Re: Out-sourcing

Subject: Re: Out-sourcing
From: Len Olszewski <saslpo -at- UNX -dot- SAS -dot- COM>
Date: Mon, 3 Jan 1994 13:42:33 -0500

Jonathan Leer suggests this technique:

> Never ask "Will you be ready to sign?". Simply tell the client up front
> what it will cost to do the proposal. If the client balks, you simply walk.

Others have offered equally good suggestions. I'll toss my two bits onto
the pile.

I never worked as a contract technical writer, but I do have a couple of
years of experience as a consultant for an economic research firm, back
in the days when I made a living doing what they taught me in school.

Sometimes there's a little more of an art to it than just putting
together a proposal and a work plan with a detailed cost estimate.
Especially for the small contractor who essentially is a one-person
show, it might be in your interests to informally quote a range of
prices in a letter at no charge, and say you could prepare a work plan
for a standard fee (or on a time and materials basis). You put a little
space on the bottom of the letter for your potential client to sign, and
you collect half the fee up front. This makes the detailed design work a
phase of the total project. Call it "phase one", or something just as
descriptive and inclusive, and the rest of the work becomes other phases
of the project. Make the price of the subsequent phases contingent on
what you develop for the first phase, but give ballpark ranges (using a
big ballpark).

Then, prepare your outline, work plan and proposal as you usually would
(only this time with some walking around money) as a *deliverable*. You
also have a contract with more cash on the way, and the potential to do
the whole enchilada. And if your customer thinks the engineers and
secretaries can implement your work plan better than you can, at least
you've been paid for the plan, and your erstwhile client pays for an
inferior product with lost sales and diminished prestige.

You might even price your time preparing a work plan in two ways; charge
one price if the client doesn't proceed with the next phase, but
discount the planning phase price if your client decides to proceed with
you doing the next phase of the project. Make sure your client knows
about the pricing differential initially so as to provide a monetary
incentive to give you the full contract. People tend to respond to
economic incentives, whether they are real or perceived.

And don't look too hungry.

Now go get 'em!

|Len Olszewski, Technical Writer | "Hardcopy is the ultimate backup!" |
|saslpo -at- unx -dot- sas -dot- com|Cary, NC, USA| -John Sanders |
| Opinions this ludicrous are mine. Reasonable opinions will cost you.|

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