When you’re talking business with a customer, there are two basic questions which will always be asked: “What’s this going to cost?” and ”How does this save me time and money?” Business decisions are made using logic, facts and data/research. A solution either is going to work, or not.
The issue of price will almost always come up during the first meeting. Fair enough. You’ll know you’re dealing with a reputable company when they tell you, “It depends.”
Sure, there’s a ton of software which has a fixed price. Take a look at these project management software companies and their pricing on Capterra:
You might wonder why there are such wild variables in the base price. Lots of companies have a free plan, with super basic features. Most let you pay by the month. But each company has set a price they believe is competitive, based on what their solution offers. It’s on you to do your research and determine which plan and platform is best for your business.
We still haven’t answered your question. What’s it really going to cost?
If you are buying something off the shelf, the final, out-the-door price will be based on what features/pricing tier you choose, and most companies clearly show you what you get for X dollars a month.
It’s the custom solution that has more wiggle room. But it’s different and not a bad thing. If you want something made just for you, and you want to own it as opposed to renting it month-to-month, the final cost is still going to come down to the things we mentioned above. What do you need a software to do? What operations are you automating? What kind of database do you need?
A reputable software maker is going to lay it out visually, so you can see exactly what you’re getting for your investment. And they won’t make you pay the whole thing up front! There are usually several benchmarks along the way where payments will be due: when the company shows you a minimum viable product, when testing and debugging are finished, stuff like that.
Your vendor will likely pad their estimate by 10% or so to account for unexpected time/cost overruns. This is normal, and psychologically good. Who wants to be told near the end of the build they’re going to have to shell out more cash?
It seems like a rat’s maze, shopping for software. It doesn’t have to be. There are sites like Capterra and G2 who can do a lot of the heavy lifting for you. There are tons of reviews on there to help guide you to the best company for your project.
Go in with eyes wide open, but don’t be intimidated by the process. Bottom line: you’re about to improve your business operations. That’s the best decision you can make.