Affordability means that the customer can afford the life cycle costs of a product. Too often, "purchase price" becomes the sole focus of attention. Of course, purchase price is an important factor to both seller and customer. Too high a purchase price means that few, if any, products will be sold. However, a product that has a low purchase price but is extremely expensive to own and operate is equally hard to sell. Customers also must be able to afford to operate and maintain the product over its lifetime. Affordability is a function of product value and product costs. Product value is a customer perception and is generally a reflection of the degree to which the product meets all of the customers requirements, including maintainability. Product costs, on the other hand, are a hard reality and may be considered a limiting factor on affordability.
Maintainability affects affordability because it affects availability (value) and acquisition and ownership costs. As noted earlier, up-front investments in maintainability increase acquisition costs but will reduce downstream (O&M) costs. Balances, therefore, must be struck between value and costs, and between acquisition costs and operation and maintenance costs.