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How Long Does It Take to Build a Custom Software?

10.02.2021 Darya Tryfanava
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software development time

This is an issue on many of our customers’ minds. The process of software development is complicated, and the time needed for development depends on many factors, the most crucial of which is the complexity of the software.

In our experience, custom software projects can take from 4 to 9 months.

In this article, we will outline the main items that have the greatest influence on software development time and give tips on how to speed up the software development process. In addition, we’ve shared our business analysts’ best advice for companies looking to successfully launch a project.

Here’s What We’ll Cover

Experts Say Quality Software Development Takes Time

As experts in their field, the members of VironIT team are always looking ahead to understand the “next big thing” in tech. We asked our business analysts to share their views on how long it takes to build custom software. Here’s what they had to say:

Anton Dovnar

Anton Dovnar, Business Analyst at VironIT

The development time highly depends on the amount of work you’ll have to do. For instance, a well-designed landing page can be developed in 1-2 months. But if we’re talking about a full-fledged platform, such as an enterprise social network, then the timeline will range from 6 to 7 months. It’s the same with game development — a visual novel game like Romance Club will take up to 2 months. However, a poker game application takes an average of 6 months. Mobile apps take 2-3 months.

As a business analyst, I will also tell you that development time depends mostly on the requirements gathering. You should correctly gather requirements, formalize them, and write the requirements document to be read and understood by other team members. Note that the smallest details often make the biggest difference. Missing some essential details at the stage of creating documentation can cause a significant increase in development time.

Danila Zhukovski

Danila Zhukovski, Business Analyst at VironIT

The first thing that affects the cost and development time is the complexity of the application. The second is the number of platforms on which the application will run.

So the development time depends on the project and can vary from 1-2 months to a year.

The Average Timing for a Software Development

Whether you want to develop a simple or complex app, you should note that all custom software projects are different and special. Some apps can be a little different from a website, while others include many features, such as GPS, access to a camera, support of social media functions, and so on.

Though timing varies, we’ve compiled estimates based on our experience.

Main stages of launching a mobile or website app Description Duration
Requirements and Design At this stage, you should collaborate with your software development team to come up with a product requirements document (PRD) for an IT product. Also, you will document and discuss the application design. 2-4 weeks
Planning, Architecture & Development With a design and PRD in hand, development of the product can begin. Before starting, the project manager will dedicate some days to planning the team’s schedule and assigning tasks. The project manager is also responsible for identifying and minimizing risks, so you will achieve on-time, on-budget, and goal-focused delivery of high-profile projects. 2-6 months
Testing At this stage, you should perform tests and ensure that the final product meets usability and coding standards. Note: the types of testing may vary, but all projects should undergo coding review, end-to-end testing, and user acceptance testing (UAT). Additionally, this stage may include testing the application on different operating systems, devices, or browsers. To ensure the product will remain stable, you may also perform load testing. 3-6 weeks
App submission to App Store or Google Play At this stage, we will guide you through each step of the registration process. 7 days
Maintenance and updates These are additional services that will help you to bring added value to your app. Maintenance may span for 20 years, whereas additional development may be 1–2 years.

It’s important to bear in mind that without proper planning and risk mitigation, the software development process can take too much time and become costly.

Why Software Development Is a Time-Consuming Process

The speed of software development depends on factors like development process complexity, quality of code, team size, productivity, and efficiency. Let’s have a closer look at each one.

  • The complexity of the development process. Every development team faces issues related to the technical aspects of the project, such as project requirements and tight deadlines. All these challenges may slow down the process of software development.
  • Quality of code. When the mess in your code increases, so does the time that it takes to maintain it. In the worst case, the code can no longer be maintained and the project will slowly die without continuous updating.
  • Team size. The success of each project depends on the efficiency of internal communication. Researcher Katherine Klein from Wharton University states that the optimal size for a team is 5 people. If there are more than 7 people in the team, finding common ground becomes more challenging.
  • Team productivity and efficiency. In general, the performance of the team depends on the contribution of each member. If some team members are skilled and experienced, the team will work faster and smarter to get all of your tasks done.

