How are bespoke software projects costed?

What determines the cost of a bespoke software project?

Every pound is important to a business, so we think it is important for potential clients to understand what affects the cost of custom made software.

This isn’t an article about the benefits of bespoke software, but how your project requirements will affect the pricing. As a guide, here are some of the things that will affect your project quote.

Specification document

We recommend that you write a clear project vision. This should include what you need to achieve from the software and all the details below. This will make our outline planning much quicker and also ensure you get what you want. We can write this as a functional specification for you following conversation, but this will take up time and will need to be signed off by you prior to beginning.

Scope & complexity

Do you want the software to perform a small range of duties or does it need to do lots of tasks? The size of the project and how difficult these are to build is the first thing that we will look at when creating your estimate. Some processes may look simple on the surface, but may be more complex underneath.

Project time frame

This will be determined by a number of factors, but this will include an estimate of how many man-hours the project will take. The more complex the project, the longer it takes to design, build & test. These hours may be performed by more than one developer, so a project build that takes three weeks to complete may include six weeks worth of work (shared between two developers).

Number of users and levels of access

Although we don’t charge per licence - this is your software - different levels of access and permissions may affect the final cost. 

Some businesses won’t need this, others will find it useful for accountability or data protection. An example would be for regional agents/REPS that only need to see their own sales data and customers, whereas their manager will need to see all of them.

Data migration & integration

Some data is easier to deal with than others, and the amount of data needed to be integrated will affect the project. Data migration is bringing in data from an older system (or paper). Data integration is an ongoing ‘synchronisation’ between this new solution and your existing systems.

What platforms does it need to run on?

Are you using this software just from PC or does it need to be accessible from tablets, smart phones etc?  Do all of the parts of the software need to be adaptive to these devices? All of this can be done, it just takes a little more time.

Training & Ongoing support

We are happy to spend a few hours training with you as part of the project, but if you require individual training or many groups of training, then this will affect the project budget.

Support isn’t always needed, but others require further development time as part of an ongoing contract. This is especially relevant to those adaptive businesses or those that trade in many industries or markets.

Changes during the project

The best advice we can give if you want to set a budget and stick to it, is to make sure you have all your requirements noted and agreed before the project begins. Any additions may add to the cost, this is especially likely mid project as time may have been spent doing something that now needs to be scrapped or amended heavily.


Your chosen software partner should be upfront and honest about costs, this is the best way to have a trusted professional relationship. Check out your provider before committing, look for accreditation, financial security and contact past clients.

Tim Roth, Sales Director, Smashed Crab Studio

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