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10 Ways to Save Money on Software Project Development

A key concern for small businesses in launching a software development project is cost control. If left unchecked, software development can spiral, especially if the project experiences changes during the development cycle, which can result in the business spending far more than it is comfortable with and potentially creating software that offers little return on investment.

So how do you prevent this from happening? The key is considering cost at every stage of the development cycle, making it an essential part of your planning in the process. Here we examine 10 techniques that small businesses can employ to save money at various stages of software development.

1. Create a Clear Vision

A key concern for small businesses in launching a software development project is cost control.

Without a clearly defined vision in place, your project will flounder, especially as more people become involved to potentially muddy the waters. Your goal doesn’t need to be complex. It can be as simple as creating a mobile app to help sales representatives access key information or providing forms to lower paper consumption.

The key is that this vision remains front and center throughout the project and that every decision made revolves around how the choice positively affects said vision. If something you are considering doesn’t contribute to achieving your end goal, you can cut it from the development process and save some money.

2. Trim the Wish List

Practically every software development project starts out with a list of features that those commissioning the project would like to see. Unfortunately, when working towards a budget, you may find it difficult to implement every feature while keeping project costs down.

Trimming the list down to the essentials is tough and requires a little thought. The best way to do it is to consider the priority level of every item on your wish list. Ask yourself how important every feature is to the overall vision of the project and scrap the ones that would be little more than window dressing.

3. Ensure Corporate Buy-in

As more stakeholders get involved in a software development project, the potential for disagreements to arise increases. Not being able to make your collective minds up leads to delays, which create higher development costs.

All key stakeholders, both current and those who may get involved later on, should be considered and involved from the earliest stages of the project. By aligning everybody’s understanding of what the development process aims to achieve you minimize distractions later on and can thus keep the development team entirely focused on the task at hand.

4. Tool Selection

A key concern for small businesses in launching a software development project is cost control.

The immediate temptation when providing tools to your developers is to go for the cheapest ones that the market has to offer. After all, there are plenty of free tools around so choosing them is a sure-fire way to cut costs from the off, right?

Not necessarily. There’s an old adage about a bad craftsman always blaming his tools, but software developers are immediately hamstrung when they are provided with poor quality development tools. Really consider whether or not the money saved by going for the cheaper option is actually worth the extra work that may be required to get the software working. Further, understand that cheaper tools may not always allow the implementation of key project features.

5. Keep Meetings Focused

Long, drawn out meetings will waste a lot of time that could be spent actually working on the project. If you’re bringing people into the conversation just for the sake of having them there, you essentially pour money down the drain, bit by bit.

As such, define a focus for every meeting you hold, highlighting the key points that need discussing. With those discussion points nailed down, carefully select meeting participants so you don’t end up wasting the time of those who have little to contribute to the aspect of the project that the meeting focuses on.

6. Employ the Agile Methodology

A fairly recent concept, the Agile development methodology calls on businesses and software development companies to work in close collaboration at every stage of the process, thus allowing for an iterative development progression that ensures all involved stay focused on the project.

The key to the Agile method is to bring everybody together in the early stages. Your development team, in particular, should be involved from the outset as it will highlight issues that those with less technical knowledge may not have spotted, preventing those issues from becoming major problems that cost money to solve later on in the development cycle.

7. Select Strong Partners

A key concern for small businesses in launching a software development project is cost control.

Few small businesses have in-house development teams, meaning they need to find strong partners to actually complete the work that the project requires. Of course, choosing the wrong people results in delays and you may find that the team doesn’t have the expertise to get the project done, leaving you with a half-finished product that you have to spend even more money on to bring up to the correct standard.

Always spend the time to look at multiple companies and judge them on a range of criteria, including experience, previous work, and reputation. Also factor in the developer’s location and quality of communication, as both will play a part in how closely you can work together, which in turn prevents delays.

8. Evaluate Changes Carefully

Even the most carefully planned software development process is subject to change, especially if the project is linked to market trends or other technologies. Of course, every change to the original plans leads to delays, which result in more being spent.

Every change you implement needs to be carefully considered in regards to the impact it will have on the development cycle. Ask yourself two key questions – “How important is this change to the functionality of the software?” and “Could we implement this change after release?”

9. Utilizing Offshore Developers

An offshore development team will often save the business a lot of money upfront, but you really need to consider the extra issues. For example, communication across nations may hit unexpected delays due to time zone differences, plus you may find that working with people for whom English is a secondary language could lead to content quality issues that affect the user experience.

All of this can be overcome, of course, but it is important to factor such pitfalls in when working with an offshore team. In many cases, you will find that the lower development costs outweigh the additional work that using an international team can create.

10. Always Quality Test the Product

A key concern for small businesses in launching a software development project is cost control.

A piece of software launched without proper quality testing is a piece of software that is going to come back to you with a laundry list of issues that need fixing. Dedicate a team to testing every aspect of the software, from functionality through to user-friendliness, to ensure the software is ready to go from the moment it launches.

Granted, this means a higher initial investment, as good quality testing does not come cheap and will add time to the development cycle. Still, having to go back and fix issues after the fact costs money, as does the hit in reputation that the software may experience if it is launched in an unfit state.

Preparation Saves Money

The key takeaway here is to be as prepared as possible prior to starting development on a software project. Have a clear vision, a plan that revolves around that vision, and carefully selected vendors in place right from the beginning.

In particular, avoiding additional features that serve little purpose and ensuring the software is rigorously tested will save a lot of money in the long run.


By interactivated • on June 22, 2017

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