Together with Vincent Maire - CEO at Vratislavia Software, we discuss software and app development costs.
Software development prices are believed to be rather high. How much does it cost to make an app or develop custom software? Is software really this expensive?
Vincent: As custom software and app development prices differ depending on the customers' projects, so maybe I will explain how to define the price of software and mobile app development. The problem is that if you order a software or an application we never exactly know from the start how much it will cost. In order to make a software and app development cost estimate, you need to define all your specifications in advance. Later, you need to analyze how to develop it and then you can make some evaluation. After all this process you will have a general idea of how much it will cost. For many customers it is a problem that they aren't able to define what exactly they want and they often change the specifications during the development process. When you start to test the software, even when it hasn't been finished yet, they have new ideas or they decide that it could be better to do it in another way. So that's why usually we don't really know how much it will cost from the start.
"In order to make a software and app development cost estimate, you need to define all your specifications in advance. Later, you need to analyze how to develop it and then you can make some evaluation."
To estimate software and app development prices, you cannot focus solely on a product development. You also need to focus on business analysis, in order to define what exactly the business needs, what features the product should have and to translate these requirements into specifications for developers. Then it is a tester's job to check if the developer's implementations and the specifications match the requirements. So as I said, the price is defined by the software or app developer and by the testers. Depending on software and app complexity, you will need other professionals, such as architects, DevOps, specialists of infrastructure to set up the software in a cloud or on the servers, to configure the parameters and network. Consequently, you will need people with various skills.
The software and mobile app development costs also depends on the technology you want to use. For example, if you want to develop a web application, you will need front-end and back-end specialists. If the application is relatively simple, you can use full-stack developers who have knowledge in the fields of front-end and back-end. This might be an excellent solution for many projects.
Does the price also depend on the country where the software house or app development company is based?
Vincent: It could. It also depends on the education. In Poland, just like in Russia and Ukraine, the education level is quite high when it comes to software development. There is a classification of countries according to the skills of the developers and Poland is very high on this list. This list can be easily found on the internet.
"Complex software requires co-operation of a whole software or app development team which consists of people with specialized skills."
Also if the software is huge you will need somebody who is able to manage a database and to build an efficient structure of a database. If the project is too complex the developers will not be able to deal with it on their own. It is especially important when it comes to big data projects which tend to be more complicated.
Generally, complex software requires co-operation of a whole software or app development team which consists of people with specialized skills. Moreover, there are a lot of technologies and developers are not able to know all of them which means that big projects require many professionals to build it efficiently. That is why it tends to be costly.
Since there are so many technologies how does the customer know which technology will be the best for their project? Do you present a range of technologies which could work for them?
Vincent: In fact it is the best situation. If the customer knows what they want, they only need a consultation with a business analyst who will collect all their expectations, translate them into specification for developers and then we can start to think about the best technology appropriate for a particular software or mobile app development process.
If the customer starts to think about the technology at the very beginning, they may overlook the one which could be more suitable, faster and cheaper. The whole process requires a compromise between cost and performance.
The price also depends on how often the application will be used. If it isn't used very often and it only has few users then it doesn’t really matter if you use high performance language and servers. In this case the technology isn't a game changer. You need to scale the application to the needs of the customer so that it is cheaper. That is why custom software development is not really dedicated to big and huge companies. It could be dedicated to small companies.
This leads us to my next question which is who are the typical clients of software development companies?
Vincent: In fact anyone can be our client. We've co-operated with various industries, such as production, aviation, automotive and medical. We've also done projects for government agencies. If a company is considering purchase of new software, the first thing they need to do is search for the off-the-shelf products. If they can find a product which would be suitable for their business, the best idea is to use it as it would definitely be cheaper. The problem is that a company needs to analyze if the product can be adapted to their business. Moreover, if you need to make some changes in the software, it may turn out to be too costly. In this case it it better to think about a custom solution.
Are there any services which a software house can offer to companies operating on tight budget?
Vincent: For such companies it is better to use the off-the-shelf programs or get an application form an app stores. Later as their company grows they may change it into a custom software. Custom solutions require a lot of work and consequently a software and an app development budget needs to be relatively high. Custom software and app developers take into consideration all the customer’s needs and develop the whole software from scratch. That is why custom software isn't cheap. Very often it will be medium or high budget. The tight budget companies need to look for ready make solutions and try to fit it into their business. However, sometimes it might cost a lot to fit an off-the-shelf product. As software and app maintenance costs turn out to be high then the company might decide to develop a new software.
What are advantages of a custom software over the off-the-shelf products?
Vincent: Custom software will be tailored to customer’s needs. Any change of a custom software will be cheaper than modification if an out-of-the-box product. With your own software you are more flexible and you can modify it by yourself. Also you don't depend on any company. If you are not happy about the product, then you can pass your software access code to any software house who will apply changes, adapt product to your needs and continue its development. With out-off-the-box product you are limited to the company which produced it, e.g. SAP. In order to modify it the developers need to have a license to this program which automatically raises the cost. What is more, such programs have very limited possibilities of modification as such products are designed to be used as they are, which in many cases means that you need to adapt your business to the product. Unlike with a custom software solution, where software is adapted to your business needs.
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