Are Your Fundamentals Malfunctioning?
Every objective has certain elements that are fundamental to its success. These include the supporting tasks or systems that we take for granted but without which our “real” work could not get done. In order for any organization or team to meet its primary objectives, these fundamentals need to be functioning properly.
Although they play a supporting role, the fundamentals are crucial because they allow the primary work to run smoothly.
In the software industry, that means servers need to be up and running, environments need to be accessible, and procedural checks and balances need to be in place for you to be able to do your job. Your own personal tools and setups need to be in working order as well. Your day should be spent actually doing the work you were hired to do, not worrying about the fundamentals necessary for you to do it.
Fundamentals also could include ancillary tasks and supporting activities such as meetings, reviews, presentations, and status reporting; utilities such as versioning control systems, integration tools, deployment activities, test and analysis tool suites, and collaboration tools; and any type of administrative overhead.
If your fundamentals are problematic, your work suffers, resources are wasted, and your primary objective is compromised.
Fortunately, there are ways that you can minimize the burden of fundamental deficiencies and prevent them from occurring, so you can concentrate on doing your job.
The first step is to clearly identify and document the problem. Ideally, this should be done within the defect-tracking database, capturing all the relevant information, just as you would record any anomaly.
Identify the fundamental item, the problem encountered, and the duration of the resulting down time incurred. It’s important to formally document the issue, rather than firing off an email or verbally complaining, in order to maintain a historical record of the problem.
If you can identify the root cause—whether that’s procedural, environmental, or human error—use that information to try to come up with possible solutions. For example, root causes related to human error could stem from the person responsible being capable but overworked, pulled in too many different directions to properly focus at the task at hand. The solution may involve a staffing or workload reassignment, depending on the underlying reason for the error.
Once you have all your information organized, bring the issue to the attention of management. This should include clearly documented identification of the failed fundamental, backed up by any relevant statistical information you have, such as root cause, team impact, lost time, cost expenditures incurred, and which tasks were prevented from being accomplished. Also provide any suggested solutions you have for fixing the problem.
Although there can be no success without failure, the source of that failure should not be malfunctioning fundamentals. Getting your fundamentals under control will help you to achieve success. Make sure those fundamentals are working so you can get back to work.