Top 3 Questions we’re asked about Custom Software Costs.
When building a new product, it can be tempting to hire your cousin’s best friend who studies computer science at the local tertiary institution. We don’t blame you. If you feel you have a tight budget, this route may seem more cost-efficient than hiring a software firm.
Time and time again, we see businesses take this route – whether it’s a business in its infancy or a business that’s been around for over twenty years. And time and time again, we see this lead to failed software projects.
The fact is this – custom software is expensive. It’s expensive because it’s high-risk. It’s high-risk because it’s complex. It’s complex because you’re building something for the first time. But if done right, custom software can be an asset for your business to drive new revenue and efficiency. With the right approach, you can decrease your risk up-front without breaking the bank.
#1: How much will my project cost?
To be honest, we can’t answer this question responsibly until we understand your idea, business, market, users, etc. While we can’t tell you exactly what your project will cost, we can draw on the many projects we’ve delivered and tell you what’s typical for the projects we’re best suited to help you with.
It’s really hard to know the specific costs of a project without going through a discovery phase like our Discovery, Design and Planning engagement, however we can usually help you set a responsible budget before you ever hire us.
It’s also important to keep in mind that most projects get broken up into multiple phases. During the first phase of development, our goal is always to focus on the highest value features and architect something that sets us up for future phases.
No matter how large or small your budget, it’s always our goal for the value our clients receive to significantly exceed the fees we charge.
#2: How much will I be billed and can I count on the budget?
Custom software firms typically configure your bill one of three ways: time and materials; fixed-price; or fixed-budget, scope-controlled. eForge always uses fixed-budget, scope-controlled engagements, meaning we’ll help you develop a responsible budget and we’ll stick to it. The only variable we’ll control is scope and together we’ll scrutinize the real business value of every feature requested. After all, 64% of software features are rarely or never used.
For projects that have a total fixed budget, we track and bill by the hour. We feel this is the most straight forward way to bill. If someone is out sick then you don’t pay for their time. In turn, this also helps ensure that everyone (including clients) are focused on the most valuable features at any given time as opposed to encouraging scope creep. It takes everyone’s awareness of the budget and how we’re tracking to keep the project on target.
For our projects that have a total monthly budget, we still track hours to ensure that we hit the mark each and every month.
Each week, we ask the question: “How can we get the most value out of the remaining budget?” Since we’ve never worked with people who have fewer ideas than they have money or time, our job is to figure out the best possible software application we can build for the given budget. That requires thoughtful understanding of the users and the market. From there, we’ll work to control the scope of the project, both in depth (polish, refinement, complexity) and breadth (features, functionality).
#3: Are there any guarantees?
We can’t speak for the other firms, but we guarantee cost when we feel the risk has been mitigated upfront. In an industry that’s infamous for cost overruns and low-ball bids, we go to great lengths in our upfront process to de-risk projects. This effort produces spot-on solutions, accurate estimates, and successful relationships.
If we underestimate something, we’ll eat 100% of the additional cost until we’re back on track. We do this because it’s the right thing to do.
We also guarantee that you can cancel anytime. By putting the power of termination in our clients’ hands, it ensures we’re held accountable each and every step of the way.
If the value we bring significantly exceeds the fees we charge then this is a win-win for everyone.
Do you want to move forward with your project in a predictable and measurable way? The choice is yours; we give you the power to control the pace according to your varying business needs. eForge can provide you with the development team to accomplish any software project need – no matter the size, industry, or stage of development your company is in.