Monitoring IT needs might seem unnecessary. However, the price for not doing so can prove to be costly.
These days, convincing executives to allocate bud-get toward behind-the-scenes information technology (IT) needs, such as IT monitoring software, can be a challenge. To them, monitoring seems like an unnecessary cost. In a study conducted by SolarWinds, the IT Trends Report 2015: Business at the Speed of IT highlighted that the inability to convince decision-makers of the need and/or benefit to adopt significant new technologies, followed by the inability to prove return on investment (ROI), ranked as some of the top barriers within the industry in Singapore1.
At the same time, however, nearly 90 per cent of respondents said their organisations’ end users were negatively affected by a performance or availability issue with business critical technology in the past 12 months. Nearly a quarter of those reported that such issues curred six times or more1. To tackle this, it just takes IT professionals to share a careful and logical explanation on the benefits of monitoring to help higher-ups understand its importance while justifying the cost.
What You Don’t See, Will Cost You
To put this into perspective, I have come across a case whereby a 300-bed hospital considered implementing a S$5,000 automated temperature monitoring system for the freezers where the hospital’s supply of food was stored. The system would have saved staff time by measuring and sending notifications if the temperature was out of acceptable range.
Hospital administration declined as they thought the solution was too expensive. However, the door to the main cooler was left open causing it to fail, and resulting in emergency food orders, extra staff, and repair services. The total cost of the outage came to S$1 million—200 times more than the monitoring system.
Learning from this, IT professionals need to explain to non-technical staff that the cost of not monitoring is risky.
Make a Worthwhile Case
With this in mind, how can IT professionals explain monitoring without first experiencing an actual IT resource failure? Not to mention convincing management to purchase monitoring tools to protect mission critical systems? It comes down to identifying the potential costs of a failure. Some areas to consider are:
The ultimate end result of a problem if it goes undetected,
The amount of time a particular failure could go unreported,
The amount of time it would take to fix the system from as a result of a failure,
Regular hourly staff cost for the system in question,
Emergency and overtime staff cost for the system in question,
Planned vendor maintenance costs versus emergency vendor repair costs, and
Lost sales or other income per hour if the system in question is unavailable.
Small Amounts that Add Up
No IT professional would be caught without some form of fault-tolerance for a critical system such as E-mail. Let’s say a mirrored drive was in place, but it failed a couple days prior to the second drive’s failure. Without a monitoring solution, nobody would have noticed, making it a single drive system. The end result is that the system would crash and E-mail clients like Outlook still function with offline caching, masking the failure before anyone notices.
Recovering from a hard drive failure takes time and replacing the drive itself along with restoring from backup takes about two hours on top of vendor repair, which could either take a four-hour lead time or one hour for emergency service.
The amount of money paid to staff for their time could approximately be S$53 per hour while overtime is S$75 per hour. The four-hour lead time for vendor repair will add cost on top of the emergency vendor repair setting back approximately S$150 per hour with a two-hour minimum for servicing.
E-mail will be offline for between 3.5 to six hours, with a cost of between S$106 and S$450 for one drive failure. Consider a company that experiences 350 drive failures a year; this setback could cost between S$37,000 and S$157,000 per year—not counting revenue loss.
IT needs to be vigilant when it comes to identifying and managing crisis. Catching the first drive failure, replacing it at a convenient time while avoiding the outage, and the time spent performing data recovery could save between S$20,000 and almost S$140,000 over the course of a year. It is important to go through similar exercises for all mission-critical systems in the IT environment with different types of outages.
Ditch the Jargons
IT professionals should prioritise the company’s needs by assessing the systems in place. It would also be good to leverage from other team members’ experiences.
Although tedious, proper explanations are what it takes to help non-IT executives and key decision-makers understand that monitoring is crucial. It is in speaking their language that we help them understand the limitations and the potential financial losses they might incur for not monitoring.
1 Solarwinds, 2015, Solarwinds IT Trends Report 2015: Business at the Speed of IT (Singapore), http://www.solarwinds.com/resources/surveys/solarwinds-it-trends-report-2015-singapore.aspx?CMP=PUB-PR-SWI-prq115_New_IT_Survey_SGP-X-RESC
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