What Is The Timeframe To Build A Custom Software App?
The process to build a software app is relatively straightforward. It is true that the software industry has varying opinions on how mobile apps should be built like waterfall vs. agile, but at the end of the day for every project, you will need to:
- Figure out what you want your software app to do
- Plan how to build it: the design and the technologies
- Build it
- Test it to make sure it works the way you planned
The quickest that a straightforward software application can be built is 4 months. That’s the minimum amount of time to allow for the sufficient gathering of requirements, getting clarifications, creating a design, building the software, incorporating feedback and testing the final product.
In this article, we explain these steps in more detail and will give the most common reasons a project might take longer than average.
Software Requirements & Design: 2-4 weeks
“Figure out what it is you want to build”
At this stage, you take your ideas and put them on paper so that a team can build it. You will answer typical questions such as:
- What does the software need to do?
- Why is this software app important to your business?
- Who will be using it?
- What tasks do they need to accomplish?
- What are the steps of those tasks?
- Who else does the software serve and how?
It isn’t a long part of the process but it is an extremely important part.
If an idea doesn’t get written down, it doesn’t get built. If it gets written down in a vague way, it will probably be developed differently than you expect.
Your job in this step is to share your vision, and carefully check that you have been understood by whatever documentation has been created.
We typically see that software requirements and design takes 2-4 weeks. The duration depends largely on the availability of you and your team, responsiveness to reviews and questions, and how long it takes to make critical decisions.
Software App Planning: 1-2 Weeks
“How is it going to be built”
With a design in hand, a talented project manager gets the enviable job of breaking down the project into bite-sized chunks that can be assigned out. The tasks have to be ordered based on priority and dependency to other tasks. Just like a house, you can’t put the roof on until the framing is done. Software is the same.
Software App Development: 3-6 Months
The largest amount of time in software development is spent coding the application. The user-friendly screens are built, the code that magically computes things and makes the screens work is written, and slowly but surely all the parts of your design come together for a fully working application.
If the timeline of your project needs to be accelerated, this is the best place to do so.
You can add developers to build different parts of the functionality simultaneously, to a point. Too many cooks in the kitchen can slow things down when they need to wait for each other or accidentally step on someone else’s binary toes.
Software App Testing: 3-6 weeks
Inspect it to make sure it works the way you wanted
You can spend a lot of time testing your application. The extent of your testing is really up to you. At a minimum, we would suggest conducting feature testing at each demo and end-to-end testing where you test out the complete system before the system goes live.
The basic testing is to make sure that what was built works and meets your original design. After this testing, you may want to consider testing your software app for a variety of conditions it might have to go through such as a high load or use on different devices or versions of the operating system. This is know as load, performance, and cross-browser/cross-device testing.
Why Software App Projects Take Longer
The numbers here are provided as guidelines. Even after a software plan has been created, projects can and do take longer than their original plans.
Part of the job of a Project Manager is to keep an eye out for the types of things that typically delay a project, raise the issue and course correct. Below are some things that you and your project manager can watch out for.
- Waiting on feedback, decisions or needed information from the client
- Conflicting directions from the client
- Change of requirements or direction after the project has started
- Clarification on vague requirements
- Delays when working with third-parties such as not receiving technical documentation, credentials to test systems or support on technical questions
- Fixing bad data or missing data in a data migration
- Staff changes on the project team
The Checklist For Sharing Your Software Vision
Before you get started in developing your software app, your thoughts and ideas should be clarified and written down so they can be consistently and easily shared and understood. To help you get started on the right foot, we have created a checklist.