GIS project is costly and involve lot of resources. However, if implemented successfully it will bring you many folds of benefits in making the right decision and even saving lives. Unfortunately many GIS project started without proper budget planning. Ends up the projects are either stranded half way or being compromised by substandard implementation due to insufficient funding.
There are many reasons that might fail a GIS project. From budgeting perspective, under estimating the budget amount is one of the most common mistakes made by GIS implementation team.
Hence, let’s spare a moment to dissect the cost structure of a typical project and make sure you have at least taken the following into consideration when doing your next GIS project budgeting. Similar to any project budgeting, it is imperative to understand the basic components/ ingredients needed to start a GIS project, namely:-
- Software – GIS, RDBSM, Operating Systems
- Hardware – Workstation/Server/Storage/Backup/Plotter/Mobile devices
- Services – Application development, system architecture design, database design
- Training – Important for proper transfer of technology and knowledge (ToTK)
- Data Acquisition, Data Conversion & QAQC – Raster to vector, vector to vector
- Maintenance for Software, Hardware & Data – Else your solution will not be upgraded
- Infrastructure – Site preparation, cabling and networking (if involving new office unit)
These cost components are equally important, inter-related and inter-connected. To some extend it is almost impossible to cut budget at certain specific scope, without impacting the overall performance of the GIS system.
I’m sure you have heard a lot of the following scenarios:-
- Project A is not well accepted because the overall system is slow and the users are frustrated. While the software normally gets the blame, but in reality most of the speed performance issues are related to under estimating the hardware specification.
- Project B purchased the most sophisticated software and hardware but did not budget effort for implementation services. Worst still, the in-house staff are not yet trained to handle the new system. Ends up the hardware and software remain unwrap and become a white elephant project.
- Project C started off and finished well within project timeline, budget and quality expectation. However without the maintenance budget the system becomes out-dated due to constant advancement in hardware and software. After 12 – 18 months, the commissioned system is at least 1 version behind the latest technology release cycle and not able to maximize all the improvements and new features that come with the latest release. Eventually the system becomes obsolete due to lack of maintenance/upgrade.
There are many more similar cases that you’ve experienced before. It is sufficed to mention a few to elaborate my points. Hope this will help you to plan ahead better. Wish you all the best in your GIS implementation journey.