Any successful business requires a well-functioning software application. It expands the opportunities to gain a foothold in the market, meet the target audience’s needs, and find an effective way to stand out from the competition. So sooner or later, both a large enterprise and a promising startup will feel the need to create an application for relevant growth.
One of the first questions is how much it will cost to create such software. Yet, there is no single answer. It varies due to the app’s complexity, implemented features, chosen platform, backend development, UI/UX design, etc. Challenges do not stop after calculating the approximate price and determining your budget.
You’ll face another vital question: how to reduce product development costs, adhering to the aim of quality?
It’s no secret that software development requires funding. What does it take to create an effective and successful digital product? A team of professionals and investment in design, frontend and backend development, testing, and promotion. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Each additional function complicates the task, expanding the timeline and increasing the budget.
So most of those who want to develop an app look for options where an affordable price doesn’t imply a deterioration in quality. Is it even possible? Let’s find out.
In this post, we will give you five useful tips on how to reduce software development costs without compromising quality. This research will rely on our team’s insider understanding of the topic.
Factors That Drive Software Development Costs
According to McKinsey’s research, average large IT projects run 45 percent over budget and 7 percent over time. So how come that software development is so risky and high-priced? There are several reasons for this, including both objective factors and pitfalls that can be difficult to predict.
The latter can be bypassed only by those who know where these risks hide. When creating your digital product, every mistake can lead to additional costs and inflate the budget. Knowledge is power, and the sooner you learn about potential risks, the less likely they are to catch you by surprise. So our first tip is to get prepared, weigh the pros and cons of each step, and act wisely.
Before finding a way to save software development budget, let’s determine which factors impact the price tag most.
The type of your app has a huge impact on the development cost. Apps differ in services they provide and functions they include. A simple basic app takes much less time to develop, and, accordingly, the price is lower. In contrast, an advanced one with a full set of complex features will be significantly more costly due to the expanded timeline.
In most cases, developing an MVP first is the right solution. It gives you a chance to test your app and reduce spendings at the very beginning of development. You can add more sophisticated functions later.
You have to make some decisions before a professional team undertakes the development. MVP will deliver valuable information about the users’ reactions and your product’s strong and weak points. But it still can be too late (or too expensive) to change the vector dramatically.
Select the approximate number of required functions during the planning stage. Each element you decide to add later will increase costs.
The choice of platforms for your app has a major impact on its cost. There are two main approaches you will consider. Making it native will let your app work on a single platform. Many developers prefer this approach because it lets them focus on the environment and adopt the app to all its requirements. A native app has more advanced functionality and fully uses its capabilities.
The cross-platform approach is another popular solution since it is cheap and takes less time to develop. But a cross-platform application may not function at full capacity. The most expensive option is to develop two individual versions of your app for both iOS and Android. However, such a solution may be too hard to cope with initially, taking a lot of time and requiring a doubled budget. So it’s highly recommended to start with one platform initially and create the other one later if necessary.
Your product’s design is another factor to consider. Even when developing an MVP, the software’s functional and user-oriented quality plays a vital role. You should test User Experience resistance throughout the development lifecycle. But, you may not attach too much importance to animation, graphics, and other UI elements initially. Interface design is essential for distinguishing your product from competitors and defining your brand identity. Still, it becomes a priority at later stages of development.
Software development cost majorly depends on the team’s location and type. In-house shops are often several times more expensive than outsourced ones. Your primary goal is to find a dedicated team offering affordable services. In today’s remote world, it is not so important where exactly their headquarters are.
The other important condition is to find the team which may propose a full range of services, including app maintenance. If you need your collaboration to be long-lasting and developers aware of your product’s needs, don’t dwell on temporary options.
The Bad Scope of Work
Without a well-managed scope of work, you can face problems at any production stage. It is often the result of poor communication and planning. Thus, you are running the risk of falling out of deadlines, which invariably leads to an inflated budget. The issues during the workflow can also be caused by an incomplete set of specialists or their narrow profile. A good team always has the right balance, which is harder to achieve if independent contractors work on the project.
Consequently, the contract you sign should make all requirements certain and transparent for both sides. A pricing model like Time-and-Materials will help you keep your budget under control, providing you with information about the working hours of each specialist.
