Getting to “Yes”: How to justify the purchase of new calibration equipment

Three questions to ask yourself…plus four types of facts to gather

You go to your boss and say “I need a new calibrator.” The boss says, “Great, here’s a blank check, go ahead and buy whatever you need.”  Ok, that’s the fantasy. In real life, the boss is likely to respond to your request with questions beginning with “Why…” and “How much…” And the first answer you’ll likely get is “No.” So how can you turn that “No” into “Yes,” or better still, get to “Yes” on the first try?
First, ask yourself three questions – and try to answer them the way your manager would. Then gather the facts you’ll need to make a strong argument.

Crafting your proposal: Three questions to ask yourself

1.      What do your customers expect?

What are their expectations for turnaround time? Workload coverage? Uncertainties? Certification? Are you meeting those expectations now or could you do better if your purchase is approved?

2.      How does your department (and company) measure success?

Tying your request to a departmental or corporate goal improves your chances of success.

3.      What are the potential business gains?

Examples include reduced instrument downtime; faster turnaround time; improved throughput; lower costs; better quality control; ability to generate more revenue. Business gains are best expressed in numbers (i.e. reduce turnaround time by 25 percent) -- and ideally meet a customer need plus relate to a departmental goal.

Supporting your proposal: Four types of facts to gather

1.      Calibration workload

a.      How many items of each type need to be calibrated?
b.      How many times must each category of instrument be calibrated?

c.       How many hours (including labor and machine) does each calibration take?

d.      How much time should be estimated for unscheduled calibration and repair?

2.      Costs related to your equipment purchase

a.       Is the new equipment advanced enough that it can cover future workload if you need it? Does it have options that allow you to add functionality later?

b.      Can you add one piece of instrumentation at a time in a step-by-step plan to achieve your goals? For example, can you cover meter workload now, then move into oscilloscope calibration later, then purchase standards for better quality control?


3.      Laboratory overhead

a.      How much will you spend (or save) on technician or operator time? Include administrative costs (a rule of thumb is to add 50% to 100% of technician time to cover these costs). You may also need to include the cost of training.
b.      A calibrator has a long life – longer than the traditional depreciation period. At what point will annual savings increase during the extended useful life of your purchase?
c.       Consider costs for telephone, mail, freight, photocopying or other general office expenses. What about occupancy, security, and grounds keeping?

4.      Maintenance

a.      How much will it cost to calibrate your calibrator? An annual contract program will add to the initial purchase price but may save you money over time, as well as enable you to plan for downtime.
b.      If you purchase software with your hardware, how frequently will it need to be upgraded? An annual membership program may provide benefits, like low or no cost updates and upgrades, that enable the program to pay for itself over time.
Need more information or want to see some examples? We have a recorded web seminar, cost justification spreadsheets, application notes, and technical papers and more, on this page: Tools To Financially Justify Calibration Equipment.