7 Tips for Understanding the Total Cost of Ownership When Acquiring Applications
Recently cited information from the technology firm CNET reveals that roughly 49 percent of IT projects suffer from budget overruns, and 47 percent suffer higher than expected maintenance costs. It’s imperative that companies identify and properly plan for all expenses associated with replacing a business application to avoid these costly mistakes. Here are seven ways to help you go about this process.
1. When considering replacing your software application, ask yourself the following questions during the due diligence process:
* What applications will be considered, and what functionalities are required?
* What are the major milestones and time frames necessary to complete the project?
* What’s the total cost of ownership necessary to complete the project?
2. When asking a vendor to submit a formal proposal, include all the vital information necessary to receive a detailed proposal. For example, in the case of an order management system, vital information includes, among other things:
* Peak and average figures for the number of concurrent users;
* Order volumes by month, with the peak week;
* Average lines and units per order; and the
* Number of customer records.
This information isn’t only necessary in identifying the licensing, but also the proper sizing for application and database servers. 3.
Analyze the vendor proposal painstakingly. For items such as training and implementation services, understand the number of days being proposed and what roles or tasks will be performed by the vendor. Be careful of terminology like “the normal training days are X” or “the standard project management days are X.” Make sure the “typical” or “standard” days are sufficient for your project. 4.
Understand the vendors’ license maintenance and support plans and when payment is due. Many vendors charge these fees once the application is delivered. Some maintenance plans can be as high as 20 percent of the MSRP or originally proposed license fees. 5.
From an application licensing perspective, review the pricing model and any optional modules that may be necessary to support the functionality within your business. If the vendor is supplying the hardware for the application and database servers, be certain the hardware is sufficient and budgeted for, including the necessary hardware upgrades if optional modules are added later or if the licensing forces the hardware into major upgrades. 6.
For program modifications or integrations to other software applications, provide functional specifications for the vendor to submit a formal proposal. While the vendor responses may only be estimates, the more detailed the specifications, the better a vendor can estimate the expenses. Don’t wait until after the project is approved to get these expenses. 7.
So far these expenses have focused on vendors’ costs and haven’t addressed planning for internal expenses. Be careful, because internal expenses are usually less budgeted for and can lead to project overruns very quickly.
Travel expenses are one example of internal expenses to potentially budget for. It’s often necessary to travel to and from vendors’ facilities, as well as travel expenses for the vendor to be on-site. These expenses can be as high as 15 percent to 18 percent of the total services for the project. Be aware, some vendors charge a travel fee if the travel is over a certain number of hours or they charge cost plus 2 percent to 3 percent.
Other internal expenses to consider budgeting for include:
* an increase in payroll or overtime to complete the project;
* the hiring of temporary labor or outside resources, such as consultants or programmers; and
* upgrades to other network hardware or the rewiring of the internal network.
Formalize a full budget before proceeding, being sure to build in sufficient dollars for items such as services, programming and training that may not have been sufficiently budgeted for by the vendor. By clearly defining your budget, you can avoid being one of the 49 percent who exceed their IT budgets.
Brian Barry is a senior consultant at F. Curtis Barry & Co., a multichannel operations and fulfillment consulting firm with expertise in multichannel systems, warehouse, call center, inventory and benchmarking. Learn more online at http://www.fcbco.com . F. Curtis Barry & Company is a national consulting firm for catalog, e-commerce, and retail businesses offering clients expertise in order management systems, warehouse management systems; warehousing and distribution; inventory management and forecasting solutions; and operational benchmarking for all business channels.
Please contact Jeff Barry to discuss your upcoming projects at email@example.com or 804-457-4028.