A salutary lesson

Subject: A salutary lesson
From: Beth Friedman <bjf -at- WAVEFRONT -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 11 Feb 1999 15:11:14 -0600

In early December, a company approached me asking for some freelance
RoboHelp work. (This was the result of networking; a friend works at
the company and recommended me to them.) I met with them, they
described the work, and they asked me for a quote. They also said
that they were on a very tight time frame, since the product had to be
released on January 1.

I told them that my hours were limited (I'm working full-time) but
that I thought I could complete the job in the hours available,
especially since things were slow in December. I did up a quote based
on an hourly rate, and made estimates for numbers of hours that the
component tasks would take.

Around mid-December, after not hearing from them for a week and a
half, I was informed that the schedule had slipped, and would
mid-January be all right for me to start. That timing was much less
convenient, but I didn't want to back down at that point.

For three weeks I pretty much ended up working 70-hour weeks. The
embarrassing part for me was that I had totally mis-estimated the
amount of time the project would take. I had made certain assumptions
about the way the help files were structured (I'd only seen the
compiled files, not the source) that turned out to be totally wrong,
with the result that things took much longer.

The good thing is that the company was very understanding about the
increase in hours (about double the original estimate). They've also
been asking me to do a bit here and a bit there that weren't in the
original quote, and they understand that the clock is running when I
do those tasks.

Things are winding down now, and I'll probably do the final compile
this weekend. (This'll be the third final compile, but never mind
that.) I've been reminded that working with RoboHelp isn't as easy as
working with Word, and that everything in a project takes longer than
it really ought to. But this is the first freelance project I've ever
obtained and completed on my own, and I'm feeling pretty pleased with
the whole thing now that it's almost done. And the money will be
nice, too.

Beth Friedman bjf -at- wavefront -dot- com
"Long noun chains don't automatically imply security."
-- Bruce Schneier

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