How to Estimate Custom Software Development Costs for Your Projects?
Custom software development is an area of software development in which a bespoke digital technology solution is developed to cater to the specific needs of a specific business organization. That being said, any organization investing in custom software development solutions must have a proper plan and budget. Custom software development projects have two very important constraints to consider: time and cost. Accurate estimation of the cost of a software development project is key to its overall success along with working with the right custom software development companies.
When it comes to making a plan for a certain custom software development project, there are two questions asked by a company or an individual. They are, “How much?” and “How long?” In this article, we have discussed all the things you need to consider when estimating the cost of a software development project. This article gives you a complete guide on estimating the cost of a custom software development project, which will help organizations and individuals make a financial plan ahead of time.
Basics Of Custom Software Development
Before we go into the part about estimating the cost of custom software development, we need to talk about the basics and how it is actually done. Custom software development aims at developing a user-specific product that can serve specific user requirements. That being said, determining its costs is important to avoid any unexpected financial crisis. To ascertain and estimate the cost of a certain software development project, you must be aware of the basics of custom software development solutions. To be more specific, you must know the answer to the question:
“How is custom software development executed?”
To answer that question most simply and comprehensively, we need to discuss a few points. Let us take a look at these points, which stand fundamental to custom software development.
Ascertain the Needs
Knowing what you need is the beginning of the planning process of a software development project. It helps in better cost estimation and also enables proper development and execution of your custom software. The custom software being developed must function properly and must be seamlessly integrated into different processes of the organization.
Plan the Entire Process and Set Your Goals
Having a proper plan for the entire software project development cycle can go a long way in time and cost management. It helps you get your needs fulfilled and identify any major needs, specifications, and improvements needed.
Testing is a crucial and unavoidable part of any custom software development project. Before deployment, you have to mandatorily test the new software and how it functions across the organization. That being said, there are two different levels of testing for any developed software.
Developers and IT professionals perform the first or initial testing. This testing phase speaks about the basic functionality and fundamental features of the custom software. User testing is the second stage of testing any custom software. This is where real users check the performance of the software. It helps obtain user feedback and determine if the product needs any real-time improvements.
Documentation of every stage of the software development process is very important. It helps in cost management, knowing where the money is being spent, and also helps as future references. Everything must be documented from the project plan, implementation plan, test plan, scope statement, and training plan.
Not just that, documentation also helps in the proper usage of custom software. It helps determine the resources expected in a certain project development cycle and a variety of other details.
Get the Right Professionals for Custom Software
There is no lack of options for professionals who can be hired for custom software development. Organizations that have an in-house team have an advantage as the team is more acquainted with the organization’s needs. Although, hiring third-party professionals is also a great choice. You need to make sure that such professionals can work efficiently and can multitask. This will make the entire process more cost-effective.
On the other hand, you can choose to work with custom software development companies and let them handle the entire process. Working with professional custom software development companies may not be the most cost-effective choice however, it is a good idea if you want to avoid any unwanted surprises.
How to Determine the Cost of a Software Development Project?
Any professional who is asked the above question would have only one answer, and that is:
Yes, of course, it depends on various factors and points that need to be kept in mind. In this section below, we have discussed the key factors that affect a custom software development project. Ascertaining the cost of a software development project requires companies or individuals to consider these factors and take them into account.
Let us take a look at these factors.
Factors Affecting Custom Software Development Costs
- Size and type of software: The size and type of software are the two key factors determining the development cost. For instance, a mobile application or an e-commerce store would be less expensive than other types of software like multitasking ERP solutions often needed by banks or hospitals. Coming to the types of custom software, warehouse management, security applications, and CRM solutions are generally more expensive and time-consuming.
- Complexity: Quite naturally, the complexity of your custom software development is a key factor affecting the overall custom software development cost estimate.
- Design structure: The design structure of custom software has two key areas: Creative design and UI/UX design. Both these factors are essential to the overall cost of the project.
- Integrations: Third-party integrations require significant effort and resources, and quite naturally, they can affect the cost of a project to a great extent.
- Data migration: Data migration is a very specific and accurate process that requires custom scripts and several channels.
- Development time: The overall custom software development time is a key factor affecting the cost of custom software development.
- Features and platform: As obvious as it sounds, the platform on which the software will function, as well as its features, have a major impact on the overall investment you need to make in the product.
- Testing: Testing is a crucial part of the overall custom software development project. It helps determine the efficiency and functionality of the software. It also involves some considerable expenditure affecting the overall cost of the project.
- Maintenance: After the software is ready and implemented within an organization, its maintenance is another thing that you cannot miss. The kind of maintenance and support of a certain custom software product must also be considered during cost estimation.
How to Estimate Custom Software Development Cost?
Businesses today are constantly in search of more customer-centric custom software development solutions. This is to cope with the changing customer demands and rising expectations. There are a lot of new technologies in modern times. From artificial intelligence to IoT, AR/VR, and machine learning, business organizations and customers search for advanced and high-quality software.
Custom software development is the creation of software tailored to the specific needs of users. Such digital solutions developed to serve specific needs can help a lot in operations management and ensure optimal data security. Any organization must estimate the overall cost of such a project before making an investment and starting the process.
Here are a few things to keep in mind when estimating the cost of a certain custom software development project.
Choosing the Right Software
There are different types of software models available in the market, and you need to choose the right one to make a proper cost estimate. Consider factors like capabilities, maintenance, upgradations, integrations, and others.
A Suitable Team of Development Professionals
Both in-house developers and off-shore technical experts can do the job. Although, off-shore developers are less expensive in this case.
MVP Features of the Product
The product features are the key to the success of the product and how it functions. It will also determine how the software will offer a return on investment.
Considering Risks for Future Development
An unexpected financial crisis needs to be avoided at any cost and if it comes to developing custom software, considering the risks is key to it.
Last but not least, a few more things also affect the overall cost of a software development project. They are:
- Working hours
- Size of the development team
- Fixed-price package
Modern times need modern and futuristic solutions, and custom software is a preferred choice amongst many business organizations. That being said, it is mandatory to estimate the overall cost and financial implications of such a project before initiation.
This helps allocate a fixed budget, get the best return on investment and avoid any unexpected financial crisis. Any organization looking to invest in a custom software development project will get a lot of help from the points and factors discussed above. It will help such organizations to make a proper financial plan and set a target for a certain custom development project.
Dan Sanderton has 19 years of experience in the publishing world as an editor and writer, including his former role as marketing director of ProjectHills Consultancy, and now as Content Developer for PMI.