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What approach to development? Agile or fix time, fix price?

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Anyone embarking on mobile or web app development will eventually come across the fact that there are different ways to approach the app development method. Basically, there are two ways - agile development and the fix time, fix price approach.
Let's describe the main advantages of each approach to project management, but also the disadvantages.

Fix time, fix price
This method says that the project is priced and the development time is estimated before it is developed. That is, the client knows before the development starts how much it will cost and when it will be ready. At first glance, this method seems logical, transparent and profitable. However, this is not always the case and a large number of development companies do not offer this approach at all.

So what are the key advantages and disadvantages of such development?
  • The advantage may be that the client agrees a price and time with the developers in advance. This way, they know in advance how much the development will cost and can plan their project funding accordingly.
  • The problem can arise when the application is larger and pricing it is simply very difficult or impossible. Dozens and dozens of factors enter into the development that can influence the complexity. In practice, we often see that a developer deliberately underestimates the complexity in order to win a contract and delivers a low-quality or unfinished application.
  • Another problem with the fixed price and time approach is its inefficiency. As the field of online, application and development continues to shift and change, it may not always be advantageous to fix an assignment that will remain unchanged throughout the development process.
  • Another, often overlooked, chapter is that the cost of a project in this style of management must allow for some margin. The people pricing the project will naturally build some margin into the price and time to make the development of the project worthwhile and to meet deadlines. The client then often pays a higher price because they are paying for reserves that often don't get used up at all. 

Agile development
This method assumes that the project can change as it is developed, paying continuously as the development progresses and at each milestone in the development of the application. Among many developers, this method is often the only one they offer, as it is very popular and profitable for them.
But let's summarize the most common risks and problems:
  • Many developers like agile development because they don't have to worry about cost or time pres. They simply develop and get paid for their time.
  • However,proper agile development can reduce costs, especially for larger projects. The client simply pays only for what is actually developed. No reserves, no surprises at the end of development when something may be forgotten. 
  • As a project grows over time, it is often easier to monitor its effectiveness, consider features and really only focus on what is important.

What does this imply and what can I say in conclusion?
At Pixelmate, we are not pure advocates of one camp or the other. We think every project is unique and needs a different approach. Sometimes agile is simply better for development, sometimes it's better to price a project up front and set a time when it will be done.

But most often we choose a combination of the best of both approaches. That is, we estimate development costs and predict time horizons, but on the other hand, we leave ourselves free to make changes in projects and we give estimated budgets, not inflated by large margins or, on the contrary, impoverished by important features.

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