Four Types of IT Work

I am currently reading the book “The Phoenix Project” and ran across this summary of the types of IT Work.  After reading about them,  it was one of those, “Well, that’s obvious!”. his reminded me of a saying that I use at times.  I it picked up from the Manager’s Tools Podcast: “The things that go without saying, sometimes, still need to be said”.

So what are they?

  • Business Projects
  • Internal Projects
  • Operational Change
  • Unplanned Work


Business Projects are those work projects that the business has requested.  In some companies,  they should fit into one of following categorizations:

  1. Increasing Revenue  – It will make us more money
  2. Cost Reduction/Avoidance – It will save us money
  3. Regulatory/Compliance – It will keep the boss(es) out of jail.
  4. Safety – It won’t cause us to inadvertently kill people.

Internal Projects are  work projects geared to keeping the lights on.  They typically don’t align to more than one of the big four business categories  – Cost Reduction/Avoidance.  These are typically hardware refreshes or task/process automation.

Operational Change work is the every day work of IT operations. Typical centered around  deploying changes and updates and including  managing the process to deploy a change that relates to ether of the project types above.

Unplanned Work is recovery work;  the killer work that keeps IT folk awake at night. The stuff  that puts everything else on the backburner.  The work associated with an outage from an equipment failure  or that comes from an insufficiently tested software change that halts the business functions of making, selling, shipping or collecting money for the products or services that your organization delivers to its customers. Also in this category is the potential for your product/service to kill people – e.g. contaminated food product,  mislabeled food product not calling out an allergen,  an improperly calibrated machine delivering to large of an X-Ray dose.



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