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What are the monthly operational expenses to budget for a software application project?

by David Burkett, Feb 28, 2020

This article builds a prospective operational expense budget that you can take into consideration when preparing for your project. To achieve this we'll break out the items that are essential and other's that are optional and explain why. Knowing your web development costs avoids any surprises for you and loss of experience for your end-users. In addressing this upfront we hope that you can begin the project with the right expectations and make informed decisions from the very beginning of your development journey.

1. Support

Whenever an application is live in production - where end users can access it - we recommend that there is a dedicated support process. WorkingMouse offers level 2 support through our sister company, Rogue Two. There are many different ways support can be provided. We keep this process as simple as possible and detail our approach below. 

Rogue Two provide an online service desk portal and support number for you to call during business hours should you encounter a technical issue. Each reported issue is logged as a 'ticket' and you can submit as many support tickets as you need. The Rogue Two team will triage each issue for a time-box 2 hours without charge and if they can resolve it within that time, they will. If they can't, they will provide an estimate of how long it's likely to take to resolve. Rogue Two also offer skilled resources to deliver small enhancements. These too are estimated within time-box and, once approved by you, executed on a time and materials basis at a fixed hourly rate. 

The cost for the service desk support facility with Rogue Two to be opened and the ticket triage process to be operational starts at $500 excl. GST per month. This includes a managed transition of project artefacts between the development team and the support team, ensuring there is no loss of project knowledge. There is the hourly rate to resolve a support issue after the time box that should also be considered in the overall cost. It's important to remember that the software ecosystem is constantly evolving and issues will arise that need to be addressed. This could be in the form of a new App Store rule or an update to a web-based technology stack. It is recommended that you budget 10-20% of the total applications development cost for this as an operational expense per annum. 
Monthly Support Budget
  • Service Desk: $500 excl. GST (Essential)
  • Support Budget:10-20% of the total development cost divided by 12 (Optional)

2. Hosting

For users to access the software, it needs to be hosted somewhere on a server. Previously this was done via local storage facilities, however these days it is easier and more reliable to use cloud-based storage. The two largest and most popular service providers for this are Amazon Web Services (AWS) or Microsoft Azure. You can host the application wherever you like as you own the code, however, if you would like Rogue Two to do it for you, they can deploy it to their preferred cloud provider which is AWS. A resilient, load-balanced and scalable instance, including backups is usually between $400-$600 excl. GST per month.
Monthly Hosting Budget
  • Cloud Hosting: (AWS or Azure) $500 excl. GST (Essential)

3. Domain and SSL Certificates

A domain is what you purchase to access your website and email address. Eg. www.yourcompany.com. We can deploy the web application to a new subdomain of this eg. www.app.yourcompany.com. Domains vary in their price and usually cost about $10-$100 per year to manage and you likely already have one for your business. However, remember it should be branded to your applications purpose. On top of these, each deployed subdomain requires an SSL certificate. This keeps the domain secure and the data encrypted. This is usually $50 per annum per domain.
Monthly Domain and Certificate Budget
  • Domain Hosting: $9 Aud Excl. GST (Essential)
  • SSL Certificates $4 Aud Excl. GST (Essential)

4. Email

Usually included with your domain, email servers are important for sending a communication to your customers. An email server is usually ~$10 for business per month and likely included with your domain hosting. When the application is developed, the team will link up your email servers to send emails from the application. The reply-to mail address should be monitored by your customer service team. 
Monthly Mail Server Budget
  • Mail Server $10 excl. GST (Essential but likely included in domain hosting cost)