Regardless of size, the one thing all clients have in common is a need to make good financial decisions. So it’s not surprising that the question we hear more often than any other is “How much will this cost?” Custom software is a big investment. It can be daunting to understand how much will be required, and how to get the most from your available budget.

We believe in what we call The Goldilocks Budget. We help you determine the proper level of investment for a successful initial release and make smart trade-offs to get the most value from your available budget. We will help you avoid investing too much, too soon. We will also ensure you don’t invest too little to make a project successful.

Plan for change

There is one thing we are sure will always be true about a building software: change will happen. As we build software together, we will learn more, have new ideas, and uncover the unexpected. Budgeting with fixed price engagements doesn’t enable you to quickly and easily incorporate this learning into the project’s direction.

We manage your budget with flexibility in mind. But being flexible doesn’t mean out-of-control spending, and we don’t just work on a time & materials basis. We focus on your available budget and manage scope along the way to best meet your goals within your means. Along the way, we will ask the question: “How can we get the most value out of the remaining budget?” By revisiting this question each week, we will continually incorporate new learnings, and thoughtfully steer the scope to best meet your goals. A good budget helps us decide what’s most valuable.

Getting to a Budget

So how do we help you understand what your project will cost. Unfortunately, it is nearly impossible to give a cost for custom software until more details of what the software will do are planned. It’s like asking someone “How much does it cost to build a house?” Even custom homes vary in price substantially, with factors like size, location, amenities, and materials all playing a huge role.

At Mutually Human, we work with a variety of clients. Some are small startups that are still trying to get traction. Others are more established but still need custom software to unlock attainable value. Small projects last a few months and cost in the tens of thousands of dollars. The largest projects take years and multiple millions of dollars. But even the large projects start small.

To help you understand where on that spectrum you fall, we begin with a Free Consultation. This three to four hour workshop is an opportunity for you to learn about Mutually Human and for us to learn about you and your objectives. With the information you share there, we’ll be able to give you a proposal for a Custom Plan step. This short phase, typically ranging between two and five weeks and $15k-$30k, is analagous to hiring an architect to build detailed plans for a custom home. In this planning phase, we dive deep into assumptions, users, scope, and constraints. The objective is to find the smallest thing we can build that provides you and your customers with real value. The cost and duration of that build flow directly from this planning phase.

Keeping the scope narrow and the cost down is critical to success. The project needs to fit within your budget and we don’t want to delay the time when you can get real user feedback on the assumptions you’re making. But the scope also needs to be large enough to deliver something the produces desirable outcomes for your users.

And that’s ultimately what the Free Consultation and Custom Plan are about – finding that Goldilocks Budget that’s not too small, not too large, but “just right”.

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