Developing a standardized process to direct the creation of a system is not a unique idea, but there is increased recognition of the importance of doing so for data center projects. Creating an outline of steps, as well as the tasks involved in each step, and assigning responsibility – or “ownership” – of each task will clarify responsibilities and solidify accountability to ensure successful completion of the project.
The standardized process also incorporates standard and familiar terminology in a common language to avoid miscommunication among all parties– vendors, partners and users – involved in the project.
The standardized process
There are four phases in a standardized process: prepare, design, acquire and implement. The first two phases make up the “plan” part of the process – translating the articulated business need into a detailed design and accompanying list of items on a purchase order. The “plan” is crucial to the ultimate success of the project. Failure to adequately detail design elements can wreak havoc on the “build” portion of the process. Mistakes made in the “plan” process can result in pitfalls such as schedule delays, cost overruns, frustration and, potentially, a flawed system.
The second two phases – acquire and implement – are the “build” portion of the process, through which hardware is acquired and developed into an operational system. Once the plan phases are appropriately executed, the build phases can more easily fall into place under the direction of a qualified project team with a well-defined process.
A standardized process should be modular so that it can be adapted to projects of different types and sizes, and flexible so as to manage unanticipated occurrences such as project changes and defects.
Other characteristics of a standardized process include:
- Each activity required to complete the project is included in the process.
- Each step has clearly defined inputs and outputs.
- Every output moves the project forward or contributes to the ultimate outcome of the project.
- Every step has a clearly defined “owner,” so there is no question about who is responsible.
- A Web-based tracking system is available to all parties associated with the project to share documentation, data and reports.
Key to success
No matter the size or scope of a data center project, its success depends not only on the development of the physical system, but also on the steps that drive a project from concept to completion. A team-based process is essential to the success of any data center project.
The benefits of a well-planned process include fewer corrections, accelerated completion time and a system that ultimately unfolds as expected. Failure to create a plan can lead to a host of unnecessary hazards, including reduced quality, higher costs, wasted time, poor documentation, insufficient testing and inferior service.
By creating a process that is reliable and flexible, the end user can expect a system to be in place more quickly with fewer costs and errors. By the same token, the provider of engineering services or physical equipment can focus on the task at hand: creating and implementing the planned system.
For more information on standardizing data center projects, read the APC/Schneider white paper, Data Center Projects: Standardized Process.