Modification date: August 31, 2021

Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Software Development Estimate

logo
Syberry

Everything You Need to Know About Getting a Software Development Estimate

If you’re a leader in a growing business, you have probably been thinking about a brand new software development product for a while! You have probably considered what purpose it is going to serve and who your target audience is going to be. You may have considered your marketing rollout strategy. You are already envisioning happy clients clicking away, making purchases or carrying out other actions on your new platform—and, of course, recommending this awesome app to their friends. Or maybe you’re imagining a brand new internal system that streamlines operations, making employees more productive and engaged while minimizing unnecessary expenses. Whatever your vision, you can’t wait to bring it to life.

The first step, of course, is to approach a software development company and request a cost estimate. Before you do, let us familiarize you with what this estimation process will entail, and why it may not be as simple as you think.

Estimating the cost of a new product might sound easy. After all, your app might be similar to an existing app that already has a lot of users and followers. How hard could it be to estimate something so similar? As a matter of fact, the process can be time-consuming, and it will require significant efforts on the part of a team of qualified professionals.

Even if your envisioned app is based on an already existing solution, the team would need to thoroughly research and document that solution to understand what’s “under the hood,” so to speak. And despite any similarities, the reality is that every custom software project is unique, and simply “copy-pasting” one into another won’t get you the results you’re looking for. The team of specialists who will need to consier your unique solution carefully in order to provide an estimate might include project manager, business analyst, front-end developer, back-end developer, software architect, devops, quality assurance engineers, and others.

The Foundation of the Estimate: In-Depth Documentation

Let’s take a look at some of the documents a software development team might be basing their estimate on:

Vision & Scope

This document outlines the business requirements the new product will be based on. Typically, this information would come from the client’s team, as it needs to describe how the product is conceived and why they set out on this journey to create it in the first place. Sources of information for this document could include the organization’s top management, the concept or product owner, an industry field expert, and/or the company’s marketing team.

Software Requirements Specification

This document is a complete description of the expected behavior of the product, and it contains specific product requirements including the following information: overall description of the product, user roles, assumptions and dependencies, functional requirements, non-functional requirements, interface requirements. This document is instrumental for the development team, as it is a great source of information about what is expected from the team. Project milestones, as well as individual tasks, are based on this document.

Prototypes & Designs

Prototypes are visual models of the product. Oftentimes, prototypes are clickable, giving the viewer an excellent idea of the look, feel, and user experience of the product. Prototypes provide information on what elements are located where on each screen, exactly what the product design will look like, and how different elements interact. The user could complete a whole mock flow using a clickable prototype in order to fully understand how the product will work. These prototypes also provide a lot of valuable information to the development team in terms of what they need to accomplish.

Though exact documentation needs may vary depending on the circumstances of a specific project, these are usually the foundation of a strong estimate—and the development that follows. If you don’t already have these documents prepared, not to worry. A professional software development team can help you pull all this together in what’s known as a Discovery phase. This phase is a smaller, standalone commitment that enables the developer to elaborate on the idea of the project alongside the ordering client in order to document features, dependencies, user roles, etc.

What Will Your Software Development Estimate Look Like?

Now that we have discussed the input documents software development teams might use to analyze and estimate a project, let’s take a look at the output—besides the estimated cost, itself—you may expect as a result of this estimation process.

WBS (Work Breakdown Structure)

This document includes a detailed list of features to be included in your app, including everything from the big picture down to the smallest features, like user registration, login, and password creation procedures. This breakdown also typically includes an indication of the effort—expressed in human work hours— required to complete each feature.

Assumptions

This part of estimation includes any suppositions the team has made in the absence of more concrete data. These could include, for example, planned load, acceptable down time, assumed number of simultaneous users, screen resolutions and operating systems most likely to be popular among target audience, development team working hours, acceptance criteria of a ready version of the product, target response time by the development team, and target response time by the ordering client for questions and clarifications. Assumptions are an integral part of any estimation, as they set the “background” that the whole project is to be based on. Any change in assumptions might lead to a change in the estimate itself.

Timeline

As the name suggests, the timeline describes the timing of the project. This might include development milestones as well as timing and correlation of several versions of the product, different parts of the development team working in parallel. The specifics of the timeline are to be determined based on the needs of each project.

Risks

A strong, professional estimate will include an overview of risks to the project. These might originate from involving third-party integrations and services, which are out of control of the development team and of the ordering client. For example, should a third-party service change something that would affect successful integration just as the project is almost complete, the team will need to adjust on the go, and this might alter the deadlines and/or the budget. Risks might also originate from incomplete or unclear requirements, or from requirements that change when development is already underway. In any case, a professional vendor will walk you through risks and consult with you on the best possible approaches to mitigate those risks.

As we see from the description above, estimating a software development project is a complex procedure. It is far more complex than estimating something like shipping and delivering a box of oranges from a farm to a supermarket. In such an example, where shipment and delivery are standard procedures, all risks are known and can be included in the price with a high degree of certainty. With software development, the process is much more complex. The subject matter of a custom software development system is a combination of factors, both known and unknown. The estimation process includes first elaborating on all such factors and then analyzing them in order to produce a calculation that factors in every moving part.

