SOFTWARE DEVELOPMENT

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

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. There are many dif­fer­ent ways sup­port can be pro­vided. We keep this process as sim­ple as pos­si­ble and de­tail our ap­proach be­low.

WorkingMouse 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 sup­port 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. WorkingMouse 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 WorkingMouse Support 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 WorkingMouse to do it for you, we can de­ploy it to our 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)

5. Application Programming Interfaces (APIs)

These are use­ful ser­vices that add sig­nif­i­cant value to the ap­pli­ca­tion and are in­te­grated into it. There are a lot of third party APIs that can pro­vide sig­nif­i­cant value to your ap­pli­ca­tion with­out the cost of build­ing the func­tion­al­ity your­self. For ex­am­ple, you may de­cide to API with Xero to man­age in­voices or Twilio a SMS ser­vice to man­age di­rect com­mu­ni­ca­tions. APIs are usu­ally charged per re­quest or as per the value of their ser­vice and scales as you need them to. The main cost is the time to in­te­grate them into the ap­pli­ca­tion. Third-Party APIs work through vol­ume of scale. The cost of the ser­vice scales based upon its us­age. We would ex­pect a small ap­pli­ca­tion to cost no more than $100 AUD per month.

Monthly API Budget

  • API Budget 2 APIs $100 Excl. GST (Optional)

6. Membership Fee’s

If you are de­vel­op­ing mo­bile apps there are two mem­ber­ship fees to de­ploy to the rel­e­vant App stores. The Google Play store reg­is­tra­tion is a once-off fee of $25 in­clud­ing GST. The Apple Developer pro­gram is an an­nual fee of USD $99 in­clud­ing GST.

Monthly Membership Budget

  • Google Play Store $2.5 Incl. GST (Optional)
  • Apple Developer Account $12.5 Incl. GST (Optional)

7. Technology Platforms

There are many soft­ware de­vel­op­ment plat­forms and tech­nolo­gies that can ac­cel­er­ate de­vel­op­ment time, im­prove qual­ity and en­hance your abil­ity to man­age an ap­pli­ca­tion. We use the Codebots Platform. Codebots en­ables our cus­tomers to ac­cess all of their ap­pli­ca­tion in­for­ma­tion di­rectly from within their own se­cure space on the plat­form and makes de­vel­op­ment up to 8.3 times faster. This is ~$80 per user, per month. When de­vel­op­ing with WorkingMouse there is no cost for us­ing the Codebots plat­form whilst en­gag­ing our ser­vices.

Monthly Technology Platform Budget

  • Codebots Single Application ~$80 per user, per month AUD (Optional) - Included within Service Engagement

Total Monthly Budget

  1. Service Desk: $500 Excl. GST (Essential)
  2. Support Budget:10-20% of the to­tal de­vel­op­ment cost di­vided by 12 (Optional)
  3. Cloud Hosting: $500 Excl. GST (Essential)
  4. Mail Server $10 Excl. GST (Essential)
  5. API Budget 2 APIs $100 Excl. GST (Optional)
  6. Codebots Single Application ~$80 per user per month Excl. GST (Optional) - Included within Service Engagement
  7. Domain $9 Aud Excl. GST (Essential)
  8. SSL Certificates $4 Excl. GST (Essential)
  9. Google Play Store $2.5 Incl. GST (Optional)
  10. Apple Developer Account $12.5 Incl GST (Optional)

Total Essential Monthly Budget $1,023*

*All prices are in AUD and sup­plied only as a guide.

Conclusion

All in all, there’s a lot to con­sider. Some of these costs are es­sen­tial such as do­mains, emails and SSLs. However, what is op­tional can be ex­cluded un­til it’s nec­es­sary. Use the table above as a guide for your bud­get. Do not fear though, our role is to guide you through the jour­ney of soft­ware de­vel­op­ment. We will rec­om­mend what to sign up for and when. Remember, the cost of de­vel­op­ing your be­spoke so­lu­tion and own­ing the IP is al­ways higher up­front than a li­censed so­lu­tion. However the to­tal life­time ben­e­fit of the soft­ware should prove con­sid­er­ably more valu­able than the ini­tial costs. As al­ways, if you have any ques­tions or would like to dis­cuss please con­tact us here.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

David Burkett

Growth en­thu­si­ast and res­i­dent pom

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