ROI Data StorageBy Reid Smith-Vaniz 

A common disconnect between IT professionals and business decision-makers is that the IT side uses technical metrics to measure value while the business side uses revenue, profitability and satisfied customers. When you bring your proposal for a storage project to decision-makers on the business side, they’ll want to know how it will help make more money, make the business more flexible, or enable better service. That is, they want to know what the ROI will be for their investment in a better storage infrastructure. So to get approval for your project from a board, budget committee, or purchasing group, come prepared with an estimate of ROI.

Even if the people who can give a thumbs-up to your proposal don’t specifically ask for this information in advance, having it prepared will give them more confidence in your project and in you as an IT expert who understands the business angle of your proposal.  

Today’s post is the first in a three-post series on tips for estimating the ROI associated with your storage project.

Determine the Cost of Doing Nothing

If you believe you should take action to improve your storage infrastructure and the higher-ups don’t, one way to make your case is to show the cost of doing nothing. Let’s say you want to replace a current storage array with one that has better performance, better DR capabilities and more. To make your case and demonstrate ROI, you should calculate:

  • How many people would be affected if your current storage infrastructure has a DR event or a performance event? Include the number of people who would be affected internally and externally. For instance, how many customers who touch applications hosted on shared storage would be affected? How many vendors who log into your system and are part of your supply chain?
  • How much trust and goodwill would you lose if your system goes down, or is undersized, or doesn’t react fast enough? How long would it take to rebuild that trust? What’s at stake is not only trust in the company, but trust in the IT organization from the rest of the business.
  • What will be the long-term impact of a DR event? What will be the impact on the brand image? On your financial capabilities?

Keep in mind that some of these measures are quantifiable, like the impact on revenue of an outage. Others—like goodwill, agility, confidence and trust—are qualitative measures but are equally important. To measure these impacts, look for a similar event in your company’s past as a point of comparison, or look for the impact a similar event had on a competitor or another company in your industry or area.  

Once you’ve put together an estimate on the cost of doing nothing, you can strengthen your case by determining the savings your project will create. We’ll cover that angle in tomorrow’s post.