IT Team Management Tips

How Long Does It Take to Develop Custom Software?

Want to estimate your project timeline? Use our checklist to define your project delivery timeline.

As much as with the price of the project, the average development timeline varies depending on a lot of factors. There are no two projects that are exactly the same, so we must know all the details and all the project specs to give you a precise timeline for the project delivery. It takes 4 to 9 months to create a fully functional and fairly complex software, but this timeline can shrink or stretch depending on your needs and project specs. 

Is it possible to develop good quality software in less than 4 months? It surely is, but it would take more effort and the project itself has to be simple and small. Large and complex projects may go well over 9 months. So, if you want to know how long does it take to create software in your particular case, you might want to know more about the factors contributing to it.

Another significant consideration is the State of Readiness for the project. Our clients come to us in varying states of readiness; some have clearly defined specifications, while others have clear business goals but are not sure how software technology will get them there. We help our clients figure out what the end-product is going to look like and shape up the vision for the project. Whether our clients need people or a product, we have them covered.

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If you want to try and estimate the timeline for your project, we have a checklist you can use to define a timeline for your project. As always in these matters, there are tons of variables to consider and many steps to take. Let us break the development process down step by step and help you find out the average time to develop software.

Planning

Developing software can be compared to constructing a building – you cannot start construction without a solid foundation and a plan. It all begins with a thorough plan that accounts for all the production needs and gives the developers a roadmap for the whole development process. At this point, we come up with a clear vision for what the product is going to be like and how to build it. 

Here at Intersog, we work closely with our clients to identify their needs, analyze their specs, define the scope of the project, and come up with an actionable plan for achieving their business objectives. Basically, we conduct an extensive background study to find out what you need and why you need it. Only then we can start building an action plan for achieving your goals.

Throughout the planning stage, we are going to establish:

  • Target Audience - who is it for and why would people want to use it
  • Business Drivers - why are we doing it, what is the unmet need, what are our goals
  • Target Platform - devices, OS, wearable, SCADA, IoT
  • Functional requirements
    • The core features and system specs of the application
    • Key use cases and primary user journeys
  • Technical requirements - along with development approach (tech stack, architecture, methodology, etc.)
  • Define roadmap - MVP, priority of phases, monetization, and/or user value

The duration of this stage, as it usually happens, varies depending on how available you are for the interviewing and how fast we talk through all the aspects of the development process as well as all of your business objectives and goals. We guarantee maximum efficiency of cooperation on our part, and if everything goes smoothly, we can get this over with in as short as 2 weeks. On average, this stage takes somewhere from 2 to 4 weeks, just so you can include it in your timeline estimation.

Design

Design is a key element to the software development life cycle (SDLC). At this stage, we create the specifications for the product as it will be presented to the audience and outline the means by which we will accomplish your business goals. Software design encompasses a set of activities involved in conceptualizing the product and implementing relevant solutions to modify or create the software that corresponds to the client's vision. Simply put, this is an engineering process of envisioning the product that involves planning and problem-solving related to the components of the software architecture.

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Again, the timeline for the design stage, would depend on whether the client has clear requirements. The state of readiness here is defined by whether the client has already envisioned the end-product. The software requirement analysis (SRA) is an integral part of the design process, so the clearer your requirements are, the faster it goes. The design stage takes place along the planning stage, so it might take approximately the same amount of time. However, creating a visual representation of the final product might take a couple of weeks more on top of that.

Scheduling

Before the development stage can kick off, the project manager spends several days mapping out the springs, creating the team’s schedule, assigning tasks, and backlogging non-essential tasks. It is also essential to identify and mitigate any risks related to the development process to prevent any delays or excessive spending.

What are the inherent risks that might hinder the timely delivery of the product? Here are just some of the risks a good project manager can help eliminate:

  • Changing requirements or scope after the development stage has already been started;
  • Delays and failed deadlines due to human error, lack of documentation, or budget shortage;
  • Uncertain scope of responsibilities for each individual developer;
  • Too many people doing the same thing, which results in confusion and delays;

A skilled project manager can seamlessly adapt the team performance to the changing requirements by adopting a more flexible approach. Unfortunately, there always is a chance of human error, but this chance is minimal if you work with a dedicated team of experienced professionals guided by a seasoned project manager. In this way, he or she will ensure a specific scope or responsibilities for each developer by assigning the right tasks to the right people.

At Intersog, we minimize the risks with a set of measures listed in a special mitigation plan aimed at addressing possible unseen circumstances in the right order. These measures include but are not limited to regular backups and high-skilled reserve developers ready to join the development process to make sure a client gets his or her product built in time.

Recruitment

Recruitment is not exactly a part of the development process, but it has to be included here because it also takes a portion of your overall timeline. Hiring the right people for your project might be a challenge in its own right, so you might need to engage outside talents.

After the project management identifies the tech stack for your project, we can help you hire a team of developers who fit your talent needs precisely. With our global talent pool, we can get your team of developers ready in less than 4 weeks.

Development Stage

With the blueprint ready, we can initiate the development stage, which usually takes somewhere from 3 to 6 months. Having all the planning and architecture design out of the way, the coding itself takes around 90% of the development stage. Writing a reliable code is a time-consuming process, so it would take the bulk of that 3 to 6 months timeline.

