Development is a complex process that involves designing, coding, testing, and launching software products. But how much does it cost to develop a software? The price of development may vary depending on company needs regarding time, people, and project complexity. We will explore the various factors that can influence the cost to develop software.

Factors Affecting Costs of Software Development

Type and Size of Software

The type and size of the software are significant factors that affect the average software development costs. A simple app with basic functionality may cost less than a complex software system with advanced features. Simple software = simpler code, so you can even use zero-coding approach for development, therefore adding automation and reducing cost.

For instance, a calculator app would be less expensive to develop compared to enterprise resource planning (ERP) software. Software development cost also varies based on the number of platforms the software will be deployed on.

Development Methodology

Reduce development costs with the right project management approach

How much does it cost to develop a software program? Well, what is your methodology of choice? The choice of development methodology can affect the cost of a project by influencing team size, project duration, change management, documentation, and infrastructure. Here we listed the most used methodologies.


This is a linear sequential approach where each stage must be completed before moving to the next. The stages include requirements gathering, design, implementation, testing, and maintenance. Waterfall methodology is great for projects that are short, with clear and fixed requirements, and when resources are adequately trained and available.


An iterative and incremental approach where development is done in short sprints, typically 2–4 weeks, with continuous feedback and adaptation. It values collaboration, flexibility, and rapid response to change. Agile works really well when the product vision or features are not yet well-defined and gives an opportunity for product owners to adjust requirements and priorities along the way.


Scrum is an Agile methodology for software development that emphasizes collaboration, flexibility, and rapid iteration. It is a framework for developing and delivering complex products through effective team collaboration, communication, and continuous improvement.

Scrum is ideal for complex projects where the requirements are not fully known initially, and the project scope can change during development. It requires smaller teams, which can reduce team salaries and overhead costs.


Another Agile methodology that emphasizes continuous delivery and workflow visualization. Items are organized on a Kanban board, which enables teams to visualize their work and optimize their workflow, quickly move a task from "Doing" to "Done." Kanban is great for teams that have lots of incoming requests that vary in priority and size.


This methodology is based on the principles of lean manufacturing and focuses on minimizing waste and maximizing value. It involves continuous improvement and optimization of the development process. Typically, Lean would be a top choice for small projects with a short time frame, and a small efficient team in constant communication.


DevOps emphasizes collaboration and communication between development and operations teams, focusing on automating the software delivery process because it combines software development (dev) and operations (ops). With its emphasis on continuous integration and deployment, the cycle creates an infinite loop: build, test, and release through the delivery pipeline, and plan and monitor through feedback, which resets the loop once more. Engineers can complete various tasks independently, the software is released more quickly, and scalable infrastructure platforms benefit significantly from the DevOps methodology.

Each methodology has its advantages and disadvantages, and the choice of methodology will depend on the nature of the project, the team's skill set, and the organization's goals.

Technology Stack

The technology stack used in software development can have a significant impact on the overall cost of the project.

Skill level & Software developer cost

Costs of software development are often influenced by the expertise required using a particular technology stack. The more specialized or less commonly used technology is, the harder it may be to find skilled developers, which could increase the cost to develop software. Seniority of the dev team would be a factor, too.

Licensing fees

The cost of developing software also affects the overall project expenses. Some technologies come with licensing fees that must be paid to use them. These fees can add up quickly, especially if they are charged per user or per server.

Development time

Some technology stacks are better suited to certain types of projects, and can lead to better deadline management for IT tech teams and faster development times. This can save money in the long run, as it reduces the number of billable hours required to complete the project.


Scalability varies between different technological stacks. A scalable technology stack can accommodate changes in traffic, functionality, and data storage needs, and can help to reduce the cost of future development.

Maintenance costs

The cost of maintaining and updating software over time can also be influenced by the technology stack used. Technologies and popular IDEs for software developers that require more frequent updates, or that have high maintenance costs, can lead to higher ongoing costs for the software.

