Why is Software Development so expensive?

While software development can certainly be considered expensive, its price is very relative and varies a lot from project to project.

When trying to understand how the development of a certain custom project is being priced, it is common to understate the importance of some of its key elements. You might ask yourself, why are software development costs so high? Surprisingly for some, the most important part of creating a brand-new product is the planning of it.

Surprising for some, the most important part of creating a brand new product is the planning of it.

During the initial stages, a team researches the market, calculates the risks, and develops the technical strategy. All of this requires a lot of effort and human hours. However, it definitely saves more in the end.

Now let’s look at the most prominent reasons and factors that are a part of the cost-forming process of software development services.

It takes a village: Team

To begin, let’s look at the core of any project, the team that turns customers’ ideas into reality. Depending on the project, you will need a certain range of professionals to develop your product. A standard team usually includes a business analyst, a project manager, a system architect, a quality assurance engineer, a designer, and a certain number of developers that depends on the complexity of the project. All of this is going back to the initial idea, that it takes a village to develop a good product.

To calculate the approximate price per month of development, we can take the average salary of each of the team roles, add them up and divide by 12. To know a more complete number, we’d have to include the prices of the architectural technical elements of the project. Which is the next reason on our list.

Complexity & functionality

The needs of your product greatly affect the technical complexity of its implementation. Often a project would include a database, a payment system, multiple screens, and kinds of user interaction. All of this comes at a price. Using third-party tools, subscriptions, and libraries, as well as paying licensing fees can very quickly up the cost of a project.

The specific needs of your product greatly affect the technical complexity of its implementation.

If you’re planning to develop a mobile application, take into account that developing it for Android and iOs devices almost doubles the work of developers. These are separate systems that represent different programming skills and would require you to add more developers to your team.

Generally speaking, software development requires specific skills and experience. The more talented your team is, the more expensive they will be. However, they will also work more efficiently and save you more money in the end by making the right decisions the first time around.

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Time vs Effort

One of the most typical (and difficult to answer) questions clients often ask is “How long will it take to develop my project?” In this case, it is important to know the difference between the needed time and the needed effort to see a project to the end.

It is important to know the difference between the needed time and effort required to see a project to the end.

The effort is how many hours of work are required, and time is the duration of the project. So for example, a development task that requires 24 hours of work can be done by 3 programmers in one 8-hour workday. In another case, a task of 40 hours could be given to one designer, so it would take a week to be completed.

Whenever you’re getting an estimate of the project’s duration it doesn’t help you much in the understanding of its price. It is the effort that determines the final cost, not the number of business days. So instead, we would recommend to you provide as many details about your project to the team you’re working with as possible and help them calculate the effort needed to develop the features you want. This will give you a much clearer picture of the final cost of your product.

Unclear requirements

Some projects start with not clearly defined requirements, some change them along the way. In any case, not many get finished with the same requirements they went into development with. In a situation, when the features do not match the general vision of the project anymore, a lot of changes must be implemented. All of this increases the scope of the project which in turn bumps up the price. To avoid this, a smart business analysis, a coherent vision, and a sturdy technical architecture must be put in place before any development activities even begin. This is referring back to the idea that planning is truly the most important part of development. Try not to neglect it.


Software development, being such a complex process, requires a lot of human effort, specific skills, and knowledge to drive an idea to a completely functioning product. Investing in good development from the get-go will save you money in the long run, as more experienced teams will create a better strategy and will be able to avoid common mistakes.

When estimating the cost of your project don't forget any of the key price-forming elements, like team, subscriptions, licences, hosting, third-party development tools etc.

As the planning stage is the most important one in the entire development process, it is key to provide as much high-quality communication as a client to your team, as possible. Only clear and defined requirements and complete mutual understanding can save you from overpaying. A professional team focuses as much on the relationship and understanding of a client as it does on the coding. It takes knowing all the detail of a particular business to develop a product that would fully satisfy their needs. That’s why custom software development is more expensive than off-the-shelf products.

Now, knowing these main cost-forming factors, you can plan the development of your next project smarter, and hopefully, avoid some of the common mistakes. And our team at ABNK would always be happy to help you.

Also, you can check our ABNK Premium Systems DesignRush Profile