Mission Critical

It sounds terrifically important, to say that something is “mission critical”, and the definition is;

An activity, device, service or system whose failure or disruption will cause a failure in business operations. For example, for an online business its online transaction system is mission critical.

But I hear the term used to describe a range of things that I really don’t think are mission critical, so the term is in danger of losing its meaning. I suspect it is often used to mean that if a process or project fails we will look bad – rather than the company will sustain huge losses and may go under.

I think there are two factors needed to make something mission critical;

  • immediate impact
  • substantial loss or cost

Immediate impact, because if the impact is apparent only slowly then I think a business has time to improve the process or system, and repair the damage. The word critical implies an urgency.

Substantial loss or cost, because if it’s a relatively small amount then the company is not at risk of failure.

The last use I heard of it at work was in relation to a powerpoint presentation. Hmmm, I think not.


image Shuttle Mission Control /Harrison Earl/ CC BY-NC-ND 2.0