How to reduce the cost of your software project
If you’re planning a software project, you’ll be no stranger to the complexities involved. And one of the key, complex issues that you’ll be trying to get on top of is the cost.
As a provider of bespoke software, we can tell you that costing a software project isn’t easy but we always try our best to keep costs as low as possible. But there are also things you can do as a customer to make sure that you control costs, avoid spiraling and maintain a high level of quality.
And in this blog, we’re going to share those things with you.
A lot of this is going to come down to the iron triangle. And to give you an idea of what this is, take a look at the video below.
In case you can’t see the video for any reason, here’s a quick summary.
The iron triangle has three points which represent project constraints: scope, time and cost. And in the middle of the triangle is quality. It looks like this:
The idea is that you need to keep the triangle balanced, otherwise quality will be compromised. If you try to reduce the time without also adjusting the scope or the cost, you won’t get the results you want.
Another way to look at it is that we offer three things: speed, value, and features. You can choose two, but the more you stretch those two, the more the detriment to the third. So you can have a project that’s fast and cheap, but you’ll have less scope for features. Or you can have a project that needs to be fast and have a lot of features, but the cost will be higher.
A lot of what we’re talking about are things that we know can significantly increase time and scope of a project, and thus need the cost to increase proportionally if you want the quality you’d expect.
Another concept you should keep in mind is technical debt. This is where you decide to forgo a design feature you know you’ll need, but weigh it up as better left until a later date when you have more information. Here’s a really insightful article summing it up. It’s worth keeping this in mind as a reminder that savings at the start of a project can lead to paying more further down the line. So make sure that you take on technical debt knowingly. If you work with us, we’ll highlight this at the beginning of the project.
Linked to this, although not the same, is software rot. This describes the reality that software does rot over time if it is not maintained. Platforms, plugins, software libraries — they all march ahead. And version 15 of the operating system might introduce new data, security or privacy rules that impact the current code base.
With all this in mind, let’s take a look at the elements of a software project that tend to have the most impact on the cost. These are things which you as a customer can keep in mind at the outset of the project when you’re thinking about your requirements, especially if you’re working to a tight budget or a tight timescale.
The more you want to make your final product user-adjustable, the more development sprints it will take to get this right. This shouldn’t put you off adding this to your project, but it should make you think about how necessary it is.
Many projects will require reporting of some kind, but the more complex the reporting becomes, the more the cost can ramp up. This is especially true if you want to add custom reporting. This just means it’s important to consider what you need to report on very carefully at the start of the project.
Everything we build has scalability in mind. When scalability has to meets the needs of over a million users a month is when it can become expensive. Of course this is a cost that’ll return a healthy ROI if you have that kind of traffic and consider the cost of trying to develop cheaply and the system falling over.
All of our software comes with security built in, but certain software requires a higher level of security, depending on the kind of data it’ll be using. If your database contains financial information, information that can personally identify people or other data that’s under regulation of some kind, then the cost of securing this data will be higher.
Working with third-party APIs is usually a part of any software project. But some not all third-party integrations are equal. Some are much more complex to integrate with and prone to problems down the line, and this means much more work upfront to ensure long-lasting stability in your software.
Of everything we’ve talked about here, the most important and essential fact to keep in mind is that the cost of any project will always be intrinsically linked to the scope and the speed at which you need it.
On the other side of the coin, this means that in terms of scope and speed, you can achieve your goals, pretty much no matter what they are, as long as you can increase your budget to accommodate it!
Another way to avoid spiraling costs, which we haven’t mentioned already but which is worth keeping in mind is HiLo. This just means that you should focus on big value and low effort features, and avoid complex rabbit holes where possible.
Keep all this in mind when you come to scope your software project, and you’ll be in a strong position to keep your costs low both now and into the future.
If you have a software project and you’d like to talk to us about the costs and how to keep them down, then book a call with Mark today.
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