Imagine the scenario of countless startups that secure substantial investments only to squander them on expensive hires and extravagant resources without much thought. These companies, lured by the promise of rapid growth and success, fail to assess the long-term consequences of their spending choices. As a result, they find themselves grappling with bloated budgets, inefficient processes, and limited runway to sustain their operations, not to mention laying off the staff, they were so eager to hire.

In the fast-paced world of software development, where innovation is rewarded and agility is paramount, startups and companies often find themselves grappling with a crucial dilemma: how to strike a balance between making strategic investments and optimizing costs. Enter frugal software architecture, an approach that advocates cutting unnecessary corners while embracing strategic investments when they offer significant value.

Frugal software architecture challenges this spendthrift mindset by encouraging a deliberate and thoughtful approach to resource allocation. It acknowledges the importance of making strategic investments in areas that can yield substantial benefits while also emphasizing the need for cost optimization to ensure long-term sustainability and profitability.

One of the key benefits of frugal software architecture is its focus on strategic investments. This might include implementing a CI/CD pipeline, adopting automated testing frameworks, or leveraging cloud services for scalability.

By investing in a CI/CD pipeline, for example, organizations can streamline their software delivery process, ensuring faster and more reliable releases. The pipeline automates various stages of development, including building, testing, and deploying applications, reducing manual effort and increasing overall efficiency. While implementing a CI/CD pipeline requires an initial investment of time and effort, the long-term benefits in terms of increased productivity, shorter release cycles, and improved quality are substantial.

The very same organization can consider performance testing and decide not to invest in performance-related activities. It is true, that there is very little reason to optimize against the high load, however neglecting designing for performance can hurt the scalability in the near future. In such cases, it is recommended to have a plan for scaling the load across several application nodes and employing vertical scaling where possible.

It is important to note that frugality should not be mistaken for cutting corners indiscriminately. Frugal software architecture requires careful consideration of trade-offs and intelligent decision-making. It involves identifying areas where efficiency gains can be achieved without sacrificing the overall integrity and quality of the software.

But how do you measure if a particular decision aligns well with the frugal approach? Principles to the rescue!

Strategic Investments

Frugal software architecture advocates for making strategic investments that offer substantial long-term value. Instead of splurging on unnecessary expenses, organizations should carefully evaluate the potential returns and prioritize investments that drive growth, efficiency, and profitability.

Cost Optimization

Frugality entails optimizing costs without compromising quality. Organizations should identify areas where unnecessary expenditures can be reduced or eliminated, such as leveraging cloud services, open-source software, and automation. Cost optimization ensures sustainability and maximizes the value derived from available resources.

Lean and Agile Approach

Frugal software architecture promotes a lean and agile mindset. It emphasizes streamlining processes, eliminating waste, and continuously improving efficiency. By adopting an iterative and adaptive approach, organizations can respond to changes quickly, deliver value faster, and minimize the risk of unnecessary expenses.

Intelligent Trade-Offs

Frugality involves making informed trade-offs to achieve the best possible outcome within resource constraints. This requires careful consideration of the potential benefits, risks, and costs associated with different options. Intelligent trade-offs help organizations make efficient decisions that balance short-term needs with long-term goals.

Automation and Tooling

Frugal software architecture encourages the use of automation and tooling to increase productivity and reduce manual effort. Automation minimizes human error, speeds up repetitive tasks, and improves efficiency. Selecting cost-effective and efficient tools is vital to achieving the desired outcomes without unnecessary expenses.

Continuous Improvement

Frugal software architecture promotes a culture of continuous improvement. Organizations should regularly evaluate their processes, technologies, and investments to identify areas for optimization and refinement. By embracing a mindset of constant learning and iteration, organizations can continually enhance their software architecture while minimizing waste.

Data-Driven Decision Making

Frugality emphasizes the importance of data-driven decision-making. Organizations should gather and analyze relevant data to inform their choices, measure the impact of investments, and identify areas for optimization. Relying on data helps ensure that resources are allocated to areas that provide the highest value and align with strategic goals.

Focus on Essential Features

Frugal software architecture encourages a focus on essential features that directly contribute to the core value of the software. By prioritizing features based on their impact and aligning them with user needs, organizations can avoid unnecessary development efforts and associated costs.


By adhering to these principles, organizations can avoid the pitfalls of overspending, such as misallocation of resources, lack of scalability, limited runway, technical debt accumulation, decreased agility, and decreased return on investment. Instead, they can make thoughtful choices that align with their goals, optimize costs without compromising quality, and drive growth and innovation.

In the next parts, we will consider the frugal software architecture principles in detail and look at more examples.

P.S. Big thanks to Nikita, Anatoly, Oleksandr, Dima, Pavel B, Pavel, Robert, Roman, Iyri, Andrey, Lidia, Vladimir, August, Roman, Egor, Roman, Evgeniy and Nadia for supporting the newsletter. They receive early access to the articles, influence the content and participate in the closed group where we discuss the architecture problems. They also see my daily updates on all the things I am working on. Join them at Patreon or Boosty!