Learn How to Budget for your Mobile Project

March 31, 2016

Budgeting is one of the most important considerations for any mobile project. Building a holistic picture of all the related costs associated with a mobile project takes time. To help organizations estimate the total cost of adopting CommCare (or other mobile technologies) for frontline programs, we have developed an easy-to-use budgeting tool called the Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) Model. This tool provides a model to budget the adoption and deployment of CommCare over five years, and is based on 10+ years of experience helping hundreds of partners determine their budgets.

Every mobile project is unique and has its own internal complexity. With this in mind, the TCO Model was explicitly designed to NOT be overly complex or comprehensive, but rather to serve as a simple, transparent exercise for organizations interested in understanding the cost drivers of maintaining mobile services deployments. Once the cost drivers are clearly identified, organizations can have data-driven discussions with other partners and make informed decisions. This tool is the next iteration of a tool we published a few years ago. The latest version has already been used by many of our partners, including Pathfinder International. 

Pathfinder International has used the TCO model extensively to document the projected costs of scaling mHealth interventions in Haiti, Nigeria and Kenya. Dimagi has been an excellent resource to support adapting the model for Pathfinder’s various mHealth programs, such as utilizing mHealth at a facility level, and has allowed our projects to articulate the costs and value for scaling a mHealth intervention,” said Dr. Marion McNabb, Senior Technical Advisor for mHealth, Pathfinder International. 

The TCO Model is easy-to-use and only requires that you fill in a list of key inputs about your program. The tool will then automatically provide you with a detailed budget breakdown across five years with a few graphs, as shown below.

Ready to budget for your mobile program? 

Download the TCO model!


The TCO Model is the first in a series of budgeting tools we are planning on releasing in the coming months. Here’s a sneak peek of what’s to come:

  1. A cross-programs TCO tool: modelling the synergies reached when several programs are rolled out on the same mobile technology platform
  2. An incremental budget tool: modelling the incremental costs of a mobile technology project over the total cost of a frontline program
  3. An ROI model: giving insights on Return on Investment (ROI) of mobile technology in terms of increased efficiency and social impact delivered

We hope the TCO Model will help you plan your budgets. If you have any questions, feedback or input, we would love to hear from you. We are continuously looking for ways to improve the tool and would greatly benefit from your feedback. Feel free to comment on this blog or send me an email at: [email protected].

Written by
Audrey Philippot

Global Director of Marketing & Sales

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