Performing a TCO Assessment
A TCO assessment will take your time to gather input for the CoSN-Gartner TCO tool and anaoysis of the results. It will also require cooperation on the part of other departments, namely HR or payroll and the business office. Executive support is important to raise the level of awareness and to garner support from other departments.
Request Access to the TCO tool
In order to gain access to the CoSN-Gartner TCO tool, you must go to the login screen
and find: "To access the TCO Tool, you will need a username and password. Please click here
to request access." This will generate an email that will verify that you represent a school or district or related regional or state agency and that the request isn't a duplicate. You should receive a your username/password within a day or two. Meanwhile, take a look at the case studies and what these schools learned.
Start with a Baseline District-wide TCO Assessment
To understand current baseline costs, an enterprise-wide study of current year costs is the place to start. This approach sets the current cost structure for comparison for "what-if" scenarios or subset studies. This enterprise-wide study is also the easiest to do, as shared resources (network, servers, etc.) don't have to be proportioned.
Do Step 1 First
Step 1 (Preparation) points to documentation with tables defining all input fields. these tables are good for distributing to others for their input, as well as for you (the TCO project manager) to collect and pull together the required input before entering into the TCO tool.
Survey Users for Indirect Labor
The best way to determine the indirect labor components (time spent by users in training or dealing with computer related issues) is to survey a statistically significant subset of users. Do not survey anyone responsible for computer support. The CoSN-Gartner TCO tool includes a user survey instrument (MS Word Form) and Excel workbook for collecting the results and summarizing for entry into the TCO tool - login and click on "Data Collection Aids". Since it will take a couple of weeeks to get the results back, it helps to get the survey out early. Note that the returned surveys should be reviewed for reasonableness; a user who claims to spend 80 hours/month on system issues mis-understands the question, is disgruntalled and making a point, or is responsible for computer support (direct labor). Surveying students is optional, but teachers, aides and administrative staff should be surveyed. The TCO tool is looking for the total number of indirect labor hours, not average.
Don't Get Bogged Down
TCO is not an exact science. Usually a good educated estimate for any input field, with some limited research, is adequate; over time your processes and accuracy will improve. For instance, to obtain the amortized cost for client computers purchased over the last four or five years, you don't need to pull all of those invoices. If you know how many client computers you have bought over that timeframe and about what they cost on average, you have a good estimate and have saved lots of time.
Implementing an IT Asset Management system will go a long way towards helping you with some of your data collection.
Include All Direct Labor
Direct labor includes all personnel who have at least a part-time responsibility for supporting the computing environment, measured in FTE. In your district, this may include teachers, school personnel who are not part of the district computer services organization, outsourced services, and no-cost students and volunteers. Understanding this direct labor allocation will allow you to evaluate the most efficient approach to support. Note that technology education teachers should not be included unless part of their time (pay) is designated for as technology support.
Other Data Input Tips
- Depreciate major software purchases (initial license). Don't forget to include annual licensing fees
- Contracted labor services, such as hardware maintenance contracts, can be included under Direct Labor/Outsourced
- ISP and other external services go under Technology/Other/ External Application Providers