5 Steps to IT Excellence – Step 3: Cost & Low Hanging Fruit

By | 2015/02/20

In our last post, we identified our top priority projects, based on likelihood and business impact. Remember, these projects started from our own assessment, combined with firsthand feedback from department heads, IT staff, vendors – anyone possible.

Now we’ll attach estimated costs to each possible solution, keeping in mind that costs may go through several iterations. Think of this initial step as a BUDGETING step – not necessarily the fixed cost for the absolutely-best solution to each problem. We’re simply trying to get a general sense of cost to help provide additional insight and help us identify any “low hanging fruit” that can be knocked out easily. More complex projects require much more time to fully evaluate among viable options, before deciding upon the BEST solution for short and long-term.

Here is a sample list of all projects that include HIGH likelihood or impact (for illustration purpose):

risktable3

For each line, we’ll need to identify a reasonable solution. Again, this may not be the actual solution we implement, but we need something from which to base our cost estimates. For example:

 

Project Preliminary Solution & requirements Next Steps
Frequent Internet Outages Implement failover internet connection. Reqts: 2nd Internet provider, 2nd inbound port into firewall, router(?), possible contract work(?) Determine what alternative Internet providers are available, gather costs for equipment needed, determine if in-house staff can implement, find contractor if necessary.
Enhance Customer Ordering Multiple solutions possible: new web ordering site, mobile ordering app, POS integration, computer assisted ordering Requires more info from the business and customers to identify best option from wide range of possible solutions.
Inbound orders- Server failure Test backup server Obtain level-of-effort guestimate from staff
Legacy system Update doc and test failover Obtain level-of-effort guestimate from staff
Firewall Implement 2nd firewall Get pricing from vendor
wireless controller Implement 2nd wireless controller Get pricing from vendor

After rough pricing is in place for each project, we can work with internal staff to decide priorities of the simple/low-cost projects while we further evaluate the more complex projects. For example, these projects may be approved and handed off to internal staff for project management and implementation:

Project Solution Estimated Cost
Frequent Internet Outages Implement failover internet connection. Reqts: 2nd Internet provider, 2nd inbound port into firewall, firewall config, possible contract work(?) DSL is available in our area for $120/month. Current firewall has open port,  add 6 hours @ $100 for contractor time.
Inbound orders- Server failure Test backup server 4 hours in-house
Legacy system Update doc and test failover 8 hours in-house
Firewall Implement 2nd firewall $2500 purchase + 8 hours in-house
wireless controller Implement 2nd wireless controller $1000 purchase + 4 hours in-house

We’re now left with only “Enhance customer ordering” for further analysis. The good news is, our internal staff now has a prioritized list of projects to work on, which we’ve already identified have HIGH value to the company. Note that there may be many other projects on our total project list, but the projects highlighted in the example above represent those that have HIGH likelihood of happening and/or HIGH business impact.

I’ve found that often these HIGH value projects don’t appear in any other project list, so without this type of assessment process you may end up working on them only after something breaks.

Breakage = downtime = NOT good.

We’ll use the “Enhance customer ordering” project in our next post, where we will discuss project definition.

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