Spend Money Now to Save Money Later

Posted by Eric Bastholm on November 5, 2010
Nov 052010

Sometimes in your organization you come across a situation which seems ludicrous, but when you analyse it you can see why the train wreck is happening. Often, this illogical scenario is budget related. One where a small amount of money spent at a key time could save an enormous amount money later on. This often happens in large organizations where there is a complex web of budgets, teams, and agendas.

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Let me briefly describe such an event.

In this particular case, one of a pair of redundant  RAID controllers went kaput and the system, as expected, failed over to the remaining one allowing continued access to, among other things, the application development team’s database for the formal test environment. However, the department decided not to replace the faulty component because they are expensive; in this case many thousands of dollars. Fair enough. Times are a bit tough and we have cutbacks to meet. But, really, what part of redundant didn’t you get?

Unfortunately, like the unfolding of an obvious plot device in a cheaply made mystery movie made only for TV, that decision was the first event in a chain that would later lead to disaster nearly a year later. Other links in the chain include the fact the the development team were not told of the failure and they relied too much on the test environment to be available even if they were not testing but were just going about their daily work. They had dependencies built in where there should be none.

In the end many times the cost of replacing the failed RAID controller was wasted in lost productivity and probably other hidden costs yet to come as developers investigate numerous hacks to get around the issues that no doubt will have their own impact later. This was caused by lack of communication and lack of understanding.

Always analyse the situation and ask “What will happen if I don’t do this?”, “What will happen if I do something else instead?”. If the answer is that you will be up for a heap more cash, consider just paying out now to save money later.

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