When we talk about custom software development, it is one of the most challenging and complicated tasks. But it’s fun if you do it the right way.
Software development is the amalgamation of several complex tasks.
Keeping this in mind, whenever a software developer is asked, “How much will this software cost me?” It’s only their professionalism that keeps them from replying harshly.
But why should one be so bothered by this question?
Let’s step into the shoes of a software developer for a moment and try to find out the exact reason!
For that matter, think of yourself as responsible for the arrangement of snacks and drinks for a party with your friends.
- There will be around 4 people but the arrival of more friends is also expected.
- The party will last about 3 to 4 hours, but still, it’s not final.
- Everyone has different preferences in snacks and drinks.
- You also have to be careful not to buy too many items that go to waste.
- You have to make sure that you don’t buy anything of substandard quality.
Is it possible for you to come up with an accurate estimate before doing all the shopping?
We thought the same!
It’s not easy to get a good estimate for a software development project because it’s too complicated.
- You need to know how many people will use it and what they will do with it, too.
- You also need to expect some additional users and features of the potential software.
- You need to know about different preferences of usability.
- You cannot add too many features on your own and you cannot keep it below the tentative requirement either.
If you’re developing a game, you need to know how many levels the game will have. If it’s a web application development for people with disabilities, you’ll need to make sure that it is easy to use and works on all kinds of operating systems. There are so many things involved in software development projects!
But there is another perspective and strategy which is what this is all about.
Knowing about them is something that is not only possible, but also a practical approach towards dealing with a software development company in a professional manner.
This article will walk you through the basics of estimating a software development project.
There are three main areas in which you should focus when doing the software development project cost estimation:
1) The size and scope of your potential software;
2) Development timeframes;
3) Project management costs.
We’ll discuss each one below with some examples to help illustrate our points.
1. The Size and Scope of Your Potential Software
This is an important element for estimating since the size of your project will determine how much work needs to be done. The larger or more complex a software development project, the more time it’s going to take the development team to complete that task.
If you’re planning on creating a complicated piece of software, make sure that you budget for extra development team members to help with speeding up the development process, and project training you require. It’s important not to underestimate this area since small mistakes can end up costing much more than you initially thought.
Similarly, if there is even a slight change in the scope of the project – the purpose for which the software is being designed, then the costs can vary drastically. This can add up quickly so make sure you plan for the worst-case scenario when estimating a software development project.
For example, you initially plan to get a software program developed for your company’s HR management processes including employees’ attendance management, salaries, benefits, etc. You finalized everything regarding it with the software development company.
But then you come to know that your competitors are using only one software for HRM and account management.
Now you want your software to account for the accounts management as well. In such cases, the entire estimate will vary and the timeframe will also change. This brings us to the second area to be focused on – Development Timeframes.
2. Development Timeframes
This is another important factor to consider when estimating software development projects since it determines how long you’ll have a project open with your chosen software development company.
For example, if your project is estimated to take three weeks and it ends up taking five months because of underestimating, that means tremendously additional costs.
You should also think about any holidays, training days and other activities that can affect the amount of work software Development Projects can get done and how much these days can cost you.
When you’re estimating the project time, make sure that it includes everything like coding, testing, debugging and deployment.
Another important factor that contributes to the total time for a software development project is the customer’s existing knowledge around the product or service they need to be developed.
In other words, if a customer has a lot of experience with a certain type of product, it will take less time to finish their project because experts know what works and what doesn’t work.
The customer’s knowledge of what they already have is key to understanding how long their project will take.
Other factors that contribute to the total timeframe are the software developer’s experience level, availability of resources and impact on existing systems.
It is also important to know if a project can be divided into smaller chunks for faster delivery or it must be developed as one entire product.
For example, developing an app may take more time than developing a mobile website, because app development involves more complexity.
A good way to estimate the total time for any project is through creating an initial timeline and then adding buffers in case something goes wrong or delays occur.
Taking into consideration all possible factors that add up the timeframe before beginning development will help avoid running behind schedule, which can result in costly fines.
For example, if a project takes less time than expected and can move up in priority on a roadmap or vice versa.
Being able to accurately provide an estimated timeframe will allow customers or business owners to know if they can afford this product in their budget.
3. Project Management Costs
One of the few ways to estimate the cost that will be incurred when building software is by determining the project management costs.
The estimation that you arrive at in this case will depend on whether you are using the waterfall approach or an Agile approach.
When using a waterfall approach, you can expect it to take more time to come up with an estimate because there are many activities planned out before anyone is started.
An agile approach, on the other hand, follows a more flexible approach where requirements will change which means that estimates are not accurate until much later in the project.
The speed at which the project is moved forward also plays a role in how accurate your estimates are.
If you want an estimate that will be more accurate, then it may take longer to complete but there won’t be as many changes later on.
This allows for fewer iterations and ultimately less money spent overall on making changes.
The total time for any software development project will depend on many factors, but the two most important are knowledge about the product or service and how much management is required.
If you want to save money in the long run, consider whether your budget can accommodate an agile approach that allows flexibility with requirements as they arise.
It may require more upfront work, but this will ultimately lead to fewer changes down the line – which means less wasted resources and less spending overall.