Your first response to this question might be to quote the retail price paid for your SPC software. This would be a factual answer. Fast forward and imagine answering the question after using the software for six months or a year. Would your answer be different?
When evaluating SPC software there are many considerations; price is just one of these. Many other factors will contribute to the full cost of ownership. For example, the software will have to be installed, maintained, and supported. Users will have to be trained. Questions about the software will have to be answered – not just how to use it – but how to apply it in your system.
One of the largest costs might be described as the “make it work in my world” cost. Software designers often have a vision of how work progresses through a system. This vision might or might not align with the way work flows through your organization. I have seen software with impressive feature lists fail to be used – because the workflows just can’t be wedged into the way a firm actually gets work done. A good relationship with an experienced vendor support group can make a big difference – but if the workflows are misaligned – this can prove to be expensive.
Consider also the “manageability” cost. For example, you install the software for several users. They like it, they find it easy use, and they begin using it. However, they each take their own implementation journey. After a few months, important data, and analysis might be strewn about across your network somewhat haphazardly. How will this be managed? Once again, the feature list and price might look impressive – but the long term manageability might increase the real cost of ownership way beyond your initial impression.
It can be difficult to select any software and SPC software is no exception. If you find yourself in this situation, look beyond the initial price and feature list. Take a holistic view. Think about work flows and the long term feasibility of deploying the software and continuing to get knowledgeable support from a reputable vendor. In the end, the retail price might be the least of your worries.