[consulting] General consultant's vent

Ayen Designs info at ayendesigns.com
Thu Aug 6 16:02:17 UTC 2009

In this case, the cost of developing the 'estimate' that the customer 
wanted (30 minutes) would have been greatly exceeded by the cost of 
developing the estimate. Of course, the time spent developing the 
know-how to create the estimate also served to discredit any claim she 
had about it being a 30 minute effort. Also, one has to measure whether 
the knowledge is useful, and worth an investment to some degree. In this 
case, her combined requirements (and the problem caused, thus needing 
the fix) is fairly unique, so the knowledge has little chance of being 
used again in its entirety, but perhaps some. Then it becomes a decision 
to either eat part of the cost, or turn away the work as unprofitable, 
and then you have to weigh short-term profit and long-term profit with 
the client, but then you have to weigh whether it then becomes a 
high-water mark with the client (which impacts long-term profit). In 
this case, this particular client has sent 2,100+ (and counting) e-mails 
to me since Jan 2008, so I might just be breaking even if I consider the 
time to read and respond to them.

One further complication: there's no guarantee that the time spent would 
fix the problem, and I indicated that. I pointed out that a joy of open 
source is that it's free, and that a pitfall of open source is that it's 
free, meaning that if a module doesn't work as it should, or a solution 
doesn't work as indicated (or if the 30-minutes in the article she read 
is really 3 hours)...there's no one to phone and complain to.

Brian Vuyk wrote:

> 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 
>> standpoint?
>> -Dom

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