Core Value: The Importance of Your Data Center Project Management Team

This is part of a series of blogs on Data Center Solutions. See below for links.

The pandemic fueled immense demand for data center capacity, and that trend continues with the ongoing need for processing and storage capacity from cloud providers and social media companies. And, with important additional drivers such as IoT, autonomous vehicle technology, 5G infrastructure, virtual reality communities, and blockchain technology also now adding to the demand load, the need for new and expanded data center builds is as great as ever.

If you're a global IT manager, you understand the significant challenges involved in accommodating the technical complexity of today's massive data center builds, especially those located in far flung locations around the world. Because there are so many aspects to taking a data center project from proposal through to completion, your core project management team is more than a key asset in ensuring both the success of the project and the satisfaction of team members. Your core project management is a crucial partner in successful data center builds and retrofits. You need to move forward, confident that you have the right people, in the right places, and at the right time to meet.

When evaluating partners, consider the core project management team's composition, how it functions, the methodologies and processes it follows, how it manages resources, and most importantly, how it will interact with you. With so much at stake, your trust in the ability, efficiency, and expertise of your core project management team should be your number one consideration. Here's an overview of what a successful team looks like and how it operates.

The Core Project Management Team Members

Well before a data center build or expansion project gets off the ground, your core project management team has already been hard at work setting the stage. As the first hire and team leader, the project manager is responsible for reviewing and understanding the technical scope of the project, translating that scope into key milestones, and then developing a plan to ensure the job is done right and to your specifications, including timelines, processes, methodologies, labor, regulations, basically, everything.

While a project manager may be responsible for extending an organization's data center footprint across multiple locations and facilities, the project coordinator often is responsible for creating site-specific templates, managing and reporting time, and taking care of administrative and logistical matters. Meanwhile, the project controller takes on tasks such as managing POs and schedule tracking, monitoring materials and labor costs, and tracking and reporting on the financial burn rate.

The construction manager is the person actually responsible for operational planning and execution on a day-to-day basis, and this typically includes mapping resources to the project schedule, productivity tracking, and tracking performance against KPIs. The last member of the core team is the safety manager, in charge of ensuring safe and healthy working conditions. Responsibilities include instituting training on safety and health protocols and accident prevention, investigating accidents, and developing mitigation efforts.

With an experienced project management team in place, you can be sure that your data center project will be undertaken and completed in a way that adds value and itself is a competitive advantage. Particularly important if you have multiple data center projects, is the team's ability to ensure that the proven methodologies from one successful build are repeatable in the same manner across multiple data center sites.

Project Success: Structure, Management, Execution

Without proper and experienced data center project management, a design/build project can easily be derailed. Seemingly small missteps in just one area can easily become large hurdles that make deadlines difficult to meet, hamper the work of other teams, as well as increasing costs that break the budget. Skilled and dedicated project managers are equipped to optimize and implement effective stage management to ensure quality processes and financial control.

The core project management team establishes clear visibility of the organizational strategy, implements procedures that enable optimal contribution from all project stakeholders, and maintains the situational awareness essential to eliminating duplication and waste, keeping all events of the project on course, minimizing risk, and ensuring predictable project outcomes. Other delays can occur due to the lack of local knowledge. The data center provider should be able to leverage its global reach and local presence to inform the core management team of applicable legal, financial, technical, and cultural laws, standards, and customs, a successful, experienced team keeps each project running smoothly.

Putting proven, well-defined and exacting processes in place, this team ensures that the build can adapt to change without disruption to the larger project schedule and budget, and without any compromise in quality. In some cases, a great team can even speed the time to a successful project completion.

Team Success: Safety, Productivity, Satisfaction, Retention

Managing technical and financial aspects of the data center build or expansion is only half the equation. The project management team also must oversee all human elements of the operation — the people who make the project a success.

If your data center is located in a rural area where real estate and power are less expensive, building a skilled data center workforce can be difficult, even in the best of times. Today, when demand for skilled staff is high and the talent pool is relatively small, it's a particularly steep challenge. When evaluating data center providers, don't overlook how the provider attracts, recruits, and retains talent. Black Box tackles this challenge by operating its own BICSI-certified training centers and by maintaining a 10-step talent plan that enables the company to cultivate and place talent where and when it's needed.

Regardless of size and scope of the project, your project management team must structure and standardize activities so that all contributors in all roles are on the same page and so that the project outcome is predictable. When a new data center build requires 200 or even 300 IT technicians, and routine operation after that requires perhaps 100, clear lines of communication are essential not just to effective management, but also to maintaining worker health, safety, and satisfaction.

Team members must have clarity on their roles, responsibilities, and expectations. It's about more than knowing where to be, when, and why. The project management team must make sure each person working on the project has the equipment, materials, and tools they need to do their job. The skill with which a project is managed has a direct bearing not only on the success of your project but also on employee satisfaction — and on employee retention.

Ensuring Success for Your Data Center Build

The expertise and ability of the core project management and logistics team can be directly correlated to having a positive impact on the success of your data center project and team member satisfaction. But how do you find, train, and retain the right resources in the right places at the right times? And how can you maintain consistent processes and outcomes at every site? First, do your homework. Hopefully, this blog gave you some insight into what to look for in the project management team, so critical to the success of your build. Other considerations include talent planning and training, and service beyond the build. Second, partner with a global IT services provider with a proven track record in data center builds.

Learn more about how partnering with the Black Box team of global data center experts gives you a competitive advantage, empowering you to leverage the human connection and develop competent team members who add value throughout the project. See all our Data Center services here.

This blog is part of a series on Data Center services and solutions. You may also be interested in:
The Data Center Technician Solution — In-House BICSI Certification

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About Black Box

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