How much does custom software development cost?

Avatar of Andy Jones by Andy Jones , 02 Sep 2020 Custom Software Development

Congratulations! You are considering bespoke software, which means your business is about to get a big helping hand. You probably already know the numerous advantages of such apps. Meanwhile, the biggest disadvantage is probably the cost. So how much does it cost to develop custom-made applications? What do the expenses depend on? Let’s find out.

1) Number Of Platforms

The cost of your bespoke business app depends on how many platforms you want it to work on. If you choose just one of Web, Android or iOS, the cost will be lower. But if you want it to build for all three, the price will be higher.

At Make IT Simple we recommend completing user research to see what platforms your users are on. Why waste time and money building for platforms that aren’t widely used by your user base?

Keep in mind that iOS apps take less time to develop. Meanwhile, Android covers a larger target audience for most businesses. The time it takes to develop Android apps can affect the overall software costs.

2) App Features

The final cost of the software will mostly depend on the number of features or pages you need. In order to cut costs, you need to make a list of top priority features and secondary functions. Then the list needs to be cut down to a minimum.

Keep in mind that your priorities may change during the app development process. Make sure to leave some room for financial manoeuvres. At Make IT Simple, our developers are always open to new suggestions and priority changes.

Consider building a Minimal Viable Product (MVP) first to prove the concept and learn what the features that are most needed by your users.

3) Timeline

When do you want the app to be ready? If you are in a rush, expect a higher cost. It’s better to plan the project in advance to keep it within budget. Some app development processes can’t be rushed so keep your expectations realistic.

If you want to change the deadline, be ready to pay more money. Faster development deadlines involve longer working hours and extra team members. All of the above come at a higher cost.

4) Waterfall vs Agile

Waterfall is a more traditional approach where you plan the project fully from start to finish before starting. This usually gives you a firmer price and timescale upfront but it makes altering scope or approach harder.

Agile is a more modern way to run a project where you break it up into 1-2 week sprints and only focus on the current and next sprint. The idea is that you are building fully working functionality in every sprint, albeit potentially limited in what it can do. There are budgetary controls but a fixed end cost and date isn’t usually known at the outset. The benefit for cost is that you can alter course throughout with the aim of bringing the project in on budget. That said, if you have tweaked something multiple times you may run out of budget before the project is finished.

5) Updates And Maintenance

Once the app is developed, you need to plan for extra expenses, which include updates and maintenance. Both these points are vital to keeping your apps working correctly for years to come. Such companies as Make IT Simple try to offer reasonable prices for updating and developing their software on an ongoing basis, but this should be factored into the lifetime budget of every program.

6) MVP or no MVP?

MVP is the simplest version of a product you can release that still adds value to the user. Usually, this can be anywhere from 10-40% of the total cost but the benefits it can bring are many. Even when you complete adequate user research, until your users are using the product, you can never be sure how they will use it. Working on an MVP first gets you to answers about user needs quicker than building the entire product and it quicker and cheaper. Fail fast is the idea.

So How Much Does It Cost?

Cost can be a vexed subject and is wide open to change. Time and again, software development companies get themselves into trouble by estimating a cost only to find that the real expenses of development are far higher than anticipated. This puts them and their clients in a very awkward situation. We want to avoid this kind of difficulty – which is why we never give vanilla pricing. We will only discuss cost after we know more about your project and objectives, and then we charge by the hour, rather than at a fixed fee.

Holding this caveat in mind, the following are some very rough averages to give you an idea of budgeting.

  1. Very simple apps take about 2 months to develop and start at around £18,000.
  2. Medium-sized applications can take from 2 to 5 months to develop and start at about £35,000.
  3. Complex apps take about 3 to 5 months to develop and start at about £40,000.
  4. Highly complex (innovative) applications may take up to 6- 12 months to develop. Their cost can go up to £75,000.

Of course, many apps go beyond these figures. We recommend putting aside a starting budget of £30,000-£40,000, with some applications costing £500k or more to develop. Bespoke business app development can be expensive. However, by taking a smart approach to the requirements, you can secure an end product that adds real value to your company far in excess of the investment cost. Always keep in mind the high ROI these apps show with time.

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