[consulting] General consultant's vent

Dane Ensign dane at deepsnow.us
Thu Aug 6 17:10:38 UTC 2009

Interesting discussion. Id like to share some input.  for a project  
that is <1000 bucks, suck it up and do it free. 1000 - 5000. Add in a  
little bit of time, be fair, be competitive, but dont suck up the cost  
or you are cheating yourself and your business, and thats bad. You can  
charge x/2 to the client and build the difference in, because you  
should be further developing your site design after you get started  
anyway. for a project that is >5000 bucks, you really really need to  
charge for requirements gathering/ design document creation. Again, be  
fair, be competitive, use good judgement about where to distribute the  
cost of it. More often than not, its a little bit up front and the  
rest inside the Inception phase of the project.

Frankly, any client that wants a 5k+ site and plays hardball that y ou  
are supposed to give it all up for free to develop their site design  
document, is worrisome and questionable, unless you have pre-qualified  
them. Just this summer we had a potential client on the phone pounding  
us to get the estimate and 'you better make it pro!'  the same day.  
The site would have cost 5k-7k competitively. We communicated the  
design process, and delivered the estimate for the design document  
creation on time. In that, we charge 1/2 of the creation cost up  
front, and the rest to be billed inside the project. This potential  
client told us 'I have the credit cared ready to charge today!' We  
delivered this estimate; he vanished. We were going to charge him 1000  
bucks for the design document creation.

Turns out this 'client' pimped his project around town and ended up  
hosing 2 people out a ton of design time. We were frustrated but  
relieved that we didnt give up the goods. The bottom line is that  
honest clients with integrity dont expect you to cheat your business  
model and good business practices. If they do, you have a problem  
already, and must consider who it is your targeting for work in the  
first place.

We are smart people using sophistcated systems to varying extents. If  
we cheat ourselves, why shouldnt the client cheat us too?

On Aug 6, 2009, at 10:48 AM, Domenic Santangelo wrote:

> On Thu, Aug 6, 2009 at 6:34 AM, Brian Vuyk <brian at brianvuyk.com>  
> wrote:
> 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.
> I recently needed a legal document drawn up, so I called an attorney  
> that came highly recommended from friends in this area. He drew up  
> the (one page) document, sent it over, I looked through it and said,  
> "great, let's do it" and he asked for a large retainer. I can't use  
> this doc unless I pay it. That too got me to thinking about Drupal  
> work -- okay, fine, let's estimate and wireframe for free, and build  
> that cost into contracts we DO land.
> I don't really have an answer here, but I think examples from other  
> more established industries might show good patterns that we can  
> follow. I dunno.
> -Dom
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