A project war room used to make sense especially if you are managing a complex project. Having a central place to hold project team meetings, brief stakeholders, and analyze data that helps you to control the project was needed as late as the early 90s. However, as with many other management methods, the rise of the Internet brought new technologies and techniques that replaced the need for a physical project war room. Online tools can provide the same or superior benefits to the centralized physical war room.
1) Better communication – Having everyone in one room does make it easier to hold meetings and impromptu consultations with team members. Even so, with smart phones and tablets, it is just as easy to find people and to hold impromptu meetings no matter where the team members are located.
2) Better working conditions – For some work, team members need a quiet space to concentrate. This is often impossible in the shared workspaces of project war rooms. By allowing team members to work in private cubicles or offices can increase productivity while social networking tools can keep the team members in the loop when needed.
3) Better documentation – Another advantage of social networking tools is that it is much easier to document the impromptu conversations that take place during project work. Additionally, having a central online document repository handles the problems of keeping up with different versions of the documents and making sure every team member has equal access.
4) Better reporting – A major function of the project war room was to collect progress information and display it for the project team and stakeholders. The same information can be collected online and displayed online for the team and stakeholders with even more options to personalize the reporting and analysis.
Even the argument for face-to-face meetings is losing its value as webcams and online meeting software can give virtually the same experience without the tedium of long meetings with an overstuffed agenda.
What do you think? Are Project War Rooms still necessary for successful project management?
Disclaimer: This posting is my own opinion and does not represent the opinions of my employers and any organizations I am a member of and should not be construed as such.