App-building budgets is a very speculative issue. ThinkMobiles mentions a price tag of $100,000–$500,000 for a big app delivery, while a small one would require an impressive $20,000 budget.
Ridiculously expensive, these apps are, aren’t they? However, in my opinion, it is not the more the better; it is the more reasonably you invest the better.
How do you ensure that? In other words, what steps can you undertake so your app-building process is 100% green and sustainable with no dollars wasted?
This article provides some clarification on what could go wrong with your expenditure schedule and more importantly, how to prevent it.
App Complexity Classification
Below, I will roughly classify three types of apps according to their level of complexity. This is done for you to clearly see where your money flows.
I accompany my rough classifications with the mistakes clients often make that negatively affect the resulting bill of each respective app type.
The classification was made based on my industry knowledge and experience as a PM and software architect.
You’ve seen the app types, now it’s time to get to know the 3 app development mistakes that hurt your budget.
3 App Development Mistakes That Are Probably Hurting Your Budget
- Low time investments will break your budget
- Distorted or unnecessary methodology isn’t cost-effective
- Ill-planned team expansions aren’t budget-friendly
1. Low Time Investments Will Break Your Budget
This first mistake usually pertains to a Low Complexity App.
App Type and Project Details
Cheap and simple. This type of app could be a laboratory calculator doing operations with complex industry-specific functions. It also includes apps without complex logic or integration with third-party services.
One developer will do the job in 1–2 months for $10,000 (estimates are accurate for the Qulix Systems’ projects). A designer is not a must, although it is a good idea to have one on the project.
The first mistake in app development is low time investments. This statement is most accurate for small apps because every app starts out small. The better the code is at the start, the easier it will be to expand later on.
Although this small app seems to be a piece of cake to make, if you want your app delivered in the blink of an eye (not within 2 months, as we recommend) you’d better reconsider your priorities.
If the developer works long, stressful hours to deliver the app ASAP, you risk getting a weak code containing more bugs than features. To fix the code in production will require greater resources than development will actually cost.
Deepsource states that fixing a bug at the post-release stage costs 30 times more than fixing it at the requirements development stage.
I haven’t faced such drastic figures throughout my experience, although I can reassure you that cutting the development costs at the expense of quality incurred up to 5 times the development expenditures for some of our clients.
Moreover, this number is likely to beef up if you make a decision to extend your small app.
You’ll really help your budget if you take the appropriate amount of time to develop your app.
2. Distorted or Unnecessary Methodology Isn’t Cost-Effective
Mistake two usually pertains to a Mid-Complexity App
App Type and Project Details
These are more sophisticated apps with more complex logic. So, let’s see how our laboratory app has evolved and what it can do as a second type app.
Second type apps imply backend and mobile development as well as require API to enable financial transactions or data transfers.
Besides doing calculations, our app now integrates with various databases (university labs, science centers, etc.). Data can be stored offline, processed, and classified according to the preset parameters.
What resources does the app need to be built? This time, besides the coding skills of two developers, an app will require a UI/UX designer. As the project grows, you’ll also need a PM.
An optional team player for a second type app will be an SMM expert. In 4–5 months, after pumping $50,000-$60,000 into your new, radiant app, it will be ready to use.
Wow, now we have a whole team of specialists which may provoke another budget increasing mistake.
Mistake two is using distorted or unnecessary methodology in an attempt to make your team work effectively. Implementing unneeded methodology will add more money to your bill and more stress to your peace of mind.
But how can methodology ruin the project and add unnecessary expenditures? You might think implementing agile best practices is the most effective solution to help you govern your teamwork. But Agile is only effective if applied correctly.
Unfortunately, for many companies “Individuals and interactions over processes and tools” is an empty phrase and they use Agile methodologies for a quick delivery only, without actually adhering to them. This is total Agile abuse.
“If we’re using the word ‘intense’ to describe a sprint, something is almost certainly wrong”, Jon Lay mentions in his article dedicated to the Agile concepts distortion, and I second that.
If applied properly, Agile cuts back on your time, efforts, and money consumption in a natural, consequential way and never at the expense of the developers working late hours.
After all, if a flexible methodology doesn’t relive your project-planning and execution constraints, maybe your project doesn’t need Agile.
Truly taking the time to analyze and figure out which methodology works best for you will greatly reduce your budget.
3. Ill-Planned Team Expansions Aren’t Budget-Friendly
Mistake three usually pertains to a High Complexity App.
App Type and Project Details
The third app type boasts a highly complex business logic. The platform has both a backend and mobile part, API, and integrates with numerous databases (allows enjoying Big Data capabilities). It also has a know-how element or can be a science-driven project.
As far as our model app is concerned, it has grown into a sophisticated laboratory app which, besides integration with numerous databases, is enriched with visualization options, AI, ML, multimedia, real-time progress monitoring, etc.
To get it ready, a client needs a team of 6+ developers, PMs, BAs, UI/UX designers, as well as SMM and marketing experts. The app will require 7–10 months and a $200,000+ budget to deliver.
Building a really big app requires tons of time and talent. “What if I hire more people to deliver a high-complexity product quicker?” may be a lucrative thought.
Thus, the third mistake that’s hurting your budget is an ill-planned team expansion.
Why might team expansion be a bad idea? Your team should be so happy to see a new member, as it will help them do more in less time, right?
The thing is, new people onboard means task reallocation and schedule disruption. If you think a newcomer won’t bring much havoc into the team (besides interviewing and onboarding), you’re very wrong.
“One bad team member can screw up the entire team effort,” wrote Billy Arcement, leader performance expert and author.
In my opinion, even if a new team player is a 100% right fit for the project, a newcomer will only start doing more good than damage in 4–5 weeks.
So, devote this situation to diligent consideration. Schedule disruption may cost you a substantial amount, as it impacts the team as a whole, not individually.
You’re on Your Way to a Happier, Healthier App Budget
Half of the app’s success is in careful coding. As I’ve mentioned earlier, this statement is most true for small apps, as every app starts small.
The healthier your code is at the start, the better it’ll be. Thus, the first thing to remember after reading this piece is to ensure the high quality of your code.
Secondly, as your app grows more sophisticated and the team increases, remember to avoid methodologies distortion. Costs are important, but not at the expense of the developers working against the clock (which many erroneously take for the key Agile principle).
On the contrary, to get a smoothly working, nicely integrating app, you have to be patient, listen to your team, and learn to overcome the challenges together.
Thirdly, if the team is sure they can manage the problem without a new member on board, give them a chance to prove it and don’t rush to write your project schedule anew.
Keep in mind that your app success snowball can be as big or small as you’re willing to let it be.
Regardless of what you’re busy doing right now — a simple calorie-count app or a mission-critical one like a plane-driving simulator — all you need to cut your expenditures is to do some rethinking.
I guess that you’ve already invested much effort into your project. But I’m sure you’ve overlooked and marked some simple things off as insignificant.
The fix? A slower tempo, a more human-friendly methodology, and a tight-knit team. It is always the small details that make a big difference.