Software company Avanade has developed a new tool designed to predict the true cost of SaaS delivery.

The company, a joint venture between Accenture and Microsoft, has designed the tool to assess the financial viability of Microsoft's Business Productivity Online Suite (BPOS), although Avanade is looking to develop similar tools for other products.

According to Bob Fahey, senior director of Americas BPOS solutions, the company has Azure in its sights next. "We've already done some work on Azure with co-owner Accenture," said Fahey.

Greg Molnar, an Avandade director, said that the company didn't always start from the premise that BPOS was the best product for a user.

"We've looked at some 20 million mailboxes assessing whether the on-premise solution would be the best one but it's not always going to be the right fit. For example, there might be some concerns about integrating some existing applications. There may be some situations where the cost benefit doesn't work out."

It's an exercise that proves very useful to Avanade customers. "Few customers appreciate the real cost of their email system at least to the extent that they can say that the cost of their email costs x dollars per seat per year."

Avanade has made its name as a company known for its tool development. Last year it produced a tool for assessing the return on investment for optimisation of the data centre. "We find producing such tools to be really helpful for our customers," said Fahey.

The tool can be customisable. "We work with customers on a set of variables and tweak it to meet the specific environments of the customer that we work with," said Molnar. Some of the factors that the company looks at includes the use of Blackberry within an organisation or the anti-spam software used added Molnar.

The tool is not something used by the user themselves but is applied by Avanade to provide an accurate breakdown of the cost of the system.