The Most Effective Ways to Speed Up Your Development Process

In this section, we will look into a few ways you can speed up your development process. Some are tools or techniques, while others are approaches to problem solving. You can pick whichever works best for you and leave the rest.

Boost Your Team on a Given Project

If your team needs assistance implementing complex functionality or part of a project, outsourcing to a dedicated team may be the right choice. This model is the best option for businesses that need to hire a developer while staying under budget.

At VironIT, we are always ready to help customers strengthen their project teams. Our company can acquire an expert or even a whole team for a specified period. We take over the entire recruitment process so the client’s team stays focused on software development.

If you want to learn more about hiring remote developers, see the article, “How to Find and Hire a Dedicated Software Development Team”.

Work with Small Teams. Divide the Project into Small Components

As previously mentioned, an ideal team includes 5 members. The wise solution for projects that require more developers is to divide the team into smaller groups based on the project components each member is working on.

Venkat Rangan

Venkat Rangan, CTO at Clari Inc

Agile methodology combined with many small components/micro-services and team organization leads to small, highly productive teams. Combined with a culture of unit tests, functional tests, and continuous integration, this makes it possible to break down a big problem into smaller chunks and have each team run to aggressive milestones and schedules.

Adopt a Lean Approach

The lean approach to software development allows you to optimize development time and resources to focus on what truly matters. Building software in small increments enables you to receive the user’s early feedback and make necessary adjustments while the development goes on.

Jim Walsh

Jim Walsh, CTO at GlobalLogic

The key to moving quickly and effectively is to build your product in small increments, test with real users in real-life situations ASAP, and then adjust your direction based on their feedback and your data/observations. This “Lean” approach is fully compatible with Agile, Continuous Delivery, and other modern software approaches.

Set a Project Roadmap with Clear Requirements

Take time to create a project roadmap and discuss it with the team before the beginning of the development process. Clear project requirements and goals enable you and your team to save time discussing what’s next.

Marc Jensen

Marc Jensen, CTO & Managing Partner at Space150

At our company, we have an initial “Challenge Phase” that is designed to clarify scope and reduce risk in our projects. Often, the initial plan isn’t ultimately what gets done for a given project, so we take the time to ensure that we clearly understand the problem and outline what success means before we start. This way, the hours and time we spend truly contribute to the end result.

Do Less to Do More. Create Work In Progress (WIP) Limits in Kanban

Assigning too many tasks hampers project development. Limiting the amount of work in progress helps to make the development process more efficient. For instance, if you utilize a kanban board to manage the development process, you can specify the maximum number of tasks allowed on each column. This ensures you will have enough time for planning and feedback.

Create a Minimum Viable Product

An MVP can help you minimize the time and resources you might otherwise commit to building a product that won’t succeed.

Eric Ries, an American entrepreneur, blogger, and author of The Lean Startup, describes the purpose of an MVP the following way: It is the version of a new product that allows a team to collect the maximum amount of validated learning about customers with the least amount of effort.

Switch for a moment from reading to video and check out some great tips from Eric Ries on adapting the rules of creating the minimum viable product.

Improve Automation

Automation will save your team time and speed up the development and delivery process. Also, you will be more involved in product discovery and work on the overall technical architecture.

For example, you can adopt automated testing that is much more effective than manual testing, or you can implement a CI/CD pipeline, which will significantly increase development speed due to instant feedback and fast iteration.

Take a look at the video below to find out project management tools to finish your software development project faster.

Quality development takes time, but when you’re short on that particular resource, having a few tricks to speed up the process can be invaluable.

Here at VironIT, we know from experience that it’s possible to speed up software development without sacrificing product quality. We use our expertise to help businesses extend their development teams. Check out our case studies and visit our ​contact page​ for more details.

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