Total cost of ownership

Total cost of ownership (TCO) is a financial estimate whose purpose is to help consumers and enterprise managers determine direct and indirect costs of a product or system. It is a management accounting concept that can be used in full cost accounting or even ecological economics where it includes social costs.


Use of concept

TCO, when incorporated in any financial benefit analysis, provides a cost basis for determining the economic value of an investment. Examples include: return on investment, internal rate of return, economic value added, return on information technology, and rapid economic justification.

A TCO analysis includes total cost of acquisition and operating costs. A TCO analysis is used to gauge the viability of any capital investment. An enterprise may use it as a product/process comparison tool. It is also used by credit markets and financing agencies. TCO directly relates to an enterprise's asset and/or related systems total costs across all projects and processes, thus giving a picture of the profitability over time.

Computer and software industries

TCO analysis was popularized by the Gartner Group in 1987.[1] The roots of this concept date at least back to the first quarter of the twentieth century.[2] Microsoft then embraced the concept and commissioned various white papers and case studies in the late 90s to show that Windows had a lower TCO than Linux. Many different methodologies and software tools have been developed to analyze TCO. TCO tries to quantify the financial impact of deploying an information technology product over its life cycle. These technologies include software and hardware, and training.

Technology deployment can include the following as part of TCO:

  • Computer hardware and programs
    • Network hardware and software
    • Server hardware and software
    • Workstation hardware and software
    • Installation and integration of hardware and software
    • Purchasing research
    • Warranties and licenses
    • License tracking - compliance
    • Migration expenses
    • Risks: susceptibility to vulnerabilities, availability of upgrades, patches and future licensing policies, etc.
  • Operation expenses
    • Infrastructure (floor space)
    • Electricity (for related equipment, cooling, backup power)
    • Testing costs
    • Downtime, outage and failure expenses
    • Diminished performance (i.e. users having to wait, diminished money-making ability)
    • Security (including breaches, loss of reputation, recovery and prevention)
    • Backup and recovery process
    • Technology training
    • Audit (internal and external)
    • Insurance
    • Information technology personnel
    • Corporate management time
  • Long term expenses
    • Replacement
    • Future upgrade or scalability expenses
    • Decommissioning

Transportation industry

The TCO concept is widely used in the transportation industry. For example, the TCO defines the cost of owning an automobile from the time of purchase by the owner, through its operation and maintenance to the time it leaves the possession of the owner. Comparative TCO studies between various models help consumers choose a car to fit their needs and budget.

Some of the key elements incorporated in the cost of ownership for a vehicle include[3]:

See also


  1. ^ About Gartner TCO
  2. ^ TCO: What's Old is New
  3. ^ What that car really costs to own

External links

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Look at other dictionaries:

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  • Общая стоимость владения/TOTAL COST OF OWNERSHIP — (TCO) полная величина затрат на приобретение, освоение, сопровождение и утилизацию средств и систем информационно коммуникационных технологий (помещение, персонал, программное обеспечение, средства обработки и передачи данных) …   Толковый словарь по информационному обществу и новой экономике

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