ship recognizes the benets of a collaborative organizationone where great ideas are
easily shared and project issues are resolved quickly. Take some time to survey both IT
and the business to understand where there are breakdowns in the process and oppor-
tunity for efciencies. As you implement improvements, be sure to demonstrate how it
can help workers communicate and share more efciently.
Reduce the tools

Get rid of the email chains, spreadsheet trackers, and all of the many ways you
document and share project information. Consolidate your communication and
document sharing tools to reduce the disconnected conversations. To gain the
greatest rewards, select a single tool to manage and track project activities associated to
work deliverables. This will reduce the time everyone spends updating and will
give them condence knowing they are responding to the most current conversation.
Keep communicating and work together

Conversations about work, whether in person or digitally, should be had and
tracked in the context of work. That is, team members need to be able to have
access to the conversation that is associated with the document or work product
in order to better understand and contribute to the discussion. Keeping them
together provides a more complete audit trail and allows other team members to
quickly join the conversation.
LIFE
4X
11
THE TETRIS-LIKE CHALLENGE OF WORK PRIORITIZATION
The Goal: An ordered, prioritized workow where tasks t together perfectly.
The Challenge: Determine how to t together the endless amount of work to do in the order
that most benets the enterprise.
Fitting the blocks together

Especially in IT, there are always
many more projects than there are
resources and budget. They range
from large-scale corporate initiatives
to small enhancements. And, while
each project has its own priority,
there can even be task priorities
within the project. With so many
projects and so many tasks in play
at any given time, it's critical that all
of the moving parts t together in
the right order to ensure high priority
projects are delivered successfully.
But, when there are several proj-
ects, each with a multitude of tasks,
it may be difcult for your workers
to gure out what they should be
working on rstand it's not always
the one with the closest deadline.

Without proper and continual guidance,
workers will use their own approach,

putting the pieces together as they
see t rather than the proper order.
This means working on their favorite
projects or responding to whoever
yells the loudest, especially when
every stakeholder thinks their proj-
ect should be top priority. Yet, with so
many related dependencies in every
project, missed deadlines have a
domino efect on the deadlines of
downstream activities.
When priorities conict, aren't well
communicated, or aren't even set, it
can mean the diference between
business value and costly delays.
Only 19 percent
of respondents
said their work
goals are clearly
dened, and a
mere 9 percent
believe their work
has a strong link to
their organizations
top priorities.
7

LIFE
4X
12
DOMINATE THE PROJECT PUZZLE
Just like the blocks in Tetris, the work keeps stacking up while you're left praying for the right
piece to come along and help you get things out of the way. The ever-increasing rate of technology
change can overwhelm IT request queues. The only real way to get a handle on it all is to set
priorities and make them visible to everyone.
Document all projects, big
and small
To gain the most points, start with a policy
of documenting every project, no matter
what size or how complex. Develop a
project intake template that includes the
project purpose and benet, scope, time
frame for delivery, resource requirements,
and cost. That way, projects can be seen,
side by side, for easy comparison. Add the
priority once it is determined.
Track all IT projects in one place

Designate and track all IT projects in a central
location. Make sure everyone associated
with the project has access and can see
project priorities, view deadlines, and
understand downstream dependencies.
Allow workers to update their task status
so that potential conicts can quickly be
seen. Having pre-designated priorities will
help drive project decision making.
Require a business case

The vast majority of IT work is not mandatory
workincluding many hardware and software
upgrades. In order to set the stage for
prioritization, require that every new request
include a business case and proposed
deadline. This allows for a more objective
prioritization process, one that relies on
real data and not generalizations like "major
business impact" or "needed ASAP."
Implement a priority score

Using the project documentation and
business case, develop scoring criteria
and a matrix that allows each project to be
appropriately scored. The matrix should
include a business value component as
well as a risk to the business, including
organizational disruption and change. Use
the matrix to score projects of all sizes so
that everyone can easily understand what
should be worked and why.
The key is not to prioritize
what's on your schedule,
but to schedule your
priorities.
Stephen Covey
13
GAME CHEAT CODES
Achieve legend status quickly with these handy cheat codes.
CENTRALIZE

Plan and track IT projects, requests, and people
in one place, no matter how big or small.
VISUALIZE

Provide visibility into every stage of the devel-
opment lifecycle and project communication.
REDUCE

Reduce wasted time and rework by streamlining
requests and processes.
COLLABORATE

Make having shared discussions and feedback
accessible and easy.
PRIORITIZE

Prioritize all incoming work so that there is
never a question about what to do rst.
INFORM

Have ready access to crucial information such
as real-time updates and resource availability.
14
BECOME THE IT GAME CHANGER
AtTask Enterprise Work Management
Enterprise work management is the secret key for
unifying and standardizing your tools and processes,
helping you to master these and many other work-
ow challenges in your organization.

AtTask is the only cloud-based enterprise work
management solution that provides teams with a
central place to manage their entire workow,
eliminating wasted time dealing with fragmented
tools and processes.
Teams, managers, and executives have visibility
into work planning, prioritization, and resourcing
to help everyone work more efciently toward
achieving the organization's goals.
AtTask can be your cheat code in the Game of IT,
helping you conquer the challenge of work.

Contact us to learn more.
+ 1.866.441.0001 + 44 (0)845 5083771 www.attask.com
15
WORKS CITED
1. http://employerbility.com.au/wp-content/uploads/2013/05/Workplace-Productivity-2013-Summary.pdf http://integratedresearch.
com.au/images/stories/documents/distraction%20research%20and%20pit%20validation.pdf
2. http://www.basexblog.com/2010/11/04/our-ndings/
3. http://www.compsych.com/press-room/press-releases-2012/678-october-29-2012
4. http://blogs.wsj.com/source/2011/09/18/the-ve-drivers-of-happiness-at-work/
5. http://www.pmi.org/business-solutions/~/media/PDF/Business-Solutions/The-High-Cost-Low-Performance-The-Essential-Role-
of-Communications.ashx
6. http://www.pwc.com/en_US/us/public-sector/assets/pwc-global-project-management-report-2012.pdf
7. http://www.cio.com/article/29673/Prioritizing_Work_Plans_for_Big_Business_Goals