If you are reading this, it probably means you are more than a casual visitor, and you are possibly looking for a company to develop some software system that you need. I hope the below is informative enough to be of interest to you.
There have been many approaches to software development throughout the years. There is no perfect way, but there are certainly better ways and worse ways. We try to stick to the better ways.
One of the worse ways is where all the functionality of an application gets defined up front. A cost to write the software gets calculated, then the client, that would be you, signs off on the specification and cost, where after development starts. This is called the Waterfall Methodology. I.e. everything gets prepared up front, and then it all goes over the edge, like a waterfall. Sounds logical right? That's how bridges get built.
The problem is that we are not building bridges, we are working in an altogether different field in which this approach just does not yield useful software. Over decades thousands of programmers developing hundreds of thousands of projects have found that it is impossible to actually know which features in a software tool would truly be useful to the user during the early stages of a project.
Most bullets are still mainly made from lead. If you are lucky, you can get one that is wrapped in a jacket of copper and nickel alloy, but alas, no silver bullets here. We have found that it is much more affective to take careful aim at every target we want to hit than to spend too much energy fretting about the material the bullet is made of.
Ok, if you are still here, you must be serious. How then can you limit costs, and at the same time have control over the final product? That is why the word "Agile" is so popular these days. Because we want the process of developing software to be agile and flexible. We want to end up with a tool that does what you, the end user, actually need, without it costing the farm.
We achieve this by starting off with a fixed budget, and building the smallest possible system that could be of use to you in a short period of time. You immediately start using the system and it becomes obvious what the next most valuable functionality is that should be developed. If that was already on the plan, good and well, and it gets prioritised. If not, no problem, it gets added in, and the equivalent amount of least valuable functionality gets removed. This is a simplified view of reality, but in essence what happens is that the shape of the product is fluid and directed to where the greatest benefit lies. And it can never be known at the start of a project.
Red tape, burocracy, corporate talk, endless stacks of documentation that end up in filing cabinates; well, let's just say we have oppenions about such things. We like to measure success by the feedback of the end users who find their jobs have been made that much easier by the software we have developed.
"Most software today is very much like an Egyptian pyramid with millions of bricks piled on top of each other, with no structural integrity, but just done by brute force and thousands of slaves." - Alan Kay
"There is only one thing more painful than learning from experience and that is not learning from experience." - Archibald McLeish
"There are two ways of constructing a software design. One way is to make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies. And the other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious deficiencies." - C.A.R. Hoare