Setting up a Programme or Project 'War Room'

A programme (or project) 'war room' can be a highly effective tool, depending on how it is set up and used. This quick guide provides some things to think about.

Tips:

  • Use a combination of electronic screens, whiteboards and areas for posters
  • Keep visual displays up-to-date and meaningful — avoid unimportant clutter
  • Have fun with it!

What is a ‘war room’?

A programme (or project) ‘war room’ might also be called a control/command/situation room. It can be a highly effective tool, depending on how it is set up and used. For some, it is a meeting space, for others it is where the programme (or project) work is done. This brief guidance is intended to help programmes and projects design a useful ‘war room’ space.

Be clear about its purpose

This could be to: provide a highly effective communication space/improve collaboration and integration across a complex programme/make it easy for everyone to stay informed/improve the speed and quality of decision-making.

Be clear about its primary users

Who is the war room for? Is it just the project leaders? Does it include all team members? Is it a place you can invite stakeholders?

Determine a simple and succinct set of ‘rules’ for the room

How will the primary users make the best use of the war room?

Rules people have employed include: 

  • Board/information owners are responsible for keeping information up to date 
  • Don’t change other people’s information without checking in with them

Create a real estate map of the room to decide what visual information will be displayed where, this may include:

  • Rules of the war room
  • A Kanban board or similar (use moveable icons and/or avatars to show important info; e.g. decision required, danger/issue, blocked/unable to progress, the responsible person etc)
  • The critical path
  • Change/outcome performance
  • Project status updates • Financial status/budget tracking
  • Issues board
  • Risks board
  • Process maps
  • Geographical maps
  • Photos of relevant locations, equipment or people
  • Building or facility floor plans or photos
  • Wireframes (for technical information)
  • Announcements
  • Blank spaces for new concept ideas/discussions

 

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Karen Tregaskis

Founding Partner

TIPS:

  • Use a combination of electronic screens, whiteboards and areas for posters
  • Keep visual displays up-to-date and meaningful — avoid unimportant clutter
  • Have fun with it!