"Managing your business case for change"

By Linda Gail Christie

If you want to make a change in your storage infrastructure, how can you justify capital costs to business managers? Dave Vellante, the president of ITCentrix, a developer of IT decision support solutions, proposes using a three-pronged approach.

"To make a business case for or against a particular storage technology approach, we first assess the current operational costs, service levels, and business flexibility," Vellante said. "Operational cost emphasizes such factors as staff efficiencies, hardware utilization, and network costs. Service levels measure application availability and associated value. Business flexibility considers the time to develop and introduce new function and the value generated from faster deployment times. Once we've established this 'Base Case,' we can compare the tradeoffs of storage infrastructure changes in quantified value terms and represent real dollars-cost savings, revenue potential, and/or productivity gains."

In Vellante's experience, the cost savings in hard dollars -- if this is the real issue -- will usually come down to staffing as the primary determinant. "The bottom line is that if your capital costs can be offset, chances are the savings will primarily come from staffing," Vellante said. "This is not in terms of laying people off, but in being able to re-deploy them so you can keep pace with your growth."

Vellante also advises that it's critical to evaluate who

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will be affected by the storage technology change. "When you look at softer dollars, don't just look at the cost of infrastructure and staff. Think about who's affected by it -- the users, your internal and external customers. Understand what happens to the user when you're down: Can they do something else equally productive? Less productive? Or, will you read about it tomorrow in the Wall Street Journal?"

He continued, "If you can sit across the table from business people and talk in their terms, not storage infrastructure costs; if you can show that you can make them more productive or competitive, you'll be able to make a stronger business case for change."

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About the author: Storage management tips are written by Linda Gail Christie, a contributing editor based in Tulsa, Okla.

This was first published in October 2000

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