I am a SAP consultant with quite a broad experience and also, I do like to dive into anything that is interesting. (I think lots of you will recognize this). For this, it can happen that you get lots of questions and requests and never say no. Also when you are not the person to be asked.

This does come with some problems, for a large part on the social part of things: You take over someone else work, and this does bite you in the back some day. But also practical, you make something really really nice, and then you find out it is for one-time use only. Or your workload becomes unmanageable.

To solve this, I ask myself now the question: Do I have to do this now?

I do this, anytime work comes around. This can be in a meeting, in the mail, a phonecall or in the support software.

In this sentence, every word is a separate question.

Do: Is it something that really needs doing, or is this just information?

I:  am I the right person to do this?

Have to: Is it really something that has to be done, or is this a request that can be put on the large pile of requests that will never be executed?

This: Is that what you are asking, really what you want? Or is that a strangely formulated question or request?

now: Does this need doing now?

As you can see, by answering these questions, you are both improving the specification, as also reducing workload.

Does someone else use a phrase like this to improve your day to day work?

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11 Comments

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    1. H.M Hofman Post author

      Well, it is not rocket science.

      Never heared of Jonathan Becher, but if he thought of it, he should have the credits. I just probably picked it up from someone somewhere.

      Still, it is nice and simple and effective.

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      1. Jonathan Becher

        Under the theory that nothing is completely new but just an improvement on what came before, I don’t think I deserve the credit either. Here are my three questions for prioritization:

        • If I’m not the right person, I pass the request on to someone who is.
        • If this isn’t the right time, I schedule it for when it will be.
        • And, if I don’t have enough information, I ask someone to track down more details.

        It’s simple and works for me.

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        1. H.M Hofman Post author

          Thanks for your reply Jonathan.

          I think the addition of the check if you have enough information is a very important step.

          I can remember frequent examples where I was struggling solving an issue, or change, and not coming to the conclusion that there just isn’t enough information to complete the mission. You really should do this check beforehand.

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  1. Jeff Owen

    H.M.

    I like the question and related questions with each word.  I also like Jonathan’s feedback, as well.

    A colleague of mine also raised the point and has been pushing back to upper management on a number of requests that come, simply to suggest the effort involved to complete the request and does that manager want the team spending that amount of time to complete the request.  What my colleague has found is that often times the manager has not given much consideration to the amount of effort required or often does not understand the amount of girations the team may have to go through to complete the request.  The manager may prefer the team continue to spend time on their currently prioritized tasks rather than deal with the distraction of the new request.

    I hope this encourages you to be willing to manage up or to provide feedback to the business as to what their request involves and whether they still want the request prioritized.

    Jeff

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    1. H.M Hofman Post author

      Thanks Jeff.

      I think that the This and Now part of the Phrase are an important part of the phrase, certainly in your example.

      At the end, when you look at our day to day job, the time we spend in SAP itself (making changes) is just a minor part of the job. Most time, in my experience, is lost with getting the business case sorted and the requirements clear. Perhaps the manager should less focus on prioritizing the tasks, but more on the ‘intake quality’ of these tasks.

      I think, most consultants spend no more then 20% of their time actually doing SAP changes. The other 80% is in talking with business or after care (where the requirements are changed after go-live..)

      When you are able to change this to 40%-60%, the task list of the team will perhaps be more manageble. And using phrases like this can help with this.

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