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One of the most challenging aspects of custom software development is determining how long and how much it will take to deliver a new software product. But the question is, should it be so hard?
Software development cost estimation is inherently tricky, keeping “no projects are the same” in mind. Every product development is unique in what it sets out to achieve; unique in a myriad of parameters that form its existence. And, these parameters are what directly lead to affecting the cost of software development greatly.
To give you a rough idea, the software development project cost may vary from $35,000 to $300,000 depending on factors like the features used, complexity of the UI/UX design, the development company’s location, the hourly rates of developers, etc. Simply put, the higher complexity of the software is, the higher will be its overall cost.
Not just the cost range, we are sure you certainly have a hundred more questions about the custom software development cost estimation process. So let’s get started by quickly going through some prerequisites to estimate the software development cost.
But before this, you might want to look at the ultimate guide to software development for a thorough perspective.
Now, let us start with the prerequisites required for software cost estimation.
These prerequisites are discussed with the software development company during the scoping sessions. From explaining your project goals to discussing how you can monetize from software development, a professional organization like Appinventiv will help you every step of the way.
The first step to realizing custom software cost is to explain your project goals during the initial conversation. Highlighting a clear goal can help you design software worth the effort and cost. While at the same time, discussing the end goals can help the development team stay focused and aligned. Thus, the more well-defined the end goal is, the less time it takes to develop the software and offer better cost optimization.
Determining your target audience is one of the most vital steps for successful software development. The target audience usually includes people interested in your services or products. Conducting an in-depth competition analysis, market research, and identifying the latest trends can help you get a clear idea of your target audience. The total efforts and time taken to determine the target audience will ultimately affect the overall cost of the software.
Finalizing the type of software custom to your requirements is one of the most necessary steps to help you determine the time frame and cost of software development. The more features and complexity of software, the more time and cost associated with it. A well-integrated software with ample features to engage and retain users will help you gain a trajectory in the otherwise competitive business landscape.
Content Management Systems (CMS): A custom CMS caters to the specific user requirements while enabling businesses to create and update multiple types of content, including blogs, press releases, videos, etc.
Examples of famous content management systems include: WordPress, Joomla, Drupal, Magento, Squarespace, Wix, Ghost
Average Cost Estimates: $35,000 to $80,000
Customer Relationship Management (CRM) Systems: CRM systems are the type of software that allows businesses to track and manage customer relationships, attract new clients, and handle vendor and partner interactions. Custom CRM systems make a worthwhile investment for large organizations that want to manage a distinct target audience and handle their business operations effectively.
Examples of famous CRMs include: Salesforce, HubSpot, Zendesk, ZoHo
Cost Estimates: $35,000 to $300,000
[Also Read: How to build a custom CRM software?]
Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems: An ERP software empowers businesses to effectively handle and manage their daily business operations, such as procurement, inventory, supply chain, accounting, logistics, and risk management. By automating these tasks and centralizing the operations, custom ERP solutions guarantees enhanced productivity, improved decision-making, reduced errors while ensuring increased efficiency.
Examples of famous ERPs include: SAP ERP, Oracle ERP Cloud
Cost Estimates: $50,000 to $300,000
SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) Products: SaaS is a software distribution model that operates through the cloud. With SaaS, applications are hosted by a third-party cloud service provider and made available to users via the Internet.
Examples of famous SaaS products include: Slack, Asana, DropBox, MailChimp
Cost Estimates: $40,000 to $300,000
Let us move forward and understand various factors that affect the software development cost.
If you are wondering how to estimate software development cost; understand that it majorly depends on three significant factors:
Let’s take a detailed look at these factors.
From a high level, the typical custom software development arrangements tend to break down into the following details:
Each software development comes with a different team makeup and requires additional development effort.
Understanding your project’s software development type is the first step towards estimating development cost and categorizing software development cost breakdown. This comes in handy in the final estimation when you combine the type of your project with the size of the project development team.
The next critical factor is to determine the size of a project. The project size is typically correlated to the features and functionalities of the product you are building. This means the more complex your project is, the bigger the size of the project will be.
A small software project usually needs minor changes. Typically, changes such as bug fixing and tweaks to the user interface fall under small-sized software development. Here, client interaction is usually limited.
