Over the last year, our road trip has evaluated the six steps in creating an effective TCO model to build or lease a new data center. We have reviewed developing the technical program, site selection, wholesale/collocation evaluations, and migration processes. In this month’s column, we examine the components of creating a cost/benefit TCO to justify a new project.

Since a large amount of capital will be needed, the final TCO report is often submitted to the board of directors’ level or senior management. Therefore, the final report requires both detail and summary components. Typically, the report will have the following table of contents:

1. Executive Summary (summarizing all components below)

2. Project Objective

3. Technical Program (including requirements, growth rates, prototype, and benchmarking data)

4. Existing Site Analysis, Risk Assessments, and Business Impact Analysis (BIA)

5. Site Selection (including Power Fiber Threat (PFT) analysis, wholesale/collocation analysis, and final selection definition)

6. Construction Estimates, Lease Estimates, and Operating Costs

7. Definition of Migration Process and Migration Cost

8. Project Schedule Comparisons

9. Professional Recommendation, Risks, Costs, and Benefits


Typically, when submitting the report, multiple decision makers will review the document from several different angles or try to identify submittals that are relatable to them personally. Therefore, what is the best strategy when submitting one report that resonates with multiple decision makers? Analysts over the years have categorized decision makers into four different buckets: The Driver, The Socialite, The Thinker, and The Relater.

The Driver. This decision maker makes immediate decisions based upon first thoughts, and in some cases, past circumstances they have experienced. The Driver is usually the person who always wants to drive the car and always thinks he knows where he is going. He usually wears a dark suit or dress, often with a red power tie. He will look at the size of the report and make an immediate decision without digging into details. A larger report means that due diligence has been done and it must be correct. A smaller report gives the impression that there are gaps. Drivers usually only read the Executive Summary.

The Socialite. This person is driven by others and what the consensus says about the report. The Socialite often wears bright colors and jewelry, and is the first in the room to talk about what he recently did over the weekend or last night. He will “poll” others and weigh differences among individual opinions. He wants the TCO report to have great graphics and be formatted in an unusual way that separates the report from others he has seen. He will usually vote with the majority and seldom be conflicting in the group concerning details or content of the report.

The Thinker. This person makes decisions based upon detail and analytics. He is “book smart” and breaks down details into fine elements. The Thinker is slow to make decisions, and these decisions are always based on data. In many cases his clothing may not match or might be outdated and not in style. The Thinker will always question the report and ask for additional data if not satisfied. He typically will vote his mind, and the others in the room have little influence on their decision.

The Relater. The Relaters make decisions based upon feelings or past circumstances. They will focus on risks as well as benefits (because that’s where they’ve been hurt in the past). They often wear gray, brown, or blue (neutral colors) and may roll up their sleeves to be comfortable. They, too, are slower to make decisions than the Driver or Socialite.

Therefore, what is the best strategy when submitting one report that resonates with multiple decision makers? Analysts over the years have categorized decision makers into four different buckets: The Driver, The Socialite, The Thinker, and The Relater.

Keep in mind that there is no right or wrong decision maker. Each type can be successful within their career. Some case examples of this include U.S. presidents, such as:

• Jimmy Carter (The Relater)

• Ronald Reagan (The Socialite)

• Barack Obama (The Thinker)

• George W. Bush (The Driver)

Also remember that most people do not fully fit the stereotype. They generally have two characteristics, with one being a more dominant trait.


Since the report will be submitted to multiple people, it may not be fully known who will be reviewing the report and from what angle. Therefore, the final TCO report should be created to cater to all audiences. How is this done?

First, make sure that the report looks professional and is well formatted. The cover should be colorful and have photos that correlate with the subject. Use graphs and pie charts in comparisons, as well as photos where they apply (such as within the current data center, showing risks). Make sure the report is uniquely structured and comprehensive. This will appease The Driver and The Socialite.

Second, ensure that the report identifies risks and is comprehensive. This includes risks associated with the existing data center infrastructure and operations, as well as the cost of downtime. Other risks can include scheduling and items uncovered within the PFT (threat). Risks should be identified within the Executive Summary, Site Selection, and Professional Recommendations sections. This will cater to all decision makers, especially The Relater.

Third, include everything. Your team has done an extensive amount of work to date, and 90% of it should be included within the Base Report. It might make sense to separate the Executive Summary, but always submit them both together. The detail will assist The Thinker in making decisions, as well as The Driver, by showing comprehensive work.