Which part of the project is difficult?

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Recently, a client called me after some email to-and-fro sessions, where she described her requirements for the web development project, and I gave her a cost quotation.

On the phone, she started to “analyse” which part(s) of the project is “difficult” for me, by re-describing the requirements as if it’s actually an easy job.

How she did it was just to add the word “just” before every sentence. “Just have to make a page for people to sign up.” “Just an admin page to show who signed up.”

After a while, I just had to cut short her attempt by saying that the process is simple: “You give me the requirements, I give the cost. You consider and let me know your decision.”

Then, I had to give her the following extra explanations. And whatever misconceptions she has is the same as what many people have as well. So, I guess what I say here might help to correct the misconceptions for others as well.

The cost of a project is not tied to how difficult it is to the developer. Making an e-commerce web site was difficult for me 10 years ago. Now, it’s quite an easy feat for me.

Does that mean I should be commanding a higher project payment 10 years ago than now? Isn’t it supposed to be vice versa?

One more factor of misunderstanding is the time-taken factor. Some clients ask me how long it takes to do the project. After studying the requirement and based on my speed, I give them a time, for example 1 month, and also the project cost, say $x. And that sometimes shock the client because they tend to think in terms of pay-per-hr. And according to that calculation, for 1 month, they should only be paying me half of $x. In such cases, oh, how tempted am I to tell them “Oh, in that case, I’ll finish the project in 2 months instead.”

This time-factor misunderstanding happens also in the office corporate world which I’ve encountered my fair share of unfair misunderstandings during my office days.

So, this is why I don’t charge by man-hours, but by project requirements, which is a fairer way of costing for both parties. You describe what you want, I tell the cost and time. At the end of the deal and time, you get what you described, and pay exactly what you expected to pay.

Do not pay the developer by his number of work-hours, it just doesn’t make sense. If I can do the same job at twice the speed, why must I be paid half the pay as someone who’s too slow and can only finish it after taking twice my time? It’s just as simple an analogy as giving the gold medal to the last athlete in the race, because he ran longer, so he deserves the higher rewards.

That’s all my ramblings for today …..


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