How to Manage Unplanned Work without Losing Efficiency?

If you have ever felt like you have been working on more tasks than what you can handle or planned for, you cannot live alone with this thought. We are no more confined to those simple business structures where each individual worked on just one task at a time; The market has become fast-paced.

How to Manage Unplanned Work without Losing Efficiency

The number of players in the industry is increasing and in such a situation, stumbling upon unplanned work becomes a new normal for everyone.

It doesn’t matter how good you are with planning, unplanned work will keep sliding in, and steal a lot of time. This even makes you struggle with delivering work that you already have on your plate.

All this unplanned work affects your daily or weekly schedule and hampers the overall productivity and efficiency of the team. Moreover, unplanned work can mask dependencies, increase backlogs and even stall priorities. And with the same creeping into your schedule, the effects start appearing on the whole system.

How to Manage Unplanned Work without Losing Efficiency?

So, how do you deal with unplanned work without losing efficiency? Keep reading to stay illuminated.

The effects of unplanned work

Any work coming out of the blue can be considered unplanned work - a particular demand from the leader, a request from the customer, a system failure, and even an unexpected problem. Even when a manager storms into the office and asks the team members to get something done by tomorrow, it can be included in the list of unplanned work/escalation.

But the impact of unplanned work can be immense. It usually hampers the ability of the team to deliver on schedule while maintaining quality. Not to mention, it is also highly challenging for the team members to communicate the impact of unplanned work to the stakeholders.

Since unplanned work is typical among most of the team, team members have come up with several different ways to deal with them;

● Squeezing the work in the existing workflow

● Use the unplanned work in the pre-planned buffer

● Shifting the tasks in the backlogs

● Build a special team that manages all the unplanned work

● Maintain work scope for keeping everything under WIP limits

Dealing with unplanned work through software tools

Amidst all the chaos brought up by unplanned work, many team members, usually Scrum practitioners, believe ‘Expedite Lane’ used on the Kanban board as a savior. So, whenever such work arrives, the team members move the card to the expedite lane.

On the board, the immediate issue is resolved quickly because of the dynamic prioritization. The nature of dynamic prioritization works like a magic wand in unplanned work since tasks can easily pass over cards to get completed first. This results in the passed item moving faster, but there is no compromise with the timeline.

But you must understand that this is not a real-life scenario since both the classes of service and expedite lane don’t work similarly.

The system is indeed more effective in dealing with unplanned work than Scrum, but this doesn’t mean just adding the unplanned work to the expedite lane will automatically resolve the issue. Moreover, you can’t be 100% sure that the job will get done on time.

So, how to use the tool for dealing with unplanned work without any issue?

Accurate allocation and careful planning

The most talked-about feature of Kanban is to aid you in developing a strategy to deal with unplanned work, not to help you do it indefinitely. Many expert users deal with unplanned work to use classes of service to allocate and plan their capacity. This helps in working on scheduled tasks while having the capacity allocation in the buffer to deal with such work.

The expert users even come up with explicit policies used to categorize different work items belonging to other classes of service. So, we can say that the boards used by experts are specially designed to make the allocation explicit.

Another critical aspect of the board to keep in mind while taking out a card from the expedite is to trust your common sense. And, of course, analyze the total economic cost of completing a task. This is necessary because the actual cost of expedited tasks is huge.

The best approach you can use for capacity allocation is to base it on the historical data or customer demand. You can even level up your approach and use historical data and customer demand to get better results.

There are many ways you can deal with unplanned work instead of just considering them as an extra workload. Even with precise planning and approaches, unplanned work keeps creeping in, and therefore, you should be prepared for the same.

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TechGlobeX: How to Manage Unplanned Work without Losing Efficiency?
How to Manage Unplanned Work without Losing Efficiency?
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