You can use simple pricing estimates, e.g. from your own contract data or the open data published by others. To gain a more detailed picture it is useful to gather actual payment data from your own or other organizations.
Gathering data on prices listed in websites may be enough to get you started as you wish to set out an estimated life cycle cost, but a proper life cycle cost will need to be made more robust as you gather more data sources and fix prices.
The majority of purchasing made by the government is for the delivery of a service rather than a product. Even when governments buy products they often buy support services to go with it, so the purchase of drones for use by a mountain rescue team will often come with training and technical support.
Open contracting data is highly valuable in this context, as it can give buyers a useful insight into the spending and commitments made by other agencies. The challenge is to make sure that you are comparing pricing accurately and data needs to be reliable, with contracts able to be broken down into annual costs and a clear understanding of what is being purchased. So is a contract for a vehicle a leasing agreement or a purchase agreement?
Payments data is the best form of life cycle costing because it is an accurate reflection of the actual cost of a service. Payments data is available in the Open Contracting Data standard and if it is published in useful form can be used to gain meaningful insight into the actual cost of a service or asset.
Handling this data
When working with a combination of spending and contract data it is important to understand exactly what is being purchased, there is likely to be some doubt about working with historic data or data that hasn’t been published by your own organization. To drive up the quality of the data and to improve life cycle costing capacity, it may be desirable to start labeling transactions with asset references, so that each transaction can be linked to the asset for future analysis.