Development Team Location

Geography is one of the non-technical factors affecting the development cost

The location of the development team can also affect the cost of software development. Companies can also choose to outsource their software development to third-party development firms in countries with lower labor costs to minimize cost-per-hire in tech.

Pricing models for development projects

Fixed-Price, Time & Materials, and Milestone pricing models are commonly used in software development projects. Each model is unique, and picking one will help with the answer to the question “how much does software development cost?”.

Fixed-Price Model

The overall project cost is established upfront and remains constant throughout. This paradigm works best for projects with a clear scope and requirements.

A company and a development team often agree on a predetermined price for the entire project, and the team is in charge of completing the project by the deadline and within the allocated budget.

The benefit of this model is that a client can estimate the cost and that the development team is motivated to complete the project on schedule and within budget. For more complicated projects, it can be tricky since changes or additions to the scope may raise the project's cost and necessitate a renegotiation of the set price.

Time & Materials Model

A client pays a development team based on the time and resources required to complete the project. The development team charges an hourly rate for the time spent on the project, and the client is responsible for the cost of materials, such as software licenses or hardware. The model is best suited for projects with a less defined scope or where the scope will likely change over time.

A client has more flexibility to adjust the scope or requirements of the project as needed, and a development team can more easily adapt to changes in the project's needs. However, it may not be a good fit for businesses used to a fixed fee, as the project's final cost is unclear until the very end.

Milestone Pricing Model

The project is divided into specific milestones, and the development team charges a fee for each stage. The company pays at the end of each phase, and the cost is based on the agreed-upon deliverables.

This model best suits projects that can be broken down into specific stages or outcomes. The advantage of this model is that the company has more visibility into the project's progress, and the development team is incentivized to deliver each milestone on time and within budget. This model is not for projects with a more fluid scope, as project changes may affect the price.

Dedicated Team & cost to develop custom software

The Dedicated Team is a business model in which a company hires a team of professionals to work exclusively on a project or set of projects long term for a specified period of time.

One of the benefits of the Dedicated Team model is that it allows companies to reduce the cost to develop custom software by paying only for the services they need. With this method, there is no longer a need to pay full-time employees or invest in pricey equipment, which ultimately leads to budget savings.

It is a highly flexible model, and it allows companies to scale their team up or down as needed. This means that companies can respond quickly to changes in project scope, schedule, or budget. It will help control the cost of building software as well.

Dedicated teams are fully integrated into the project's communication channels and collaborate closely with the business. By doing this, the project will proceed without a hitch and everyone will be on the same page.

Additionally, the model gives businesses total control over the course and development of the project. So the business can set goals and objectives, monitor progress, and make changes as needed.

This strategy represents a long-term commitment. A company can take advantage of economies of scale, such as lower hourly rates or bulk discounts, when it hires a team for a predetermined period of time.

Dedicated teams can be either in-house or outstaffed. If a company wants to scale their development team through outstaffing, Outstaff Your Team will get a perfect match and collaborate using a smart outstaffing approach. Contact us at [email protected] to get a quote and set off your dedicated team journey.


  1. What determines the cost of software development?

    To determine the cost of software development, a company should define the scope of the project, select the appropriate technology stack, consider the size and experience of the team, timeframe, a pricing model, and a contingency plan for unexpected costs.

  2. What is the biggest cost in software development?

    The cost of labor is typically the biggest expense in software development. This includes the cost of hiring and paying developers, project managers, quality assurance personnel, and other team members.

  3. Why is developing software expensive?

    The cost of developing software is influenced by the type of software, the use of specialized tools and technology, testing and QA, and methodology choice. Agile or Waterfall methodologies can impact the time, resources, and personnel required, affecting the overall cost of development. Software development is an expensive process that calls for smart staffing and investment decisions.

Kateryna is a wordsmith with a knack for creating engaging narratives, whether it is an article about administrative hiring routine or domain-related coding skills. She crafts content helping businesses find the perfect talent fit. Through writing, she enjoys exploring new trends dominating in the tech space.

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