How long does it take to de­velop a soft­ware ap­pli­ca­tion?


In this ar­ti­cle, we will ex­plore the ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment process and the fac­tors that can in­flu­ence the length of time it takes to com­plete a soft­ware pro­ject. In or­der to give some tan­gi­ble num­bers, we will be fram­ing our fig­ures for a sin­gle mile­stone.

Scoping your ap­pli­ca­tion

Scoping is the first step in any ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment pro­ject. During scop­ing, your pro­ject is­n’t ac­tively be­ing de­vel­oped. We ex­plore the prob­lem or op­por­tu­nity your soft­ware so­lu­tion will solve.

The dis­cov­ery kit has a num­ber of ac­tiv­i­ties we com­plete through­out our scop­ing process. We move through dis­cov­ery, in­spi­ra­tion, ideation and re­al­i­sa­tion phases, work­ing closely with your end users to en­sure the soft­ware built is some­thing your users will love. The goal of these ac­tiv­i­ties is to ex­tract valu­able in­for­ma­tion that will as­sist us in cre­at­ing the best pos­si­ble so­lu­tion.

Completing es­ti­ma­tions is the last step in the scop­ing process. Our es­ti­ma­tions process fol­lows a highly sci­en­tific ap­proach con­sid­er­ing the risk as­so­ci­ated with each in­di­vid­ual ticket. The es­ti­ma­tions pro­vide you with a clearer un­der­stand­ing of the time re­quired to de­velop the scoped work.

From our ex­pe­ri­ence, the min­i­mum scope length is 2 weeks, max­i­mum 4 weeks and on av­er­age is 3 weeks.

The ag­ile method­ol­ogy and de­vel­op­ing your ap­pli­ca­tion

Once we’ve com­pleted scop­ing, it’s time to move into de­vel­op­ment. WorkingMouse fol­lows the ag­ile method­ol­ogy, which we have tweaked over the years to cre­ate our Way of Working that our pods fol­low. Using ag­ile pro­vides greater flex­i­bil­ity dur­ing de­vel­op­ment by di­vid­ing work into short phases which en­ables the fre­quent re­assess­ment and adap­ta­tion of plans. Download it for free be­low.

Iterations vs Milestones

Agile de­vel­op­ment is com­prised of it­er­a­tions and mile­stones, which re­peat un­til de­vel­op­ment is com­plete. There is no limit to the num­ber of it­er­a­tions or mile­stones a pro­ject may have. The du­ra­tion will de­pend on how you pri­ori­tise your must haves, should haves and could haves dur­ing the scop­ing phase. The team will have you pri­ori­tise the back­log then es­ti­mate on them. A time can be al­lo­cated to the de­vel­op­ment sprint that you the choose. You then de­cide how many of the must, should and could haves to in­clude in the de­vel­op­ment sprint to fit within the al­lo­cated time.

What is an it­er­a­tion

In ag­ile, an it­er­a­tion, also of­ten re­ferred to as a sprint, is a pe­riod of time in which a de­liv­ery team com­pletes work with the de­liv­er­able usu­ally be­ing a sin­gle fea­ture or fea­ture set. In most in­stances, the fea­tures or fea­ture set be­ing de­liv­ered dur­ing an it­er­a­tion is grouped by func­tion­al­ity. For an ex­am­ple, an it­er­a­tions fo­cus could be on de­vel­op­ing a pay­ment gate­way. This could in­clude in­te­grat­ing mul­ti­ple pay­ment providers and build­ing out the user flow re­quired to make a pur­chase. All these pieces of func­tion­al­ity bun­dled to­gether make up the it­er­a­tion.

From our ex­pe­ri­ence, the min­i­mum it­er­a­tion length is 1 week and max­i­mum of 2 weeks, how­ever, the length of an it­er­a­tion is largely de­pen­dent on what func­tion­al­ity is be­ing worked on and the col­lec­tive es­ti­mate of those tick­ets. If an it­er­a­tion is too long, we will split the func­tion­al­ity out into two it­er­a­tions to keep the it­er­a­tion length more man­age­able.

What is a mile­stone?

Where an it­er­a­tion is small group­ings of like fea­tures, a mile­stone is made up of a num­ber of it­er­a­tions that are track­ing to­wards a spe­cific goal or event. Milestones of­ten mark spe­cific progress points on the de­vel­op­ment time­line. Using our ex­am­ple from be­fore, the mile­stone which the pay­ment gate­way it­er­a­tion fell un­der may be im­ple­ment­ing the eCom­merce func­tion­al­ity of the plat­form.

In our process, a mile­stone and its length is of­ten largely dic­tated by the out­puts of a scope. What func­tion­al­ity we ex­plore and es­ti­mate on dur­ing our scop­ing process is what makes up the de­vel­op­ment mile­stone. The length of a mile­stone is far more dif­fi­cult to as­sign a num­ber than an it­er­a­tion. Milestones for a MVP at a min­i­mum can be as short as 2 - 4 weeks (or one to two it­er­a­tions) and go as long 3 months. Following the ag­ile method­ol­ogy, keep­ing mile­stone at a rea­son­able length en­sures we can take ad­van­tage of the learn­ing’s through­out de­vel­op­ment.

Application de­vel­op­ment length varies de­pend­ing on the re­quire­ments and com­plex­ity

The ac­tual length of soft­ware de­vel­op­ment is very dif­fi­cult to as­sign a num­ber to. The length of any ap­pli­ca­tion de­vel­op­ment pro­ject is dri­ven by you, the prod­uct owner, through the pri­ori­ti­sa­tion of tick­ets dur­ing scope. The to­tal time spent de­vel­op­ing an ap­pli­ca­tion de­pends on your bud­get and ap­petite to con­tinue evolv­ing your soft­ware. A small MVP to quickly get to mar­ket could take as lit­tle as 6 weeks, whereas the de­vel­op­ment of a large, ever chang­ing en­ter­prise pro­ject can take years.

Contact us here to get ad­vice and help your soft­ware pro­ject idea come to life.

Discover Software


Oliver Armstrong

Get cu­rated con­tent on soft­ware de­vel­op­ment, straight to your in­box.

Your vi­sion,

our ex­per­tise

Book a con­sul­ta­tion