Custom Software Development Costs - Ultimate Guide For 2023

July 18, 2023
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Custom software development enables companies to tailor software applications to their unique needs and objectives. It’s a game-changing approach that saves both money and time, but only if you know how to estimate custom software development costs.

The software market is going to touch $659 billion in 2023 and is expected to grow further. Market researches show that it’s growing with a 5.42% CAGR while Enterprise Software has the largest share. However, the calculation of custom software development costs is still a tough nut to crack for many businesses.

The cost of custom software development is linked to several primary and secondary factors. To calculate the average custom software development cost, you must consider not only the target platform but also features. Of course, with the increase in complexity of software features, the cost will rise.

In addition to platform and features, there are other impelling factors such as licensing fees, user interface design, and time constraints. Also, you’ll have to count the maintenance and support and third-party integrations.

All these aspects make it difficult to answer “How much does it cost to develop custom software?”

This article is all about the intricacies and dynamics that influence custom software development costs. So, you’ll explore the driving forces behind the pricing structure and demystify the hidden elements influencing the budget.

How Much Does Custom Software Development Cost?

Truth be told, there’s no direct answer for how much custom software development costs. That’s because software costs vary considering the platform, technology stack, required skills, and deadlines.  The cost of custom software development may vary from $5,000 to $50,000 or more. It all depends on the software size, its functionalities, and whether you are getting an app, an ERP, or a SaaS product.

To get a better idea, you must understand:

  • Pricing models,
  • Type of custom software,
  • Custom software size, and
  • Influencing development factors

Now let’s take a closer look at these factors to see how they take a toll on custom software development costs.

Pricing Models for Custom Software Development Cost

Each client has specific requirements for their custom development projects and no two are the same in nature. That’s why companies have different pricing models to estimate custom software development costs. Below are the three main pricing models that are being used in the IT industry.

Pricing Models for Custom Software Development Cost

Fixed Price Model

The fixed price model is a standard approach where a predetermined budget is fixed for the entire project. The development company and the client agree upon it after considering the defined scope and requirements. The key characteristic of the fixed price model is that the price remains constant throughout the project duration.

The custom development cost is typically determined after considering factors such as project complexity and resources required. Furthermore, development effort and the expertise of the development team are measured.  The good thing is that regardless of any changes or additional requirements, the client won’t pay extra.

Pros of the Fixed Price Model

Predictability: With a fixed price, you have a clear understanding of the project cost upfront. This will provide an opportunity for better budget planning and investment costs.

Defined Scope: The fixed price model requires detailed project specifications right from the beginning. This can help you clearly outline deliverables while minimizing ambiguity about the project.

Reduced Risk: Since the price is fixed, the development company assumes the risk for any project delays. You won’t have to worry about unexpected challenges such as resource shortages.

Cons of Fixed Price Model

Limited Flexibility: Any changes or additions to the predetermined scope can result in additional costs. You’ll have to submit change requests which may require contract modifications.

Reduced Adaptability: The fixed price model may not be suitable for projects that have evolving requirements. Frequent adjustments in the custom software will leave you at the mercy of the development company.

Time and Materials Model

In the time and materials model, the development company charges an hourly or daily rate for the team's efforts. In short, the development cost is based on the actual time and resources invested in the project. Unlike the fixed price model, this model offers more flexibility and accommodates changes in project requirements.

So, you’ll only be paying for the resources that have been used during the development. This includes time spent developing the software, software licenses, and or hardware requirements.

Pros of Time and Materials Model

Flexibility: The time and materials model allows for adjustments and additions to the project scope as needed. This makes it a suitable approach for projects with evolving development requirements.

Transparency: Clients have visibility into the development process as they are billed periodically. Since they are charged based on hours worked and resources utilized, they’ll know what’s happening.

Agile Approach: This model aligns well with agile methodologies, as it enables iterative development. You can make changes and ask for improvements as per your business needs.

Cons of Time and Materials Model

Cost Overruns: Without careful monitoring, the project costs can exceed the initial estimates. If the scope continuously expands, you’ll have to manage additional costs.

Uncertainty: Since the final cost is not fixed, it may be challenging to determine the exact budget. The development company may start charging you extra for even making slight changes to your project.

Dedicated Teams Model

This is a collaboration model where the development company provides a dedicated team of professionals. You’ll get a skilled team and dedicated resources exclusively for your custom software project. The model establishes a long-term partnership between the client and the development company. The client pays a monthly fee based on the team's size and expertise while the company handles all the development.

The dedicated teams model is suitable for long-term projects that require ongoing development and maintenance.

