Developing custom database software is a lot like building a house—an architect has to design it properly, and you need a strong foundation in order to support the house on top of it. Your database is your foundation, but for many people creating a database development budget is a challenge that requires a large investment of time, money, and resources. That’s why it’s essential to create a comprehensive budget that can guide your project from start to finish. Let’s explore the key steps involved in creating a database development budget, including defining your project scope and goals, identifying the necessary resources, and estimating costs. At J Street Technology, we enjoy sharing our expertise on the complex world of custom software, and this guide will provide you with the foundational knowledge you need to create a successful database development budget.
Establishing Your Database Development Budget
Establishing a database development budget is crucial to ensure that your project has the resources to be successful. Failing to do so can lead to an incomplete project, with wasted time, effort, and money. To make sure your database development budget is sufficient, it is important to consider the current and anticipated data requirements, the types of database technology being used, and the capabilities of your development team.
An important factor to first consider is whether your custom database software is better suited as a desktop application, or a web-based application. Desktop applications are installed on individual users’ computers and can be used without an internet connection if the database is hosted inside your company. They’re often best suited for small user groups, or for use internally within your organization. Web-based applications require no installation, can be accessed on any device with an internet connection, and are more appropriate for a large user base. They can be more expensive to develop than desktop applications, but rapid advancements in web application technology are narrowing the difference every year. The trend in software development is moving to the web, but for many businesses and organizations a desktop application is a perfectly suitable and cost-effective choice.
If you don’t have an in-house team of database developers, your budget must first include the cost of hiring consultants or contractors to develop and maintain the database. When seeking a database consultant or developer, be sure to ask if they charge hourly or if they give “fixed bid” estimates. If hourly, ask for their rate and whether that rate is blended for everyone on their team. You’ll want to avoid fixed bid estimates because they often don’t account for unknown variables and may encourage developers to cut corners to maximize their profit. Also, fixed bids don’t always paint an accurate picture of the total cost of a project and usually don’t include post-deployment services like regular maintenance and support.
When planning your database development budget, it is important to consider any additional costs that may be incurred including maintenance and upgrades. Microsoft SQL Server is a robust and secure database platform to use, but it does require security updates and general upkeep to ensure stability, and a good understanding of the database and its structure helps with this. Your database development team should make you aware of any long-term maintenance or upgrade costs and detail their plan to address them.
Prioritizing Database Features and Project Scope
Arguably, the most difficult part of organizing a database development budget is prioritizing features that will be most beneficial to you, your users, and your organization. It’s easy to brainstorm tons of features and requirements for your system at the beginning of a project. But considering the cost for developing those features can be challenging, especially without the “behind the scenes” understanding that an expert database consultant can bring to the table.
If you already have a database system that you want to improve, analyzing user feedback can help determine which features should be implemented first, as users will have the best insight into what they need and expect from the system. Make sure to discuss any user-requested features with your development team so you can understand the time and cost to develop them. This will help you prioritize the most important or most requested features in your database development budget.
If you’re designing or building a database system from the ground up, there is a simple way to begin prioritizing features. First, brainstorm a list of all the features you can envision your database software having. Next, consider the most vital features that you or your users will need on the first day of the system’s use. These are your Phase 1 features, and your database development budget must account for all of them. Next, designate the remaining list of “nice to have” features as low, medium, and high priority. Then, discuss with your database development team the amount of time and effort it will take to develop these features, and ask them to arrange them as low, medium, or high effort. Lastly, compare the features by their priority and effort levels. Features that are high priority and low effort should be done right away! Conversely, features that are low priority and high effort can wait for future phases.
All in all, it’s essential to account for the time, cost, and resources associated with implementing database software features. At J Street Technology, we have a unique approach to project discovery we call the Architectural Framework that really hones the feature prioritization process and gives our clients a highly accurate estimate for their custom software.
Strategies for your Database Development Budget
Database development is a complex and continuous process that requires careful planning and budgeting. Creating a comprehensive database development budget is essential to ensure your project has the necessary resources to succeed. It is important to consider factors such as current and anticipated data requirements, the types of database technology being used, and defining your project scope. Prioritizing features is a crucial aspect of database development so that you can account for what your users will need out of the system and budget appropriately. By following these guidelines, businesses can develop a successful database system within their budget.