Basically, "drive-by" projects are all those ad-hoc tasks or initiatives that get dropped in your lap at random intervals every day. They suck up time, they suck up resources, they distract project teams, and have the potential to push active projects behind schedule. Often they are emergency projects that have no strategic initiative attached to them, which is critical for organizations that rely on project-based work to keep teams focused on the right projects.
Don't get me wrong. I'm not suggesting that they are of no value. In fact, it's not always about separating the good projects from the bad projects. It's usually a matter of choosing the best projects, the projects that will provide the most business value from a list of good potential projects. Unfortunately, when project teams are faced with dealing with a "drive-by" project, all the work to keep teams focused on those initiatives that drive the most business value gets thrown out the window.
I believe that's why the "get'er done" or "drive-by" project is such a problem. They may be worthy, but if they don't measure up to the "does this provide the most value" test, they ultimately limit an organization's capacity to work on the things that do. And that negatively impacts productivity—and ultimately profitability.
In theory, everyone agrees with this, however, practice is something different. In the heat of the moment, it's difficult for decision-makers to step back and ask the question, "Will this "drive-by" project provide enough value that someone should drop what he or she is doing to work on it?" Sometimes the answer is definitely yes, but there are times when the answer should be NO. If nobody asks the question, project teams can be chasing around working on projects of minimal value (at least projects that haven't be vetted to make sure they are the best projects for teams to be working on).
Project and portfolio management best practices revolve around the concept of identifying those projects that meet certain criteria, creating a plan, and then executing on the plan. Project management software does a pretty good job of helping do that. However, sometimes we need to ask ourselves, "How does my work management methodology address 'drive-by' tasks and projects that come up every day?"
It doesn't have to be a catastrophic failure that causes an organization to falter. Sometimes it's the accumulated weight of a thousand insignificant inefficiencies that cause the most damage. How does your work management methodology address the "drive-by" project? Even if your software doesn't, feel free to share what you do to keep your project teams focused on the right projects.