Data centres are the engines that are propelling our economic activity. They support global growth as they are the backbone of our digital environment. Each one of us is consuming more digital data for a multitude of activities and this has resulted in a demand for new data centres or expansion of existing ones. These new data centres require project management and the creation of a project management office (PMO).
The set up of the PMO in the concept stage enables success over the complete life cycle of the project from design to construction and commissioning. The set up of a structured project management plan defining the data centre project, key stakeholders, key milestones, risk, approach to design and document management, sign-off post completion and the commissioning process are vital components.
Another key focus is on sustainability reviews and the environment, social and governance (ESG) of the project. For data centres, ESG considerations are particularly vital. Data centres account for an estimated 1% of worldwide electricity use, so the impact to global energy demand is significant. The demand for data – and energy – will further increase over time from personal use, consumers, businesses, emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, driverless car technology, mobile phone usage in developing economies and 5G networks.
To help remedy this, the PMO provides assurances that ESG objectives are being met. In real terms this means looking at things like power and connectivity. The distance from the end user plays a critical role in the site selection process while the source power, too, has a key role as data centres are huge consumers of power. The review process of power options from the grid to private wire and local generation options also plays a vital role to ensure a well thought out approach to sustainability. The overall success of the data centre delivery process depends on people, the system and technology and the monitoring and auditing of the key phases form a good checkpoint on the progress of the project. The PMO ensures a strict regime of management reporting, escalation structure for management of risk and opportunities. Managing the key risks in the planning phase of a project to avoid delays further downstream is vital, the risks of any project can be: technological advancement during the construction phases, handling the interfaces between the stakeholders and having a hands-on approach can help to avoid any programme delays.
The creation of standard operating procedures for all activities by the PMO will ensure the overall success of the project. The reporting tool, digital dashboard, is a great way to represent the key parameters of cost, time and quality. Meanwhile, reference data and benchmarks are sources to validate and track progress. Finally, the experience of the PMO team itself places a crucial role for interventions and successful delivery of the project.
To summarise, the PMO plays a crucial role right from project set up all the way through to completion. The experience of the PMO team will lead to efficient delivery, application of lesson learnt from similar previous or concurrent projects resulting in achievement of cost, time and quality parameters.