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The World of Work Today: Structured Versus Unstructured Work

Workberg Part 1: Getting work done above and below the waterline

Published By Patrick Tickle
The World of Work Today: Structured Versus Unstructured Work

Whether scheduled, planned, or the current fire drill, getting work done is where the rubber hits the road for organizations. Sure, formal projects are all about ensuring on-time and on-budget delivery of an over-arching deliverable. But what about the day-to-day work activities and collaborative projects that don’t require a formal methodology and are not led by a trained project manager? Formal and informal work is often categorized as structured versus unstructured work.

Watch the video where I use the metaphor of an iceberg to explain what work looks like in most organizations today – what I refer to as the “Workberg.”

Video: The Workberg Part 1 - Introducing the Workberg

Above the waterline

Like an iceberg, formal projects driven by milestones and dates sit above the waterline. This is where you will find structured work where methodologies drive how work is planned and executed. It’s where you practice methodologies with predictable execution like traditional milestone-based project management, iterative Agile, and Lean, to bring the visibility needed to maximize your constrained resource capacity and confidently deliver the specified outcomes. Typically, these projects are well-documented and have resources assigned in advance with a governance process and progress reviews on a regular basis with stakeholders.

Below the waterline

However, there’s a whole lot going on below the waterline in the world of unstructured work. Work such as HR onboarding new employees; marketing working with agencies to plan and run campaigns; professional services engaging with clients; product development revamping the commercialization process; IT developing a data center consolidation plan, and more. Below the water line is where most of us spend our time – it’s where we live every day, all day long, cranking out tasks and activities to get work done.

The problem

Different roles and work require different processes and technology to complete tasks and projects – above and below the waterline.

Project portfolio management capabilities provide the structure for PMOs and product development managers to mature processes and optimize the project portfolio and resources, realigning priorities and resources as required to meet business needs.

For “accidental project managers” and teams, collaborative work management provides a place for teams to collaborate and get work done all in one place – leveraging the must have features for project management software. As a result, individuals and teams are more productive.

The answer

Today’s pace of business, collaborating across departments, and heighted pressures to connect strategy and execution require different ways of working – structured and unstructured – and the right technology to enable that work.

To move from projects to work is to think about the entire Workberg and how you can build and provide solutions to not only get the most work done in the traditional structured manner, but also how to help teams and accidental project managers effectively crank out more every day.

When it comes to addressing the challenges of the Workberg, work and resource management solutions combine PPM and collaborative work management to help organizations better manage the different types of work. PMOs can connect into work that is strategic in nature, and it gives everyone else a platform to get their day-to-day work done.

To learn more about how work and resource management supports the Workberg evolution, download the “Charting Your Journey to Success in Today’s Technology Revolution” whitepaper. Read the next two parts of this series, where I discuss the roles that operate within the Workberg and how their worlds are interconnected:

How are you currently managing structured and unstructured work in your organization? Share by leaving a comment below.

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Written by Patrick Tickle Chief Products Officer

Patrick Tickle is responsible for the company’s Products organization and leads the Planview team that continues to deliver the most innovative portfolio management solutions to the marketplace. Patrick brings over 20 years of experience in product management, product development, and marketing across a wide range of technology solutions. Prior to joining Planview, Patrick served as Vice President of Marketing and Product Management of ITM Software where he executed category development and product definition. He has also held a variety of product management and marketing positions at Terraspring, Inc. (an enterprise software company acquired by Sun Microsystems), MIPS, and Silicon Graphics. He has a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Notre Dame and an MBA from the University of North Carolina.