So where do you find the numbers you need to make your cost estimates?
Historical and Organizational Information
Hopefully, your organization keeps records of all of its previous projects and how much they cost. Find the ones most similar to your project. The more similar the project to the one you are proposing, the more accurate the estimate.
Also, hopefully, your organization is willing to work with you on collecting current contract information if you have a similar solution already in place. This may prove to be trickier than collecting old project information if the contract for the solution isn’t currently in your team’s “control”. I have found that people, even in the same org, are not entirely keen to share what they are spending.
Call a Friend
The Ed Tech community is friendly and willing to help. They may not be able to provide specifics, but many will be able to provide general cost ranges for particular solutions based on their experience. They can also talk through lessons learned for their organizations and other potential hazards as you begin pursuing your project.
Strategy 1 – Meander around conference halls and talk to the vendors. You’ll get an idea of what is out there, but they will generally want to use this as an opportunity to start a sales conversation.
Strategy 2 – Requests for Proposals. Our organization treats source selection for larger solutions as separate projects. Mostly due to the work required to get the requirements in shape and evaluate the proposed solutions. These projects end with either a decision to not pursue a solution or a completed, signed procurement contract.
You can use the resulting bids as a way to begin cost estimation for implementation. You would still need to estimate costs for work done by the resources in-house.
Involving the IT department (if you are not a part of one already) is a really good idea at this point. Even if you THINK you will not be involving them. They can provide insight into levels of effort required for more technical tasks. They are also very good at refining and poking holes into plans. Embrace that! Especially in these early planning stages.