A regular and consistent dialog with the development team is one of the keys to success. It may seem insignificant, but miscommunication actually has a direct impact on the project costs. If you don’t have direct involvement in the workflow, the situation may get out of control. Delayed deadlines and incurring extra costs are inevitable if you don’t have transparency in relations with the developers’ team.
If you are estimating your budget for development, don’t forget that the app’s release is only the first finish line. You will continue your collaboration with the chosen team of developers even after launch. Costs spent on maintenance and adding more features to your app after its release may seem like a long-term prospect, but you should still consider them in your calculations.
The further expenses may not be so large, but regular investments in your product’s technical support are crucial if you want it to keep evolving and improving.
How to reduce software development costs
Now, having learned what affects development prices, let’s uncover ways to keep your budget within reasonable limits. Some of the spendings seem to be inevitable, and they actually are. But if planned and managed wisely, every production stage can be more meaningful, less risky, and cost-efficient.
Our tips on how to optimize the cost of software development are aimed at avoiding unnecessary spendings, not at saving by any means. We still keep in mind that the main goal is your app’s good quality.
Use a Backend-as-a-Service Solution
BaaS (Backend-as-a-Service) is the right solution for those who prefer a fast, time-consuming, and efficient approach to software development. UI/UX design and frontend development will take up most space in your budget, so the chance of backend integrations is highly beneficial.
Instead of building an individual server-side for your app, consider using the existing platform that will supply you with a ready-made system of APIs and administrative panels. BaaS providers will supply your app with all required backend and cloud-based services such as file storage, database, and the entire cloud infrastructure. Also, it will automate a lot of processes such as push notifications, authentication, integrations with social networks, emails, etc.
One of the largest advantages of using a BaaS solution instead of building your backend from scratch is that you will save a lot of time, which helps cut down on software development costs. A good backend system requires quite a big effort to develop, particularly if your app is heavy and needs a large database. Let your team focus on tasks that directly relate to what the end-users will see and consume. Based on our company’s experience, Backend-as-a-Service can save you up to 75% of development costs.
Outsource Your Development
The statistics claim in-house development solutions to be much more expensive than outsourcing. In some cases, the total price of the service in the USA or Canada could be twice or even three times higher than the same set of services in South America, Europe, or Asia. To make sure, look at the comparison table with the average hourly rates of frontend developers in different regions.
|Region||Average hourly rates range|
|North America||$40 - $270|
|South America||$20 - $70|
|Western Europe||$30 - $120|
|Eastern Europe||$25 - $85|
|Southeast Asia||$15 - $50|
What are the Benefits of Outsourcing
The question is why the price difference is so striking and whether it is directly related to the quality of the service. The thing is that a poor-quality service may happen in any corner of the world, as well as an excellent one. The price difference is due to other factors, such as the economic situation and the average wages.
Furthermore, outsourcing specialists are often even more qualified than in-house ones. That’s because they are used to working with various types of projects and dealing with many different industries, gaining experience in providing more diverse and complex development services. In contrast, in-house developers are more likely to work on similar projects. So if you want to build an innovative app with no analogs, outsourcing the development is often a preferable solution not only because it is more cost-efficient.
Outsource to Reduce Development Costs
Also, hiring an outsourcing company makes development less costly since you won’t have to hire a whole staff to provide you with in-house services. Working with an onshore team, you will be supposed to spend extra on taxes, individual employees’ salaries, rent, and more. Besides, you will regularly waste time on unnecessary meetings. By outsourcing your app’s development, the chances to reduce software development costs without compromising quality will grow significantly.
Outstaffing VS Freelance VS Outsourcing Agency
You still have other options to develop your product without resorting to in-house solutions. You may outstaff the development for a third-party company that will hire a set of specialists. It’s a good solution for increasing your team and facilitating the recruiting process. But your responsibility for the result remains very high.
You can also hire independent contractors, which is normally the least expensive way. But in cases of urgency, freelancers have no partners and teamwork behind their backs, which can be critical, especially on large projects. Hiring an outsourcing company will be reasonable if you need a full set of professionals who can make quick and effective decisions working in a team.
Use Well-Known Technologies
Choosing the right technology stack for your product’s backend and frontend development may not be easy as there are plenty of those, and each technology may offer some advantages. But considering the options, narrow the range of choice by determining what exactly you need the technology for and whether it will remain effective in the future.
