[consulting] General consultant's vent
brian at brianvuyk.com
Thu Aug 6 13:34:36 UTC 2009
Domenic Santangelo wrote:
> Why is this so different from what we do? The OP mentioned not billing
> for time investigating. I've seen it done that way in a bunch of
> shops, where they just chalk it up to the "cost of sale". Maybe I'm
> just stupid and nobody else works like this, but I know that I've
> spent a _lot_ of time estimating something out (sometimes as much as
> 20% of the estimate!) and not billing for it. That doesn't seem right
> to me. How do you guys handle the OP's situation from a billing
While I agree with you, I made a point of trying this for about two
months. I would explain to the client that creating a proper set of
specifications and design documents would likely take several hours to
several days of consulting time depending on the scope of the project.
However, I explained that it was necessary to generate proper
specifications and design documents prior to quoting a large job in
order that both parties understood and agreed what elements were and
were not covered under the quote, and to prevent scope creep in the future.
None of the clients who I attempted this with hired me. However, I did
have two come back to me weeks later with design documents, one of which
had the header from another well-known Drupal shop. I knew the shop
owner, so I mentioned it to him, and he told me that the design
documents were created as part of a quote.
Unfortunately, if you are not dealing with a large corporate or
institutional client, the client likely holds an expectation that you,
as the developer, are going to provide a free quote regardless of how
vague an idea the client approaches you with. This is bolstered by the
fact that a lot of shops do this - I did as well when I was taking new
I agree with you in principal. If the client doesn't approach us with
fully drawn up specification and design documents, they should expect to
pay consulting time to get their project refined and firmed up.
Historically, probably 10-15% or more of my hours were tied up in this
aspect of business. However, as long as so many developers are willing
to do this for free, it can't easily be stopped. Small shops, like mine,
can't give up a competitive edge like that, and charging a client
several days labour that another shop would give for free just doesn't work.
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