Software is one of the most powerful abstract tools humanity has come to wield. However, just because software is not tangible, does not mean it is cheap. We recently ran a poll on Twitter asking users how much they thought it would cost to hire a development team to build the Twitter app.
With $1 being the laughable lowest amount to a staggering $1,000,000+, 32% of users who selected the latter were right on the money. Admittedly, $1,000,000 is a lot steeper than what many developers would quote if you asked them to build the Twitter mobile app. The difference however, is that developers have a source to copy from.
If you happen to ask developers for help with a new idea for a software product, they will deliver a quote for exactly what you asked for. However, what is even more important is what you are not asking up front- and they know this. When building something from scratch, you likely won’t be told about the other clients who changed their direction multiple times during development. The average successful start-up will pivot their direction at least once, according to tech expert Daniel Cummings. In a world when 9/10 start-ups fail, at least 7% of them refused to pivot and 10% had their pivot fail altogether. It’s not only common, but essential that you not only find the correct market but pivot appropriately when needed.
People outside of the realm of software development will find themselves requesting their developers use Waterfall methodology usually without even realizing it. Waterfall is a straight sequence in which the software development process is seen to flow downward like a waterfall. In a perfect world, software development projects would follow the same path as an algebraic equation. Doing A then B will always result in C and so forth. The problem with the waterfall method is that many people will not achieve their desired results. This is a result of only following a linear flow. The market, user demand, and social culture always change. Fixed formulas won’t work in the inconsistent laboratory of software development. The Agile approach is much more malleable. The Agile movement relies on quick deployment of the software product, so that you can get that valuable user feedback and adjust accordingly from there.
As for the Twitter app, it was a complete shot in the dark that could have gone either way. Twitter’s co-founder, Jack Dorsey, originally wanted friends to be able to keep tabs with each other without the necessity of direct communication. While maintaining his day job, Dorsey worked on what would become one of the most popular social networking apps during nights and weekends. The product has obviously pivoted and evolved greatly since then.
Inventing is much harder than simply copying what’s already available. This is why Steve Jobs, a revolutionary, was understandably upset to “thermonuclear degrees” when Google borrowed their unpatentable ideas. Ideas such as swiping from screen to screen with just one finger are an example of this. What seems like basic UI, or user interface, was once groundbreaking. It is crucial to prototype and test ideas. This is to see how users respond when taking a chance on creating original UI. Developers who copy from positively-received risks of others, tend to not have this issue.
Twitter has spent over $1,000,000 building their app. This is not on the current version we see today, but all of the prior iterations, bug fixes, and never-ending updates. That is how, despite spending a staggering amount, Twitter remains relevant. Like the saying goes, you have to spend money to make money. Maintaining your own software is not the next step, but a continuation of the path. There is no grand finish line when it comes to software development. Instead, there are milestones where the project can reach certain objectives such as launch or profitability. These are important goals to strive for, but it is also important to keep an continued efficiency and maintain the software year over year.
Sometimes our eyes are bigger than our stomach. Sometimes our ideas, as brilliant as they may be, are bigger than our execution. This can be applied to many software project attempts as well. At Green Mango Systems, we’ve said this before and we’ll say it again:
Ideas without great execution have no value.
We recently ran a poll on Twitter asking users in the US about why their software projects went unfinished.
Based on our results, it looks like some people learned the hard way about the real costs involved when it comes to software development. 48% of users were unable to finish their software product due to running out of money. There is a reason why companies spend so much on software development. While Facebook spent $1.06 billion in 2015 on their research and development, according the Inc, smaller companies spend a lot as well — industry wide between $3 and $5 billion on their research and development. So where the hell does all this money go?
Innovators with bold ideas for the next best mobile app or software product can shop around for the cheapest developers they can find or they can find the best developers for their project. The problem is, the developer or consultant who promises you the lowest rates in your area could be underestimating the scope of your needs. Low rates, quick turn-around; it sounds like a dream come true. However, fixed price bids often do not leave you with a completed project.
It’s impractical to say for certain what product you need to build exactly. You won’t know for sure until you put it in front of users. Considering the market is always changing, it’s very possible you will need something else by the time the original idea is finally built. The reality is, well thought-out software products take a lot of time and effort in order to become successful. They often even require several iterations after user feedback.
The journey of building a software product is not an overnight endeavor. It greatly varies based on what you want to build. If you want a decent comparison for software development try thinking about it this way: Have you ever talked to someone about the cost of building a custom home? You think you have the price until you realize that price included the baseline tile in the bathroom and no window coverings.
The developer with the low rates and pie-in-the-sky promises is most likely either overly optimistic and inexperienced, or underbidding with the intention of upselling later when you realize you need more features than what you mentioned when soliciting the original bid. That developer may slowly draw out your project until you either run out of time or money. Sometimes both!
13% in our poll were unable to finish their software projects because they did not feel they had a team to help them. It can be challenging to find the best development team for your company’s needs. At Green Mango we believe this is our playground. We can provide the team you need.
Lastly, 23% of users were unable to finish their software projects due to other reasons. Some of those reasons may include a vague goal, an unclear plan, and maybe just a general lack of commitment. It’s difficult to invest all your time and resources and not get the results you wanted. Consider consulting Green Mango Systems for an honest and realistic perspective.