David Bickerstaff 01 June 2023 4 min read

Budgeting? What does an automation project really cost?

As we close in on EOFY, it's budget time again. Inflation and rising service and labour costs have affected us all. There’s been scarcely a day over the past month in which productivity - and its impact on business and our standard of living - hasn’t been discussed in Australian and global media. Across all industries and sectors, businesses of every size are focussing on cutting costs, seeking out efficiencies and realising productivity gains.  

To that end, last week I discussed the BANKABLE savings achievable in FY24 through automation, citing successful B2B companies we’ve supported for many years with our Lucy sales order automation tool. If you had a chance to read my article, perhaps you’ve been thinking...

“Sure, it’s great to talk about savings through automation... but what’s it going to cost? Business projects - including business process automation - don’t come cheap. Can we afford it when we’re currently so focussed on eliminating cost?”

In this article, part 2 of our FY24 Automation series, I wanted to take you through the cost elements (let me rephrase that: the investment elements) of a typical Lucy project. This should give you an idea what you should be budgeting for in FY24.  

But before we go further, I’d like to call out some caveats around the costs (sorry, investments!) outlined here. The cost of an automation project will vary from business to business, based on factors such as size, complexity and skill levels. But the good news is, you can generally accommodate these variations simply by building in some budget tolerance (or ‘wriggle room’ as I believe it’s technically known).  

Sales order automation - project dollars 

Essentially, your investment in a Lucy automation project can be broken down into three parts: 

1. SaaS

These are the monthly fees payable for the Lucy application, and they cover hosting, support and ongoing maintenance. As Lucy is a citizen of the cloud there are none of the office or infrastructure costs you might associate with resourcing a human staff member.  
Lucy’s Standard Plan is AU$1625 + GST per month. This includes unlimited trading partners and self-service mapping – two features I’m calling out here because they often attract additional charges elsewhere. If you’re constantly paying your provider to create new document maps, that solution becomes much more expensive than it first appeared. Lucy has no such hidden costs.

You can find a list of the Standard Plan's features at https://www.letlucy.com/pricing.

Higher order volumes may necessitate a larger Lucy plan - a fantastic problem to have! If you want to crunch the numbers in a bit more detail, be sure to check out our Lucy cost savings calculator.


 2. Setup

This is the one-off fee for setting Lucy up, configuring the integration, testing, training and onboarding her into your business. In effect it’s the project implementation cost, and should quickly be recouped once Lucy is live and delivering ROI. The average timeline for Lucy setup, from kick-off to go-live, is around 6 weeks.  

Again, as you can see at https://www.letlucy.com/pricing, a Standard setup is typically AU$10,000 + GST. The caveat here being that this figure is ultimately determined by the project’s complexity, your experience and the back-end systems she integrates to. However, after 6 years of onboarding Lucy in close to 100 companies, we do have some confidence in that estimate.   

And finally …. 

 3. Your internal costs

Whilst these aren’t payable to us, for the sake of due diligence you’ll want to cost these into any business case you’re building.  
Based on our experience with Lucy over the last 6 years, we estimate that you should allow for approximately one person's day each week, for the duration of the project. Therefore let’s budget for the cost of 6-10 days of your staff member’s time.  
Depending on the skillsets within your business, you may also want to factor in the involvement of IT – in particular your business system/ERP expert for the platform Lucy will be integrating to. We’re happy to help by speaking with your key team members in this area, but ultimately they have the most knowledge of how your systems have been configured, so can likely provide the best time estimate. 

An automation project IS within your reach

So there you have it: the cost of a Lucy sales order automation project in real terms. It’s more accessible than most people think.

For around $1625 per month and a one-off cost of ~ $10k, Lucy can be onboarded, working 24/7, 365 days a year in your business. Now that’s productive!  

Armed with your new knowledge, the only question left is: what will it cost you NOT to automate with Lucy? 

Next week, we'll discuss how to prepare for an automation project once you've fit one into your budget.

In the meantime, we're always keen to chat about your business and its automation goals, so please get in touch.