In this blog our CEO, Glenn Ballard and Partner, Amy Crothall discuss the importance of using command centres in high risk IT projects and programmes and why they are here to stay.
In the simplest terms a command centre is any place that is used to provide centralised command to solve immediate and prominent issues. Traditionally a command centre is viewed as just being a room used in a military facility, however this is far from accurate as command centres are used frequently across an array of industries and increasingly prevalent in the IT sector transformation space and can be conducted usually in person but can also be conducted virtually.
In the IT sector a command centre is the mission control for top priority issue management within a business-critical programme or a project.
In a normal project or programme each workstream would usually have their own risks and issues that they track and monitor, often this means that you would have to wait until a governance forum for a risk or issue to come to the fore.
A command centre is put in place to change the slow mode of operation to ensure the organisation is managing the biggest issues and risks in an extremely efficient manner. The role of the command centre is put in place to resolve issues as quickly as possible. It is essential that the mission critical path to success is free from issues or time delays. Waiting for decisions to be made or issues to be resolved at a governance forum could lead to major delays in a project and prevent milestones being achieved.
The command centre will take the biggest issues which are impacting a programme and make sure they are assigned to an individual who will ensure the issue can be mitigated in a standardised time frame to make sure the programme can continue to move forward.
There are usually two main reasons why a command centre is launched;
1. The pro-active approach: This approach is used when you are setting up a new programme and it has very tight timelines and there is a clear critical path that you have concerns about. This is the perfect time to take a pro active approach and launch your command centre before the programme even begins.
2. The re-active approach: Often a command centre is set up when a programme or project has become too large to help refine the view of what is important, whilst relieving pressure on the critical path.
NWT would always recommend a command centre is set up pro-actively before the launch of any high risk IT projects or programmes begin as they will play an integral part in ensuring things run as smoothly as possible and KPI’s are achieved in a timey manner.
The command centre is traditionally led by senior service managers who would report into the programme director. The senior service managers would manage a core team of highly experienced SME’s who will be added into the command centre when needed.
The command centre would generally operate in a physical office, onsite, Monday- Friday, however we are starting to see an increase in virtual command centres being used particularly throughout the recent pandemic.
It is common for the command centre to have one morning and one evening call on every working day to report on progress to the wider programme to make sure all issues are resolved to the agreed time scale to stop the programme from halting. It is also important that a daily report is published to update the wider team on the mission critical progress being made. When there are large scale issues occurring, it is not unheard of for the command centre to send out hourly updates. It is essential that the command centre publishes real time updates on business-critical issues and applying project management to those.
When building a command centre, it is essential that an organisation creates a structure that will be easy to duplicate later. It is of the upmost importance that the lessons learned after each key milestone are implemented as soon as possible.
As the world continues to change at an incredible pace and with business needs changing almost daily to stay ahead of competitors, it is almost certain that we will continue to see higher risk IT programmes and projects taking place in the next few years. This means the use of command centres in Transformational IT projects will only become more prevalent and common.
At New World Tech we are a team of highly skilled and experienced technology consultants, we have vast experience in managing and operating command centres for large scale, high risk and mission critical projects across a magnitude of industries.
If you would like to find out more about how your project or program could benefit from a command centre, please contact us today by clicking here.
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