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Hypercare? Projects should never need to be in an ICU

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In project management, we often see words drift in and become part of our collective vocabulary, as if they’ve always belonged. One such term, ‘hypercare’, has recently taken up residence, subtly infiltrating our risk management strategies, particularly when transitioning projects into a live state.

Hypercare is a strategy that is often likened to placing a project in a metaphorical intensive care unit (ICU), subject to round-the-clock vigilance.

Should a project ever require intensive care?

My awareness of the prevalence of hypercare surged during a recent engagement with a group of seasoned IT managers. I was delivering an extensive project management coaching series, focusing on the development of essential project planning artefacts, with a particular emphasis on risk management. Our target: a critical CRM HR module implementation on the cusp of delivery.

As we delved into the intricacies of risk management during our intensive workshops, the term ‘hypercare’ emerged repeatedly as a core component of their risk management strategy.

However, amid these discussions, a fundamental question continued to occupy my thoughts: should a project ever find itself in a state requiring metaphorical intensive care?

This question ignited a deeper exploration of the concept of hypercare, in which I challenged its efficacy and limitations within project management. It felt as if I was swimming against the current, questioning the idea that planning risk responses should involve admitting a project to an ICU during its go-live phase, with the goal of nursing it to success.

Perpetual crisis management

Are we genuinely optimising our risk management by embracing this ICU-like approach, or should there be more proactive risk management strategies that allow projects to flourish without the need for intensive care? And while hypercare may initially appear intuitive, does it seriously align with the core principles of efficient project management?

At its core, hypercare advocates for proactive and intensive project care. It implies an unwavering commitment to continuous monitoring, all in the name of pre-empting potential crises.

However, a pivotal aspect to consider is whether hypercare inadvertently ushers in an environment of perpetual crisis management. After all, isn’t the essence of project management rooted in meticulous planning, efficient execution and diligent progress monitoring?

While undeniably essential, monitoring should serve as a strategic instrument for identifying and addressing risks before they escalate into crises, rather than pushing projects into a perpetual state of intensive care.

In short, I do not subscribe to the idea that a project should need to receive hypercare. None of my projects should ever need to be in an ICU — full stop.

The aim is to provide the appropriate level of care and attention at the right moment

Project management is inherently dynamic, embracing adaptability and agility as essential components. It's the art of striking the delicate equilibrium between proactive risk management and providing projects with a safety net of risk response strategies.

So, it’s time to challenge the idea that risk management strategies should centre around an ICU-style hypercare approach. Instead, let’s acknowledge that projects are unique, each possessing its own complexity and risk profile. Our goal should be to provide the appropriate level of care and attention at the right junctures, without prematurely relegating projects to the ICU.

In the dynamic world of project management, the key lies in proactive risk identification and management, not in universally embracing hypercare as the ultimate risk response planning solution.

Let’s make sure that our projects progress and thrive without the need for an ICU.


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