Administrative effort vs. Engineering effort

When you ask someone for assistance you are often asking for one of two different types of help. Either administrative or engineering, but how many people really understand the difference between the two?

Engineering efforts are typically aimed at assisting or improving the functionality of administrative efforts. Engineering seems to focus more on process improvement rather than process execution.

Administrative effort consists of those things that deliver a specific instance of a specific outcome and will need to be repeated to get another instance of the same outcome. It typically consists more of using systems to manage the data as apposed to engineering effort that enhances systems used to manage data.

It can be difficult for administrative effort to allows for a true sense of ownership. The person providing the effort may feel a sense of disenfranchisement if they were not very involved in the creation of the process. Alternately a sense of ownership can also be imbued using a strong education program around the shared goals between the individual providing the effort and the team/person who created/maintains the definition around the effort. People may also feel a sense of ownership if they  share the stated goals and expected outcomes from the effort in question. Lastly, someone might feel an improved sense of ownership if the desired outcomes of an individual's goals align with the real results of a given effort.

Administration is not as concerned with the reason for executing the process. Administration also typically requires/desires very clearly defined inputs & outputs. It tends to be a more fragile exchange of information. Administrative overhead is the term often used to refer to the normalization of data or behavior to allow for a pre-defined exchange of data.  

Efficient administrative efforts are most often repeatable and very well defined. Successful administrative efforts often result in data that can be trended over time. Analytics over time can then aid decision makers in better guiding the organization going forward on how to invest future engineering efforts.

Both types of efforts are mandatory for a process improvement life-cycle.

Successful Engineering efforts by definition result in systems and processes that allow for successful Administrative effort.