How To Reduce App Development Costs
In search of ways to reduce app development costs, you mustn't compromise quality. You mustn't cut costs on creating good UX design and quality assurance. Quality is the cornerstone of the software that users love. Plenty of other ways to reduce costs are ready and waiting. Get them all to work for you.
This is where your personal time is spent, but the eventual development time is vastly reduced. Thus you also reduce the cost of error from the beginning, when your project is the most vulnerable. Get all of your requirements in one place and structure them. Describe your main features, the logic of your app as user stories, with the help of sketches or wireframes. Each user story is built according to the model: ''As a *user type*, I want to *do something*, in order to *accomplish a goal*''. Then you write down your actions and move between screen sketches.
This process will not only save time for your development team to understand what you want, this will help you develop your ideas and experiment with them – and a great way to present your ideas to stakeholders. This will also give you good insight into the principles of user experience. The faster and easier you accomplish each task in a user story, the better your app does its job.
If you don't have an opportunity to create an office with an in-house team; if you don't have budget for hiring full-time professional development team, including a UX/UI designer and QA engineers, and provide them with salaries, rooms, and equipment; if you have no time to manage it all yourself – outsource your whole project to a software company.
Your software company will take over all of these burdens – they have it all up and running, and the work process is smooth and polished by dozens of accomplished projects. You pay only for documented worked hours – the average hourly rate on freelance marketplaces is about $25-$45. Compare it with costs of an in-house team and feel the difference. As a bonus – the process itself will be convenient for you.
When you look for a software company, focus on their reputation and expertise, not on their hourly rate. You need a team to rely on, a team for continuous collaboration on your mobile product. You'll check the rankings of freelance marketplaces, study feedback and testimonials of their clients, search for similar products in their portfolio, possibly establish first contact.
If everything goes well and you see that their hourly rate is $10 higher than the average you are looking for, just go for it. You'll be less likely to run the risks of paying twice for refactoring bad code or re-coding from scratch. This is not the place to cut costs.
You don't have to make a feature-packed product from the beginning. First, it reflects on estimations as for time and budget. Second, there's a risk to waste them on a feature that won't be used. Determine the portrait of your target audience, then your MVP to start with, then you'll adjust it to the market. It will require your continuous involvement – or you may assign it to a responsible decision-maker from your side. But it will keep you flexible and relevant at all times, and you'll spend less budget.
Another indirect way of reducing costs is valuing the knowledge of your team. Each of them: a designer, a developer, a QA person – they are professionals in their area, and they can suggest ways of improving your concept, preferable technologies and frameworks, etc. This is an occasional chance but it's worth considering, in the long run it improves the product – the team can help you determine the MVP.
When your project is handed to an agile company, they'll split it into iterations for better estimations and better responsiveness to changes. What's there for you? You are able to maintain the relevance of your product and plan your budget according to the tasks for each iteration. An average iteration lasts 2 weeks. But the budget will not be the same – it will start with a lower amount, then increase during the middle of development, when all the workforce (PM, developers, testers) is employed, then again die down during the final QA and preparations to release. The exact amounts are discussed with your company – it must be convenient for both sides, for you in the first place.
Wry writing what's already been written? Plenty of various whatevers-as-a-service is ready and waiting. For example, you might not need custom-built backend, and the technical conditions of some backend-as-a-service is compatible with your software, and will not cause difficulties by further development of your product. A ready-to-use solution can be another brick in your MVP that helps to cut costs. Well after, when the revenues are obvious, you may carry out a transition to custom-built backend instead of monthly payments to your BaaS provider.
For brands it's even possible that they don't need a custom app to present their products and services – there are such solutions as, say, Presentation Box by MobiDev, with a number of pre-made options that can make it a cost-effective alternative to an entirely custom-built app.
Simply put, divide the tasks wisely. If you consider a dedicated team for your project, you don't need it all made up of senior developers. Some tasks can be easily handled by junior developers whose hourly rate is lower – and the company can provide you with those.
Consistent requirements can make agile development as close to the waterfall model as possible – even though they are entirely different by nature. But if each iteration goes as approved, without introduction of sudden changes, you won't face additional expenses for re-doing and re-making. Not to mention that some sudden ideas may be simply incompatible with already existing elements of your software. Here it all depends on you. Plan early and try to be consistent.
Combine it all and you get a means of reducing costs significantly, even before the project takes off – and even before you go to a software company with your ideas and research on the subject. Quality remains intact, and the development process is less painful for both sides. What else would you consider a means of cutting costs efficiently? Please share your thoughts in the comments.