One of the common frustrations we see with prospective clients is that they get custom software development quotes that vary by 2-3x for what appears to be the same work. While most people are savvy enough to understand that there must be some difference, they just struggle to understand the differences.

While different developers charge different hourly rates, the reason for the price difference is usually much more than that. Here are the four most common reasons that prices differ significantly:

1) Estimating each phase of the project

Developers who are inexperienced at estimates often bundle everything into a single price. The problem with this approach is that it’s likely some things will fall outside the scope of the estimate and lead to additional costs.

An estimate is going to be much more accurate if it breaks out by cost and time the four major components of a project: discovery, design & development, quality assurance (QA), and project management. When you estimate the cost and time of each step, you get a much more accurate estimate that will come in on budget and on time.

2) Allocating time for quality assurance (QA)

Developers test software as they build it. However, that is not enough to ensure your software will work as expected. Software needs to be tested in beta and after the final live deployment by an experienced QA person who did not develop the software. Insufficient testing leads to customer frustrations or schedule slippages that add time and costs to fix problems.

3) Phase-specific expertise

Different phases of the project require different expertise. For most projects you will want one or more of each role: project manager, senior design architect, developer, and QA/testing resource. Someone who is a good design architect is probably not great at QA. So while a lone developer can typically offer lower costs, it can lead to poor project design and a lack of QA that results in an inferior final product.

4) Including client time

Many development teams do not allocate enough the time to manage the client’s thought process, support the client during the testing phase, address miscommunicated specifications, and more. Unless a client is experienced with custom software projects, they are going to need time and help to be clear on their needs. The associated costs and time should be included in the initial project estimate.

So when you are getting a custom software quote, be sure you are comparing apples to apples. It is easy to get quotes that are not comparable at all. And what you want is to have an accurate quote for time and budget, so you understand the total cost of development up front. You can contact us via the Contact Us page or give me a call at (619) 933-3366.