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Comment Re:Much harder than it looks in the movies (Score 3, Interesting) 421

Oh a few more thoughts:

1. Buy high end task furniture (Haworth, Herman-Miller, etc.) but buy it "used". It's 1/2 or less the price, and often you can get the used high-end stuff for less than commodity new.
2. Get a telephone system that doesn't suck. This is harder than you might think. Today, I'd build something with Asterix/VOIP integrated with a customer database to do some real-time CTI. In the past, I've used Aspect successfully as well. Cisco's VOIP gear is nice, but overpriced.
3. Everyone gets their own . Whether it be a headset, keyboard, etc. Trust me, it makes sense.
4. Lockers outside the NOC for staff. Make them nice, tall and big, and nobody shares.
5. Plan for actual breaks from operations. Nobody can stare at a computer screen that many hours and stay alert.

There's a million more details.

Comment Much harder than it looks in the movies (Score 5, Insightful) 421

So, a couple things to think about:

1. How much money do you really have? Lots of people think they have money, but run out when it comes to all the details.
2. Do you want flash, or functionality? The two are sometimes complementary, but often one trumps the other.
3. How many people will staff? What's the schedule? This helps you figure out workstation configurations.
4. Are you putting multiple tiers in the same room? This is "best practice" if you do it right.
5. Are you handling customer calls directly? Do you deal with customers?

Basically, you need to figure out a lot of goals. A true "global" NOC can cost $50M easily for a telecom or comparable organization.

I've been a big fan of Barco for large projectors, and their IP-based solution is quite powerful. Recently, I rolled out a "public safety" SOC (security operations center) with 8 SXGA+ rear-projection displays. The largest I've worked on was 40+ of that style of display. Your garden-variety projector isn't cut out to handle this kind of duty-cycle. They're not cheap, but they're designed to operate 24x7x365, and many models have multiple lamps, etc. so that you can service them while they're online. So here's a few more things to think about:

* What goes on the "big screen" has to be useful. It must be grokable in a very short period of time. If you can't look at it for 2 seconds and get a good idea of what's going on, it's too complicated.
* Multiple displays per operations person
* Operational "graphs" that show overall statistics that matter to the people working, not to management.
* Good task lighting. Good lighting period is everything. Pay a real designer to do this.
* Good seating. We have let operations people pick chairs that fit their needs. Expect to spend $800-1k/person on seating.
* Sound deadening/management. NOCs get loud, and managing the acoustics is important to make sure that people can "think" and they can interact with one another.
* Ticketing is everything. Look at systems that are available commercially and for free. Consider writing your own if needed. If the system is streamlined to your own business, it will always be an impediment to getting the job done, which means people won't use it. If they don't use it, lots of knowledge is lost and post-mortems are more difficult.

Also, a few things that seem superfluous, but ended up being critical in some places I've worked (not all these were at the same place):

* Virtualized desktops (think RDP, X11, etc.) so that people can move and maintain their setup
* Color-shifting lighting to compensate for normal rhythms of people on weird shifts. Turns out green is effective after lunch at helping people maintain focus. This isn't cheap, but it sure does have a big impact.
* Keep your customers OUT OF THE NOC. A glass wall into the NOC is fine, but actually letting them in is distracting, and depending, can come with legal issues around privacy, HIPAA, etc. Best to keep them at a distance.
* Before you let customers see the NOC, you warn people. We had a blinking lighting strip under the displays that was linked into the Crestron system so that you couldn't flip the LCD-glass for 10 seconds to give NOC operators a warning. You don't want customers seeing people picking their nose. :)

Finally, as nice as good facilities are, if you don't have the process and people, it's useless. People people people people. Good people create good processes. Promote from within, and develop a strategy to give people a career path. Otherwise, you'll burn people out, and get huge turnover. That sucks for everyone.

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