How much does it cost to develop software?

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The cost of software can vary greatly. The first step in the planning process is to ask basic questions about the software. These include what the software is needed for, whether and with which systems it needs to interact, and how many users it should be designed for.

It is also important to know what kind of users the software is intended for, in which languages it should be available and whether any special security precautions need to be taken into account. All these questions ensure that customised software is the right approach. After all, it may well be that standard or industry-specific software is already available that works as a suitable solution. 

Different types of software

Standard software is software that provides a solution to a common problem or task and is used by many people.

MS Word can be mentioned as an example of standard software. A large number of people have to write texts of any form, but with different emphases. The software offers a wide variety of formatting options and can therefore be used for many applications and areas.

The very complex development is associated with high costs. However, due to the widespread use of the software, these can be divided up well, so that only a manageable amount is charged per buyer.

Currently, there is a trend towards cloud-based software in the form of subscription models. Here, a monthly fee is charged, with the user having the advantage that the software is always updated.

While standard software can cover many requirements, industry software is somewhat more specific and covers the problems of a particular target group. An industry software can be illustrated by the example of a restaurant's booking software.

The aim is to be able to manage and book the food and drinks of the respective restaurant. The booking is made on the basis of the orders per table. Direct forwarding of orders to the kitchen also makes sense and should be covered by the industry software. After the one-time development of such software, it can theoretically be used in every restaurant. Even if individual functions have to be dispensed with, this solution is significantly more cost-effective than customised software. 

The development costs for a standard and branch software are each associated with high costs. However, due to the multiple use of both software types, the one-time or even monthly price for the use is kept within limits. 

Another type of software is customised software. This makes sense if there is no software on the market that can meet the special requirements and problems. It is developed individually and can be adapted precisely to the use case.

In order to achieve an optimal cost-benefit ratio, customised software should cover all requirements, but at the same time contain as few functions and extras as possible. The simpler and leaner the software, the lower the costs in the end.

Depending on the range of functions and complexity, the development costs can vary greatly. Starting at a few thousand euros for small and manageable applications up to several hundred thousand euros for complex and large software systems.

Cost framework of a software

After the customer has defined the requirements and functions of the software to be developed and communicated them to the developer, the developer can make an initial estimate of the costs based on his experience.

Agile software development has proven to be a very sensible approach. Here, everything is not planned down to the smallest detail from the beginning, but is defined, adapted and changed in the course of the conception and development process. With a very strict and structured plan, there is a risk that changes can only be made and implemented at a later stage with a great deal of effort. 

Choosing the right software developer

Care should always be taken to ensure that the software developer fits the software project and that both the way of working and the technology can meet the requirements. For example, web applications require different development languages than Windows programmes. The approach to development is also crucial. A few years ago, many processes were adapted to the project and designed very individually.

Nowadays, recurring activities are automated. This means that much more emphasis can be placed on quality assurance measures. 

For smaller projects that are also easy to plan, phase models such as the waterfall model make perfect sense.

Here, the requirements for the project are clearly and completely defined at the beginning. Based on these requirements, the developer determines how exactly they are to be technically implemented. Subsequently, the actual development process takes place, in which the previously established concept is used as a guideline.

Phase models are less suitable for larger projects that may extend over a longer period of time. Often the exact requirements cannot be defined clearly enough at the beginning or it is already foreseeable that many changes will occur in the course of the project.

Scrum or Kanban can be mentioned as suitable procedures here. 

It makes sense for the customer to clarify with the developer how the developer is positioned in this regard.


It is also important that the developer always works closely with the customer and that there is a regular exchange. Planned meetings that are used for coordination or regular updates are an important prerequisite. Only in this way can errors, misunderstandings or difficulties be quickly discovered, solved or avoided.

Of course, the experience of the software developer is also a decisive factor. Usually, you can find some references and previous projects on the website, which can help you get a realistic picture.

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