In the “Dedicated Teams Model,” the client has full control and direct involvement in custom development. However, the involvement may vary depending on whether you are doing staff augmentation or managed services. Nonetheless, the external team will become an extension of your in-house development department. They’ll work closely with your stakeholders, following your processes and guidelines to align with your project goals.

The composition and size of the dedicated team are typically customized. Thus, you can hire skilled resources for various roles in custom software development. And the cost of custom development will be based on time and resources.

Pros of the Dedicated Teams Model

 Extended Collaboration: The dedicated team becomes an extension of your in-house team. You can benefit from their skills in promoting seamless communication, collaboration, and knowledge sharing.

Resource Availability: With a dedicated team, skilled resources are allocated solely to your project. So, you can ensure their availability and focus throughout the development cycle.

Scalability: Dedicated Teams Model offers scalability, allowing you to adjust the team size and composition. Based on your development project requirements, you can hire or release resources

Cons of Dedicated Teams Model

Higher Cost: The dedicated team model can be more expensive compared to other models. This is because you’ll be paying for a dedicated group of professionals for their skills and time.

Management Responsibility: Since you’ll have a dedicated team, you’ll require project management and oversight. Without proper management, it’ll be hard to ensure effective coordination and productivity.

Fixed Price Time and Materials Dedicated Teams
Common Project Type Cloning or making a copy (as per demand) Custom development Completely custom on a platform
Turnaround Time Within weeks Weeks to months Months (Continuous)
Requirements Pre-defined flexible Continuously evolves
Flexibility No Somewhat Yes
Communication Low Frequent Regular (sometimes daily)
Project Control Less Somewhat Complete
Project Duration Short term Mid-long term Long term
Pricing Low (Fixed) Medium (Hourly or Daily basis) High (may increase depending on software)
Suitable For Small companies SMBs Enterprises

Average Cost of Custom Software Development

Custom software development pricing can range from $10,000 to over $1 million depending on the project. While the average cost of custom software development falls between $50,000 and $250,000. However, bear in mind that there’s no actual answer to this question and these figures are approximate.

Below are average industry prices for different types of custom software.

Custom Web Development: $10,000 to $50,000

eCommerce Solution: $10,000 to $500,000

Mobile App: $10,000 to $200,000

CMS Development: $10,000 to $50,000

SaaS Product: $50,000 to $200,000

CRM Software Development: $10,000 to $50,000

But there are several factors that contribute to variations in costs within the average range.

Complexity and Scope

One of the primary factors contributing to variations in costs is project complexity and scope. Complex projects that require extensive functionality, integrations with other systems, or sophisticated algorithms will generally have higher costs. Similarly, projects that involve multiple modules, extensive user interfaces, and backend systems will require more development effort.

Location and Labor

The location of the development team is another crucial factor. Hiring developers from regions with lower labor costs, such as Eastern Europe or Southeast Asia, can significantly reduce expenses.

Team Member Cost in The US (Hourly) Cost in India/PAK (Hourly)
Front-end Software Developer $65 $30-$35
Full-stack Software Developer $70 $40-$45
QA Engineer $60 $35-$40
UI/UX Designer $60 $40-$45
Project Manager $86 $50-$55

However, don’t forget to consider the potential trade-offs in terms of communication and time zone differences. You should pay attention to cultural understanding when working with offshore teams.

Level of Customization

The level of customization that you require for your custom software will also affect costs. Custom software development is all about tailoring the solution to meet specific business needs. And the more unique and specialized the requirements, the higher the costs. Off-the-shelf solutions or platforms that require minimal customization will generally be more cost-effective.

Maintenance and Management

Lastly, you should also factor in project management, quality assurance, and ongoing maintenance into the overall cost estimation. These activities are essential for successful software development and ensure the reliability of the solution. 

Custom Software Development Cost by Company Size

Depending on the company, the custom software development costs change significantly. Below is an estimation of how and why the price rate moves upward from startups to large enterprises.

For Startup

Startups typically consist of a small team, having lower budgets and ever-changing demands. Additionally, they are always eager to hit the market with their products to capitalize on the opportunities. Since startups are always looking to cut expenses, it’s hard to assess their average costs.

The custom development cost for startups depends on their unique demands and turnaround time. Normally, custom software for a startup may cost a few hundred to a few thousand dollars.

For Small and Medium Enterprises

SMBs may have variable requirements from building a custom website to a dedicated application. Since they offer a wider range of services and thus, require a structured project management approach. Most of the time they are in need of SaaS products or require customizations. They may require a dedicated team and the average custom software development cost for SMBs can go beyond $100,000.

