So, you want to build a customer software application. You want your users, perhaps customers, or employees to utilize your product or service by leveraging technology. You may be using an off-the-shelf product now, but it no longer does everything you need.  Or you are trying to decide between an off-the-shelf solution and a unique product of your own. Perhaps, you have an incredible idea that you know will be the next Instagram, if only you had an app.

The problem: You don’t know where to start, what you need or how much it is going to cost.

We believe that before anyone dives into building an app, they should take a step back, evaluate the idea and map out the potential. You don’t want to spend the money on development before you understand who will use it. The adage of “build it and they will come” doesn’t always hold true.

Did you know? There are now over 3 million apps available on Google Play and over 2 million on the Apple App Store.

Source: statista January 2021 based on 4th qtr 2020

And while YOU know how you want the app to work, when we actually walk through the design process, you may learn something new and see a better way.

Once you answer these questions about your custom software app project, we will be better equipped to figure out how or if we are able to help you.

Why is the project important to you or to the company?

Understanding what you are trying to achieve with a custom software application ensures that when you are discussing it with a potential developer, you communicate clearly the what and the why.

How long have you or the company been thinking about creating a software application?

Is this a project that you’ve been thinking about for a long time? Or did you all come up with this at lunch yesterday but know it is the best way to tackle a problem?

What is the pain point or opportunity that is making your company look into a custom software application now?

Timing is everything. Recognizing the impetus for launching into a development project can help with knowing the components that will make it successful.

For further reading, check out the 5 signs we typically see from medium-to-large organizations that reach the critical point where they need help from a software development agency.

Think about your users. Who will be using the software?

Describe the situations in which the users will engage with the application. To navigate workflow, determining the users, who they are and how they will use the application is critical.

Many times, when we work with clients to scope out and design a software application, a company comes in believing they will have a certain type of user group but then quickly begins to understand that they will be targeting a different user group.

What options or alternatives are you considering?

Are you already using an off the shelf product or are you deliberating between customized software and purchasing something already built with some customization available?

Doing your research and knowing what is out there can help you realize that there is an existing software solution that already provides what you need or that you truly can’t get what you want or need off-the-shelf. An off-the-shelf software product can often times be faster to implement and cost less than a custom solution.

Off-the-shelf software products should often be the first consideration for an internal tool or a scenario where the software is not a “product” you are selling.

Do you want your app to make money? Are you intent on having a lot of users?

Understanding what you want to achieve with your app will help you and the developer determine what user features and functionality are necessary.

To learn more about developing payment options in your mobile app and the requirements you'll need to implement the right payment structure, read our guide here.

To learn the basics pricing models for mobile apps, check out the 5 app monetization models you should know.

Now, here are the tough questions...

When do you want the project completed?  What is your tentative budget?

Budget is not just the build. There is ongoing maintenance. When you buy a car, you have oil changes, brake repairs and new tires to consider.

For software applications, you have enhancements and new features or tweaks on user interface design based on feedback. You update apps on your phone as well as your phone operating system software all the time, custom software applications will have maintenance too.

We ask you to rank the following in order of importance: Time to complete the project, project cost, software features.

If time and money are your priorities, we can make it happen, but you may not get all of the functionality you want in version one. Or, if features and time are your two, it might cost a bit more to get the project finished, but you will have a larger number of features in the first-round development.

Whether you have an existing software application or looking to build something from the ground up, we offer two services to help you determine the viability of an idea and to estimate the cost to build it: Compass and Mapping.


Our Compass service will help if you already have a software application and want to make enhancements. We explore a specific problem or opportunity for improvement and can then give guidance on what the next steps should be.

It is like going to a doctor for a checkup. We ask questions, investigate the “symptoms” you are describing, and then suggest the next course of action.


Our Mapping service is often applied to new software builds. This service helps determines features, establish user flows, and shapes the user interface design.

Through an interactive workshop experience, you spend time with our team and actually walk through and “map” out each step in how the app will function. The team creates wireframe models and then selects a few examples to apply your design aesthetic.

From Mapping, we are able to provide a project estimate so you understand what it will cost to deliver the core features intended user groups most need.

Ready to discuss further? Let’s talk.

Start with: What problem are you trying to solve? 

One of the activities we work through revolves around refining your problem statement. A problem statement is the key business problem that needs to be solved. In software development, it states “what has to be done” for a project to succeed. It does not say, “how it has to be done.”

We use the 5W’s + 1 H format as well as the SMART Framework when establishing a problem statement. In fact, you can draft your own problem statement by using our free download. This download will get you thinking through some of the questions and answers prior to starting your project.

Download: Problem Statement
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