[thelist] process / fair estimate / assumed knowledge

Joel D Canfield joel at streamliine.com
Tue Dec 4 11:46:15 CST 2007

> How do some of the rest of you deal 
> with these 
> unknowns and billing appropriately for getting up to speed?

When it comes to getting up to speed, I assume that's my cost, not the
client's. I may not be paying for classes or anything, but investing
time in learning is part of what I do, and I don't feel fair charging
the client for it.

Unless, of course, as in one current project, the client says "I want
you to do it" and also says "I want it done this way, even if you have
to learn something new to do it." In which case, I have to mentally
separate 'learning' time from 'sorting out my own mistakes' time. Which,
to me, is also subtly different from troubleshooting.

And doing all that in advance is tough. They have a saying in
construction: getting five years' experience takes, oh, about five
years. Some stuff comes from doing it long enough.

I'm also learning to be a specialist instead of a generalist. It is much
easier for me to collate the quotes from a handful of expert
subcontractors, add on my management overhead, and give a realistic
quote. This works for me because I know how to work with subs; but if
you're the kind of person who can't say 'no' when they should, or has a
hard time nudging someone into sticking to the deadlines, managing scope
creep, etc., this is just as much a minefield as doing it all yourself.

Part of the big picture is having a feel for your own ability to get up
to speed. If you take a while to grasp a new concept, but have it
totally locked once you do, figure that into the first project either as
a client cost or your investment, whichever is fair. After that, it's a
non-issue 'cause it's not new anymore. If you 'get' stuff really
quickly, it's probably a non-issue to begin with. 


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