Total Cost of Ownership Calculator


This calculator lets you analyze the total cost of ownership (TCO) for an on-premise software system and a Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) system. We’ve pre-populated it with an example case. Adjust those fields based on pricing details you receive from software vendors.





On-Premise
Software as a Service


License & Subscription

License type:

Subscription/lease fee (annual):

Subscription/lease term in years:

Price increase at end of each term:

Years until major upgrade:

 
License fee:

Additional license costs each year:

Years until major upgrade:

 

Most on-premise systems are sold through a perpetual license; you pay up front and own a license to the system in perpetuity. Less common, but increasingly popular, is subscription pricing or a lease of the system. In either case, you’ll likely have additional license costs each year if you add new users or modules to the system.

Subscription fee (annual):

Subscription term in years:

Price increase at end of each term:

Years until major upgrade:

 
 

Almost all SaaS systems are sold on a subscription basis. Subscription terms range from monthly to annual to multi-year. Many vendors will offer discounts for longer terms or upfront payment, but as SaaS has grown more popular, many vendors have been aggressive in raising rates when terms expire.


Installation & Set-Up

Year-one install & setup costs:

Major upgrade install & setup costs:



On-premise systems require some initial set-up, even if you don’t intend to customize them or integrate with other systems. This might involve installing the software, configuring the database, and ensuring the software works on each user’s computer. Similar costs may be incurred if you undertake a major upgrade down the road.

Year-one install & setup costs:

Major upgrade install & setup costs:



While there is nothing to be installed with a true SaaS system, many vendors of mid- to high-end systems charge a set-up fee for the work they do on their end. It’s unlikely you would incur these costs again as there is a lower probability that you would ever undergo a major upgrade to the system. SaaS upgrades are typically incremental in nature.


Customization & Integration

Year-one customization
& integration costs:

Major upgrade related costs:



Generally speaking, on-premise software is more customizable as vendors have had years to improve their developer tools. As a result, on-premise buyers typically spend more on customization and integration. Of course, the more you customize, the more you will have to maintain and update when major upgrades occur.

Year-one customization
& integration costs:

Major upgrade related costs:



Traditionally, many SaaS systems have not offered robust developer tools, so buyers chose not to customize much, or sought out flexible on-premise systems. This is changing and Salesforce.com has led the way with its Force.com platform as a service (PaaS). Expect to see more customization and integration opportunities, and related costs, with SaaS systems.


Data Migration

Year-one data migration costs:

Year-one data migration costs:


When deploying a new system, it's often necessary to migrate your data from your existing system, especially if that data is saved on spreadsheets or paper files. The cost of this migration depends on the amount and format of the data. You may first need to convert the data to another format, consolidate it with other sources, or “scrub” it for duplicate, obsolete, or otherwise bad entries. In our model, we assume that these costs are equal for SaaS and on-premise systems and will represent a one-time, upfront investment.


Training

Year-one training costs:

Additional training costs each year:


Year-one training costs:

Additional training costs each year:



Training of users is critical to get the most out of your new software. This may involve sending employees to vendors’ training centers, bringing trainers on-site, participating in webinars, or creating custom courses and documentation. And of course you will need to train new employees as they come on board. Training costs may be a little lower for SaaS systems, since they are more likely to use online training or in-line help functions, which are cheaper.


Maintenance & Support

Year-one maintenance & support costs:

Maintenance contract term in years:

Price increase at end of each term:



On-premise models typically require an annual maintenance contract, which includes support, ongoing updates, and patches for bugs and issues. These contracts are typically priced at 15% to 22% of the initial license cost. The terms are often negotiable, and pricing can change when the contract term expires.

Premium support costs:

Premium support contract term in years:

Price increase at end of each term:



For simplicity, SaaS vendors typically bundle basic maintenance and support fees into their subscription fees. Bundled support levels vary but usually only cover baseline support and fixes on the vendor's end. However, many SaaS vendors offer premium support options at rates similar to what on-premise vendors charge.


Hardware

Year-one new hardware required:

Hardware life expectancy in years:

Additional hardware cost each year:



An on-premise system will likely require a new or upgraded hardware to properly run the system. This could include applications and databases servers, end-user's PC and networking infrastructure. While older hardware may be used, current releases typically require more computing power than their predecessors.

Year-one new hardware required:

Hardware life expectancy in years:

Additional hardware cost each year:



Because SaaS vendors host the software, you will not need to buy any server hardware. And if you have modern PCs with web browsers, you shouldn’t need to purchase new PC hardware to run your system. However, some buyers may still want or need new hardware such as a server to backup data from their SaaS provider.


Other Costs

Year-one other costs:

Recurring other costs (annual):


Year-one other costs:

Recurring other costs (annual):



You can use this section to model other costs that you feel are missing from our calculator. A major cost we omit due lack of predictability is the cost of employing an internal IT staff to maintain the system. Be sure to factor this cost in your model. A few other costs you may consider adding are consulting fees for business process re-engineering, improved broadband connectivity, storage and backup, redundant Internet connections, or other network infrastructure.


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