Publication date: August 31, 2021

Explore More Resources:

What our customers say about us

Syberry has provided satisfactory services thus far, and they are very responsive to any issues that arise. The team also possesses strong communication skills. They delivered a functional piece of software at a reasonable price, and they've managed the project very well.

Richard Harkness

CEO, ADEPT Driver

Elk Grove, CA

How we help ADEPT Driver Company

We developed a web-based driving simulator for teens and another for adults. The products run on Chromebooks, and the team added features that enable them to measure a driver's ability to avoid a crash.

Technologies used

I don't think you could find a better company to manage and build your project. I get so many compliments on my application, and it has a lot of unique and complex development.

Todd Surber

CEO, PIXRIT

Charleston, South Carolina

How we help PIXRIT Company

A photographer approached us to build a web-based software platform that combines the fastest social media manager with state-of-the-art galleries and provides the ultimate tool for photographers to upload, store, back up, and share their photos and manage their SMM activities.

Technologies used

The user-friendly software hasn’t encountered any issues or bugs in more than three years. It’s high quality has helped grow the clientele. Straightforward and consistent in communication, Syberry met every deadline and ensured a hassle-free development process.

Vince Hughes

Owner, Steel Estimating Solutions

Knoxville, TN

How we help Steel Estimating Solutions Company

Our client was inspired to create a product that helps steel erection companies perform faster, more efficient estimations and bids. We developed original proprietary software from the initial concept.

Technologies used

The new platform received positive feedback and performs better than its predecessor. Syberry communicated the project’s progress to their partners well by breaking down their steps and utilizing a management system. Most importantly, they delivered world-class service for a cost-efficient price.

Bill Fahy

Owner, FDI Creative Services

Houston, TX

How we help FDI Creative Services Company

Following strict regulations and requirements, we used AWS to develop a custom e-commerce web app that includes shipping integration. Since the site’s launch, the team has continued to make updates.

Technologies used

The application was delivered on time and within budget. Syberry explained their process thoroughly and accommodated to scope changes effortlessly. Their stellar project management, highly responsive communication, and proactive attitude set them apart.

Ricardo Casas

CEO, Fahrenheit Marketing

Austin, TX

How we help Fahrenheit Marketing Company

We developed a large, complex .NET application with various third-party integrations. The team built the software from scratch based on existing wireframes.

Technologies used

The end solution exceeded the client’s expectations. Syberry delivered high-quality products on time and at outstanding value. They provided frequent updates and repeatedly sought feedback at each stage. Customers can expect a highly experienced team that easily translates concepts into solutions.

Rudy Milkovic

Executive Director, Velicom

Austin, TX

How we help Velicom Company

Our team built video streaming software as a web and desktop app for a third-party client. We completed end-to-end development—from scoping to feedback cycles to QA—using PHP and Wowza Streaming Engine.

Technologies used

Syberry has successfully improved the frontend performance of the platform and continues to make thoughtful suggestions for enhancements. They have proven to be communicative and reliable, mitigating the common concerns of outsourced teams. Syberry remains mindful of business goals and client needs.

Cory Kowal

VP of Products, THG Energy Solutions

Tulsa, OK

How we help THG Energy Solutions Company

Taking over for another vendor, we served as the ongoing software engineering partner for an energy company’s cloud-based platform. The company provided scoping, development, testing, and deployment services.

Technologies used

The added team members sufficiently fulfilled the needs of the project. The product was successfully launched and has received positive feedback. Syberry continues to be a supportive partner in development. They provide an impressive team and their expertise fosters a smooth collaboration.

Chris Cox

CTO, MyMelo

Louisville, Kentucky

How we help MyMelo Company

We provided staff augmentation resources for a development project. The team contributed engineers to follow an established roadmap to perform updates and add features.

Technologies used

Syberry delivered a solid website that has become a database of close to 40 organizations. The team worked quickly and efficiently to get the website up and running, and they continue to invest their time into the project. Additionally, they have been a communicative partner.

David Snyder

Product Director, Covid Resource Network

West Orange, New Jersey

How we help Covid Resource Network Company

The company developed a website that serves as a database where organizations can find and donate to other organizations. Currently, the team is working on enhancing the website and fixing bugs.

Technologies used

When the system is up and running, it will save time for the internal team. Syberry was a patient partner, and they performed well throughout the collaboration.

Joyce Cubio

VP of Operations, Ernie's Mobile Home Transport

Yuba, California

How we help Ernie's Mobile Home Transport Company

The team built an information hub for a mobile home transport and permit service. After discussing the existing system and processes, we delivered a new structure for forms and data.

Technologies used

All deliverables have exceeded expectations and function properly once launched. The Syberry team is skilled in juggling multiple projects, and provide strong expertise in software development. Their dedication to the project has fostered continual success in the engagement.

John Fox

Executive VP, Fox Business Automation Solutions

Lakeland, Florida

How we help Fox Business Automation Solutions Company

Brought on as a third party, we supplied ongoing development services. The team work on multiple projects and deliver according to predetermined design specifications.

Technologies used

Contact us to learn more about how Syberry can help your business achieve its every goal!

0 / 2500

Sign a mutual NDA before a conversation.

When to sign an NDA?

A non-disclosure agreement (NDA) is a legal contract between parties, such as the software developer (or a software development firm) and yourself, outlining information to be shared and requiring that information be kept confidential.
Send
Submit loading...

Was this page helpful?