November 15, 2023

How to Choose the Right Software Development Pricing Model for Your Project

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The choice of pricing model for your software development project is critical as it can significantly impact the project cost, scope, timeline, risk, and control. There are a variety of pricing models available in the software development industry, each with its own unique benefits and drawbacks. This comprehensive guide explores the complexities of software development pricing models and provides insights on how to select the best model for your project’s specific objectives.

What is a pricing model?

A pricing model is a structured approach or framework that determines how the cost of a software product or service is calculated and presented to clients. Pricing models help organizations establish a consistent and transparent method for pricing their offerings, ensuring that all clients are treated fairly and that the organization is able to generate a sustainable profit.

There are four main pricing models in software development: fixed price, time and materials, mixed, and dedicated team. In the following sections, we’ll take a closer look at each of these pricing models and provide a comprehensive analysis of their respective strengths, potential weaknesses, and practical challenges.

Fixed price model

In a fixed-price pricing model, the software development company agrees to deliver a software solution to the client for a predetermined price.

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  • Cost predictability. The client knows exactly how much the project will cost before development begins.
  • Defined scope. The contract clearly defines the scope of work and the deliverables that will be provided.
  • Lower financial risk for the client. The software development company assumes more of the financial risk.


  • Limited flexibility. Once the contract is signed, it can be challenging to make changes to the scope of work or timeline without incurring additional costs.
  • Higher upfront cost. Fixed-price contracts are typically more expensive than other pricing models.
  • Potential for scope creep. If the client requests new features or changes to existing requirements, the software development company may be reluctant to implement them, as this could increase their costs.


  • Accurate estimation. It can be difficult to accurately estimate the cost and timeline of a software development project, especially for complex projects.
  • Detailed requirements. Both parties must invest significant time and effort in defining project requirements comprehensively.
  • Managing changes. It can be difficult to manage changes to the scope of work or timeline of a fixed-price contract.

The fixed price pricing model is best suited for projects with well-defined scopes and clients who require cost predictability. However, it may not be ideal for highly dynamic projects or those that anticipate frequent changes in requirements.

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Time and material pricing model

In the time and material (T&M) pricing model, the client pays the software development company for the actual time and materials used to develop the software solution.


  • Flexibility. T&M contracts offer the highest degree of flexibility, allowing clients to make changes to the scope of work or timeline.
  • Transparent billing. Clients pay for actual hours worked and materials used, providing transparency in project costs. 
  • Continuous feedback loop. T&M contracts encourage regular communication between the client and the development team, which can lead to a deeper understanding of project requirements.


  • Cost uncertainty. T&M contracts do not provide a predetermined total cost. 
  • Potential for overspending. If not managed effectively, this model can result in higher overall project costs.
  • Client oversight is required. Clients need to be actively involved in project oversight. This can be demanding for clients who have limited time or resources to dedicate to project management.


  • Trust and communication. The client needs confidence that they are billed fairly, and the development team must trust that the client’s feedback and requests are valid and reasonable.
  • Client expertise. Clients must possess some level of technical expertise to make informed decisions and understand the development process. 
  • Efficient resource utilization. Ensuring that development resources are used efficiently can be a challenge. This includes monitoring the productivity of team members and making adjustments as necessary.

In essence, this model is best suited for projects that have evolving requirements. However, it may not be the best fit for clients who require strict budget predictability or have limited resources for project oversight.

Mixed pricing model

The mixed pricing model is a hybrid approach to software development contracts, combining elements of both fixed price and time and material models. 

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  • Budget predictability and flexibility. The core project scope has a fixed price. Additional features or scope changes can be handled on a time and materials basis.
  • Potential cost savings. If the project takes less time than expected or the client requests fewer features, the project cost may be less than a fixed-price contract.
  • Risk sharing. The client has a predictable cost for the core project and the development company has the flexibility to accommodate changes while being compensated fairly for the additional work.


  • Complexity. The mixed pricing model can be more complex to manage because both parties need to agree on a clear definition of the core and the additional features.
  • Lack of transparency. This model can be less transparent than others, because the client may not have access to detailed information about the time and materials used by the service provider.
  • Potential for disputes. If the parties have different expectations about the cost of the additional features, this can lead to disputes.


  • Communication and documentation. Clients and development teams need to ensure that all changes and their associated costs are documented and agreed upon.
  • Resource allocation. Ensuring that the right resources are allocated to core and additional tasks is essential for maintaining project efficiency and budget control
  • Additional overhead. Implementing and overseeing a mixed pricing model may require additional administrative efforts and monitoring compared to simpler pricing models.

While the fixed price and time and materials pricing models are distinct, both approaches have their strengths. The mixed pricing model combines these strengths effectively. However, it is important to be aware of the potential challenges and take measures to mitigate them.

