Rebalancing is an ongoing task

All asset portfolios in an enterprise must be periodically renovated, refurbished and replaced.

That’s certainly true for software assets. Software is designed at a point in time, and reflects work as it was understood then. Eventually the deviation between old practices and changed practices requires a refresh cycle take place.

What’s often overlooked is that the policies, procedures, etc. of the workplace suffer the same problem.

Take a bank teller’s job. Aside from serving the customers, they have one other mission in life: that, at the end of the day, their station balances. Starting float + received monies – issued monies = ending float.

Well, stuff happens. The next teller needs to break a twenty, takes four fives, but one additional note is stuck to them, making five. Result? Two teller stations out of balance.

After each “crisis”, another procedure emerges, to ensure “that will never happen again”. (This is the manual form of “yet another use case” in software development.)

Come forward in time. The bank installs money dispensers rather than maintaining cash drawers.

Do all the old procedures get updated, removing the ones no longer required, and lightening the accumulated load? Almost never. They remain “requirements” for future systems.

I once watched a teller go through no less than twenty-eight steps to handle a single transaction for me in 2005 that had taken only four steps in 1975. That’s adding bureaucratic barnacles and slowing the works up, eh?

The procedures the teller in a bank branch had to go through were, though, merely an annoyance. Other restrictions — in the name of compliance, or security, or financial control — can be far more damaging.

You see, not all work is ordered simply, where you can measure what’s going on, form categories for action, and tighten up here and there. Trying to apply those strategies to work it doesn’t suit actually makes things much worse.

Burdening the organization with an ever-increasing pile of controls and procedures does, too. Simple order breaks down under too many of them.

Odd things happen, too. An organization reorganizes, removing certain positions from a work team. There’s a greater reliance on multitasking, smartphones grabbing email, and the like. Suddenly invoices aren’t being paid! (It’s one burden too many for an overworked team that might not be overworked if they didn’t have so many procedures to follow without fail.)

That’s why, when it’s time to ask the periodic question you should be asking — “would we start doing this this way now, if we didn’t have anything in place?” — that drives reinvestment and refurbishing of the asset portfolio, the place to start is in the workplace. Use each cycle as an opportunity to scrape off old barnacles of procedures and checks for old problems now handled a different way. Make sure the work to be done is rebalanced to the time and resources available to do it.

That way, what you provide as a new IT support solution will start cleanly again, ready for another cycle of “additions and changes”.


About passionateobserver

I am a passionate observer of our society, the economy, and politics. Mostly I don't like much of what I see, so I write as a concerned citizen. To the fray, I bring a background in the philosophy of history, a lifetime's reading, a work history in information technology management, consulting and education.
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