Estimating software development costs without knowing the specifics of a software project is difficult, if not impossible.
However, just because we can’t accurately predict custom software development costs without knowing the technical details of the software development project doesn’t mean we can’t explore the factors that affect development costs.
The development process for every application and website is different. The technical requirements, size, regulatory concerns, etc., will all affect the cost of software development.
If you are looking for a detailed software development cost breakdown, you won’t find it here. Unfortunately, any source that claims to share exactly how much software development costs without knowing anything about the project is either misleading or outright lying.
This post will examine the top software development cost factors so your organization can understand what aspects of your project will affect development costs.
For the most accurate cost estimate to develop software, reach out to an experienced software development company like Koombea for a free consultation.
What Affects Software Development Costs?
The cost of software development can vary wildly. To accurately estimate software development costs, a project manager or team of software developers would need to get a clear understanding of the entire project requirements.
Business leaders can’t use vague generalities to develop a project budget. While we can’t determine a specific project cost without detailed requirements, we can examine what factors affect average software development costs.
The aspects of a software project that have the largest impact on the cost of software development are the following:
- App complexity
- Software size
- Custom design
- Development team size
The complexity of the software solution might be the most significant factor affecting the cost of software development. Put simply, the more features you want to include, the more complex the application becomes.
Complexity increases the time spent creating, testing, debugging, and deploying an application. The longer the software development process takes, the more expensive it will be for your organization.
The complexity of software development projects can be broken down into three broad categories:
- Feature set – More features require more communication between modules, custom functionality, and greater complexity.
- Technology – There are traditional, basic technologies that are often used in software development, and there are complex advanced technologies, such as AI, that get used when traditional options are not sufficient.
- Design – Personalized, custom design elements add an additional layer of complexity.
Complexity and customization often go hand in hand. Customization is a time-consuming process that requires new code, functionality, and additional testing. As a result, complexity arguably impacts cost most when developing software.
In software and web development, size greatly affects the project cost. Arguably, size is also related to the complexity of the software. A large project is, by nature, more complex than a small or medium-sized project.
The size of the software will affect how long it takes to complete the project. The number of unique screens or pages defines size in software development.
A large project will typically have 40 or more unique pages or screens. Medium-sized projects will generally have roughly 25 to 40 unique screens, and small projects will have 25 or fewer.
Large projects require more time to create, more time to test, more time for bug fixes, and more time for deployment. All of these realities impact the software development cost.
The platform you choose to develop software for will affect software costs. Additionally, if you decide to develop software versions for multiple platforms, your organization will spend more money.
Native app development costs more than cross-platform or hybrid development. The software must be specialized and use specific native technologies and languages.
Organizations can control software development costs by developing a universal, cross-platform solution. However, cross-platform software cannot utilize native, device-specific hardware as effectively as native software.
Many small or medium-sized businesses will focus on a single platform that most aligns with their target audience if they choose native development over cross-platform.
A significant part of custom development is design. UX/UI design is vital to user engagement and satisfaction. As a result, design becomes a critical factor in software development pricing.
As we covered when discussing software complexity, more screens and pages means more design work which means custom development costs more.
The last thing your organization wants to do is cut corners on the UX/UI design. User retention and engagement rely on good software design. Failing to deliver a pleasing User Experience will cost your business more in the long run.
Development Team Size
The size and location of the development team will play a significant role in the cost of software development.
For example, offshore developers are cheaper to hire than nearshore and onshore teams. However, offshore developers will work in time zones on the other side of the world; they likely won’t be proficient in English and won’t have a shared cultural background with your business.
Onshore developers will be the most expensive developers to hire in the United States, and nearshore development teams will be in the middle of the other two options in terms of the total cost.
In addition to location, the project team size also affects the cost. The larger the project team, the more it will cost your organization.
It is likely frustrating to learn that there is no simple software development cost estimate that can be provided to you in this blog. The truth is, without a detailed understanding of the project’s technical requirements, the best anyone can do is guess.
We have covered five of the biggest factors that will affect the cost of development, but there are several other factors that can affect the cost too. For example, the COVID-19 pandemic caused a run on software development talent, which only drove the price of development higher.
At times it can be difficult to predict market factors that will affect the cost of a carton of eggs, let alone the cost of software development. If your organization wants to get an accurate estimate of how much software development will cost, reach out to an experienced development partner for a detailed quote.