For Enterprise Software Project

When it comes to enterprise projects, the costs of custom development are much higher. That’s because they want to build software on a basic framework and have specific needs.

An enterprise software project is crucial due to data integrity, logging increase, error handling, and data security. Since enterprise compliance obligations are crucial for enterprises, the development company has to pay close attention. The average cost of custom development for enterprises varies drastically as they tend to pay on an hourly basis.

With a 30-50 dollar hourly rate, the custom development cost can touch $500,000 or more. The cost may go higher depending on the duration, which can be 6 months or above.

Small Project SMBs Project Enterprise Project
Project Manager Yes Yes Yes
Business Analyst Yes Yes
Developer Yes Several Several
QA Engineer Yes Two Several
UI/UX Designer No May be Several
Database Engineer No May be Several

Average Custom Software Development Cost by Type

The average cost of custom software development also varies depending on the type of software. Below is a breakdown of average costs for different types of custom software projects:

Basic Web Application

A basic web application typically involves developing a web-based system with limited functionalities. The cost for such projects can range from $5,000 to $30,000, depending on the complexity. The cost will vary based on the design, the number of pages, and the required integrations.

Custom Mobile Application

Mobile apps are in demand and as per Statistica, It’ll become a $167 billion market in 2023. The average custom mobile application cost varies depending on the platform (iOS, Android, or both). Other factors include app complexity, functionalities, desired features, industry, and development rates.

A simple mobile app typically includes basic functionalities such as user registration, basic data display, and simple interactions. Therefore, the cost for a simple app can range from $20,000 to $50,000. Whereas a moderately complex mobile app includes features like user authentication, data synchronization, API integrations, and push notifications. Such advanced interactions will raise the cost from $50,000 to $150,000.

Highly complex mobile apps involve advanced features, intricate designs, and extensive back-end systems, real-time data processing. They also include complex algorithms and require custom integrations that increase the cost from $150,000 to more.

Custom E-commerce Website

Developing an e-commerce website involves building an online store with custom features. Such a website needs features like product listings, shopping cart functionality, payment gateways, and order management systems. The average cost for an e-commerce website can range from $10,000 to $50,000 or more.

The eCommerce development cost can increase or decrease depending on the number of products, customization needs, and integration requirements.

Enterprise Software Solution

enterprise software solution

Enterprise software solutions are complex systems developed for large organizations to handle specific business processes. Their cost can vary widely depending on the complexity and scale of the system. Such projects often start in the range of $50,000 to $100,000 but can increase drastically.

Custom CRM or ERP Software

Developing a custom Customer Relationship Management (CRM) or Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software solution is difficult. The process involves building a tailored system to manage and streamline business operations. Therefore, the cost for custom CRM or ERP software typically starts from $50,000. However, there’s no upper limit as it can exceed several hundred thousand dollars, depending on the complexity.

Factors Influencing Custom Software Development Costs

Understanding the key factors that influence the cost of custom software development is essential for effective budgeting. This is crucial, especially in terms of business planning before embarking on such projects. A good understanding can help you make informed decisions and optimize your investments.

I. Project Complexity

The complexity of software development is synonymous with more logic, more coding, and more time investment in testing. And we don’t have to tell you that the costs will go higher with the project's complexity. Normally, the complexity of custom software development is assessed based on the software size and integration.

The size of the Software directly impacts the development pricing. With size, increases the number of features and functionalities of software, and hence, the development costs. A large software not only requires more time but also more coding, effort, and resources.

Similarly, the complexity and cost of development will increase if your custom software needs to integrate with third-party services. Integration with existing systems often requires additional time for analysis, development, and testing. This is necessary to ensure seamless connectivity and data exchange for a long time.

II. Functionality Requirements

It’s obvious, the desired functionalities of custom software significantly impact its cost. The following aspects come under the functionality requirements:

Complexity of Features

Highly complex features, such as advanced algorithms or real-time data processing, require specialized skills. Expert resources will charge more to build complex software as it requires more effort and time.

User Interface (UI) and User Experience (UX)

A sophisticated and intuitive UI/UX design enhances user satisfaction but also adds to the cost. Customizing the UI/UX to ensure responsiveness across different devices requires extensive usability testing. This means better coding and more resources which will further increase the costs.

Customization and Personalization

A good software development company knows how to develop software for specific needs. But if you are asking them to accommodate specific business requirements or individual user preferences, you’ll have to pay extra. After all, you are asking them to put in additional development effort.

