The Software Development Scenario
Brandon is a successful entrepreneur who has started 2 companies in his 12 years of experience. Both of his previous ventures have been widely successful tangible product lines, but now he is ready to dive into the up and coming, the cool kid stuff: software. And we wonders how much does it cost to develop an app and if it worth the investment.
Brandon happens to have a social media idea that he claims will be the next ‘game-changer’ or the next Facebook of the millennial generation. Working with entrepreneurs is exciting and awesome to hear the passion behind all of their ideas! But sometimes, as a software development company, we have to be the ones the keep their feet on the ground making sure their scope remains realistic, especially for the first phase of development – minimum viable product.
I met Brandon at a local networking event in Phoenix, and he asked if he could come into our office to pitch the idea further. And one week later he did just that, spending about an hour describing his idea with ongoing features and even briefly mentioning possible exit strategies. I was thoroughly impressed with his intelligence and passion for his business concept, but then he asked the daunting question that every software developer wishes they could answer for their client… So, how much do you think building an app like this would cost?
Now, to make things simple I am going to break down this question into 2 separate thought processes:
- 1 of the customer, Brandon
- 1 of the software development team
Customer Thought Process
“I have invested so much time and effort into this social media application. I know that there is a need for it in the market. I just need to get an idea of what something like this will cost, and I will be on my way to a new lifestyle, you know like how Mark Zuckerberg lives.
Plus, I have successfully started two other businesses and am ready for this new step into a booming tech industry. I may not know much about the tech industry, but I know my idea is going to take off! Just like my other businesses, I will describe my product/software concept to manufacturers/developers and see how much capital I need to get this business running.
After meeting this guy at a networking event and pitching my software concept to his company for nearly an hour, now is the time to ask how much it will cost to develop an app. Once I get this number, I can either put down my deposit or start looking for investors if I do not have what it takes. So, I ask… But all the sudden the developer is looking at me with a huge smile on his face and shaking his head. Did I say something wrong? He told me he liked my idea before, so I know that is not the problem? Just give me a number!”
Software Development Team Thought Process
“This guy seems to be really business-minded and will probably be successful in whatever venture he takes on. He has the passion in this project and has even completed a decent amount of customer research. So why not listen to his pitch, and see if it is something that I could see my software development company building for him?
He has been describing his concept for nearly an hour now, and has clearly put in a good amount of thought into how this idea could be a huge impact on society. What he hasn’t described is all the details like what the product will look like, explain how he wants each feature to work, what integrations with other software it will have, what admin features vs customer features it will include, and the list goes on and on.
And then he asks that question, ‘So, how much do you think it will cost to develop an app like this?’ It’s understandable, as an entrepreneur I would want to know what something is going to cost me too! But, how do I break it to Brandon that I cannot give him an answer without all of the specifications?”
So, how much will cost to develop an app for my business? It’s a lot like building a house…
“Less than $1M.” We both chuckle a bit, but then he gives me this unmistakable look with facial expression, body language, and all… meaning he wants to know a legitimate number, and he wants it now. But, then I proceeded to describe how custom software development, particularly answering the question of how much does is cost to develop an app, is very similar to building a house.
You can go to a home builder with the concept of creating a beautiful home with 4 bedrooms and 3 baths. You could mention how his home will be the most modern house in the neighborhood which will hopefully start a trend that will make the area more upscale, etc. (similar to how his idea will revolutionize the social media industry).
But the problem is, the home builder still cannot give you an accurate price. Without knowing all of Brandon’s requirements like square footage, appliances, garage, pool, backyard, how each of those features work, and what each of those features look like, the builder simply has no idea of what it would cost.
The same applies to Brandon’s software application. Without knowing all of the specifications, it is impossible to provide an accurate quote. And the only way to do so, is to work through the specification list. It can be a long and utterly painful process, but could ultimately save your project from falling into the 68% of software projects that fail.
This is why I strongly urge each one of our clients to undergo an initial design and discovery phase that will lay out all product specifications, functionality, and even some visual design.
Whether you are still figuring out your specifications or think you know exactly what you would like to develop, reach out to us to help you out to figure out what it will cost to develop an app customized for you.