One of the questions I get asked all the time is ‘how much does it cost to build custom software that does this: ‘(and then they go on to describe in a couple of sentences what they want). The answer I most often respond with is – how much does a car cost?
Well you can buy a car for $5,000 and you can buy a car for $500,000 – a car is a car right?
Wrong. And it’s the same with custom software development.
It’s important to spend time detailing exactly what you want – whether it’s a car or a new piece of software. You could say that you want a car that can carry my family for long road trips, something fuel efficient, a 6-cylinder, red in color, with a trailer hitch, leather interior, and xenon headlights. That’s a lot more specific than ‘a car’, and chances are you’d have a lot better idea on what price that car would be.
Custom Software works the same way. The more time you can spend detailing your requirements, the more clarity you will get as to how much it will cost and how long it will take. And just as with trying to find the right car – you need to know someone to ask you the right questions. In the custom software world, this person is called the Business Analyst, or BA. It’s the BA’s job to ask you questions about what you are trying to achieve, what the impacts are for your business, and what the critical success factors are for you. They will ask you questions that you’ve never thought about, and most importantly, document the specifications for your system in what’s called a System Requirement Specification. That’s the key document you need – it serves as a blueprint for your entire software project.
Invest the time with a professional to analyze and document you’re requirements – that’s the start of a successful custom software development.