So, you've decided to build an app. And, you're curious about the custom software development process. At Airship, we talk with individuals like you every day who know they need to leverage technology to solve a problem but are unsure of how the process works.

We want to make sure that you understand the process, the cost, the upkeep, and the commitments required to ensure the development of a successful product prior to engaging with any software development agency.

Not every company does it the same way but in this overview of the Airship process, we're going to walk you through how we work and use the analogy of building out a garden to give you some insights.



Prior to tilling the soil or buying the seed, or planting a garden, you need to ask and answer questions about the type of garden you want either flowers or vegetables and determine how much money you want to spend on your garden. You also need to determine if you want a raised bed or a container or if you just want to till the ground and plant.

The same holds true when you start exploring the idea of building a piece of custom software. You will need to decide if you want a web or mobile application. And, you will need to understand the problem you are trying to solve and for which user. 

Our Opportunity Explorers, aka business development, work with you by asking questions to help determine if you have a problem that can be solved with custom software and if you have the budget to build what you envision.

If you already have a product and are looking to add or update it, our team may want to do a feasibility study to ensure we are able to help you.

To get an idea of what to expect as it pertains to pricing, here are some ranges. You can also take a look at our pricing page.


Research, Prototype and Validate expect to spend $50,000 - $150,000+

Consumer-facing Web or Mobile Application $150,000 - $350,000+

Enterprise software product $250,000 - $1,000,000+

Regardless of if you have a product or you are starting from scratch, what is called a greenfield project,  you will enter a period of Discovery once you've decided to work with Airship.



So, back to your garden. You've determined that you want a flower garden in a raised bed. You have the budget you intend to spend on plants and you are moving into the next step, research.

What type of flowers will work best in a raised bed? Are there any flowers you can plant that will keep bugs away? What type of fertilizer, sun, water etcetera are critical to the success of what you plant?

This is what happens during the Discover phase of custom software development. We ask you and your team to take a questionnaire that gives us an idea of what you are looking for (type of garden - raised bed or container) and your thoughts on the objectives (flowers, fertilizer, etc.) that you are trying to achieve. 

Depending on the information you have already gathered, the first step may be research. You may want to plant marigolds because they keep mosquitoes away but when we do some research we may discover that marigolds won't survive next to dahlias which you have determined are critical flowers for your garden to be considered a success.

User research can support your problem statement, the users you want to speak to, and the objectives you want to achieve. Or, it can tell you that you may need to refine an aspect of your application for it to be of benefit or relevant.

After receiving your questionnaire, The Director of Product Design puts together a customized set of activities and then schedules what we call strategy sessions.

These sessions are designed to clarify the problem you're trying to solve and identify the key objectives. From these objectives, we will establish quantitative metrics to measure success. We work together to plan for the optimum user experience and establish core and noncore features. We also provide a project estimate. You and members of your team can expect to spend 3 - 4 hours over the course of two days working through exercises customized for you to determine the prioritized activities of your product.

Once the strategy workshop is complete, we will review the results with you.

Standard deliverables from a strategy workshop include:

  • Prioritized key objectives
  • Main user groups and their jobs to be done
  • Prioritized functionality based on the likelihood of achieving objectives
  • Scope and estimate for one 8 - 12 week cycle of work

 Now, you have a plan and you know what success looks like and an estimate to get started. Now, you decide with the knowledge you have do you want to build your product (plant your garden).

If you decide to move forward, you will sign an agreement and we will match your project with one of our in-house teams, we call them squads.



Back to our garden analogy, you have now done the research and worked through the priorities of what to plant when, and how much fertilizer it needs and it is time to get to work planting. Along the way, you will need to step back and take a look at what you've put in the bed. 

Are the flowers planted far enough apart? Are they getting enough water and sun? Is the garden thriving? 

You may need to pull out a few along the way or reposition them to get better sunlight for your flowers to bloom.

The same holds true when you are building out custom software. This is why we use agile and scrum methodology versus a waterfall approach. 

What does this mean to you? It means that your squad will plan out the work it intends to accomplish in two-week time increments or sprints. Before and after each sprint, you and your squad will meet to review and discuss what was built in the previous two weeks and what the intent is for the next two weeks.

Custom software is an iterative process. This means that as your product is being built, things will come up and decisions will need to be made that can impact the time it takes to build your product and potentially the budget needed to build it. 

This is why communication and transparency are of critical importance. Airship works to constantly keep you apprised of where your project is compared to the objectives you are striving to achieve versus the amount of time scheduled to build it and the budget put forth in the agreement. 

Once your product is built it is released into the world but the work doesn't end with launch.

Just as you must continually weed a flower garden and replant flowers that have died, you must also refine and enhance your custom software.

At Airship, once your product has launched, we enter a period of review where we gather user experience and feature enhancement requests. We will use research and data gleaned from your application to help inform our next steps. Then working with you, we may do a mini-strategy workshop or some design work.  In addition, we will plan for necessary upgrades to your application that are an ongoing part of every product just like each year you must fertilize and weed your garden.

Now that you understand more about the process, let us know if you have questions or if you'd like to talk to someone about your project. 








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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