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How to Save Money on Custom Software Development

by | Sep 23, 2021

The path to custom software for your organization is one that’s initially paved with a host of questions and concerns. There are so many factors that go into creating the perfect custom applications, but one thing that’s at the forefront of everyone’s list is budget.

The decisions you make leading up to and during your development project will directly affect the initial costs of the project as well as your ROI. This is particularly true when selecting a development team to act as your partner in this high-impact business venture.

Far too often, we hear stories about how a custom development project meant to improve returns and grow business has the opposite effect. Costs unexpectedly increase, budgets are exceeded, and the end project leaves more to be desired and less in the bottom line.

6 Ways You Can Keep Custom Software Development Costs Under Control

How can you avoid these unexpected expenses and save money on custom software development? The first part of that answer, whether you’re a startup, SMB, or enterprise company, is to identify three of the most essential aspects of the development cycle:

  • Planning
  • Actual development
  • Post-project management

Sometimes, additional costs rise because of poor preliminary planning and a lack of direction during the development phase. Other times, companies realize cost savings upfront only to find that the product doesn’t scale alongside their business. The only option is to invest even more in the completed application. Either way, these additional expenses are often easy to avoid if you begin your project on the right path.

There are multiple steps you can take to mitigate risks and save money on custom software development. As a software development firm with more than $30 million in software deliverables, we’ve gained valuable insight into what makes a project successful and what factors often lead to unnecessary spending and unwanted results.

The steps below can help you avoid overspending and ensure that your project meets your organizational needs without adding on unnecessary costs.


Engage in Pre-project planning and brainstorming

Your vision is vital to the success of the project, and one of the best ways to get started is to do some preliminary planning and brainstorming before you even meet with development firms.

That’s not to suggest your team must be fully equipped to make development decisions on the spot. Questions and concerns related to the process itself aren’t the focus of this step.

Instead, pre-project planning represents a way for you, your team, and any essential stakeholders to formulate a vision, determine expectations, and list and categorize must-haves as well as “wish-list” items.

During this phase, start to think about all factors that govern a strong user experience and organizational success:

  • Who will be using the application?
  • How will it serve the customers?
  • What type of data or reporting do you need?
  • What functionality will end users (internal or external) need?
  • How do your short- and long-term business plans fit into your project?

The answers to those questions can and often do evolve. Still, they can also serve as a solid starting point for your organization, especially during your initial consultation with development firms.


Choose a development firm that puts planning at the forefront

The adage, “measure twice, cut once” isn’t just relevant in the world of carpentry. This sentiment guides what we feel to be a vital part of the development process: planning with the client.

At DADEN, we call this the “Innovation Session,” and it’s how we begin every partnership. Our Innovation session takes place well before bids are provided, and contracts are signed, and that’s because we believe that planning is essential to not only success but affordability.

Our team works directly with potential clients during this session to iron out the details and make critical decisions about the proposed project. We also take the time to fully understand your product or service, industry needs and regulations, overarching expectations, organizational objectives, and timelines. In doing so, we can provide the most accurate bid possible and set clear expectations and timelines.

Preliminary planning also makes it easier to identify gaps or potential setbacks or concerns early in the process. As such, this step makes it easier for you and your chosen development team to avoid development hurdles that can directly impact your project costs.

That includes missed deadlines and the absence of key features, functionalities, and capabilities integral to current and future business needs.

Choosing a development firm that takes a high-level approach to estimates and planning can lead to costly challenges both during and after development.


Look for fair and transparent pricing

Your project is not one-size-fits-all, and the features and functionality that drive your software application will and should vary from those employed by others in your industry. The results of your planning phase should establish pricing, not the other way around.

Any development company you choose should be ready and willing to build a final estimate that reflects the needs of your company and your company alone. They should also be willing and able to explain the factors and considerations used to create the estimate.


Inquire about timelines, accountability, and communication practices

Although the initial planning phases can have a significant positive impact on the final cost of your project, the process itself can also make or break your cost savings efforts. A robust and experienced development team should be able to provide you with a thorough timeline and communicate any potential deviations or delays as soon as they come up.

Additionally, the development team you choose should have a proven method of accountability, whether it’s weekly progress reports, scheduled calls, or other types of transparent and client-focused communication. You should also have a clear line of communication between your organization and the development firm’s project managers.

Maintaining that level of communication minimizes the risk of unexpected issues during the development process and keeps both parties accountable for meeting deadlines and providing deliverables.

In short, the development firm you choose should be ready and willing to act as an extension of your company while undertaking the project.


Ask prospective development partners about their development approach

A clear vision for your project can lead to cost savings, but that’s not the only factor that can make or break your budget. How the development team you choose manages the project also directly impacts your costs.

For instance, if your project is one of the hundreds sitting in the pipeline, you may find that your project is delayed or pushed to the back burner, which can lead to missed deadlines or low-quality work.

Another concern is who manages your project. Outsourcing development is a common and practical approach. Still, if management, quality control, and overall execution are also outsourced, you may find that the end results don’t live up to your initial expectations. The software fails to provide the functionality you need and the ROI you want.

After analyzing project development processes, working with clients, and identifying common pain points, we’ve found that a blended development approach often yields the most reliable and affordable results.

A blended development approach most frequently refers to project management that engages both internal and external resources based on the task at hand, skill sets available, and cost savings opportunities.

At DADEN, we manage all architecture decisions, project management, execution, and strategy internally, while we leverage our team of highly-skilled, vetted, and secure international team to manage the development. This approach frequently reduces software development costs by up to 30% – 40% without sacrificing software integrity, security, or timeliness.


Find out what resources are available after the project is complete

Will the development team you choose immediately cut ties after project completion, or are they in for the long haul? Do they offer a product guarantee or long-term support? What happens after a project is completed may not seem important, but it can drastically impact your bottom line down the road.

Suppose your relationship with a development team immediately ends. In that case, you may find that any issues down the line, like patches or feature enhancements, will require far more time and money than they would if the development firm offers ongoing support.

Choosing a development team that is invested in long-term success, not just project completion, can lead to cost savings in the future.

Custom software development is a process that can and often does evolve over time, but that doesn’t mean your costs are subject to the same fluctuations.

Although unexpected expenses may pop up, the steps above can help you minimize the risk of unnecessary costs while also ensuring you get the software application you envisioned.

Looking to save money on custom software development? Reach out to the DADEN Software team today for a complimentary consultation.