Of course, it can be less than 3 months and it can be more than 6 months, depending on how complex your product is. Going back to the building construction analogy, there are many moving parts in the custom software development project and it takes a great deal of coordination on all levels. 

Project managers are paramount for keeping the development team on track. The role of the project manager is especially critical for large-scale projects that include many moving parts that combine in a single product; there simply has to be someone to organize the development process. 

Software developers are also essential for the proper performance of the project; they write code, design the application, design the user interface, and ensure a satisfying user experience. Your developers get most of the work done and their contribution is the most integral to the overall success of the project. 

The development phase culminates with a functional product being presented to you, and though it might still be somewhat raw, you can already see whether it corresponds to your expectations and the blueprint we came up with during the planning stage.

Testing and Compliance

The last phase of the whole custom software development process takes from just 2 weeks and up to 2 months, depending on the complexity and size of your project. Basically, the testing and compliance stage is when the Quality Assurance experts test the usability of the product, assess the quality of the code, inspect the safety of the product, and compare it to the highest usability and coding standards in the industry. 

Basically, a professional QA team can run tests quickly and make sure your product is top-notch in a matter of weeks. Manual testing is probably the best fool-proof way to make sure your app is up there with the industry’s best. Automated testing is faster but it is not as reliable as a human-driven test. Automated testing can be performed in a matter of days or even hours, but it lacks a human eye capable of recognizing issues the AI might miss. The best idea is to run both types of test to mitigate even the smallest possibility of error. There are different types of testing, and each of those fits different situations:

Code review – the QA experts make sure the code is reliable and flexible to account for the possible growth needs. The final code has to be stable, easily maintainable, and scalable;

End-to-end test – this is the process of running all the features of the software just like the regular user would. Simply put, the testers play around with the app to see whether it functions properly and whether all of its features function properly. 

User acceptance test – it is a thorough analysis by the client, you, to make sure all the aspects of the software match your expectations. This is the final and most important stage of the testing since only you can tell whether the software is up to your expectations or not. 

The client may also opt for additional testing to make sure everything runs smoothly. Intersog QA experts run both automated and manual testing to make the whole process go faster, eliminate human error, and double-check all the aspects of the software’s functioning. 

The final product might be used by thousands and even millions of users, which is why we must account for all the possible interactions between the software and the user. If you think that much testing might be a bit excessive, we say that it is better to be safe than sorry, which is exactly why we always opt for additional testing.

Project Size

As you might’ve figured by now, the larger the project, the more time it will take to complete. The average-size software has around 25 usable screens, which would take somewhere around 4 months to develop, and the more screens you plan to have, the longer it would take to finish the app. 

Industrial apps used for managing the functioning of enterprises tend to have more screens, each representing a particular aspect of the enterprise’s functioning. These apps may have dozens of screens, which will add to their complexity, and eventually, to the development timeline. If you are looking to build a CRM system from scratch, you might be looking at a project that would take up to a year to finish. Such solutions as, say, supply chain management software for the automotive industry, are also rather complicated and may also take half a year and more to develop.

Similarly to CRM, electronic health record (EHR) systems might take anywhere from half-a-year to a year to develop and implement. If you are working in industries like Fintech and Logistics, shoot for the half-a-year mark just to stay on the safe side but remember that it might take longer depending on a multitude of factors.

It is not just the number of usable screens that makes the project large. There are different features your software might have, and the more of those features you want to include, the more time it would take. What is the large-size project exactly? Well, if your project has a combination of some following features, it might be considered large:

Multi-platform software that can be used on different devices like PC, tablets, smartphones, and runs on multiple operating systems;

  • Integrates with third-party software like CRM systems;
  • Migration from the legacy system to the new product;
  • You require data migration from the old software to the new one;
  • You require data warehousing;
  • There are more than 40 screens in use.

How We Estimate the Development Timeline at Intersog

If you do not know exactly how large your software is going to be, how can you estimate the software build times? Well, if you never worked with a third-party vendor and are not familiar with what the software development process is like, you might need some external help. Here at Intersog, we offer you professional consulting services to help you figure out what your software might look like, what features it might have, and answer the question of how long does it take to develop software.

To estimate the development timeline, the first thing we do is talk to you and identify your needs and your business objectives. What are you trying to achieve? What is your vision for the app? Who is your target audience? These and other essential questions help us figure out what you shoot for and what we’ll have to achieve throughout the development stages.

With 15 years in the industry, we can tell that we’ve seen it all, so we’ll have no problems figuring out what your project is going to look like. As said, each project is unique in more than one way, but there are some general patterns we can follow to estimate the time to market software development timeline and tell you when your product will be ready with impressive precision. 

We identify all of your needs, study your business, define the strengths and weaknesses you might have as well as the opportunities for growth and development. We study your competitors and their product to find out what works and what does not work, and we give you exactly the product you need to get on top of the competition. 

You must consider all the factors to make the right estimation. You can contact our experts and get your development timeline estimated by the industry’s top consultants. Get in touch with our experts and we’ll help you out. 

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Intersog has been recognized as a leading IT solutions provider in the United States and beyond. The company has been providing tech consulting, staffing and software development services for Fortune-500 companies, tech startups, and SaaS enterprises for more than fourteen years.