III. Technology Stack

In case you aren’t aware, technology stack means programming languages, frameworks, and databases. The choice of your technology stack directly affects the development cost in multiple ways.

Technology Stack

Skill Availability

Technologies with a larger talent pool are generally more cost-effective. Whereas rarer or niche technologies may require higher development costs due to increased competition for resources.

Licensing and Infrastructure

Certain technologies may require licenses or subscriptions, adding to the overall cost. Additionally, the infrastructure required for hosting the software can vary in cost, depending on the chosen technology stack. You’ll be paying less for open-source software and may have to pay a premium for others.

Scalability and Future Maintenance

The scalability and maintainability of the chosen technology stack impact long-term costs. This means your custom software development cost will be higher if you are asking the vendor to maintain it. Since they’ll have to dedicate resources and cater to your needs, they’ll charge higher.

IV. Integration Needs

Your software may need integration with payment gateways, CRM platforms, or third-party APIs. Custom software integration with external systems affects development costs in several ways.

Complexity of Integration

Depending on the third-party software, the integration may take a few minutes to weeks. Well-documented and widely adopted APIs require less effort, while proprietary APIs require effort. The development team may have to work hard on the user interface, scalability, or API key management.

Data Migration and Transformation

Integrating with existing systems means data migration and transformation of necessary information. Depending on the software size and industry, this can be a hectic, time-consuming process. Extra effort and time in data migration will ultimately add to the overall cost of development.

Testing and Quality Assurance

Integration requires thorough testing to ensure data consistency, security, and reliability. The overall project cost may increase if it requires rigorous testing efforts, including unit testing, integration testing, and end-to-end testing.

Tips for Cost Optimization

It’s often hard to keep track of expenses when you are outsourcing. Follow the below tips to reduce your custom software development costs in the long run.

Prioritize Software Requirements

The first step is to identify and prioritize the must-have features for your custom software. You should focus on core functionalities and essential user requirements first.  Consider adding additional features in later development phases to control costs and minimize delays.

Also, clearly define and document your project requirements to minimize scope creep and unnecessary revisions. Enlisting detailed specifications help developers understand your needs accurately, reducing the chances of rework and additional costs.

Follow Agile Development Approach

It’s time to embrace an agile development methodology that promotes iterative development and feedback cycles. Doing so will ensure early identification of issues and course corrections. This will reduce the risk of costly rework and improve the ability to adapt to changing requirements.

Select the Right Technology Stack

Choosing the appropriate technology stack based on your project requirements is the key to cost-effectiveness. When you opt for well-established and widely used technologies, I’ll ensure access to a larger talent pool. This means lower development costs and ongoing community support for your custom software.

Choose the Cross-Platform Development

If your application needs to support multiple platforms (e.g., iOS and Android), consider cross-platform development. Such frameworks will minimize development efforts as well as time and costs. Cross-platform frameworks allow you to build a single codebase that can be deployed on multiple platforms.

Focus on Ongoing Maintenance Planning

Don’t forget to consider the costs of ongoing maintenance and support when budgeting for custom software development. To ensure the usability of your software application, you’ll need regular updates, bug fixes, security patches, and compatibility updates. These are ongoing works that are essential for the long-term success of your software.

On the other hand, development maintenance can increase the overall custom software costs. So, you should plan ahead and add to the contract if you can.

Consider Outsourcing or Nearshoring

If the software development costs are higher in your area, explore the option of outsourcing. The best way is nearshoring to leverage custom cost advantages without compromising quality. Working with development teams in regions with lower labor costs such as Pakistan or India is a good idea. This way you can lower the cost of custom software development while maintaining high standards of expertise.

Do Continuous Evaluation and Optimization

It’s crucial that you regularly evaluate and optimize your software development process. While doing so, identify areas for improvement and try learning from previous projects. With careful evaluation, you can enhance the efficiency, productivity, and cost-effectiveness of your custom development project.

Ensure Effective Collaboration

Lastly, try fostering clear and open communication with the development team to ensure alignment. This will help you minimize misunderstandings and you’ll be able to promptly address any issues. Above all, efficient collaboration and regular status updates can prevent costly delays and rework.


Navigating the realm of custom software development costs can be a daunting task. As we conclude this journey through the intricacies of custom software development costs, one thing becomes abundantly clear: there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The average cost range of $50,000 to $250,000 serves as a starting point. But it is merely a compass in the vast sea of possibilities.

shopdev can provide you with custom software solutions for your business at affordable rates. We can design and build best-in-class digital products as per your preferences and client needs. 

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