Project Surpassing Projected Costs?

Haadia Athar
Published in
4 min readApr 22, 2021


Here’s how to avoid it.

It’s fairly common for software development projects to end up over budget. Not making the correct assumptions and assigning roles early on can worsen the situation, but experience is the best teacher. You work on enough projects, and you are able to identify what mistakes you’re making and how to rectify them.

First of all, it’s important to understand why projects go over budget in the first place. Lack of transparency; little white lies like “We’ll deal with this at a later stage” can accumulate and derail the whole thing. Similarly, making hasty assumptions can also be disastrous — for a dynamic thing such as app development, the project’s goals and budget need to be clear from the beginning. It’s also important to evolve with the project, revisiting things and making adjustments in things like cost as the plan moves forward. Accountability through everything is essential: in a traditional agile approach, there are set deadlines and defined responsibilities, ensuring that the stakeholders are in the loop about everything that is happening. However, if there is a communication gap, and changes and their impact are not being communicated to the stakeholders, going over budget is inevitable.

Now that we know what can go wrong, here’s how we can prevent it.

Find People That Take Ownership

At OneByte, we ensure that all roles and responsibilities are well-defined yet broad in scope. Our managers have an all-encompassing skillset of project and account management, technological expertise, and leadership. They also take great ownership of all projects from start to finish; from client service to scope analysis to budget tracking, ensuring nothing falls through the cracks.

Do Due Diligence and Set Buffers

After a Workflow or Statement of Work (SOW) is developed, OneByte — like all responsible companies — runs it through a number of people to approve each element and see if the proposal is realistic. It takes time because we do our due diligence to understand specifications, eliminate loopholes, and implement checks that require someone from the engineering and design side, product side, and the sales team to go through each element of the SOW.

Sometimes, someone may notice an inconsistency in the plan, and request to set a buffer of sorts so that there is room to go a little bit over or under in terms of time, costs, or others. This helps us prepare for unexpected changes, and avoid unnecessary delays.

Keep It Transparent

If client assumptions are too idealistic to start off with, we strongly recommend them to undergo the Discovery Phase, where they are able to identify all questions and their answers before we start building. It gives us a clearer idea of the roadmap, the costs, and the MVP we should aim for, among other things; ultimately reducing the number of iterations and helping keep the cost down.

Keep Evolving with the Project

When we finalize our estimate, we have an idea of what the project will entail but it’s natural for some things to change as the project moves closer to the finish line. It’s important to keep checking our early assumptions to see what has changed or what needs to change.

Remember to continuously check and revise the budget. If anything changes, assumptions shift, or unexpected issues arise, remember to communicate to the client before moving forward with anything so that there is no backlash when they get a higher invoice than they assumed!

Ask the Right Questions

Make sure you ask the right questions right off the bat. This is because oftentimes, the client doesn’t exactly know what they want from an application. Even if it’s something supposedly as simple as a chat function, the client is unaware of all the elements they could or should have, like group messages vs. private messages, or decide if the app can only send text, or pictures and videos as well.

This also helps us give clients a realistic quote, and have a realistic budget. Be transparent throughout, informing the client of what each element will add to the cost, or risk a project exceeding its budget. Always keep the channels of communication open so that they can discuss options, including reducing the scope of work if cost is non-negotiable.

If you keep all of these points in mind, hopefully, your estimate will not surpass the forecast you made early on by too much. If you want to get a professional opinion on the app you want to build, please reach out to us through our website: