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Ramblings on Work Units August 12, 2012

Posted by Edwin Ritter in career, Trends.
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I am fortunate that in my career I have worked at both the management and individual contributor levels. The positions I held have mostly been technical roles in  IT, Marketing and of course, Project Management Office (PMO). I have also worked at multiple companies and while there are consistencies, I have also encountered unique processes, tools and ways to measure units of work.

Those development and management jobs I have had require many skills. Common in this non-inclusive list are : effective communication, organization, detail focus, decision making, analysis (technical and business) and the ability work work well with anyone in the company. The way a unit of work is measured in these positions will vary, but at a fundamental level, work is work. Which bring me to the focus of this post.

Job descriptions provide some insight on the unit of work involved. I find it amusing the lengths some companies go to when posting for open positions. There should be more consistency in job functions and the work required within those roles. By that I mean the skills required should be equivalent and measured against a consistent standard. I realize they should be; some would say they are. I do not agree.

In some job descriptions, the unit of work can easily be discerned. Project Managers manage projects. Developers write code. QA ensures it works as designed. Each of those can be measured as a unit of work. The variance is in what tools and processes companies use to measure (assuming they do). Too often, the job description contains fluff about the company, what a difference you can make, etc..

Next time you read a job description, look for the terms that describe the essential unit of work. If you don’t find it, I submit it is poorly written.

I’m interested in how you measure your work. Do you measure your productivity with units of work? Have you used them to generate estimates? For yourself? For your team?

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