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GIS is a long term investment that matures over time. The turnaround for results may be longer term than initially expected. Quite simply, GIS has a steep learning curve. The realization of positive results and benefits will be not achieved overnight.

Both initial investments funding and continued financial support are major determinants in the success or failure of a GIS.

Most often the justification and acquisition of a GIS centers on technical issues of computer hardware and software, functional requirements, and performance standards. But experience has shown that, as important as these issues may be, they are not the ones that in the end determine whether a GIS implementation will succeed or not.

Even though the proper assessment of an appropriate GIS product requires a good understanding of user's needs, most often systems are acquired based on less than complete and biased evaluations. Nonetheless, even with the GIS in hand a properly structured and systematic implementation plan is required for a successful operation. Generally, a GIS implementation plan must address the following technical, financial, and institutional considerations:

system acquisition tactics and costs;
data requirements and costs;
database design;
initial data loading requirements and costs;
system installation tactics, timetable, and costs;
system life cycle and replacement costs;
day-to-day operating procedures and costs;
staffing requirements and costs;
user training and costs; and
application development and costs.

Potential GIS buyers should be aware of the necessary investment required in hardware, software, training, supplies, and staffing. The cost of establishing a successful GIS operation is substantial. However, with realistic expectations and support the development of GIS within an organization that manipulates geographic data will almost certainly prove beneficial.

Certain considerations of data longevity, data capture, personnel hiring, etc. are the practical concerns of GIS implementation. The longer term implications, such as hardware/software maintenance and replacement, should also be considered. The acquisition of GIS technology should not be done without seriously considering the way in which GIS will interact with the rest of the organization.

It is simply not enough to purchase a computer, a plotter, a display device, and some software and to put it into a corner with some enthusiastic persons and then expect immediate returns. A serious commitment to GIS implies a major impact on the whole organization.