How much does it cost to develop custom software? Typically, it ranges from $5,000 to $100,000 (or above). The range is quite broad because of the numerous factors that affect software development costs.
At the outset, bespoke software seems more expensive than packaged software. Some might even think that the cost is well overpriced and simply not worthwhile.
But when you look at the overall benefits of custom software development, particularly the potential ROI, investing in a custom solution is better than buying off-the-shelf software (COTS). The advantages of tailor-made software are all over and you can quickly see why many prefer this development process.
Why is custom software more expensive than packaged software?
To better understand the wide price difference between these software types, it is best to understand what a custom solution is and what it takes to build one.
In custom software development, a tailor-made solution is built to meet the unique requirements of your business. Unlike mass-produced, off-the-shelf solutions, custom-made software is exclusively developed for the client. It supports the most detailed needs and requirements of the client and end-users, thereby allowing it to perform better and giving it a competitive advantage. Since you are given a freehand on the software design, the options for custom software development are limitless.
This level of specification makes bespoke software development more expensive. Here’s a quick analogy.
If you need a suit and tie ensemble, you can either buy a ready-made suit at a retail shop for around $100. However, this commercialized suit may not perfectly fit your body, so you might need to have it repaired. And since it is mass-produced, you can expect to bump into someone who wears exactly the same ensemble as yours.
Alternatively, you can have it tailor-made (literally). With a custom-made outfit, you can request the tailor to use your preferred design, color, fabric, cut, style, etc. You’re also pretty sure no one has worn it before and that it fits you perfectly. However, a tailor-made ensemble would cost you ten-fold of its ready-made counterpart.
Where the costs go?
This analogy is quite simplistic but that’s basically the gist of why custom software is costlier. Let’s dig deeper into where the development costs go with this breakdown.
Scope of software
The custom software development cost is directly proportional to the scope of the software. Custom software development companies offer training and support to their clients. Every detail, deliverable, and customization will mean additional costs. From data analysis to design and development down to testing and deployment, each project development aspect will have an attendant expense, particularly manpower and technology resources.
Design and development
After the scope is defined, it goes through the design and development process. Developers proceed with a meticulous process of wireframing and sitemap development. Once the architecture is completed, they then work with the graphics and coding.
Integration is necessary for the custom software to work with existing platforms, applications, or third-party services. In some projects, the client would need integration with other technologies such as blockchain, IoT, AI, ML, and AR/VR. All of these require additional costs for analysis, design, planning, and testing of results.
Custom software development involves data migration, whether upgrading to a new system or consolidating data from an existing platform. This time-consuming process entails analyzing coding rules, preparing new scripts, testing the migration, and making necessary adjustments. All of these steps can add up to the price.
Testing and deployment
Custom solutions go through a rigorous testing and deployment process. Testing ensures that the solution runs perfectly and that it does not have broken scripts or bugs that can affect product quality. Likewise, the software must run in specific environment. Complete compatibility is essential to ensure its quality.
Training and customer support
Custom software development companies offer training and support to their clients. The technical staff and end-users will be trained on how to use the new software. The amount of training time depends on the workflows and complexity of the software. Support is also crucial in addressing bugs and troubles, and further improvement of the solution. While this might seem an additional expense, it should be considered an additional investment to further improve the software.
Unlike COTS, custom solutions can be configured to meet the client’s changing needs. Its ability to adapt with these changes is crucial in ensuring its effectiveness. However, planning and designing a scalable solution would also mean extra time and resources for developers.
Overall, software development costs entail complex processes and a full-scale development team, comprised of designers, coders, testers, QA, data analysts, project management team, and many other IT professionals. They work hand-in-hand to develop quality software that meets your unique needs. It is for these multiple reasons why custom software development is expensive.