BlogBusinessThe true costs of software development

The true costs of software development

In this article, we’ll show you why developing a low-cost app can cost you a lot of money, and what aspects you should consider when looking for a software development partner.


Most entrepreneurs have to make tough financial decisions almost every day. They conceive their business expenses from a cost-effective perspective. So, when it comes to hiring a development partner to build their app, business owners usually consider price as a determining factor.

The thing is that many entrepreneurs don’t know what the actual costs of building a high-quality app are, and the belief is that hiring a low-cost development partner will save them a significant amount of money.

This is a huge mistake.

Companies that choose this path often end up creating a low-quality product that doesn’t meet their business needs or their users’ expectations.

In this article, we’re going to show you:

– Why a cheap app can cost a lot more in the long run

– Why you should never choose a software development partner based on price

– How a low-quality product can have a substantial negative impact on your business.

– What are the main aspects you should take into account when hiring a development partner

Why building a cheap app will cost you a lot more in the long run

When building a digital product, there’s a lot more to the initial price you pay when hiring a development partner. Non-technical founders usually underestimate costs like maintenance, software acquisition, bug fixing, and implementation which can become a financial nightmare when overlooked.

If you pay less at the beginning, you’ll end up paying more in the end. Apps built on low cost are not reliable, not scalable, and mostly disposable. Therefore, the users, insights, or data you might’ve gained will be disposable as well.

According to a study conducted by Cambridge University, each year, companies around the globe spend more than $300 billion debugging software.

Main pitfalls of choosing poor quality software development

When you choose a cheap app development partner, you’ll most likely face additional expenses later in the process. These costs may come in different forms:

1. Quality issues and bug fixing after release.
According to the National Institute of Standards and Technology, the costs of detecting issues and fixing bugs increases exponentially with time. After the software has been released, it’s not just difficult and costly to find defects, it’s incredibly risky as well.

costs of fixing bugs based on time of detection. This is how a digital product can become a financial nightmare. This are the true costs of software developmentt

Another issue associated with low-cost development is the so-called spaghetti code, which is code that overuses GOTO statements rather than structured programming constructs. It’s a harmful practice that usually results in a convoluted, unmaintainable product. In most cases, these apps have to be rebuilt from scratch.

Quality issues and post-production bug fixing means not only higher development costs, but also the possibility of losing customers and gaining a negative market perception.

2. Missed deadlines

Low-cost and inexperienced software developers often fail to deliver the product on time. As a result, you can lose a competitive edge and miss a critical opportunity to launch your product before other market players do.

This is a setback that can have a significant impact on your business if you have plans to launch an app to a specific date. Additionally, more time in development always means more money to spend.

3. Lack of documentation

Documentation is crucial for keeping track of software development projects. It’s also vital for product maintenance and improving software quality.

Neglecting the documentation process impedes knowledge transfer for the future developers who can pick up the development process later.

Documentation is a must and should cover all of the following:

– Server environments.

– Business rules.

– Databases and files.

– Troubleshooting.

– Application installation.

– Code deployment.

4. Inability of developers to finish the product

Hiring a cheap development partner can translate into the vendor’s failure to build a functional product at all.
If that happens, you will need to look for another company to take on the project halfway through and ensure a smooth transition from one development team to another. Simply put, it means that you had paid for a disposable product from the beginning, to end up starting things over from scratch.

5. The low level of scalability

A cheap app won’t scale.

When developers build your product on top of a ready-made solution and ignoring the underlying architecture of the app, the product won’t be able to scale.

Each new feature you’d like to add to your product will require significant changes to architecture or even a complete codebase refactoring. Failing to implement proper initial architecture can lead to development up to ten times more costly than the initial project estimate.

The true costs of software development are like an iceberg, as this illustration shows.

Why choosing a software development partner for its price is a huge mistake

Most founders take their decisions from a business point of view. That’s why when choosing between software development vendors, entrepreneurs consider price as a significant factor.

The thing is that low-cost app development is a slippery slope.

A project which is initially low-priced in many cases goes 2-3 times over budget, misses all deadlines, or turns out unviable due to poor quality and multiple bugs.

Choosing a cheap developer to build your app is equivalent to choosing a local handyman to build your company’s headquarters. Eventually, you’ll end up hiring a truly qualified professional to undo the shoddy work.

If a vendor is offering you a great deal to build your app, it’s reasonable to be skeptical. To be able to provide such services, an agency will have to venture into some shady practices, such as:

– Underestimating development scope and effort.

– Offering junior-level developers.

– Offering a “one size fits all” service.

– Assigning their resources to several different projects at the same time.

Choosing the right partner to build your product: everything you need to consider

If you’re a non-technical person, identifying the right development partner for your app might be challenging. However, there are cues you can follow to tell the difference between a bad, a good, and a great development team.

A) Product Validation
Before you start building your product, you need to ensure that it will meet the needs and expectations of your users.

If you want your app to succeed, you need a development partner that helps you validate your assumptions, gain insights, and refine your idea. This process helps reduce risks, and also finds new opportunities.

Working on a board with post its

A good Product Validation process will allow you to have a better understanding of your product idea and a clear direction of how to move forward. It’s a crucial step in app development and if a software development agency doesn’t provide this service, it’s probably a thing to consider

If you want a bit more info on the importance of Product Validation, we’ve recently written an article on this subject.

B) Product development team vs. freelancers

Getting users to try your product is hard, and getting them to pay for it is even harder. So, if you’re going to outsource your app development, you’ll have to put special emphasis on who is going to do the job.

Hiring a low-cost development option may work when you want to try new ideas or create a temporary app. However, when it’s about the product your business depends on, you have to treat your app like a baby that will grow bold and successful.

Freelancers might seem like a cheap, practical solution for developing an app. However, they will most likely lack the skillset needed for a large project. They also usually split their working hours into multiple freelance projects, so you won’t get a fully dedicated resource.

For these types of projects, you will need a software development company that can provide you with a dedicated team of developers, designers, project managers, and QA testers.

Since software development agencies aim at maintaining long-term relationships with their clients, they will probably offer you a wide array of innovative solutions and highly professional resources.

Preeme+You mobile app

C) A transparent, well-established development process

One of the first things you need to evaluate when hiring a development partner is what’s their development process and why it is best to build your app.

– What development practices and workflow do they follow?

– What do they know about scaling projects?

– How they keep the app’s performance up and fast?

To build a successful product, you need to make sure that the team you’ll be working with follows a transparent and well-organized workflow that keeps everyone involved in the loop.

These are some indicators that a software development team has a great process:

– They help you define a product strategy based on your business objectives

– They create a clear roadmap and stick to it

– They make regular video calls for collecting feedback and planning the next iteration.

– They have a proper staging environment

– They compile a day-to-day summary followed by a weekly review of the tasks.

– They provide constant support (even after the product release) and they transfer all the knowledge to your in-house team.

Final words

An app that fails to meet users’ needs and expectations can gravely harm your business. So, when it comes to investing in your product, you should always aim for the highest quality you can afford.

High-end digital products cost time, effort, and money. If you choose to pay less at the beginning, you’ll end up paying more in the end. That’s a reality that you can’t avoid or ignore.

At Bixlabs, we have years’ of experience helping top-tier startups build digital products. Our fully dedicated multidisciplinary team works with an integrated process that ranges from validating your hypothesis, all the way through launching.

We are known for developing an excellent relationship with our clients and having a strong commitment to quality. Having a limited budget doesn’t mean your final product needs to be low-quality, that’s why we adjust the scope to create a successful product.

If you’re looking for an experienced team to build your app, look no further, give us a call.

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