How long does it take to build custom software?

Well, how long is a piece of string?

The answer to the question of how long does it take to build custom software is a tricky one. There isn’t one definitive answer for every situation and that can be frustrating for some people. Of course, if you are about to embark on a journey of custom software development with a software development company, you will want to get an idea of how long this process is going to take. 

Implementing new software in your business is a big deal and it might be part of a grand vision you have for growth. Naturally, you want a timeline of custom software development to fit into this vision. 

It isn’t an easy answer, but here are some factors you can consider when wondering how long it will take to build your custom software project: 

Scope of project

The scope of each project is very different. Some development projects may be very complex and multi-faceted, with many different experts needing to be consulted. Projects within a DevOps approach, for example, will need input from different teams in order to come together and pull off something pretty impressive. 

Other projects might be pretty straightforward, with a simple design and minimal features. MVP and prototype projects particularly will have a smaller scope than other projects we might see. 

Depending on the scope of the project, there will be different respective timelines. The wider the scope, the longer it will take. 


Size of project 

In a similar vein to our previous point, different-sized custom software projects will have different timelines. If you have a project where a previous system needs to be overhauled, fixed, and updated, this will take longer than a new piece of software created for a small platform. 

Size can depend on documentation, cost, staffing levels, complexity, and general project effort. The bigger the project, the longer the process will take to be completed. 

If you are in talks with a freelancer or company that is promising a short time frame for a big project with a wide scope… this can be a red flag.

Development methodology chosen 

There are different methodologies within software development and these methodologies can have different timeframes. A methodology is a way in which a software development company conducts their development and there are some main options commonly used.

Something like Agile should be fast and efficient, as the team is focused on limiting inefficiency and working collaboratively towards endpoints. A classic Waterfall approach might have a more stretched-out timeline as there can be slower progress in stages such as testing.

If you want to read more about individual methodologies such as Agile, Waterfall, DevOps, and more, you can do so on our Insights page. It is also worthwhile to find out what methodology the company you are working with prefers and to consider how this will impact the timeline of your project. 


Size and capability of software development company chosen 

Picking the right software development company will determine the proposed length of your project. Not all companies will have the same manpower, variation of skill, levels of expertise, or time available to dedicate to your project. If you go for a company with less experience, your project will take longer as inefficiency and mistakes are more likely to pop up over the course of development. If you opt for a well-oiled professional team, your custom software project can be dealt with much more speedily and you are free to get to the good part a lot quicker. 

Isn’t that what we all want in this scenario?

To wrap up

Overall, software development for custom projects is often around the 4-9 months mark in duration. Most software development companies or freelancers will use a timescale of this range to complete a project. However, the exact time depends greatly on the criteria we have discussed above. Every development project is different and anything can change or occur during the expected time.

To get a more exact picture of how your project would go, reach out to us at 6B. We can give you an idea of how we would handle your individual project and how we would manage the process for you. 


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