Digital Fire Fighting

Do you struggle to balance getting projects completed, the really important work that ensures that digital assets are meeting user needs, while also maintaining the ‘business as usual’? You are not alone! For a number of years the University of St Andrews digital communications team has struggled to get the balance right. We are using two approaches to ensure we devote the right time to projects.

The first is to determine our ‘universe of work’ so we can quantify and protect the time we spend on project work. This involves quantifying how much time is spent in meetings, consultancy, project mechanics and other activities. From this we can create a time budget for individuals and the team that can then be used to determine how much project work can actually be achieved each week. Accurate forecasting of team capacity can help with prediction of when projects will be completed.

The second approach is use a simple method to analyse the types of support calls we deal with and then use this to determine the root cause of those requests. Through this analysis we can start to identify and plan for ways to reduce the number of requests, freeing up time to focus on completing projects. We categorise the calls we receive via our call management system, email and phone calls into whether it is ‘advice’, ‘fix’ or ‘request’. We quantify the time spent on each category and then analyse the complexity of the requests to see if we could reduce the calls via approaches such as improved training of our users, or making the website simpler to use.

This workshop will provide a set of practical tools to determine what is a project, what is business as usual, how to balance support and maintenance while providing space for project work.


  • Title: Digital Fire Fighting
  • Type: Workshop lasting for 90 minutes
  • Hashtag: #A2
  • Facilitator: Stephen Evans
  • Date and time: 16.00-17.30 on Tuesday 21 June 2016