Nowadays the infrastructure IT team is struggling on manage their projects because urgent daily tasks (out of the project) or new projects are gaining priority over their actual projects. Due to this situation, it is difficult for them to adopt and implant project management culture and get a more organized and professional environment on that company sector.

As one of the projects' main objectives is always failing (delivery on schedule), they are exposed and thinking of not following our project management practices anymore.

The team is reduced and it is not allowed to divide the team to focus on projects separately.

In this scenario, what would you recommend? Any tips following any project methodology are welcome.

Edit: One real example is having to assist an employee from another department (an internal client) in creating an e-mail account, giving a systems support, replacing printer toner, etc., instead of focusing on implanting the Active Directory (a very important project). Day by day, some new task appears and has to be done ASAP.

  • 3
    This is a leadership failure, not an implementation failure. Unless you're one of the leaders, I don't think your question is answerable.
    – Todd A. Jacobs
    Jun 29, 2017 at 14:53

4 Answers 4


Governance. You have no governance. The tension between conflicting priorities, existing projects, new projects, and constrained resources is not abnormal. In fact, it should be expected and welcomed because, absent this, your business is likely failing.

What you are missing is the rules of engagement to create a capability where the business is negotiating and renegotiating this tension so that you create a balance between all the competing interests among the competing stakeholder groups. This is governance. New work comes in; everyone noodles over it to gauge its priority against other new work and work in progress; everyone understands the benefits, costs, and risks in changing the previously agreed upon priority schema; schedules and resources and expectations are shifted; everyone agrees; and then work continues. Previously set goals aren't "missed" because they formally changed and new goals are set.


  • I would add: try to procrastinate urgent unexpected tasks. The unexpected and urgent tasks are usually the ones that consume most of the time. My experience as sysadmin some years ago was: when I was not there, people solved the problems. When I was there, people statopped thinking and asked for things such as "change the toner".
    – lnjuanj
    Jul 4, 2017 at 18:50

You own the projected schedule. The only thing you can do is to provide honest, transparent estimates of the impact of the changes on the project schedule.

Based on current priorities and labor allocations, Project X will complete in 2025, 7 years behind schedule. All other projects with lower priorities will never complete and have been shut down. The only way to bring project X back to schedule is to reduce the amount of pre-emptive tasking or to hire resources dedicated to project x.


What other people said--you really can't address this if management isn't committed to making your task possible. But you can be proactive in making the situation visible and helping management find a solution.

One tool that can help is setting up a Kanban board. If you can visually show the backlog, what people are working on, then you have a good way to also show management how/why you aren't able to get resources committed long enough to elements in your project as to make progress.

Better, if you can get buy-in for Kanban (as opposed to starting by just using it as an information radiator), you can also at least centralize the interruptions so that people are coming to you (or to whoever controls the board) rather than directly to your team.

Use of the Kanban board can also help you deconstruct larger tasks (sometimes) into tasks small enough to fit between the cracks of the day-to-day high priority items.

Other folks have discussed the management issues better than I can--this will simply provide a way to radiate out the information of what the day-to-day prioritizing is doing to your ability to get things done and help make the case for more resources or fewer interruptions--or at least, spacing some interruptions so that longer-term emergencies (infrastructure changes!) can happen.


This is common with infrastructure projects. I'm painting with a really broad brush here, but it goes something like this:

I need someone in the datacenter to rack/decommission these servers/enclosures/etc. for the big xyz rollout and I need it done by x.

  1. First off, if it is part of a project you need the resources to be committed to your project. Most Ops resources are working flat out to keep the lights on and bill their time to OPEX, not CAPEX. They often don't have the cycles to fit something in. They'll want to help, but any outage or escalation will pull them from you. Your best bet here is to get a contractor for the time period to backfill the ops position of the person you need to do the job. (Most DCs I've worked with have temporary contractors available to handle vacations. YMMV.) If you get pushback about labor costs, remind your stakeholders that time is money, and you are burning money (project hours) with nothing to show for it if work is not getting done.

  2. Did you provide the Ops team enough information to do their job correctly and efficiently? Do they have the space, juice, and the circuits available or have you given them extra stuff to figure out. Is the circuit fiber or twisted pair? and do you have documentation stating exactly what the IP and VLAN should be? The less information you give them the more running around needs to be done to get it, or worse, something gets put in the wrong spot.

  3. When people get overworked they try to take shortcuts, and that often leads to mistakes, which leads to rework. If you know things will take twice as long as they should pad your estimates for duration (not effort) appropriately to give them the time to do it correctly the first time.

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