What Cost-influencing Factors One Should Keep in Mind While Planning Project Management App Development

Whether the project management (PM) app adoption is worth your money and time is no longer a question. Even if you run a small company and a team of a dozen employees can cover your customers’ needs, there’s always room for improvement. What may seem like a small step from a bunch of Excel spreadsheets describing employee responsibilities to a comprehensive PM application can become a giant leap for your business. In the long run, all costs will pay off, and Increased efficiency and improved business processes will be a decent reward for your investments.

The question is what factors influence the overall app development costs. This concern is significant for small businesses and startups since, in these cases, it is vital to ensure that every penny is well spent. Therefore, this article will highlight the major factors affecting the overall app cost. Besides, we’ll consider an example of a PM application to demonstrate to you what an average development process may look like according to our experience.

How Much An Average App Development Costs

The simple answer to this question is “the more you want, the more you pay”. The overall app cost strictly depends on the complexity of the application, but there are some tricky factors we’ll discuss a little bit later. If we talk about numbers, on average, simple app development will cost you somewhere between $40,000-$60,000. In this scenario, we’re not talking about the application with enough potential to beat all the competitors on the market. You can get an app that performs some basic functionality for this price, but the good news is that the overall development process will take approximately two or three months, so you won’t have to wait for too long.

If you’re looking for something more comprehensive, say an enterprise-wide software system, development time as well as the cost will increase. In this case, the software dev company may ask you to pay $300,000 or more, according to your requirements. The application development process, in its turn, may take more than nine-month from the initial design stage to the delivery of the fully-functional product.

Besides the set of features you want a software development company to implement in the app, there are also some other factors that you must consider. For example, the complexity of database or 3rd party integrations may have their own level of complexity, leading to cost increases. We’ll discuss some of these factors in more detail in the next section, but there’s one other thing we want you to remember. Besides the functionality, the app cost also depends on the software developer you decide to cooperate with. For example, you always have a choice between a software dev company and a freelancer. Naturally, choosing a freelancer is a good option allowing you to cut costs. However, if one of your priorities is long-term support and maintenance, in most cases cooperating with a software development company is a more reliable option.

Your app developer’s location also plays a huge role. The most popular application development destinations are North America, Latin America, Eastern Europe, and India.  The median cost of app development among the members of this list is the highest in North America and the lowest in India and Indonesia. Eastern European countries can be considered the golden mean.

Major Factors Affecting the App Development Cost

As we already mentioned, when you consider cooperating with a company providing web application development services, the lion’s share of your future app cost will strictly depend on the set of features to be implemented. The simpler app you want, the fewer hours will be spent. Hence, the lower the application cost will be. SImple apps provide some essential functionality without additional benefits for your business. If we talk about PM software, it may be a minimalist web application allowing managers to assign tasks to specific employees, set due dates for tasks, and track overall progress. Mid-level functionality applications provide a more complicated functionality that will be discussed later in this article. Such apps also offer integrations API, give access to more screens, and custom UI.

The complexity of the app design is another factor influencing the cost. Paying due attention to the app design is a must. It’s essential to have a good-looking UI that does not cause dislike among users. What’s also important is the UX design process. This process will determine if all the app functionality will be easily accessible by the users and their aftertaste after working with the application. UX design requires the involvement of experienced UI/UX specialists who will create the screens of the future app to estimate how conveniently they relate to each other and how comfortable the user’s journey will be.

Choosing one or more target platforms may also be an essential thing to consider. When we talk about PM software development, mobile platform support may not be so significant compared to social media or music streaming service apps, for example. However, in some cases, a mobile app may become a real life changer. For instance, you’re in the construction business, and your employees often work on objects located in different parts of the city. Various tasks require the use of different equipment, and some unpredictable events may occur more often than you want. In such a case, it’s vital to respond to new challenges as quickly as possible. Therefore, having a mobile app that can promptly inform employees about changes in the schedule will be a huge helper. The question is which approach to choose to satisfy mobile app users’ needs better.

The option that will cost you the most is to develop native apps for Android and/or iOS. In this scenario, developers will create a separate code base for each target platform. The thing is, in the case of a PM app, the benefits of native app development most probably won’t compensate for the cost. For this reason, you may consider the most affordable solution which can cover all your needs. For example, you can focus on a Progressive Web App (PWA), which is a browser-based app that has the look and feel of a native application. There’s no need to download such an application from the app store, and its reliability, performance, and responsiveness won’t disappoint you.

Now that we have determined what factors influence the costs of custom application development, we can proceed with describing a close-to-real-life example of a PM app creation. This example will help you understand what core features an average app of such kind includes, how their implementation affects the overall price, and how the process looks like.

Project Management App Features that Make a Difference

Now, let’s consider an idea of an average PM application according to our company experience in the industry. We’ve already mentioned the core functionality every app should have, so let’s focus on some killer features that have the potential to add something special to your day-to-day office life.

First of all, such an app should provide as much automation as possible to free project managers from manually processing data. Therefore, our priority is to enable a set of pre-defined templates, allowing the system to automatically generate a chain of requests according to the specifics of business processes our customers usually use. Furthermore, all system users with the required access level should be able to modernize the available templates and create their own to fit the specific task’s needs better.

