What we have presented so far are a set of costing principles and suggestions for ways in which these could be built into a holistic approach to costing products and services. Numerous projects in the sector have looked at more specific aspects of cost modelling and have developed tools that are freely available for others to use. We’ve listed a few examples below.
The Jisc impact calculator is a downloadable tool that can be used to quantify efficiency savings and tangible benefits arising from process change. Originally developed in the field of records and information management it is now being applied across a range of initiatives in universities and colleges.
This case study shows how Lewisham College applied the tool to calculate the return on implementing its student portal.
This short video describes how University College Falmouth is using the tool to ensure that projects really do deliver the promised benefits.
Insight - costing framework
Insight is a costing framework developed by the University of Strathclyde. It is a full-cost approach that claims to offer many of the benefits of activity based costing at a lower implementation cost. It argues that benefits of ICT investment should be considered broadly and on an institution-wide basis. The model is accompanied by a set of guidance notes. The methods can be applied before an investment for options appraisal or after an investment to inform future plans.
The model focuses on assessing value rather than cost and considers stakeholders from different departments encouraging structured documentation of their discussions and a focus on qualitative rather than quantitative results.
The toolkit follows five key stages that build on an initial assessment of the context of the ICT decision at hand and the stakeholders involved. The outcome is a relative evaluation with an opportunity to compare two or more options.
Benefits of investment in ICT landscape
The BIILS (benefits of investment in ICT landscape study) project at the University of Strathclyde set out to help institutions assess whether value for money is being achieved from ICT investments and to be able to base future decisions on an informed understanding of the impact of prior investments.
A survey undertaken as part of the research, and backed up by a series of case studies, identified that much of the evaluation of ICT investment in the sector is carried out on a very informal basis. The outcome is an evaluation toolkit that provides practical guidance to help identify which tools or approaches are most appropriate in the context of the type of evaluation being performed, as well as providing guidance on how such evaluations can be performed.
The espida model, developed by the University of Glasgow, is not strictly a costing tool but it can help in defining benefits.
The model can help make business cases for proposals that may not necessarily offer immediate financial benefit to an organisation, but rather bring benefit in more intangible spheres. While it was designed initially to be used within the area of digital resource management, it has potential for far wider application (decision making, performance measurement, change management).
This case study from Queen Margaret University uses espida to consider the merits of upgrading an existing SharePoint 2003 environment to SharePoint 2007 in order to exploit its enhanced document and records management functionality.
Toolkit for costing IT services
Oxford University produced a toolkit for costing IT services as part of the Jisc flexible service delivery programme.
The toolkit draws heavily on the principles of TRAC. It is therefore a full cost model although the authors express some reservation about use of genuine full cost approaches in a University situation. ‘Although the full costs of a service can be established, in most cases, cost models should focus only on costs that are relevant and useful to decision-making planning and cost management.’
The toolkit is accompanied by a guide to adoption that gives some worked examples of how the method was applied at Oxford.
Cost of IT downtime
UCISA has published a best practice toolkit in response to a particular concern that institutions were ‘gold-plating’ IT resilience without a real understanding of the cost of different types of failure. The cost of IT downtime report looks at the approximate costs of a number of different failure scenarios. An accompanying set of appendices help institutions apply the method.
The toolkit comes with the health warning that significant time and resource is needed to perform the calculations and it recommends some preliminary steps to assess the correct focus and level of resource for your individual institution.
Sustainable Information Technology In Tertiary Education (SUSTE-IT)
The SUSTE-IT project investigated ways in which information technology within universities and colleges could be made more sustainable.
Whilst its main focus was on environmental sustainability, issues such as reducing power consumption have a direct impact on cost and one of the outputs of the project is a cost and carbon comparison tool for thick and thin clients.
AMOSSHE the student services organisation has created a toolkit aimed at helping institutions measure and demonstrate the value of student support as a result of its value and impact project.