Many technologies become much more expensive than expected when all associated costs are taken into consideration. For a party to be sure that it is prepared for all short- and long-term costs, it must ask itself these questions:
- What is the real cost of a potential tech solution, taking into account the software purchase, creation or customization, as well as its installation, training and staff time?
- Will the technology require additional hardware, such as computer network servers, hard drives, or smart phones, and if so, will that hardware need to be hosted in a physical location owned or rented by the party? This hosting may incur additional security costs, such as security software upgrades; additionally, the hardware will have to be replaced in the future, as most computers last only about five years before they become too outdated to be compatible with current software updates.
- Will the project require online data storage, and if so, how much? Be sure to understand the security implications of storing party data online.
- Will the technology require significant online bandwidth? Be sure to research the price of improved bandwidth if needed.
- Will the technology require software updates in the future, and if so, what is the direct cost and does it include staff/vendor/consultant time?
- If a project is being implemented incrementally, with new features being added over time, can early technology choices influence the longer-term costs? Be sure to include the cost of all desired upgrades and their associated requirements.
A party should consider three cost categories: acquisition costs (buying the tool’s necessary hardware and software); setup costs (the price of installation and professional training); and ongoing costs (hardware and software maintenance, and ongoing labor).