Every scale has got two plates: you drop the product on a side, and the weights on the other one.
And that’s what we do every time we make an investment. Except software investments.
To us, software (or services) looks like something ethereal, immeasurable, so we drop only a plate of the scale. Therefore, we consider “if it has many windows”, if its colours are pleasant – and that could be even right, because the proper colour decreases effort – if it does the things we expected and, at last… its price.
“Ok, but how much does it cost?”
This is a legitimate question.
Have we got a “measure” with which dropping the other plate of the scale?
No, usually we haven’t.
When you buy a product or a service, you have to work twice: first of all, you have to verify if what you’re buying satisfies our requirements; then, you have to assess the profits it takes. “Cash” calculating is necessary to have an uniform comparison with the product cost, which is always expressed in money.
Maybe we won’t be able to assess every aspect of the software, but at least we’ll have a clearer vision of the value what we are buying has. But for a correct valuation, it is wise to ask for help to someone who knows the matter, because in this choice two are the necessary competences: which work we have to do with the software, and which work the software is able to do. Generally, it is difficult a single person knows these two aspects clearly and properly.
Taking conscience of that is the first step to make informed choices about automation without necessarily acquiring technical notions. And now… back to work!