What Is a War Room and How to Use it in Project Management
23 December 2019
The concept of a war room in project management has been around for a long time. However, many people still do not know about this concept. When you think or hear of a war room, you probably would not think of business and banking today, right? However, war rooms are a very real thing in the world of banking.
War rooms were first introduced during war times, unsurprisingly, which is where the name originates from. War rooms were used by generals and military leaders to discuss tactics and strategies to move the war forward. This is exactly how it is still used today, but in project management, as opposed to war.
Project management consists of creating plans and strategies to manage resources to complete projects. These projects are time-based goals to create something, such as a service of worth. War rooms are ideal for getting together and discussing the management of these projects, which may require a lot of interaction between people, resulting in meetings.
Business meetings are held in war rooms often. During these meetings, top executives talk about project planning and execution, as well as discussing the means of how to finish and complete the given project.
So let’s have a look at more details into this article created by our team at TMS.
What is a war room?
The term “war room” stems from the military efforts during the WW1 and WW2. The first war room was used in 1901, and it was located at military headquarters. The military leaders and strategists would meet in this war room, and they would discuss strategies on how to win the war.
The most well-known war room was used by Winston Churchill during World War 2. In modern-day London, you can find a museum dedicated to this very war room, where Churchill would meet with generals and military leaders to discuss the strategies and plan the tactics of how to beat the Germans during the war.
Since there have been no significant wars recently, the term war room has been borrowed for use in other areas. Most notably, in project management, which we will discuss here in this article. So, what is a war room in terms of project management? A war room is usually a single room within the business headquarters that contains whiteboards and computers to help the people plan a strategy.
In a project management war room, seeds of a good project are sewn, and it is often the place where agents and directors spend most of their time during the project. It is a place where project teams and agents meet and discuss project activities and combine ideas. A war room is especially important for bigger projects that require effective communication.
The bigger the project, the harder it is to manage all aspects of the project, which is where war rooms come into play. It is important during the planning phase to have effective conversations in order to push the project through and plan it efficiently. The war room acts as a place where ideas are gathered and a good place to brainstorm and produce new ideas so that the plan is without flaws. Executives and project teams will spend most of their time in the war room, preparing things for the next project.
How Does a War Room Work?
The basic principle of the war room is to gather all people responsible for carrying out the project in one room where they can communicate easier and gather thoughts together. Mostly, the war room is a physical room, but it can also be virtual or a combination of both. Whatever shape it is in, these are the main principles of a war room.
Everyone in the room should be able to see and hear everything that is being discussed and have the freedom to contribute to the project. Every piece of information should be conveyed clearly.
Surface Area is Used
In every war room, there should be enough space to write, such as a whiteboard, chalkboard, or walls. It should be the focal point of the room, somewhere where everyone is able to see and hear what is being said clearly.
Everyone Should be Involved
The war room should be a place of equality where everyone has the ability to present their own ideas and thoughts on the project. Additionally, it should be done in such a way that everyone is able to hear and see everything that is being discussed. This creates a feeling of accountability, dedication to the project, and equality amongst the members.
The aspect of visualization is very important for war rooms. In addition to the surface area, the war room should contain lots of visual representations where different metrics or numbers are presented. This includes sticky notes, graphs, photos, wireframes, tables, user interface designs, and more. This is where data and information about the project should be presented clearly.
To cover all aspects of the projects, other people from other fields should sometimes be invited to present an alternative perspective.
A War Room is Not a Meeting Room
The purpose of the war room is creativity, not as a meeting room where directors meet. The war room should be for creative debates and not business debates.
Sometimes, the decision should be taken quickly in order to move the project forward. Other times, the decision should be considered over a longer period.
Why is a War Room Good?
What is a war room, and what are the benefits that it brings? Here, we will cover just that.
The biggest and most notable benefit of a war room is that it enables effective communication between members of the team. Meeting people in a war room is more efficient than conveying ideas over the phone or through email. A lot of information might get lost in any other meeting situation, and it is better to meet in person. The team can really focus on the project in person, eliminating all potential disturbing factors of all other types of communication, such as the telephone.
The Information Can Be Managed Easily
Another benefit of a war room is that visualization is much easier in the war room due to the technology and gadgets used there. Computers, whiteboards and walls can be used as places where visual information is conveyed, which enables a much easier, more effective visualization of the data and facts that are in question.
When people are there for the sole purpose of pushing the project forward, there should always be more focus on the project. In the war room, there are likely to be no other disturbances that would shift the focus of people in there, and the project is made the primary focus of the team.
Better Chemistry Between People
This is an aspect that cannot be neglected and is sometimes the decisive aspect of whether a project is successful or not. The team can grow together and develop chemistry between them, which can increase the chances of success. The room works as one, and the focus of the people is on the same thing. It allows members of the team to bond and creates a mutual understanding that would not have been possible if they were not in a war room.
Visual Data Is Easier to Manipulate
In a war room, there is likely to be plenty of visual data on display. This data is made in such a way that it is easy to manipulate and, consequently, much easier to understand. If it was conveyed with words, it would likely not be as powerful as it is in its visual form.
What is the war room equipment?
A war room’s equipment can vary depending on the project. A war room can be simple and inexpensive, or it could be a collection of high-tech equipment. The basic equipment is the same in both types of rooms. Larger companies are more likely to have a more expensive war room, while smaller companies can turn their offices into a war room with a few simple adjustments.
One of the most important things to remember about war rooms is that they must have enough space. Both types should have more than enough space on the walls to portray and visualize data and create a feeling of a war room. This can be done by simply rearranging the furniture within a room, or by putting equipment in a separate room. Some can be quite fancy, while others are primitive but still very effective.
So, what is war room equipment? What are the essential components of a good war room? One of the most important things is to have a place to draw and write. Ideally, it should be a whiteboard. For drawing, you will also need plenty of whiteboard markers of different colors, which will allow you to present things more clearly.
Next, you should have sticky notes in different colors. Sticky notes are a cheap but effective investment for your project. The important thing is also that the furniture is flexible – meaning that the furniture should be able to be used when needed; when you need to sit down and talk, chairs should be ready to be deployed. When you need more space, the furniture should be arranged so.
Printers, scanners, and copiers are very important pieces of equipment as well. You do not have to spend too much on a war room, but these gadgets can be very important.
Lastly, a war room should be an isolated room, away from external factors that may affect your team’s productivity. The members should leave their phones out of the room. Keep the distraction level at a minimum.
Hopefully, you now have a better idea of what is a war room and you will be able to get together a team to work effectively in one.
If you enjoyed reading this article on what is a war room, you should check out this one about project management framework.
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