Robust IT infrastructure is the cornerstone of successful research and development at National Weather Center in Norman, Oklahoma. Increased oversight into IT expenditures at all levels within government has made it imperative that defendable cost/benefit justifications can be made in an environment of decreasing resources. In early 2011, researchers were beginning a new project requiring high end computing to support advance numerical weather forecast models. To this end, those responsible for obtaining the IT technologies needed to meet the requirements of this project turned to the material presented in the chapter on ‘building business cases for IT investments’ of the new book by Sambamurthy and Zmud.

Several IT options were available to support the project including expanding existing infrastructure, leasing time on remote computers, purchasing new computers that would be owned and maintained locally, and leasing computers to be located onsite. The four options were evaluated using the framework for building both financial and strategic business cases presented in the chapter. Guidance was provide on monetizing the “real” cost of ownership of the various options that included recurring costs, cost avoidance strategies, reliability factors leading to system downtime (value enhancement), intangible costs, and staffing costs to keep the systems working.

Following the process outlined in the chapter, several options were removed from consideration for reasons related to risk and cost. The business case that resulted from this process used a combination of two of the proposed options. The strategy was accepted by management and the IT resources obtained successfully met the project goals.