Developing software is as desirable as it’s challenging. While custom-made solutions save both time and money, bring in new clients, and facilitate a number of operations, the cost of building one can range from reasonably affordable to considerably costly. For this reason, a lot of companies are always on the hunt for new ways to reduce those software development costs. And while some of them use any trick in the book to cut corners, most understand that cost-cutting can’t come at the expense of software quality. So, what can they do? According to our experience at Code Power, a lot. Here are our suggestions for reducing the costs associated with software development projects.
Choose the best team
It may sound easier said than done, but you can’t create software without the right people. Unfortunately, getting a good team is extremely complicated because of two reasons. First, there aren’t many experienced software engineers with the right technical and soft skills. And second, many companies are vying for the same professionals.
With that landscape in mind, you have to ask yourself: How much will it cost to hire someone versus outsourcing development? This is a crucial question, as the path you take can considerably ramp up your costs or help you reduce them. For instance, you might find that your in-house team only has a few talent gaps you can fill through staff augmentation. Or maybe you don’t have a team, so outsourcing will always be more affordable than hiring an in-house team.
It all depends on what your in-house team looks like.
If you have a strong team, tackling development might be the best for you because the whole development process will be more streamlined and better aligned with your business goals. If your team isn’t experienced, though, you’ll have to decide whether to hire someone permanently, hire someone temporarily, or outsource parts or the entire project.
The road you take will also depend on how many software development projects you want to pursue. Hiring an entire development team or a highly specialized engineer for a one-off project makes no sense. On the other hand, having an internal team will surely be more cost-effective if you’re constantly building new solutions.
Regardless of which route you take, one thing’s for sure: having the best development team by your side is a must. That’s because seasoned software developers are more productive, use best development practices, and can reduce the time to market for the product. Ultimately, this all results in decreased costs.
Conduct market research beforehand
Another significant thing you need to take care of is doing your due market research before starting the software development process. This research will help you understand your target market’s specific needs and ensure that you are creating a product they will want to use. That way, you can avoid spending money on solutions or specific features that no one will ever use.
Be as thorough and organized as you can in your market research. The main goal is to get granular data you can later analyze to better understand your intended audience. The more information you acquire, the better your evaluation will be and the closer you’ll get to developing a product that appeals to and engages your target. What’s more, good market research can uncover other business opportunities you might have overlooked and that might be more profitable than the one you’re researching.
Create a detailed plan
A development project is a highly complex process that involves multiple people and moving parts. Navigating that complexity can be pretty demanding, even for the most experienced engineers. In fact, such difficulty can completely derail a project, delaying deadlines and increasing the time to market. All that quickly translates into inflated costs which can easily bring you over budget.
The best way to prevent that from happening to you? Creating a thorough plan to guide the entire process. This plan should include everything from the project’s initial conception to the final delivery. By having a detailed plan, you can be sure that everyone is on the same page and that everyone’s expectations are aligned.
A word of caution, though. While the detailed plan will let you better organize your development roadmap, you shouldn’t take it as a sacred asset with which no one should tamper. Why? You’ll quickly realize that project requirements might change throughout the development process, and you’ll need to make adjustments. This means that your initial plan can (and probably will) change over time. Keep that in mind and be flexible about that plan so you can change it accordingly whenever you need to.
Invest in the right tools and technologies
Having the best talent by your side and counting on a detailed plan are two of the main pillars of software development. Another significant one is using the right tools to get the job done. This means you’ll have to build the right tech stack, picking the right technologies, languages, frameworks, libraries, APIs, automation solutions, and so on.
The thing is, there are a lot of different options out there, so you want to choose the tools and technologies to help you create a high-quality product while still staying within your budget. That, obviously, brings us to the question: How do you choose the best tools for your development project?
First, you want to consider your overall needs and requirements. For example, if you are building a simple website, you won’t need the same tools as someone creating a complex accounting application. The languages, the frameworks, and the platforms you’ll use will be very different from one another, so you have to understand your project first.
After doing that, you can research the different tools available in the market to find the ones that fit within your budget. Just remember not to make your decision based on cost alone because you might end up working with subpar tools just to save a couple of bucks. Aim at the right balance of cost and usefulness.
Also, remember to trust the experts when making your decision. In other words, consult with your in-house team about the best tools to tackle your specific projects. If you don’t have a team, you can always hire software development consultants that can aid you with this step and save you money not just in picking the right tools but also in building your stack.
Hire a Quality Assurance Specialist
One of the most efficient ways to reduce software development costs in software development is by hiring a quality assurance specialist. This person will ensure that the team uses the best development practices while thoroughly testing the product before it’s released.
By doing this, you can be sure that there are no bugs or errors in the final software. Additionally, a quality assurance specialist can help you save money by catching errors early on in the development process, when they are easier to fix.
