When building a mobile or web application, an entrepreneur must understand the various factors that can influence the total cost of the project. When making a decision to work with an outside agency, build in-house, or some combination of the two, one must weigh the pros and cons of various approaches.
Here are some of the main factors that can influence software project cost:
The scope of the project refers to the features and functionality that the software is expected to deliver. A larger scope will typically result in a higher cost, as it will require more time and resources to develop in comparison to a smaller scope. For example, if a project requires multiple user types, both web and mobile experiences, and/or advanced integrations with other software products, it most likely will be much more expensive than a single platform, single user type application with limited functionality.
The complexity of the project refers to the technical difficulty of the work that needs to be done. A more complex project will generally be more expensive to develop, as it will require more specialized skills and may involve more advanced technologies. For example, if you were building a simple e-commerce website on top of a pre-existing platform like Shopify this would most likely be much simpler than developing a full blockchain enabled ledger system from scratch. Understanding the high-level complexity of the project from the start is essential to proper planning, resourcing, and decision making.
The size and location of the development team can also affect the cost of a project. A project requiring a larger team will typically be able to complete the work faster, but it will also be more expensive due to the additional salaries and overhead costs. A smaller team may take longer to complete the work, but it will generally be less expensive. The location of these teams also plays a part. If a team is remote or located in a different country, there can be general communication issues due to language barriers or time zone differences. A remote team can benefit from a lower cost of living which in turn reduces the overhead associated with the company in comparison to an in-person and higher cost of living team.
The experience and expertise of the development team can also play a role in the cost of a project. A team with more experience and expertise will generally be more expensive, as their skills are in higher demand but they should be able to complete the work more efficiently with less bugs and foundational issues. On the other hand, a team with less experience and expertise will generally be less expensive, although it may take them longer to complete the work or the work may be completed at a lower quality.
Using open source technologies and third party tools can help to reduce the cost of a project, as it allows the development team to leverage pre-existing code and resources rather than starting from scratch. A prime example of this would be to use Auth0 for application authentication vs. building out a custom auth flow. Determining which third party/open source libraries to use within an application is a challenge on its own.
The timeline of the project can also influence the cost. A project with a shorter due date will generally be more expensive, as it will require more time and resources to complete within the time-constrained period. Typically organizations will have to hire additional staff at a higher resource (per hour) premium if they are prioritizing a rapidly approaching deadline vs. having a larger amount of time to complete a project.
A project with a higher level of quality required will generally be more expensive, as it will require more time and resources to ensure that it meets the desired standards before launch. For example, if we are creating a project for 100 users that all use the product infrequently on all the same type of device, we may not need to spend as much time in the testing process. Compare this to launching a mobile application in a super bowl commercial. It will be essential that the application can support millions of users, various device types, etc within a short period of time. Thus testing for all bugs, edgecases, etc. must be more thorough.
Finally, the cost of a software development project should also consider the ongoing maintenance and support that will be required after the initial launch. This can include bug fixes, updates, and other maintenance tasks that will need to be performed after the initial development work is completed. As additional users are on boarded into the platform, it is important that retainer or support services are included to help make improvements to the product based on user feedback but also to fix bugs that come up with technologies changing over time.
In conclusion, there are many factors that can influence the cost of a software development project, including the scope, complexity, size and location of the development team, experience and expertise of the team, use of other technologies, timeline/quality of the project and future maintenance and support. Every application is very different so it is important to discuss these areas and the various pros/cons as they relate to a particular project implementation.
We often find ourselves providing advisory support to our clients to discuss these various tradeoffs whether or not we end up working on the engagements or not. Please drop us a line here if you ever want to discuss your project further!
January 20, 2023
The Various Factors that Can Influence the Cost of a Software Development Project
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