Most companies with software development needs end up spending too much money on software development. Instead of making an app on a budget as originally intended, they end up spending tens of thousands of dollars on services and technologies that they probably don’t even need.
There are many possible root causes of overpaying, such as hiring the wrong people or simply being the victim of an industry with skewed supply and demand. But despite these ever-present variables, you have significant control over how your software development projects progress — meaning you can follow these strategies to avoid paying too much.
Start with a plan
Everything starts with a plan. If you’re planning to build an app or a new platform, you need to have more than just a rough idea of what that platform will look like. Too many entrepreneurs enter the world of software development with just a vague, abstract concept in mind. They think they can figure out all the details later, in the middle of development.
But this poses two major problems. First, it means they can’t collect accurate bids or price estimates because they still don’t know exactly what they want. Second, it means they are much more likely to facilitate scope creep later on, which can significantly increase the final price of the project.
The solution is to plan as much detail as possible for your platform, delving into technical requirements so that you can talk to your developers about exactly what you want.
Hire the right team
Hiring the right software developer makes a big difference. There are many roads you can take here. Whichever path you choose, keep the following features in mind:
- Maneuverability. Agile development methodologies are leaner, more efficient and more flexible than competing methodologies. Prioritize a software developer who specializes in agile development and make sure the team is dynamic enough to change things instantly when needed.
- Skills. You also need to ensure that the people on this team are sufficiently skilled and experienced. Do they have knowledge and familiarity with the programming language you want to use and the type of software you want to build?
- References/proof of work. Don’t get scammed. Make sure to verify your software developer’s credentials; do they have samples of their password to show off their expertise?
- Communication. In my experience, most problems and delays in software development are due to miscommunication. If you find a software developer with excellent communication habits and you follow the best communication practices, the number of miscommunications you experience will plummet.
- Prices. Finally, consider pricing. Get project estimates from multiple different developers to ensure the provider you choose is reasonably priced. Don’t default to the cheapest option as you often get what you pay for, shop around and get rid of the agencies and freelancers that deliberately overcharge.
Consider negotiating before accepting an agreement. Sometimes a polite request is enough to get a lower price. Even in the worst case scenario, you may be able to reduce the cost of the project by making a few sacrifices and compromises.
Limit creep range
I’ve seen the profitability of many software development projects directly jeopardized because of scope creep. Scope creep is essentially when the scope of the project gradually increases over the course of the project. This often happens to entrepreneurs, because they keep coming up with new ideas and heading in new directions.
There’s nothing wrong with being flexible and adaptable, but if you keep adding new requirements and changing your mind about the original direction, your developers will have to work countless extra hours to fulfill those requests. And if they charge by the hour, that means a much higher bill for you at the end of the package.
Establish practices to avoid miscommunication
The cost of the project and the time it takes to complete will both be negatively impacted by miscommunication. If you explain something imprecisely, or if your developer misinterprets your request, you could end up spending dozens of billable hours needlessly making mistakes and then fixing them.
That’s why it’s important to establish practices to avoid miscommunication, such as these:
- Be proactive. Preventing mistakes is much more efficient than trying to correct them after they unfold. Always be proactive with your communication and try to recognize potential problems before they develop.
- Stay organized. Your developer won’t be able to build your software effectively if you give them shotgun blasts of distorted information; keep things organized and streamlined so it’s easy to understand.
- Stay consistent. Don’t be slack; it’s important to stay consistent about what you want and how you want it. That doesn’t mean you can’t change your mind, but it does mean that you should strive for decisiveness.
- Touch the base regularly. Trust, but verify. Check with your developer to make sure all your instructions are clear, evaluate the work currently being done, and proactively acknowledge potential issues.
Software development is not cheap. And understandably so. But there is no reason to pay more for software development than necessary, especially when so many causes of overspending in this area are due to avoidable problems.
Pay close attention to your project, from start to finish, and stay on top of these potentially problematic areas.