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Why Software Development Companies Require Discovery to Provide a Quote

Why Software Companies Require Discovery to Provide a Quote

So you’ve been contacting software development companies to get a quote for a custom software development project.

Each time, you hear the same thing – in order to give you a quote for your custom app, they need to complete a Discovery process with your team. And there’s a charge for Discovery.

Some app development companies might call this Discovery process “Strategic Planning” or “Creating a Road Map”.

If you’ve never purchased custom software, or you work in an industry where upfront quotes are common, you’re probably wondering why software developers “charge for a quote”. Or, why they need so much information to provide one.

To explain why software development companies require Discovery to provide a quote, I’ll start with “What is Discovery?”.

What is Discovery?

Discovery is the time your software development company spends with your team, and each other, to:

  • discover what you need
  • perform the needed research (ex. talking to your customers or intended users of the software, look into competing products)
  • plan out the project (i.e. Creating a Road Map of features and Strategic Plan for the software)

Discovery ensures all parties are on the same page about what is being built, and provides a space to plan the build strategically. Software discovery is also an opportunity to have an experienced third party provide feedback about the plan you’ve brought to the table. This helps ensure the right app is being built.

The Discovery process gives your team peace of mind that your developer truly understands your needs and has given careful thought to everything, before any code gets written.

With a clear road map of features, or strategic plan in place, your software developer can provide a more accurate time and cost estimate. And you can have confidence that your developer is not just slinging around numbers (low ball quotes) in order to win your business.


Why Can’t We Get a Quote Without Discovery?

Your custom-designed, custom-built software is not like the last new car you bought.

When buying a new car there is an illusion that you are customizing it …colors, roof rails, heated seats or not, and so on. But you know that these cars are already built and your choice just tells the dealer which to pull off the lot.

You are not designing a new style of seat or building a new type of engine from scratch. The car you buy from a dealership was already designed, and already built – it’s not custom. The cost was determined before you walked in.

With a custom app, you have the freedom to make endless choices about what you want, down to the fine details. It’s almost entirely custom. A developer could never predict what every client will need, and until they know, taking guesses at requirements and prices is incredibly misleading and risky.

Why Do App Development Companies Charge for Discovery?

Depending on the complexity of your app or software, the Discovery process can take anywhere from two weeks or more.

Your software development team brings a lot of expertise to the table to design a custom solution for your company. Most Discovery consulting engagements require the expertise of one or two developers, a designer and a project manager.

There’s a charge for Discovery because that’s a lot of time to give away to every person or company that calls asking for a quote.

Can I Get a Custom Software Quote Without Discovery?

Some software development companies, Big Fish included, will provide a rough ballpark estimate to build your software, without needing to complete the full Discovery process. This ballpark estimate isn’t a quote or a contract and it isn’t a specific number.

A ballpark estimate is helpful when you’re in the early stages of researching the possibility of having custom software built. Your company is looking for a rough idea of how feasible it is within an existing budget, or roughly how much new budget would need to be requested to get started.

If you’d like to discuss your software development project with a professional team you can request a meeting here.

Sara @ Big Fish

Sara @ Big Fish

Sara MacQueen is the Founder and President of Big Fish - we turn revolutionary ideas into reality through custom software design and development. Sara was named one of "25 Mobile Women to Watch" and has been interviewed by local and national media for her expertise in mobile technology and business. When she's not working, Sara enjoys hiking and cooking meals from scratch with ingredients found at farmers markets.

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