The availability of such features and specifics of working on big projects leads to the necessity of timely notifications to ensure that all participants are on the same page. Therefore, we pay particular attention to features allowing the system to notify employees about each step and inform them of the essential changes. For example, to not turn the work on the project into a mess, we usually focus on reporting all involved users on such events as task cancellation or any unforeseen circumstances that may not allow a specific team member to complete assigned tasks on time.

To finish projects on time, efficient time management is a must. To help managers deal with deadlines, we usually implement a fully functional Gantt chart. To create a reliable and user-friendly UI, choosing the right set of tools is essential. In our work, we usually rely on Webix, a JavaScript UI library developed by the brightest minds of XB Software. Another ace up our sleeve is JavaScript UI libraries by DHTMLX. Such an approach allows us to avoid dozens of possible errors since our developers use a tool they know every detail of. Moreover, Webix provides access to dozens of widgets whose out-of-the-box functionality enables a faster work pace and helps cut costs. Our clients, in turn, can be confident that their project will use a library whose support and continuous improvement will not be abandoned for the foreseeable future. Due to these features, we usually use a Webix Gantt as a basis for PM tools.

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By setting the necessary parameters, users can see only the information only related to them or the whole team. Despite the comprehensive functionality of the Gantt calendar, according to our customers’ requirements, we can use “traditional” tables, where users can see the basic information on the screen and have extra info on a separate page. Another helpful feature is uploading the necessary information to Excel or PDF formats.

Coordinating team efforts is essential to the establishment of an efficient work process. What’s more important is to make the process as smooth as possible. An email containing critical changes to the project may get lost, among others, leading to unwanted delays. That’s why a real-time chatting app can become somewhat helpful. A project manager can enable access to the chat only for employees involved in the project to ensure the convenience of communication. Once again, Webix can become pretty handy when it’s time to implement described functionality. The use of the Webix Chat widget allows implementing communication features that help free the users from the need to switch to other apps, such as Slack, for example, when there’s the need to clarify some project related info.

Main Phases of a Project Management App Development Process

First and foremost, a business analyst needs to understand the business issues and customer opportunities. It’s necessary to perform a scrupulous analysis to determine weak points in PM that need to be improved. By opportunities, we mean possible growth points. Next is to plan the upcoming activities following the “as-is” approach. After that, the main task for the business analyst is to define the roles of the participants. It’s necessary to describe who’s responsible for what part of the project. Understanding how much information the future app should provide to a user with a specific role and the most optimal way of delivering this info is crucial.

Also, the business analyst clarifies all current and desirable business rules. For example, to avoid delays, some company departments must receive notification on a new task in advance, say, five days before they start working on it. Such specific details should also be considered while designing the future PM app. Before turning these rules into the actual app features, it’s essential to show customers that they exactly fit their current business needs. One of the options is to turn them into a graphical representation using the Business Process Model and Notation (BPMN).

The customers usually have their own vision of the future app when they come to software developers. So to test these ideas in practice, it’s pretty common to develop an MVP version of the product first. Let’s imagine that our task is to develop a PM app for a small or medium-sized company. In such a case, for creating an MVP, we can involve three or four programmers: one back-end developer, one front-end developer, one full-stack developer, and a mobile app developer if the customer requires mobile support. Besides, the team should include one designer, one QA specialist, and one business analyst/project manager.

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The team must create the database from scratch using the info provided by the customer, often as a bunch of Excel tables. It’s vital to determine which parts of this data must remain untouched (for example, customer’s warehouses’ locations) and what will be changed during the application work (i.e. specific roles on a project). Such analysis is vital for determining the future app’s architecture. For example, it is essential to check that a user with a particular role could efficiently perform his actions, for example, approve a specific task or sub-task. At the same time, it’s essential to prevent a situation when a particular user harms his fellow colleague by clicking the wrong button.

Considering all these factors, our QA specialist can test the app, and after that, we can proceed to the user testing phase, whose main aim is to see how real users interact with the application. Such an approach allows receiving helpful feedback within a few weeks. After that, the application’s functionality can gradually be expanded with features from the “nice to have” category. These features are not necessary for providing the core app functionality, but their implementation can significantly improve the user experience. For example, tooltips explaining how a specific feature works can be somewhat helpful for those who use some of the app features for the first time. After the first stage of development, the team can receive customers’ feedback and start implementing new functionality.

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Suppose you decide to make a software project providing described functionality from scratch. In that case, the price will include development time and the work of each involved specialist: developers, UI/UX designers, Project Manager, Business Analyst, QA engineer, and Team lead. The approximate project management web application development cost considering the use of Webix widgets will be equal to $40,000. Without the development advantages that Webix provides, the price will increase by approximately 20-30%.

Conclusions

Custom project management app development in terms of costs is a task of finding the balance point between a plethora of available options. There’s the need to distinct features that you want from the features that you need since it’s the main factor that influences how much the PM app will cost you. Choosing the right software developer can also be tricky. In pursuit of lower development costs, you may decide to cooperate with a freelancer, but development companies that have been on the market for many years value their reputation more. This fact can significantly reduce the likelihood that you will face some unforeseen problems regarding long-term support and maintenance.

If you want to discuss your idea of a project management app, please contact us.