Yalantis’ Way of Preparing Rough Estimates for Our Clients

Everyone wants fewer words and more action. But the problem is, the fewer words, more action approach doesn’t always work. Especially when it comes to software development. 

Clients often come to us with a request to develop an application after having chosen from nearly a dozen other similar companies. When we’re lucky enough, the client provides us with a specification document that describes what their product will look like. Sometimes the description is brief; sometimes it’s nearly complete. What we do next is try to calculate how much it would cost to develop their product. And here’s where the most interesting part begins.

Sometimes, a client simply sends their specification to let us do the rest of the hard work ourselves – trying to understand their requirements as clearly as possible and calculate the cost of development without any calls or further words. Reasonably, the client wants the estimate to be low. The truth is, this doesn’t work. What works is communication.

Read also: How to Create an Efficient Request for Proposal to Your Potential Partner

Many companies say that they can quickly prepare a satisfactory rough estimate that includes low figures; this can be done without unnecessary discussion and negotiations. But the problem is, without a proper approach, you may expect the final price to double in the end. 

Why? Because most companies estimate apps by taking into account as few use cases as possible and without considering your business needs. As a result, you get an estimate that only covers a third of the functionality needed to solve your business challenges. 

How can you avoid this? Follow our three-step communication algorithm that helps us define challenges a business may face and present clients with solutions that will deliver real business value. 

Let’s see what the three-step communication algorithm is, how it works, and what benefits you’ll get by following it. 

Three-step communication algorithm for defining your business needs  

The three-step communication algorithm was designed to define challenges your business wants to solve and elicit your very initial requirements for a digital product. Based on this information, we can offer a technology solution together with an adequate rough estimate, which will meet your challenges. 

As you might have guessed, the algorithm is divided into three acts, each involving certain activities and deliverables. It also includes several roles, which are the following:

  • Engagement manager, who elicits your very first project requirements and guides you through the whole process of negotiations and preparing estimates. You can contact your engagement manager any time you have questions regarding your project. 

  • Business analyst elicits your requirements and helps you to better define your business objectives to find an adequate solution at a reasonable price  

  • Solution architect is a technical specialist who, together with a business analyst, process your requirements to find the perfect technology solution to improve your business. Your solution architect advises you on the best possible technology stack to build a winning product. 

  • Delivery manager, who prepares a project roadmap and estimated budget and also consults you on the best project development model to achieve your business goals effectively.

Read also: The Role of a Business Analyst at Yalantis

All these people work as a team to deliver a satisfactory solution during the following stages. 

Step 1 – Getting to know your project 

On the first call, our engagement manager works to figure out your business goals, such as what type of customers you want to attract and which of your business operations you want to improve. You may also expect questions on the main user roles in the app and the user journeys as well as about your ambitions for further scaling and app support. An engagement manager may also ask you on budget constraints and timeframes, which will help us a lot when preparing a solution. 

The engagement manager then passes this information to our solution architect and business analysts, so they can process your requirements and prepare feedback, which includes suggestions about the composition of your future project and possible use cases. 

Step 2 – Preparing a solution 

On the second call, our engagement manager introduces you to our solution architect. Together, they can ask you to validate our project vision to make sure we move in the right direction. 

In the course of dialog, we are digging deeper into your project requirements, trying to figure out the scope needed to solve your most burning business challenges. It’s okay if you don’t have a very detailed specification; our task is to first of all accurately define your business challenges and then form a list of features to solve them. 

In the middle of this stage, a solution architect should have a full list of use cases for your app, based on which they can prepare recommended technology stack and architectural approach for your app. 

After that, a delivery manager joins the team to prepare a project roadmap and budget. They also defines the best possible software development approach for building your app. We pick a specific development methodology for each project and client, which allows for delivering visible results more quickly and help your achieving your business goals more effectively.

Read also: How Do We Deal with App Development Process at Yalantis?

Stage 3 – Presenting a solution and figures

At the final stage, we present you with a solution that includes:

  • a project vision

  • a project goal

  • the scope of initial and subsequent releases

  • information on technical implementation of your app

  • project roadmap and budget 

  • software development methodology, etc.

All this stuff is to be justified by us and approved by you. Negotiations continue. 

It’s also worth mentioning that while preparing our solutions offer, we also specify the intensive components for the project. These components usually require a lot of time and money, so we point them out and suggest more cost-effective options. For instance, we can offer to remove a component, use an alternative solution, or move a feature to the next version of the app. We usually include these features into the Subsequent releases section.

If there’s a chance to choose between real-time and non-real-time messaging, for example, we can suggest starting with non-real-time since it’s faster to develop and, therefore, less costly. Real-time messaging can be added later.

A particularly complex technical estimate requires a certain amount of time. That’s why we typically consider it during the project planning stage – a process that takes from two to four weeks before the first iteration and is included in the rough estimate.

While presenting the solution, we carefully check that you understand everything and consider every your comment. This is why there may be some changes made to the final list of features, and we may even need time to recalculate the costs for the project and refresh the estimate. In this case, once we recalculate everything, we’ll present the possible expenses for the project at the end of the presentation. This way, you can have the big picture of the project to understand why you’ll pay a certain amount of money to get the project running. 

Regarding the technology stack, we carry out research on similar apps and suggest frameworks and libraries that have proved efficient. We also tend to offer services and tools we have experience with.

Mind you, we try to deliver our project offer within five to seven business days from gathering your requirements.

"What if I'm not satisfied with my rough estimate?"

Reasonable question. Not all rough estimates meet customers’ expectations. But we care about every project and put a lot of effort into helping you. If the scope of a project exceeds the budget, it can be effective to start with a minimum viable product, or MVP, cutting some features to showcase just the core concept.

Not only does an MVP shorten the development time and cost, it also reduces apprehensions about the risks involved in building a sustainable product. We glean features for an MVP based on market analysis, taking into account the preferred business model. 

A quick run-through   

Many companies claim they can quickly provide you with a satisfactory (low) rough estimate. While preparing this estimate, they claim they may skip numerous calls and negotiations, considering them unnecessary.

While this may sound appealing since you don’t want to be distracted from other things, in fact this approach doesn’t work. As a result, you may get a rough estimate that only covers a third of the necessary functionality and doesn’t respond to your business challenges at all, which means that it’s underestimated. At subsequent stages, this estimate may double or even triple. 

To avoid this, we’ve come up with a three-step communication algorithm that allows us to elicit your requirements more effectively, prepare working solutions, and deliver business value faster. And yes, it’s absolutely free.   

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