Life Cycle Costing

Life-cycle costs for the architectural alternatives may also be considered evaluation criteria. These costs may be broken down into subcategories, if considered desirable. Generally accepted subcategories include

• Research, development, test, and evaluation (RDT&E) costs

• Procurement or acquisition costs

• Operations and maintenance (O&M) costs

There are several different ways in which costs may be factored into the evaluation framework discussed before. Three such ways include

1. Costs as formal evaluation criteria

2. Costs in the context of effectiveness-to-cost ratios

3. Costs as a separate, but related, consideration

In the first approach, costs are listed among the various evaluation criteria and are weighted along with these other criteria. The weights reflect how important costs are in relation to the other criteria. In the second approach, formal effectiveness-to-cost ratios are computed in order to select one architecture over another. For the latter case, there is no integration of effectiveness with the cost metrics, at least in a formal sense.

There are times when cost considerations are elevated as well to a more global set of considerations, which themselves can be included as evaluation criteria. Such cost-related considerations include the extent to which the alternative:

• Supports overall economic growth

• Is amenable to financing

• Minimizes environmental costs

• Minimizes the dislocation of people, and so forth

As with the technical performance measures and their related evaluation criteria, costs must be estimated for the various alternatives under evaluation. This might imply the development of a first-order life-cycle cost model that can be refined during later stages of system development. For purposes of architecture comparison, a full life-cycle model is generally not necessary, or even feasible.

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