Why is custom software so expensive?

How to optimize custom software development

Bottom line

There’s no easy way to say it – custom software can be expensive. And it’s surely more expensive than ready-made solutions. But your idea is more innovative than all the software projects out there. There are no solutions that you find satisfying, so you know custom developed software is the only way to do it. The question is – how to reduce software development costs without losing the app quality?

Let’s talk about cost optimization in application design and development. What are some practices that you can implement in the software development lifecycle that would make it cost-effective? Which project management model facilitates efficient software development and prevents rework in the consecutive stages? Let’s find out.

Why is custom software so expensive?

There are a few things that you should know about what impacts the cost of software development. The first and most obvious factor is the solution customization – it’s built especially for you and your business. All the features, design and vision is yours. Hence it’s more expensive – that’s the business logic. Other factors that influence the software development cost include the number and complexity of features, third-party API integrations or some extra project requirements. 

If you want to know about other factors that affect the software development cost, learn it here.

So are there any good practices or tips on how to lower software development costs? Is there a way to save money when building software?


How to optimize custom software development

How to reduce development costs? Of course, while you can get to know a few hacks on how to minimize the overall software development costs effectively, it’s best to cooperate with a development partner that will lead you through it. But we’ll go back to that.

Plan and document software requirements 

Don’t try to skip this stage. It’s a crucial one that sets the proper foundation for the entire project. Because you plan thoroughly – define the problem along with the goal and vision of your idea, talk to the end-users – you make sure you know exactly what you want to do and achieve with the product. Once this schedule planning phase is done, you can move on to the next one. 

Read about 8 creative methods that will turn your idea into a product to know more about the subject. 

When it comes to documenting the software requirements, it’s also pretty obvious. Thanks to this, you avoid any ambiguity, misunderstandings or few versions of the feature on the way.

Having specific conditions of how you want your solution to be built saves you from higher software costs. In this way, your app/website will fulfill the user’s needs and bring value to the market while you can start making initial cost savings. Use a priority matrix, identify all the tasks and milestones. At Gorrion, we often carry our project workshop to get a clear idea of the client’s project and business. 

Understand your target audience

Market research is also one of the basics of how to optimize software development costs. Without customers, you build the product for nobody. The software developers build yet again improper functionality, which leads to project failure. Hence the rework on the further development is inevitable.

That’s the reason you should include the end-users in the process from the very beginning. Their behaviour, user flow, insights, innovative ideas, user feedback from tests – all of this is essential and will effectively minimize guesswork.

During the initial stages of software development, the team of experts either asks the client for the user base or gathers it during research. Thanks to this, we better understand the audience, which is useful when writing user stories, creating personas and testing. Because of this, you get to realize users needs with them – they’ll help you create the solution that will succeed. So take your time.

Learn more about usability testing from our previous blog post

Involve the right people

As I said before, you don’t have to do it all alone. Instead, cooperate with the right company by software outsourcing. How to choose it? Here’s the article that may help you – it’s about 3 steps to choosing a software development company. 

A dedicated team will adjust the technology stack and tools to your project, which will not only improve the code (so you’ll have good quality software), but it’ll significantly reduce software development costs. They won’t be just your technical support in figuring out software architecture but much more than that. Thanks to their expertise and experience in similar projects, you’ll be able to turn your idea into reality and make it successful.

The development team won’t build your software product because you want them to do so. The software team will create the software solution with you because it’s worth it – because they validated it beforehand. Thanks to this, there will be less chance of project failures, cost overruns or unnecessary features happening.

If you’re wondering how to verify whether your vision succeeds, read How to validate your digital product idea?

Choose cross-platform development

When it comes to mobile app development, a way to optimize costs during the development stage is about using a cross-platform solution on both Android and iOS, like React Native. It allows the development team to build the app much faster and more efficiently while preserving the quality. Otherwise, the developers have to write two separate codebases, which doubles up the work and effort. 

There were many projects in which we’ve turned to such a solution. One of them is NuroKor Bioelectronics which case study you can read here

Take advantage of the ready-made solutions

Often to shorten the design phase, our UX/UI designers use open source UI libraries or design systems and customize them to the client’s likings. In this way, the developers can start their work on the website much earlier. As a result, we save time and resources. 

In our projects, we sometimes use UI libraries such as Chakra to deliver the needed value faster. If you want to learn more about solutions like design systems and their impact on business, Radek, our UX/UI designer, has written a whole article covering just that. 

Be flexible

Choose iterative development – Agile methodology, which will allow the team to split the whole process into stages and work on each of them during Sprints. This iterative approach gives flexibility and efficiency that are needed in the development cycle. Because of this, you focus on the core features of the digital product, and the extra ones are left for later. Thanks to previous schedule planning, feature by feature, you build your application or website. Plus, everything is tested properly, so there are no setbacks.

Test from the early stages

This point connects with the Agile methodology. Tests are a crucial part of the software development process. Any bug or error may delay the app launch, so it’s essential to focus on testing and assuring software quality from the very beginning. 

Prioritize features 

Developing every feature that comes into your head isn’t a good idea. Plus, it’s quite costly. For this reason, at the initial stages, you get to choose the absolutely necessary features that bring the most value to the end-users and prioritize them. In this way, you reduce the software development costs in the first place.

During this phase of creating a custom software solution, you focus on 3 factors – feasibility (is it doable?), desirability (is it needed in the market?) and viability (does it relate to your business core value?). For that, you can use the impact/effort matrix, which is described in more detail here.

Develop an MVP


MVP development is the embodiment of the prioritization rule and iterative process. In a minimum viable product, you start from the basic product with essential functionalities and see if it caters to users needs.

This method provides you with the opportunity to quickly collect valuable feedback, see the demand on the market and make the necessary changes. You get to test the idea with minimal expenses and at the same time minimize the risk of failure on the market. Moreover, it’s a great option if your starting budget is tight and you want to gain some users first. All of these benefits are the reason why many startups decide to start from this version of the product. It’s a great way to reduce software development costs!

Automate and optimize whenever you can

After the development phase, there are many ways to optimize the costs of long-term app maintenance. For example, you can use only one cloud provider. While to minimize costs during development, you may introduce AWS auto-scaling. Once set properly, the app works perfectly even in increased traffic.

Also, there’s an option to reduce software development project costs during testing. Whenever you can replace manual testing with automated ones – it’ll accelerate the process, and you’ll get the same (or even more concrete) results.

Bottom line

Custom software development may cost extra bucks, but you can significantly lower the costs and avoid rework with the right approach. Engage the trusted experts, promote effective communication and don’t be afraid to iterate. Building a successful product isn’t a race. It’s a marathon.

Creating your product step-by-step and testing it along the way shows that you focus on quality that your users will appreciate. 


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