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Making the case

Five years ago, OIT purchased our first SAN to provide a central storage location for servers within the University. Without previous experience with SAN technology, OIT grew its SAN offering "organically". This is a double-edged sword - while we followed customer demand and met the needs of the campus departments, we did so without a strategic direction. In February 2009, the OIT Senior Management Team issued a charge for a strategic plan for future storage and backup service delivery.

Jac Campbell, Jim Hall, Patton Fast, Pete Bartz, and Mark Hove presented that storage strategy this week to the OIT senior management. This was the culmination of a large effort by many people, including campus IT directors and other OIT staff. The strategy document identifies a roadmap for future investment in storage and backup, to better serve the university community. The strategy also includes a set of recommendations that OIT will work to implement over the next 5 years.

If you'd like to see the report, ask me or Jac for a copy. We'll try to get it added to the OIT Wiki.

The storage strategy document made a compelling argument on OIT's need to continue investing in our storage and backup infrastructure. Whether you are working on one of the current charge projects or simply want to sell an idea, I recommend you use this storage strategy as a model when making your case for something.

A strategy document should be able to stand on its own, without relying on you (in person) to frame the information in the document. For best "sticking" power, frame your narrative as a kind of "story". Specifically, a good strategy document follows this general flow:

  1. Describe how we got here (the "history")
  2. Talk about where we are (the "as-is")
  3. Define any issues we may have (the "gaps")
  4. Present your idea for what to do about it (the "vision" or "fit-gap")
  5. Estimate the costs to get there

Additionally, to have greater impact:

  • For that professional look, use a cover page with the document's title and authors.
  • Add an executive summary, so it's easy for a reader to pick up your document and get a general idea of what the document is about.
  • Your strategy should not be too long, or you will lose your audience. Resist the temptation to add material just to "pad out" the document.
  • If you must include extra material, consider adding it to the end in an Appendix. For very long documents, you may wish to move the Appendices into a separate "Supplemental Materials" document.
  • Don't forget to use a standardized template as part of "one OIT":

Download DOC
Download DOT