Approximate Software development cost range – $10,000 – $50,000 based on the level of modifications.
Here the engagements are more substantial than just small tweaks and include a well-defined scope of deliverables. Typically, medium-sized software development deals with a single source of data. Projects like mobile application development with simple functionalities, enhancing the web interface to the existing inventory system, or upgrading the UI/UX interface of the current website or app would fall under this category.
One prominent example of medium-scaled software development can be Appinventiv redefining the UI/UX strategy for Domino’s to increase its mobile app conversion by 23%. Here, the external requirements for client interaction are more precise and robust.
The interaction would also include a few design sessions, milestone sign-offs, and weekly check-ins.
Approximate software development cost range – $30,000 – $100,000
These solutions include complexity and depth. Large-sized software development asks for a broad database, integrating multiple systems, and addressing logging and security features. If your project has to be maintained and scaled in the future, two common steps would be designing an underlying framework and module-based systems.
On the other hand, multi-platform application development (Android, iOS, web) would also fall under the large software development category.
Below are a few prominent examples of large-sized development projects undertaken by our team:
We have helped expand KFC’s mobile presence globally by developing end-to-end apps that enabled real-time order tracking and doorstep delivery across seven countries.
Appinventiv has also helped Adidas, one of the largest sports merchandise brands, reach an extensive user base by expanding its web-centric services to mobile through a dedicated application.
The experts at Appinventiv have also developed Vyrb, an eyewear brand’s voice assistant application for social media that helps send and receive audio messages via Bluetooth wearables.
The client interaction here is super robust, that is, milestone agreements and extended design sessions, daily calls with the technical team, weekly status meetings, and more.
Approximate software development cost range – $80,000 – $200,000
Enterprise-sized software development is probably the most extensive and complex project, usually built on underlying frameworks. Since the entire enterprise process is digitally transformed, they have higher security, error handling, and more rigorous logging. Data integrity and security are paramount to such business-critical applications.
There is no exclusive exhibit; however, the support systems designed for enterprise-level development are resilient and can manage 2-3 concurrent faults in the core infrastructure without creating a user impact.
For client interaction, the process is fully integrated. Enterprises usually prefer outsourcing rather than having in-house teams to design and architect their business-aligned software due to deadlines and easily met requirements.
Approximate software development cost range – $100,000 – $300,000
Software Development Cost Estimation as per Technical Complexity:
|Type of Software||Differentiating Qualities||Time Frame||Cost (Approx)|
|Basic Software||Basic feature list, simple UI/UX design, no 3rd party APIs, standard data
|3-5 Months||$30,000 – $100,000|
|Medium Complex Software||Average feature list including payment integration, real-time data analytics, chatbots for communication, personalized UI/UX design, device integration, etc.||6-9 Months||$80,000 – $200,000|
|Highly Complex Software||Complex UI/UX design, development, complete feature set with 3rd Party APIs, data-synchronization, encryption, optimized performance, multiple software compatibility||10+ Months||$100,000 – $300,000|
Once your project is defined in terms of type and size, the only substantial factor that can directly affect your software development cost is your development team size. Your development team requires at least three roles – a developer, a project manager, and a QA tester to perform certain tasks in software development. The hourly rate of developers will also affect the overall cost and will vary according to the geographical location of the software development team.
However, the requirements should be well aligned with your project. Below are the roles you can choose from according to your size and type of project:
Here is a rough estimate of the hourly rates of developers based on multiple geographical areas:
|Geographical Area||Hourly Costs for Junior Software Developer||Hourly Costs for Senior Software Developer||Hourly Costs for Associate Software Developer|
There are multiple other factors that can indirectly strike your software development budget, let us look at them in detail below:
Creating custom software with a clear UI/UX strategy is essential to gain traction in the market. A seamless software design can improve both user engagement and retention. However, meeting the unique needs of clients requires multiple testing procedures, which can affect the cost to build the software from scratch.