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Dedicated team pricing model

In the dedicated team pricing model, a client hires a team of software developers, designers, and other professionals to work on their project. This model is traditionally considered an alternative to outsourcing, but there are key differences between the two. Our team explored these differences in one of our articles.


  • Full control. Clients have complete control over the team, including who is on it, what they work on, and how they spend their time. This allows clients to tailor the team’s efforts to their specific project goals.
  • Flexible and agile. Dedicated teams are able to adapt to changing project requirements quickly and easily. This is ideal for projects that change often or need ongoing support and maintenance.
  • Long-term collaboration. Clients and dedicated teams can develop a close working relationship over time. This can lead to a better understanding of the client’s business and better solutions for the client.


  • Higher cost. The dedicated team pricing model is typically one of the most expensive pricing models. Clients are responsible for paying the salaries and benefits of the team members, as well as other expenses.
  • Resource quality. The quality of the team members can vary, so it’s important to make sure they have the skills and experience needed for your project.
  • Risk of team turnover. Team members may leave the company, which can disrupt the development process and require the client to find new team members.


  • Communication challenges. Communication between the client and the team is essential. However, there can be challenges communicating across time zones, languages, and cultures.
  • Complex project management. Managing a dedicated team can be complex. In some cases, it may be helpful to hire a project manager to oversee the development process.
  • Tracking progress and controlling costs. Clients need to be able to see how their money is being spent and track the progress of the project.

Overall, the dedicated team pricing model offers significant advantages, as outlined in our previous article, “How a Dedicated Team Mitigates IT Operational Challenges“. However, clients should be prepared for ongoing resource costs and the responsibility of team management.

Pricing model comparison chart

The following table compares the four pricing models discussed in this article: fixed price, time and materials, mixed, and dedicated team. It provides a concise overview of the key characteristics of each model.

CharacteristicFixed priceTime and materialsMixedDedicated team
Cost predictabilityHighLowMediumLow
ControlMedium for bothLow for clientMedium for bothHigh for client
Risk Low for client, high for developerHigh for client, low for developerMedium for bothMedium for both
Best suited forProjects with a well-defined scopeProjects with evolving requirementsProjects that need a balance of cost predictability and flexibilityLong-term projects and ongoing support

Software development pricing model selection checklist

When choosing a pricing model, consider the following factors:

  • Budget. How much money are you willing to spend on the software solution? Fixed-price contracts are typically the most expensive, followed by dedicated team contracts.
  • Timeline. How soon do you need the software solution? Fixed-price contracts and dedicated team contracts typically have the shortest timelines.
  • Flexibility. How much flexibility do you need in the scope of work and timeline of the project? Dedicated team and T&M contracts offer the most flexibility.
  • Risk. How much risk are you willing to take on? Fixed-price contracts minimize the risk for the client, while time and materials contracts transfer the risk to the client. Dedicated team contracts and mixed pricing models fall somewhere in between.
  • Control. How much control do you need over the development process? Dedicated team contracts give the client the highest level of control.
  • Communication and collaboration. How important is it to you to be able to communicate and collaborate closely with the development team? Dedicated team and T&M contracts offer the best opportunities for communication and collaboration.
  • Experience. If you have experience with managing software development projects, then you may be more comfortable with a time and materials contract or a mixed pricing model. If you do not have experience with managing software development projects, then you may want to consider a fixed-price contract.

What pricing model does Coreteka offer?

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At Coreteka, we believe that every software project is unique. That’s why we offer three pricing models to fit different project needs:

  • Fixed price. If your project has a well-defined scope and budget, a fixed-price model may be the best option for you. We can also help you develop a clear vision for your software solution if you’re not sure where to start. Our team of experts has the industry knowledge and diverse skills to develop your requirements and technical specifications.
  • Time and material. For projects that are subject to change or require ongoing support, our time and material model provides the flexibility you need. It is designed to accommodate evolving requirements, making it suitable for dynamic projects where changes are expected.
  • Dedicated team. If you need full control over your project, our dedicated team model is the perfect fit. We can provide you with an offshore IT team that is tailored to your specific software development needs. You can either manage the team yourself or assign our project manager to coordinate communication.

If you’re unsure which pricing model best suits your project, contact us. We’ll work with you to assess your project’s requirements, constraints, and objectives, and select the ideal pricing model to ensure the success of your project.


The pricing model you choose for your software development project can have a big impact on its outcome. The best pricing model for your project will depend on your specific needs and requirements. Consider factors such as the size and complexity of the project, your budget, and how much risk you’re willing to take. It’s also important to consider your relationship with the software development company and how much you trust them. 

If you’re not sure which pricing model is right for you, it’s a good idea to talk to our software development expert.