[thelist] What would you do? -- pricing and estimating

John Bedard John.Bedard at trw.com
Tue Apr 10 17:48:22 CDT 2001

We do it "time and materials." I give them a detailed scope and include a ton of assumptions to cover our collective butts, and estimate the time to the best of our ability. But you have to manage the scope carefully and if they start asking for more features, slap them with a PCR (Project Change Request) outlining their request as well as the cost and effect on the schedule. The more trouble a client is, the more likely I'm going to PCR them for every little thing even if it doesn't effect the cost or schedule. Show them you're serious and professional and (hopefully) they'll respond in a serious and professional manner.

Oh sure, every once in a while we get a client who will see our "time and materials" and raise us a "not-to-exceed clause," which is just fine with us. But we always make them understand that they will see a PCR if the scope starts to creep. Usually we couch this in terms that they "will know in advance if something will cost more," so they feel more in control. I think the key is to tell them that something will cost more _before_ you do it, not after, not, "oh, by the way, that feature we implemented last month costs an extra $3,000."

Another thing just came to mind. There must be some law or principle to explain the following: No matter how far under budget my projects come in, potentially saving the client hundreds or even thousands of dollars, they always find a way to spend the entire budgeted amount. Its kinda weird. It happens even when they insist on doing it cheap as possible. I sent a proposal to one client for... let's say...$14,000. They freaked out and asked what we could do for...let's say...$5,000. I told them and we did it; I came in (barely) under the lower amount. Then over the next few months, _after the site launched_ they blew through the remaining $9,000 on little changes here and there.

Well, that was quite the ramble...HTH,


>>> amanda at gawow.com 04/10/01 04:31PM >>>
I'm curious how people feel about doing this. Just because something is
project-priced doesn't mean it can go on forever. When a client signs my
contract, they're also signing a timeline. However, I start itching when it
comes to these issues because I wonder where my leeway is.

Same with estimates. Yes, it's an estimate, but I don't like to go over it.
What about the well-meaning and sincere client who has simply gone over the
estimate? Do you always charge it back? How do you approach these

As a freelancer, this is one of those things that I guess you just get a
feel for but I'd like to hear how others do it. I worry about money issues
affecting the creative, back-and-forth relationship that I've already
developed with a client.

- amanda

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