The type of team you have hired for developing your custom software product also impacts the cost to develop the software. For instance, you can either choose between hiring freelancers, in-house development team or simply outsource your project to a dedicated software development agency. Let us look at the pros and cons of all three below:
|Type of Software Development Team||Costing||Quality||Communication||Contact Time Frame|
|In-house team||Highly expensive||High quality product catered by dedicated in-house developers||Easy with the corporate channels||Long-term|
|Outsourced team||Affordable and Optimized||High software product quality considering access to skilled resources and advanced tools||Effective communication with the help of a dedicated project manager||Long-term|
|Freelancer||Most economical||Compromised product quality due to lack of expertise||Poor considering the freelancer is not a part of a dedicated team||Short-term|
Proper maintenance and updates are necessary for the software to facilitate its overall growth in the digitally evolving ecosystem. Ensuring smooth functioning and optimal performance of software across all platforms necessitates taking proactive post-release measures.
The cost of maintaining the software encompasses expenses incurred for ensuring a bug-free software experience, as well as investments made to provide software upgrades and incorporate new technologies as per the market demands.
The features integrated in a custom software also impacts the overall cost to develop a software. A software with an extensive feature list will ultimately cost you more as compared to the one with minimum features. Furthermore, it is necessary to comprehend that a well-defined feature set for your custom software can distinguish it from the competitors while helping you gain traction in the market.
Advanced technologies such as AI/ML, data analytics, and metaverse along with a robust tool set is necessary for developing a custom software product that can set your business apart from the competition. However, the cost of implementing complex and multiple technologies may vary as per the hired development team, its location and more.
An accurate software development cost estimation is one of the key parameters that paves the way for a successful project. The techniques listed below will help you understand the complex process of software cost estimation based on the realistic amount of effort, time, and money.
This estimation technique uses the data from similar projects carried out before to calculate software development costs and gathers information based on assumptions and a little guesswork. After this, the evidence-based cost estimation formulas are applied, and a rough estimate of the cost of developing the software is offered in the planning phase.
The average cost of software development can also be estimated with the help of the heuristic technique. This approach or software development cost model addresses budget estimation based on multiple angles and is the most viable method to make quick decisions on complex projects. The model offers you a cost estimate by addressing the relationships between multiple elements and parameters of the project.
This software development cost estimation technique is based on dividing the task into multiple operations or elements. After this, each operation’s standard time is applied based on the information gathered from experience.
Now that you understand the multiple software development cost techniques, it is necessary to understand the different types of estimates. These estimates are given to you by the software development company in New York based on your project goals, requirements, and the details discussed during the scoping session.
There are three different types of cost estimates that have varying degrees of accuracy for multiple stages of a scoping process:
This kind of estimate will offer you a thumbnail sketch of the estimated cost of software development. This estimate will help you to clearly understand if the software development company can help you pursue development and if you should hire them.
Software development budget estimate will offer you a forecast to plan the project development strategy and the budgets for all stages. If you can offer a budget to the development organization, this estimate will help you understand if they can work under the set amount or not. It is advisable to keep in mind that every project strategy comes with risks associated with time and cost.
This cost estimate defines various project activities, deliverables, and frames. Thus, in writing, you can be upfront with the development company about your needs and strategy and ask them for an accurate cost estimate.
Now that you understand the various software cost estimation techniques, let us discuss estimating the software development time frame, which directly impacts the development cost.
Below is a rough flowchart of the software development time estimation based on the above mentioned factors. To estimate the software development time, we have categorized the size of the projects into small, medium, large, and enterprise.
So, with all this in mind, it is concluded that making software cost estimates is hard. To understand how much custom software development costs, your best bet is to seek professional guidance.
Below are some essential tips for making estimates that you must implement in the initial phase of software development.
When you break down bigger tasks into smaller ones, you get a clear picture of your requirements. This way, you are more likely to figure out additional software development-related questions. How can you break down larger tasks?
Here is an example :
Large task – building the front page.
General estimated time – 8 hours
Post breakdown task and time:
As you can see, you get a detailed picture of every small task that could not have been completed within 8 hours.
Task descriptions that you get or assign are vital in estimating the average cost of custom software development. It is always important to ask your development team how they will work on your project. Asking questions makes communication better, and you will gain a broader perspective on how the cost of developing the software is justified with the process.
Making accurate estimates is a common challenge since, most of the time, you and your development team might not be on the same page with time and cost. The crucial part here is to communicate in length with your development team.
