There’s one question I’ve always hated answering in any casual chit chat, and it has nothing to do with design, development or technology. It’s this:

“How much is the cost for this type of project?”

You see, it depends on what your requirements are, and trying to explain this after only talking for 15 minutes can be a pain. Sometimes, our conversation takes a turn for the worse, and I find their eyes glazing over as they tell me, “Sounds great, man. But I think we’ll look at cheaper options such as getting an off-the-shelf product or building it ourselves.”

Its times like these I feel like telling them that they may end up spending more money and time but I know that it’d be considered rude.

An off-the-shelf product is different than a customized software. You’ll always have to settle or compromise on your wish list with the former, but not necessarily the latter. Custom software development is tailor-made to your unique business, and it can be built using a variety of technologies to suit your needs now and in the future.

Customizing an off-the-shelf product can become tedious as you need to invest money in acquiring the license or subscription and time to develop it to your liking. What about building it yourself? Sure, you can outsource or use your internal developers, but like any new project, it comes with a whole kettle of fish. You’d have to consider:

  • Time and costs for planning, design, development, and testing phases
  • Changes in requirements and scope
  • Maintenance costs and time needed for the next number of years
  • Opportunity cost lost
  • Time and resources taken away from other important projects

Coming up with a ballpark figure

Ballpark figures are interesting, to say the least, because so much of it depends on what you provide us. I hate underquoting to win you over and then slap you with an exorbitant bill after the work is complete. I also know I’m shooting myself in the foot by giving you a figure in the $50K region when I sometimes feel that’s what we deserve. Don’t worry; we usually don’t cost that much.

Custom software development costs depend on many factors. In this blog post, I will explain each factor and show you how your project does not have to cost a bomb if you are smart about it and do some work.

Your project scope

If you come in and tell a software developer that you need a solution that covers everything from here to Timbuktu, then be prepared to pay through your nose. It’s always a good idea to establish what you need and want, regardless whether you are using a standard or customized solution. Otherwise, you will just be burning money by extending your scope and continually changing requirements.


What is your expectation in terms of performance? Building for 100 concurrent users is entirely different than one million users. Here customized software can save you money compared to commercial software, which is built on architecture to suit all types of customers whether big or small.

If your business takes off, guess how much more you will be paying to get increased bandwidth and processing power while still maintaining a good user experience when you use any off-the-shelf software?
Actually, you’re lucky if you don’t experience any drop in performance or a complete meltdown. Custom software will cater exactly to your business using the architecture designed for your needs.


Custom software is designed to grow with you; Provided you hire competent developers. A custom software is designed so that you can easily add functionalities or extend existing ones without breaking it or costing an arm and a leg. Hacking an off-the-shelf solution may end up costing you more money and giving you more headache.


How easy is it to maintain and develop your software? It is to do with code quality. It’s rarely shared or asked in this business, but good code can make or break your budget. I always say if you hire developers worth their salt from the start, you’re already saving a lot of money before a single line of code is written.

Project timeframe

If your project requires a short timeframe, it will be dearer as more resources are needed or more senior coders are required to finish the job. Always plan, and you’ll save a lot of money.

Another important thing to bear in mind is to stick to the plan. Adding or changing requirements will drag the project further from the deadline, which means stretching your budget. Avoid too many changes once the project kicks off, and you’ll stay within budget.


Consider what your needs are when it comes to security. Are you okay with a simple login and password? Or would you prefer a multi-factor authorization process which includes digital signatures?
Security also depends on whether you need function based roles and privileges or access control list based security.

User Experience

If your UX requires a simple use of Bootstrap, a web and mobile framework, or follows best practices, it should be straightforward and cheap. Once you throw in an artificial intelligent based chat interface or a VR experience, then it can completely change your initial estimation. However, you don’t have to completely rule them out as there are cheaper workarounds and options.


Given the list above, I hope you can see how going the custom software route can be affordable and will not necessarily cost you a fortune. Who your partner is will make a huge difference to your final product. Feel free to visit our process of deciding right platform.