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Chris Hatton Profile Photo Author: Chris Hatton July 3rd, 2018

Bespoke Software - Cost vs Quality

Previously I wrote about your need for bespoke software. Here we will cover just a few things to watch out for when comparing development quotes, and why there might be hidden costs in the long run.

bespoke software

Over the last couple months I’ve put together project quotes for a few companies based around Glasgow, Scotland. I’ve perhaps been a little naive in thinking that I would always be successful in my bids, but I’ve realised that I’m more in competition with small independent companies and developers than I am with the big software houses.

I’m pretty damn accurate these days estimating for small projects, and always use technologies that provide quality at the lowest possible cost. But as they say “Money talks, bullshit walks”, and as far as prospective clients are concerned most software companies and developers are full of overly optimistic estimations. Unfortunately history littered with failed projects show us that this is actually true.

Now I know for a fact that NETIFI will never be the the cheapest option for software development. Why? Because to be quite frank, honesty and quality is at the heart of our business and that’s not something we are willing to compromise on.

Here are a few things I’ve learned over the years that allow poor quality developers to present the cheap option, and the reason why the cheap option is always false economy.

Cutting communication...

Beware the developer that just follows orders!

Understanding the problem that bespoke software is trying to solve is everything when it comes to managing and delivering a successful project. Communication is key, and you need to find a developer that will invest the time to understand you, your business and your problems.

As a client you may think that with your knowledge and guidance you might be able to manage a project with any developer. Let me break that short-lived and fragile illusion just now. Trying to convey complex information and ideas to most developers and expect them to translate this into an even more complex computing system is just littered with opportunities for misunderstanding and mistakes.

There is no substitute for proper analysis, constant feedback remediation, and face-to-face meetings. This of course costs time and money, but if not paid for up-front then the cost is just pushed to expensive future redevelopment.

Cutting security...

One of the easiest ways for poor quality developers to cut costs is to cut security. Security is one of the elements of software that is invisible to the client until one day their application is hacked and they have to go tail between the legs to the Information Commissioner's Office (ICO) and report a data breach (or worse).

There is no way for you as a client to know for sure that the proper security is built in, but you can be damn sure that if the quote for a project is cheap then they had to cut the costs somewhere.

Cutting testing...

Testing needs to be more than yourself and the developer clicking a few buttons. Rigorous automated testing is time consuming and expensive but can be used over and over again as your application evolves. Mistakes happen and automated testing will not catch every bug before it becomes a problem. In many cases though good testing can save expensive bug fixing; lost business hours, and the embarrassment of failing software in front of your own clients.

Pay the price or walk it twice…

Cutting communication, security, and testing are all simple ways to reduce development costs, but this comes at the expense of quality. They are also not something that can be added retrospectively to a project (well, not with some serious investment anyway). In my experience this behaviour always results in painful future redevelopment.

If the cheapest option is all that your budget allows, try to think about cutting features rather than cutting quality. Features are much cheaper to add later than quality is.

At NETIFI we don’t ever compromise on quality to the long term detriment of a project, but instead provide other options that you may not have thought of including feature reduction, combining or augmentation. We can in some cases can provide flexible payment plans or discuss equity share payments.

Software Development in Glasgow

Glasgow is a hub for software development and technology innovation in Scotland. Mostly in the banking sector, but there are a few good developers that escape the lure of big business and provide services to others.


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