Even though there are numerous software solutions designed for specific business needs available on the market, a lot of companies choose to create their own custom solutions. The main reason is that not every product available on the market is tailored for every need a company might have.
Furthermore, companies that build their own software often have a competitive advantage. After all, their software can do something that other solutions can't, at least for the time being.
However, creating custom software can be a major undertaking, especially for startups and small companies that don't have a well-developed budget yet.
Still, is there really a way to reduce costs involved in custom development? Of course, there is. The key is in mapping the entire project and planning it efficiently. Therefore, here are a few effective ways to reduce custom software development costs.
The Agile approach
The traditional or so-called "waterfall" method of developing software is no longer viable in today's rapidly moving market. Software engineers and experts created the Agile approach to software development as a more efficient and simple way to deliver working software that became widely popular back in 2001.
However, even though Agile has been around for a while now, many companies still leverage the traditional methods. If you want to reduce the costs of custom software development, Agile is the way to go. With that in mind, here are a few reasons why Agile is a better approach and also a few ways how Agile can help you reduce costs, especially in the long run.
- In Agile, both the development phase and the testing phase are conducted simultaneously.
- The project is divided into iterations that last between two and four weeks called "sprints".
- After each sprint, a working piece of product is developed.
- Stakeholders are involved in software development throughout the project's lifecycle.
- Stakeholder feedback is essential as Agile practices indicate working software over comprehensive documentation.
- Agile welcomes changes even far into the project.
- The Agile approach is focused on continuous delivery and simplicity.
Consider your outsourcing possibilities
In most cases, companies often lack the infrastructure or the resources to fully develop their custom software in the in-house environment. What's more, it would be a bit too expensive to bring in every necessary department full-time.
That's why it's vital to consider outsourcing as a way to proceed. For example, you can always consider efficient DevOps services for your custom software development. But what exactly is DevOps? Simply put, DevOps is a set of practices that automate various processes between IT departments and software development.
These practices allow for a faster, better, efficient and, of course, cost-effective way for software to be produced, tested and released. You may lack the resources to create such an environment but that's why there's always an outsourcing solution to consider. Outsourcing has a fixed cost whereas hiring professionals to help create your software can have greater long-term expenses.
Focus on the essentials
Creating a custom software solution can be simplified. The way you can do this is by focusing on essential features and requirements while ignoring the so-called nice-to-haves. If you're building the software for yourself, any non-essential features can be implemented later if there's room in the budget for it.
On the other hand, if stakeholders are involved, it's important to clearly communicate the costs of implementing the non-essential features into the product. For example, in Agile practices, stakeholder requirements are translated into the so-called "user stories".
The development team then considers whether or not something is possible to develop. Therefore, if it's possible to build, the costs for individual features, i.e. user stories, can be roughly estimated. For instance, here's an example of a user story.
- As a (Persona) I (Want to), (So that)...
By communicating the expenses of implementing features that are nice to have but not really necessary, stakeholders, who are generally not tech-savvy all the time, will understand the need to reduce the costs whenever possible and instead focus on features that will bring value.
Automation of various processes can not only save you a lot of time, especially when it comes to testing, but it can also vastly reduce the costs of custom software development. Any process that can be automated will save you both time and money in one way or another.
However, when it comes to custom software development, automation can easily become a double-edged sword if you aren't careful.
If you manage to overcome the common challenges of automation, you won't have to worry about potential problems. Therefore, here are a few common obstacles when it comes to leveraging automation in software testing.
- Automated tests cannot be valid for a prolonged time. After a while, automated tests will become obsolete and should thus be removed and replaced.
- Maintenance costs can skyrocket if automation isn't kept in check. After a while, your regression test may start to show false-positive results or show bugs that aren't there. The costs of finding a culprit when there isn't one to be found can easily increase and fast.
- Frequent changes are possible from either your part or that of the stakeholders. Any automated test is at risk if you don't include the changes.
Developing custom software can be a challenging and costly endeavor. However, there's always a way to reduce the costs if you're willing to make an effort. If you plan your project the right way, you can find the means to make it cost-effective and reduce any unnecessary expenses that will burden your budget.