5 Factors Affecting Software Development Costs

Ways to cost your software development projects

The time will come when the following question will be asked: how much money do I need to develop our next software development project?

What we aim with this article is to teach you how we cost our project so you can keep it in mind and allocate your own budget for software development.

To estimate the cost of a software development project, you will need two things, first determine the size of the software you are going to develop, using a unit of measurement, then you will need to know how many units of this measure your team can develop at a certain cost.

There are as many ways to estimate the cost and timeline of a software project as there are development languages. Research has shown that if a project can be broken down into small chunks of work, and each chunk is estimated, the estimates tend to be more accurate.

Here we have five factors affecting the cost of your software development projects.

Involving Business Stakeholders in the Software Estimation Process

Involving stakeholders early in the software estimation process helps to define more accurately what is important in the software development life cycle. This helps both the business leaders and the technology team gain a shared understanding of the project. It also helps to hold everyone involved accountable to the initial estimate.

Asking Why Do Most Software Estimation Projects Fail

The answer is simple, poor requirements and weak leadership. The technology in itself is rarely the cause of project failure. Great technology and developers will fail without good requirements and leadership. Beware of this red flag: leadership that cannot explain the end goals or the business drivers behind software during estimating sessions with the project team. Developers can’t develop quality code when requirements are not clear.

Building the Right Team

There’s more to a team than just developers. They need a good supporting cast and good requirements that hold everyone accountable. In order for the project to provide business value, users need to be able to use the application effectively. This means that the project must have good business analysts to write good requirements, which drive efficient development. The user experience is more than just how it looks. Include a designer on the project who can provide both an effective interface that is pleasant but that also facilitates meaningful user flow.

Good Software Estimation Metrics Should Reveal Problems Sooner

If the estimate is based on the developer’s velocity, then it is easier to determine whether a team is developing at the expected pace. Metrics allow you to identify team members that are not producing as expected. Rarely do all teams or developers produce at exactly the same speed. Some will work faster, some more slowly. If they are too slow, you can begin to investigate where friction occurs, from requirements to design, architecture, scope creep or lacking technical skills. Comparing actual velocity to original estimates allows stakeholders to identify budget misalignment sooner and take corrective action when needed.

Breaking the Requirements Down to Increase Transparency in Software Estimation

Begin by breaking the requirements down far enough so that each requirement can be built in a short time by a single developer. Any requirement that cannot be broken down may not be understood well enough for accurate estimation (with some exceptions).

This process will help the stakeholders understand what it will take to develop the software. Demanding more details upfront may seem to add time to project estimation, but the transparency it creates usually shortens the software estimation, improves quality and shortens the approval time through better understanding amongst stakeholders.

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