Why Tech Stack Matters
Generally, it plays a key role in the operation of your product in the long run. It significantly impacts your app’s cost. If you make the wrong choice now, you will have to rebuild your app later and spend extra costs on advanced improvements. In addition, developers deal with different technologies, and their prices also vary. So, where is the right decision?
Rely on the Goal
First of all, consider your app’s goals and the desired functions. All stacks have more or less similar essence, they are built differently, and not all of them will be suitable for your type of software. For instance, different technologies suit better to build a heavy backend system and to create a PC game.
Make a Future-proof Decision
Secondly, choose a widely-used tech stack. Check what technologies are used by successful platforms and well-known companies. It’s not even about how popular the technology is, but how many developers are ready to deal with it. Some stacks seem efficient and suitable for your business, but if it’s hard to find the developers to work with it, you’d better look for other options. Besides, popular doesn’t mean sustainable. Some technologies may simply fall out of trend and cause problems in the future.
Don’t Use Custom Graphics
If you build a fresh product and expect it to break into the market just after the launch, you still need to remember that it’s only the beginning of the journey. To shorten time to market and save your budget, build an MVP and consider adding only essential features first. Prioritize the key functions, show users the product’s benefits, and learn how they respond. In this matter, usability and clarity definitely prevail over visual and functional extras.
Keep in mind that you will have plenty of time to enrich the product with any desired features after your software release. For example, custom graphics are pleasant to use since people will be able to choose and implement visual elements of the app on their own. But custom features take time to design and develop, which immediately leads to an increase in spendings. Besides, what’s the point of custom graphics if certain aspects of your product are not working properly and still need improvements at this early development phase?
Prioritize polishing your software performance. When your product starts earning money, it will be the best time to implement interface improvements.
Software cost reduction is about avoiding mistakes where possible. Every issue, even the one that doesn’t seem critical, may lead to a more serious problem and eventually snowball into something that needs a time-consuming rescue operation.
In many cases, time-consuming means close to a budget crunch. Mistakes are an inevitable part of any workflow, so it’s not likely that you or your team won’t make any. But you can detect issues and get rid of them faster than they manage to become a threat. How?
- Test everything as often as possible.
- Involve QAs as early as possible.
- Test the design requirements.
- Provide the code’s quality control.
Start working with QA specialists at the earliest phase and continue it throughout the whole period. It will help prevent many bugs, not letting them multiply and impact negatively or even critically.
Testing the results should be involved even earlier than at the design and development stages. Test requirements first, since this is how you identify the wrong solutions and change them before beginning the development process. Keep verifications during the further phases of app production. The control of the code’s quality is no less important and can be performed manually or automatically.
Testing and quality control have a major impact on your product’s development cost. Not doing it regularly and on time, you risk getting stuck in the processes of redesign and constant alterations, resulting in additional expenses.
Software Development Without Overpayments
Software development is a challenging, timely, and expensive aim to reach. But it’s still possible to build a high-quality product without experiencing a budget crunch. It doesn’t mean that you have to look for any ways to save costs. Good planning, efficient project management, a dedicated developers’ team, and consistent solutions to any possible issues will do the trick. Hopefully, our guidelines will help you do your best to perform your release on time while keeping your budget within reasonable limits.
So how can a firm reduce the cost of new product development?
- Set a consistent plan, define the goals, and stick to them.
- Define your budget and note the most significant factors that may affect it.
- Make sure you don’t make typical mistakes such as a bad scope of work and poor communication with the hired team.
- Outsource the development to cut the cost and achieve better efficiency.
- Use BaaS solutions not to waste time and resources on backend development.
- Pick a well-known tech stack that is future-proof and popular among developers.
- Don’t implement sophisticated features such as custom graphics to your MVP. Focus on the app’s usability.
- Involve QA specialists at the earliest development stages and regularly test the product.
If you need additional information about software development costs and quality, we at Acropolium are ready to come in handy. Our dedicated team has delivered hundreds of successful solutions and will help you meet your deadlines and hit the target.
We provide a complete set of software development services. Our experienced specialists can consult you on any issues related to your product development strategy, tech stack selection, BaaS solutions, software audit & consulting, and more. Get in touch to receive more detailed answers and share with us your ideas!