Total cost of ownership

When buying anything it is important to consider how much that thing costs. It doesn't matter if you are buying a new computer, some other piece of tech or something completely different. The same rules apply.

JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin
JPCT 150713 Alan Stainer. Photo by Derek Martin

One obvious starting point is to ask yourself this, how much is this thing worth to me? For instance, spending a little bit extra on a good quality tool could save you hours of time and frustration, even if you only plan on using it a few times. If you are self employed or running a small business having efficient tools can have a direct affect on your income.

How long will you be using your new purchase? Do you plan to keep it for several years? Will you be using it every day? Even expensive purchases can seem cheap when taken in context. A £3,000 PC may seem expensive, but over the lifetime of the machine it is probably only pennies per day with countless hours of daily use. It will most likely have paid for itself many times over by the time it is ready for a new one.

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Then of course we need to consider maintenance. If you buy something that is forever going wrong, or needs upgrading, the cost to you can be considerable. Not only will you have to pay for things to be sorted out, but you may also lose money from downtime too, whether it be a computer system, a broken down vehicle or something else that is critical to your business.

What about set up costs and administration? In the computing industry there is a shift towards doing everything in the cloud. Set up costs are often marginal as almost everything can be done within a browser, compared with more traditional software installs (like Microsoft Office) which requires additional software on every machine that needs it.

What additional things do you need to buy with your purchase? Are the printer cartridges for that new inkjet a reasonable price? What additional software costs are involved if you go for that reasonably priced PC? It’s the same with other tools - how much are those good quality drill bits you will need to get through those really tough bricks?

All of these questions must be asked when making a purchase, as they indicate hidden costs that aren’t immediately obvious when you look at that rather inviting price tag.