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Reinventing the IT War Room

You’re about to do a major upgrade and you bring all the key players together into a “war room” — a single location where they can collaborate for a week or more as they seek to resolve any issues and ensure a successful rollout. This approach can be effective for collaborating and problem solving, but it’s also costly, time intensive, and pulls people away from their day jobs.

What if you could apply a war room approach to all projects and remove about 75 percent of the time, cost, and distraction elements from the equation? Think about the positive impact you could have on your IT organization and your business, as well as on the quality and the perception of IT service delivery from your users. Fortunately, you can make this a reality with an agile war room approach.

The agile war room extends the benefits of traditional war rooms beyond a single point in time. It brings together your best talent and your collective knowledge virtually in order to become hyper-responsive to the needs of the business around a key project or initiative on an ongoing basis – without many of the time, effort, and cost challenges of a traditional in-person war room approach.

Let’s look at some key war room functions:

  • Quickly routing incoming issues to the war room
  • Assigning a lead for each issue and a “collaboration team” to develop potential resolutions
  • Grouping issues into “major incidents” when they impact many users
  • Documenting what’s learned in the war room for reuse in the future and for feedback to the rest of the project team
  • Keeping impacted end users updated (and all other users updated when warranted)

ITinvolve enables IT organizations to virtually and seamlessly execute each of these activities and more, without the burden of having to take people away from their day jobs. Delivered as a SaaS-based cloud service on Force.com, it empowers you and your team to fully understand your IT environment and more easily collaborate to capture, share, and leverage collective knowledge through the use of social knowledge objects (e.g. servers, network devices, policies, people, applications, and business services).

We ensure all relevant knowledge is accessible from one place in the context of the project being managed by your war room and help you use social collaboration to crowd source and peer review knowledge, in addition to importing or federating information from your existing systems.

ITinvolve also automatically assesses knowledge, relationships and dependencies in the IT environment to determine who and what are impacted by changes, incidents, alerts, and problems, as well as a wide range of scenarios including application release planning, policy compliance, and business continuity planning. Our approach involves only the relevant stakeholders in collaboration, provides the right context for the collaboration, and captures the appropriate information so that it can be shared with others and reused in the future.

Costs: The traditional IT war room versus the agile IT war room

The agile war room provides dramatic savings over the cost of a traditional IT war room in terms of lT labor costs, travel expenses, and business productivity. We’ve analyzed the cost of a traditional war room that involved 20 people onsite for 40 hours each and compared it to the costs of an agile war room. Our analysis found that the efficiencies of the agile war room made it considerably more cost effective in terms of labor and productivity. In fact, an agile war room can provide similar and even greater benefits than a traditional IT war room at about 25% of the labor and productivity costs, depending on the initiative. Here’s why:

  • Your staff can do the work virtually and effectively.  ITinvolve provides exceptional collaboration capabilities so your people are only needed for fewer hours.
  • You eliminate travel costs for staff members located outside of your headquarters.
  • The collaborative nature of the solution increases business productivity. Fewer issues occur at Level One because issues are resolved with permanent fixes faster so that incidents don’t repeat themselves. More issues can also be resolved at Level One and do not require escalation to Level Two given the knowledge now available Level One personnel.

Work on issues more quickly and effectively

In a traditional war room, when there is an issue the team may spend 30 minutes or more discussing what has changed in the environment before actually starting to work on it.  However, your virtual war room can respond more rapidly because the team doesn’t need to get caught up on the current state of the environment. The proactive nature in which you follow objects within the ITinvolve solution keeps everyone informed on what is changing. The process is similar to the way you might follow someone on Twitter or Facebook so that you receive a feed of what’s changing as new knowledge is added.

Additionally, ITinvolve helps get the issue routed to the right individual or team quickly without needing to have everyone in the room physically. The solution identifies where to route the issue and places it into a virtual channel and then notifies members of that channel so they can pick up the issue and start collaborating with other channel members and experts – right away!

The agile war room members can document new knowledge quickly, making it easily accessible to the right people, which reduces the time to resolve issues and restore services. This enables the team to correlate new knowledge being added in real-time to quickly crowd source potential solutions to new incidents that may be coming in.

ITinvolve’s innovative IT collaboration solutions can help you establish agile war rooms quickly and cost effectively — even without replacing your existing service desk solution. For more information read the following white paper: Reinventing the IT War Room: A use case paper for social IT collaboration.

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