In my last two columns, I addressed two important aspects of business intelligence (BI) governance. I continue with a third aspect - total cost of ownership (TCO) management. TCO is a term commonly used to identify all of the expenses associated with developing and operating the BI program and its components. TCO provides valuable information that can be used to determine the return on investment (ROI) of the program.

The traditional TCO approach addresses the visible expenses associated with BI, which means that it normally focuses on the hardware, software, telecommunications, and development and support personnel costs. This approach leaves out an extremely important component, and several clients have struggled to justify moving to an enterprise data warehouse because that component was omitted. The missing aspect is the time (and hence, cost) of the business analysts who use the information. I propose that instead of the traditional approach, companies should emphasize TCO management of information delivery. This subtle change in terminology expands the scope from the technical environment to the business environment and implies that - through the inclusion of the term management - action will be taken based on the cost information that is captured.

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