Software development is necessary for modern companies. Unfortunately for small businesses and startups, it can also be rather expensive. New software development doesn’t have to set your budget back for the quarter.
Your business can implement new software and stay on track financially with the right tips and tricks for cutting costs. Take the following steps to get the programs you need for your business to thrive, without going over budget.
Plan Ahead of Time
Planning makes perfect sense when it comes to cost-effective software development. Plan properly before you implement new software into your company, whether it’s a customized solution or something turnkey. Planning should be the pillar for new software implementation – the solid foundation on which your company can stand for the rest of the process. Work closely with your project managers to get a firm understanding of what to expect during software development. Then, map out the following processes in as much detail as possible:
- Timeline and schedule
- System requirements
- Scope of the project
- People involved
- Quality assurance
- Future requirements
The more time you spend planning software development now, the less time (and money) you’ll spend fixing problems and redirecting your team later. Spend at least a few weeks mapping out your software development project ahead of time before starting. Become as knowledgeable as possible about the software solution and the processes it takes to implement the software into your company. Only then can you form your team and start without wasting precious time or money.
Choose Semi-Customization Over Full Customization
Custom software solutions are excellent for addressing your company’s specific needs and goals. If you’d like to save money, though, opt for semi-custom software rather than a 100 percent tailored solution. You can still enjoy many of the benefits with semi-custom software as you would with full customization, such as a program that’s built to address your unique challenges and circumstances. Yet you’ll save money choosing some off-the-shelf features for your solution as well. Taking a hybrid stance can help you meet your software requirements without going over budget.
Try to avoid a completely off-the-shelf software solution if possible. Template-based solutions may not properly address your problems and can fall far short of expectations. It is also generally difficult or impossible to modify and expand off-the-shelf software, making it a less-scalable option than something custom. A semi-customized solution, however, can give you a competitive advantage and keep you up to date with the latest changes in trends and technologies.
Choosing a semi-custom software solution is ideal for many companies. You don’t have the endless customization options of something built from scratch, yet you have some level of flexibility in functions and features. You can save money while still benefitting from some custom elements to address specific needs. Going semi-custom also saves more time than total software customization, shortening the development phase and time to launch. It’s the best of both worlds.
Prioritize Most-Needed Features
Analyze your main reasons for the software development project. Can you achieve your goals with just a few most-needed features? If so, identify these features and prioritize them in your budget. That way you’ll ensure your company gets the features you really need, without paying for those that may be superfluous. For example, if lead generation is your main mission, make sure your software offers solutions. If you have any leftover money in your budget, you can extend development to less-needed functions.
Creating a wish list with priority features on top can help you conserve room in the budget for features you really need. Planning plays a large role in this software development step. Understanding your business goals and why you need software development ahead of time can help you identify the main objectives for the project. When it comes time to semi-customize your solution with your most-needed features, you’ll have a list of things your company absolutely needs ready to go. Choosing your highest-priority software features can help you save money and benefit from a more tailored product.
Research Your Outsourcing Options
Researching different software development providers is integral to saving money on your project. Different developers will have different payment scales and upfront costs depending on their services and your needs. Compare a few different companies near you to find one that offers solutions within your price point. Look for the following signs of a high-quality developer before inquiring about price:
- Where your developer has its headquarters can change the price of services. In general, companies based in major metropolitan areas are the most expensive. Compare services from companies in a few different cities to see where you can save the most money.
- You don’t want a software developer that’s rigid in its ability to accommodate changes or requests. Instead, search for an agile vendor for future tweaks and changes. Software is a highly personalized endeavor; you should have the power to evaluate your changing needs and address them with your provider.
- Ask about the developer’s methodology for software project management, because this can have a major impact on the price of services. Some vendors may take a traditional, linear approach to development while others maybe more flexible. In general, flexibility will bode well for tighter budgets.
- When operating on a strict budget, emphasize software usability over aesthetic value. Although it’s nice to have a design you love, it’s more important to enjoy flawless functionality. If you must choose one over the other when searching for the right provider, usability should take top priority. Narrowing the focus of your project can save significant costs.
- Alternative contract terms. Search for innovative pricing schemes that may reduce the price of your software development project. Some vendors may agree to leave some flexibility in fixed pricing. Ask about the possibility of agreeing on alternative contract terms if the price of services is a major consideration for you.
The right developer can give you a seamless software development process on a budget. The more you research your available options, the better the odds of finding a provider that will fit your bottom line. Compare and contrast contracts and price tables of different options until you find one that suits your needs. Spending more time doing research now can save you a great deal of time, money, and stress later.
Look Toward the Future
Although this tip may not cut your initial software development costs, it can save you considerable money in the future. Always look ahead when planning your software development project. Think about the features your company and customers will need one year, five years, and further down the road. Do your best to develop a software solution that is scalable and flexible to accommodate business growth or changing consumer demands. Developing with the future in mind can lead to a finished product that’s ready for anything.
Planning, identifying top project priorities, doing your vendor research, and looking toward the future can minimize the costs of software development. Before you start, prepare your team for the process to come. Preparation and knowing what to expect can help you take the leap with confidence – and cost-effectiveness. The more you know about your software needs and provider, the more control you’ll have over costs. Take your time on your next software development project to truly get the most for your money.