Believe that your outsourced development team wants to deliver the best possible solutions for your project. For better understanding, you can always approach your project manager with the questions:
The actual development process has to be kept in mind for efficient software development cost estimation, such as:
The above processes are inevitable in estimating the accurate cost of software development.
Our experts specialize in creating and launching cutting-edge digital products that deliver outstanding returns on investment. Our custom software development services are designed strategically to cater to a wide range of business requirements.
We can assist you in expanding and streamlining your business in a sustainable manner by utilizing cutting-edge technologies such as data science and analytics, IoT, cloud, DevOps, blockchain, and more. Our agile development process, 24/7 support, and robust data security and protection measures ensure significant cost savings, improved customer service, quicker delivery times, and a competitive edge in the fast-growing industry.
Our 8+ years of expertise has made us expand our reach across different regions, including Europe, the US, UAE, Qatar, MENA, and other areas. We have managed to build a strong portfolio of clients over the years, including the likes of top-tier companies like American Express, Vodafone, KPMG, EmiratesNBD, Asian Bank, Bodyshop, Virgin Group, Adidas, Americana Group, and countless others.
Our information technology consulting services start with an in-depth consultation process and work closely with you to understand your specific requirements and assess the viability of your project. Once the prerequisites are sorted, we move on to the meticulous development of a bespoke and sophisticated software solution that caters to all your business needs.
We can help you deliver a two-step cost estimation framework that is simple and reliable:
The rough estimate is very near to the accurate offshore software development cost estimate given to our clients for information purposes. The objective of rough estimation is to inform the client about the project’s general phases, software development tasks, and the expected result. The precision of this estimate ranges from 50–75%; however, it is just an average cost of software development and not considered as the final cost bound by the terms and conditions.
If the client is unsure, our team works on the given estimate and tries to make it as convenient for the client as possible.
A detailed cost estimate is a more precise and accurate software development cost estimation given to the client, carried out by all the actively engaged development team members. This estimated cost of offshore software development is calculated based on the type of software being developed, tech stack being used, functionalities being incorporated, and complexity of the design including wireframes and other specifications.
Our first contact with clients commences with a consultation call. During this call, we establish a rapport and gather crucial project information. If the client expresses interest in the proceeding and requests a software development pricing quotation, we organize a video call and an in-person meeting to delve deeper into project requirements.
To accurately estimate the cost of software development, we conduct a comprehensive meeting to delve into the specifics of your app idea. We understand that determining the precise cost of software development is a complex process, so we actively listen to your needs. This includes reviewing a comprehensive list of features, technical specifications, personal preferences, desired release date, etc. This helps our experts to determine the necessary specifics that will help us provide an accurate estimate of the cost of your software development project.
Once we have received all the necessary information, we begin preparing an initial cost estimate for the software development project. Our experts implement multiple techniques to calculate the cost of the project, specifically tailored to meet the unique requirements of each project.
After completing the evaluation process, we swiftly offer a detailed proposal covering the estimated software development cost. We also suggest valuable insights to optimize your product’s potential within the given resources, ensuring the best possible outcome for you.
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Q. How much does custom software development cost?
A. To understand how much custom software development costs, you first need to determine the type of software you wish to develop. A basic software can cost around $30,000 to $100,000 and have a simple feature list, while a highly complex software can cost around $100,000 to $300,000.
Q. What is the hourly rate of developers in the US?
A. The hourly rate of developers in the US for developing custom software is around $140-150. Hiring developers in the US can result in extensively higher development costs, thus, it is advisable to outsource the software development project in a country like India, considering their hourly rates are just $40-60.
Q. How long does it take to develop a software?
A. The time required to build custom software depends on the project’s complexity and requirements. For instance, software with an extensive feature set will take longer to develop compared to software with a minimal feature list.
The development time for complex software can vary between 9 to 12 months, while simple software can be developed in 4 to 5 months. The custom software development process shouldn’t be rushed as it can lead to a suboptimal final product that lacks sustainability.
Q. What are the top cost estimation tools used by organizations across the globe?
A. Software development companies’ top cost estimation tools include JIRA, Microsoft Project, Concerto, Primavera Project Planner, etc.