$/word TW

Subject: $/word TW
From: Robert Plamondon <robert -at- PLAMONDON -dot- COM>
Date: Sun, 21 Jan 1996 09:54:30 -0800

John Wilcox writes:
>So what ever happened to the simple notion of getting paid by the job?
>Clients (in *any* industry) must have an idea of what a particular task
>or assignment is worth to them; why don't we just negotiate that value?
>Have any of you worked on that basis?

My clients are used to paying by the hour. Among other things, it
allows them to engage people without first drawing a complex
contract laying out exactly what work is being paid for, and how
adding to or subtracting from the job is dealt with. If the work
is well-defined, and the source material is at hand, then a
fixed-bid quote is sensible. If neither is true, then a fixed-bid
quote is lunacy. For examle, I'm working on a data book for a
chip that is not not completely defined, but for which they wanted
an advance data book to show to customers, which would include
whatever material could be dredged up by the deadline.

Basic uncertainties about the project included:
1. What information would become available.
2. Which sections would have to be thrown out and redone as the
design progressed.
3. What format information would appear in, and how much work it
would take to make it usable.

I'd have been a slobbering idiot to have suggested a fixed-bid
contract under those conditions.

On the other hand, if the product had already existed, and the
source material been gathered together, I would have been happy
to bid on it.

Basic bidding technique: Estimate the job (preferably when you're
not in an expansive mood; right after you've paid bills is a good
time). Add in all the usual delays, rework, and confusion, in an
effort to arrive at an accurate figure. Then add 25%. Most people
underbid even when they pad the estimate, since everyone's too
optimistic, and almost no one goes back and checks to see how long
similar jobs took them in the past, which they should.

-- Robert

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