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This chapter is from the book

This chapter is from the book

Storing Capacity Plans

As a final detail, we consider the options for storing your capacity plans. If you have an advanced document management system already in place, you may not need to worry about this detail. If you are still managing documents with a variety of local hard disks and shared file systems, read on. You'll learn some practical tips for keeping your capacity plans organized and available, and you may be able to use some of these same techniques for other documents as well.

Format of the Plans

Earlier in this chapter, you learned which elements are important to a capacity plan. Now it is time to consider the container that holds those elements. Most organizations settle on a capacity plan in a word processing document with tables and graphs representing utilization data. The free format of a document enables an introduction and recommendations to be drafted as part of the plan while the tables and charts convey the structured data related to the service or component being addressed.

Because capacity plans are simply documents, it is important to ensure that they don't end up sitting on someone's hard disk or in a file share somewhere. Those sources are notorious for being difficult to manage and restricting access. The best place to keep your documents is as attachments within the capacity management information system itself. If your CMIS software allows attachments, the issue is settled because that is where all capacity plans should be kept.

Of course, not all CMIS software packages allow attachments or can handle large blocks of unstructured data. If you find yourself in this situation, your next best alternative is to create a field in the CMIS that enables you to describe or point to the documents as they are being managed elsewhere. If your software allows universal resource locators (URLs), you can place those into the CMIS as links to enable users to launch the capacity plan in context while using the CMIS. The easier you can make it to find and read the capacity plans, the more they will be read.

As a final resort when nothing else is available, create your own index to the capacity plans manually. This could be as simple as creating a spreadsheet with a single line for each capacity plan that indicates the name of the plan, which element in the CMIS it refers to, and where the file containing the plan can be found. In the CMIS you can then create a field for each service and component that indicates the identifier of the corresponding row in the index spreadsheet. This kind of manual index can be laborious to maintain, but the effort is rewarded as you see your capacity plans becoming more integral to the way the organization manages capacity.

Over time, you should strive to define a set of data elements that exist in each of your capacity plans. If you can gradually move away from free-form text and toward structured text, you can do much more with the capacity plans. You may never arrive at the point where your capacity plan fits nicely within the columns and tables of a relational database, but you should definitely organize as much of the data as you can to help in searching, reviewing, and updating your capacity plans.

Maintaining Version Control

Regardless of where you store the capacity management plans, you must be sure to exercise control of changes. Nothing will derail your efforts quite as quickly as confusion over which version of a plan is valid or where to find the latest version. Since capacity plans undergo frequent revisions, you need to define a version management strategy up front to eliminate these problems.

The best practice for version control is to ensure that within each document is a table for tracking changes. The table should include columns to indicate who made the change, when it was made, and what the nature of the change was. This table should be updated as a habit whenever a change is made to any capacity plan.

If you have the luxury of having a team of capacity managers, you may also need a system to indicate who has control of each plan. In the best possible world you have access to a document or source code control system such as Documentum or Rational® ClearCase®. Those systems allow you to "check out" a document and ensure that two people cannot make changes concurrently. If you don't have a system that allows you to manage changes to documents, you can accomplish the same thing by using the index spreadsheet identified in the preceding section and simply adding a column indicating who controls the document at any point in time.

Whichever system is used, it is imperative that you control changes to the capacity plans. Only through careful management of the revisions will they become more accurate and more helpful over time.

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