However, you should make use of automated testing as well. The right combination of manual and automated testing is best for your budget, as it can help you detect and fix most bugs before they become bigger issues.
It might seem counterintuitive to hire more people when you’re trying to reduce the costs associated with developing software. Yet, a QA engineer is money well invested, even if you don’t see it at first. That’s because the proper QA process will decrease your time to market while elevating the quality of your product. This is definitely good news for business, as you won’t frustrate your customers with a less-than-stellar product.
Outsource part of the development process
As I mentioned before, you can always use outsourcing services to take care of part or the entirety of a particular project. The latter is the best option if you don’t have an in-house development team, while the second can come in handy in many situations, including:
- Your in-house team is swamped with work.
- Your team is struggling to find a solution to a specific problem.
- You lack specific expertise to finish a feature or section.
- You’re about to miss a crucial deadline.
You can outsource several aspects of software development, such as testing and QA, API development, and UX/UI design. By outsourcing these functions, you can focus your team’s time and energy on the core aspects of the project.
Now, if you choose to outsource part of your development, you’ll need to find a reputable software outsourcing company to help you. Doing that can be tricky because many businesses are devoted to outsourcing. How can you be sure they are up to the task? The only way is to conduct thorough research considering factors such as industry experience, past work, references, and cost.
Just remember that you don’t need to outsource to a company in your city, state, or even country.
In fact, some of the most popular regions for software development outsourcing (Eastern Europe, Latin America, and parts of Asia) offer highly competitive rates compared to developed countries while delivering high-quality products.
Thus, outsourcing part of the development process can help you reduce costs in two ways. First, it can be more affordable to hire engineers from a nearshore or offshore software outsourcing company. And second, outsourcing will relieve your internal team to focus on the core parts of the project, which will boost their productivity and aid them in delivering the product on time and without major issues.
Use pre-built features and components
In other words, take advantage of what is already out there. Many templates can be used for inspiration or as a starting point. You don’t have to develop certain features from scratch, which is something that will definitely save you some money.
Additionally, pre-built features and components are usually well-tested and supported. Hence, you can be sure that they will work as expected. So, by using pre-existing features as foundations for your project, you’ll be closer to having your finished product — and without having to work from the ground up!
Keep in mind, though, that using pre-built assets can be a double-edged sword. Sure, you’ll save time and money, but you might expose yourself to faulty or insecure components. It’s up to you to make sure that what you’re using has the best possible quality and serves your purposes, and is something you can build yourself.
Take advantage of open-source software (OSS)
Open-source software is any solution distributed under a license that grants people the right to use, analyze, modify, and re-distribute that software and its source code to anyone and with any purpose — even with commercial purposes! Moreover, many open-source solutions are free, meaning you’ll get a considerable headstart for your project if you use one of these systems as a foundation for your product.
Additionally, open-source software is usually well-supported and has a large community of users. This means that you can get help and advice from other developers if you encounter any problems.
Open source software can save you quite some time and effort, but make sure you read all the tiny print regarding how much you can modify the open source code and what you can do with the software created in that way. For instance, it’s best to determine if it’s possible to monetize such software onwards or if you can only use it for your own purposes.
Encourage collaboration and knowledge-sharing
When we talk about best software development practices, we don’t just refer to good coding principles, constant testing, and continuous improvement and delivery. We also refer to how a particular software development team works together. In other words, the best software development practices also include ways to boost collaboration and prevent the formation of knowledge silos.
There are many ways in which you can encourage collaboration and knowledge-sharing. For instance, you can use centralized platforms to manage projects, monitor KPIs, raise issues, and document processes. You can also use agile methodologies that emphasize collaboration and have plenty of tools to ingrain them into your day-to-day activities. Using communication tools and building a culture of continuous improvement is also a great way to keep everyone in the loop while encouraging all team members to strive for the best quality.
Think of a product with basic features
When launching your software, you should only include the essential features first, as people are more likely to use a simple, easy-to-use product. Finance-wise, you’ll also save money on development costs by launching with only key features, as you’ll release the solution after you cover the basic offering.
Doing that can cut costs in different ways. First and foremost, you’ll need less time to get a more basic version done, which means you won’t spend as much as if you were developing everything from scratch. Then, you’ll be able to test how well your product is doing while your audience is using it. This will serve as research that can point you in the right development direction, saving you from conducting a granular evaluation of your audience, while checking your hypotheses.
Additionally, basic software can start providing dividends right away in terms of money, reputation, client experience, and more. So, you can use that basic software as a starting point and build on it afterward when it makes more financial sense.
A tricky but possible endeavor
You might think that reducing software development costs always means sacrificing quality at one point or another, but you’d be wrong. Developing affordable and high-quality software is possible as long as you take all the necessary steps to ensure that’s the case.
Following the tips above can help you with that, so see them as a checklist and make use of the suggestions to overcome the tricky but very possible endeavor of building quality software on a budget.