Total Cost of Ownership

Total Cost of Ownership

TL;DR: OpenBoxes is free to download and use, but nothing is really ever free.

Yes, free and open-source software (FOSS) is free to download, free to use. But using software is never actually cost-free. There are always costs and fees that need to be considered before adoption of any kind of software, commercial or open-source.

With that said, free and open-source software can sometimes be more cost-effective than commercial systems. You just have to figure out which software is better for your organization in terms of your requirements and budget.

To assist you in estimating the cost of adopting OpenBoxes, here are some startup and operational costs that you should take into account. Total Cost of Ownerships (TCO) estimates should look out over a period of between 3-5 years in order to accurately compare costs between open-source (which may have heavy maintenance costs) and commercial systems (which may have heavy upfront costs).

This is all really complicated. Therefore, we'd be happy to discuss these costs with you to help you figure out whether OpenBoxes is the right fit for your organiation. We can also help you find implementation and development partners that can accompany you through the adoption process.

Basic Cost Analysis (Example)

The following table depicts sample costs for a relatively small implementation (i.e. ~2 months, 5-10 users). These are just hypothetical costs. In other words, these are costs you might see if require assistance implementing a system like OpenBoxes. Actual costs might be less for smaller implementations that you can primarily complete yourself. In addition, costs might be much higher (up to 5x) if there's a lot of complexity involved in implementing your workflows (i.e. customization and integration).


  • Includes costs to migrate data from Excel (or similar system).
  • Includes costs for minimal customization to implement workflows (typical costs might be 2-3x higher).
  • Includes costs for minimal integration with other systems (typical costs might be 2-3 higher).
  • Includes costs for remote implementation If interested in on-premise implementation you should budget for travel costs.
  • Includes costs for remote training for up to 10 users with a single trainer. If interested in on-premise training should budget for travel costs.
  • Excludes support costs. For Professional Support, expect to pay an additional $10,000-25,000 per year or budget for your own support and IT staff.
Service Type Description Cost Units Total Cost
Configuration / Implementation Startup The costs involved in installing, configurating and testing the software as well as implemeting your organization's workflows. This can usually be done in-house but may require external resources in cases where technical experise is not available. This should also include the cost of data backup / restoring processes and contingency plans if the software becomes unavailable due to power/Internet outages and hardware failures. $2600 / week 4 weeks $10,400
Training Startup The cost to train employees to use the software, which may include training materials like documentation, tutorials, videos, etc. This will likely be an on-going cost as you'll have to train new employees and update training materials as the software evolves. $600 / day 3 days $1,800
Data Migration Startup If your organization is using another software system (even if it's just Excel) to manage your supply chain data you'll probably want to move that data to OpenBoxes. In either case, you will need to export (e.g. download as CSV), transform (e.g. re-format the data to be imported), clean (e.g. remove duplicate and obsolete data) and most importantly test your data before you can start using the new system. This process can range from manual data-entry to automated data importing using APIs and other data migration tools. $1250 / week 2 weeks $2,500
Development Startup Hopefully OpenBoxes does everything you need. But let's be honest, it probably doesn't. Therefore, you may want to hire a developer to build new features or fix bugs. For the sake of this exercise let's say you need to develop two (2) custom features, each about a weeks worth of work. $150 / hour 80 hours $5,200
Integration Startup At some point your organization may want to ingrate with an external system like accounting software. Integration costs depend on how complicated it will be to communicate between the two systems. Today, most software utilize REST APIs to facilitate communication between systems while older systems use EDI (electronic data interchange). Integration costs should also include updates to standard operating procedures (SOPs) which may require re-training. $150 / hour 40 hours $2,600
Cloud Hosting Operational Whether you want to host OpenBoxes in the cloud (AWS, Heroku, Digital Ocean) or on on-premise (e.g. your personal laptop or a beefy server you just bought), hosting software can be somewhat cheap or really expensive. A relative cheap cloud-hosting option will run you about $20 per month while a dedicated cloud hosting solution may cost hundreds per month. In addition, you also need to pay for other services like SMTP, Server Monitoring, Data Backup. This could easily cost $250-500 per month. $250 / month 12 months $3,000
Staffing Operational You may not need to hire anyone, but the time spent on using and supporting the software should be factored into the total cost of ownership. IT staffing capacity (sysadmins, developers) is an important consideration here. Depending on your user support requirements you may need to hire full-time staff to provide support. TBD TBD TBD
Support Operational The cost of supporting users who use the software on a daily basis, from IT support (restarting servers) to application-related help desks (debugging issues with the software). TBD TBD TBD

NOTE: If after performing a cost analysis you see that your customization / integration costs represent a large portion of your implementation costs, you might be looking at the wrong software. In other words, it's ok if you plan on customizing the software over the course of ownership, but if you need to do a lot of upfront customization just to meet your basic requirements, then there's a change that the software is not suitable for your needs. If that's the case, Don't hesitate to ask us for alternatives.

Basic TCO Analysis Example

Year Description Total Cost
Year 1 Total first-year startup and operational costs shown above. $23,700
Year 2 Includes costs for hosting (12 months @ $250 per month), custom development (80 hours @ $5200). $8,200
Year 3 Includes costs for hosting (12 months @ $250 per month), custom development (40 hours @ $2600) $5,600
Year 4 Includes costs for hosting (12 months @ $250 per month), custom development (40 hours @ $2600) $5,600
Year 5 Fifth year costs for hosting (12 months @ $250 per month), no custom development. $3,000
Total Cost $46,100

Not sure what you need? Email us and we'll help you figure out which plan is right for you.

Contact Us