How to charge for database design? (1 Viewer)

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barnesjohn

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I do some access programming for local non-profits. I have always charged by the job, but typically put the hours on my estimate. I recently completed a job in less than my estimated time, and the customer asked if I would reduce my final invoice.

I'd like to get some other opinions on whether other database designers charge by the hour or by the job.

Thanks!
 

Gunnerp245

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Only suggestion I would have is to NOT commit the number of hours on the invoice or if you must then use a time-period ie 100-200 hours vice a definitive 150.
Gunner...
 

llkhoutx

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Regardless of how you charge, the real issue is getting paid.

Fixed price contracts are only good with well defined requirements and an agreed upon procedure for change requests and orders. Never undertake any work without a written agreement detailing scope of work, fees, payments schedule, passage of title, etc. Consider the credit worthiness of your client.

Never, ever give code except after significant or substantial payment. Screen shots or more preferable demos from your laptop are good for showing project progress or milestones.

If you not working on-site with your client, you client is going to squeeze you as hard as you'll allow. Encrypt your work if it's on a client PC. Avoid a client networked PC. It's nothing personal, it's just business.

I've litigated several cases. It's never pleasant. Just charge a big rate and pass on those where you're being hard traded on the fee. That just protends what's to come. Keep very good records of client meetings, programs progress, etc.

In Texas, "contractors for hire" do not loose ownership of the software until it's paid for, in full. Plus one get's attorney's fee on a contract, written or oral. I've seen $100,000 attorney's fees proven and collected for $20,000 in unpaid consulting fee. Clients are flaborgasted. It's nothing personal, it's just business.
 

Pat Hartman

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If you gave the client a fixed price and he thought it was a fair bargain, the price is fixed. Would he have given you more money if you underestimated the task? I doubt it.
 

llkhoutx

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An agreed upon price is one of the essential terms of a contract.

Notwithstanding that, it is common for both sides to try to renegotiate the deal when it's done, whether for a bonus for an exceptional job or just reducing the cost for some business reason.

It's never over, 'til its over.

My experience is clients who hard trade upfront always continually complain and always try to reduce their costs and try to withhold full payment. They'll hold your feet to the fire for anything gone wrong, you should do the same with theirs for your fee.

A handshake (oral contract) cannot be relied upon. People make promises that their circumstances will not allow them to keep.

If you are doing a job on an estimated basis, that's fine, but have a written contract that clearly defines how and on what basis you will charge and be paid. This isn't the car repair business, where estimates are infamously inadequate and low.

This is an topic, near and dear to my heart, and with which I have extensive professional experience.

bla bla bla
 
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webster

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I know rentacoder charges very low i.e from $10-few hundreds per project.
I gave some coders jobs there and they were efficient. They are based
on project pay. What normally done is agreed pricing contract
before project begins. I know people buyers will go for hourly pay
unless your physically in the office.
 
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ckret_01

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i have a small project that is available for my business. I would notmally give it to my IT admin but he is only skilled in networking, not access.

If interested, let me know.
 

GMLWORLDCHAMP!

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barnesjohn said:
I do some access programming for local non-profits. I have always charged by the job, but typically put the hours on my estimate. I recently completed a job in less than my estimated time, and the customer asked if I would reduce my final invoice.

I'd like to get some other opinions on whether other database designers charge by the hour or by the job.

Thanks!
Hello. I've been developing custom databases for ten years or so now and have always tried to keep in mind a couple key thoughts regarding client costs.

Most important to me after having met with the client, is the project scope and expectations for the system; ask direct questions as to the level of forms and reports development they are really seeking and if they're not really sure, find someone who is because knowing the scope as well as you can helps me to determine my prevailing rate and there's the answer to that part of your question; I have always and always will charge by the hour with anywhere from a half hour to and hour minimum, depending on their location for onsite support...all of my development offerings are agreed upon as offsite...

Next, determine your true interest in performing the work...do you want it or do you NEED it? - Base your rate, either hourly or project based on your determined need!

Next, be the superior communicator your client needs and explain to them every level of support if that's what they wish and develop a repoire that suits you both. Trust is absolutely key because they can always find someone else...remember that...

Try to think like THEM and realize as best you can, their base needs for this system as well as their reasonable future use for this system and show off a little by explaining that you understand where this application needs to go for their continued use; impressive insights will definitely help your bid!

Finally, as posted here, your rate or your projection for the project is SET. Get a professional consulting contract drafted by a legal firm and present this as the standard agreement between yourself and your clients; this will impress any business to let them know from second one, you are serious and truly prepared to perform the desired work!

Lastly, have fun...you're making great money and getting to do something you enjoy, so enjoy it! Good Luck!:cool:
 

GMLWORLDCHAMP!

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ckret_01 said:
i have a small project that is available for my business. I would notmally give it to my IT admin but he is only skilled in networking, not access.

If interested, let me know.
If this is something I can help out with and complete at my home office in Denver, CO and then send to you via mail or email for you, let me know!
 

MickJav

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I am building my own project management system at the min I would if I was working for clients charge on an estimate which as my project system is being designed in such a way so I can build estimates that are also phases and tasks but do intend to add the option to each project so I can bill either Monthly time worked For large contracts, Invoice Total Smaller Projects where the client pays the total agreed amount on completion or the estimate system where I do an estimate and if I can bring it in below the hours estimated then the clients got a bonus but I still get my rate for the hours worked I would always hope to bring such a contract in below estimate.

I would always use a signed agreement regardless of the type of contract as I've been self employed and at times had a number of clients owing me more than 8,000 it costs money to chase money so If I'm working on a contact and the client keeps paying late then there contact may stop until I get paid which will delay the final date.
I don't mess with people who want to play games like that treat me fair and I'll give 110% go the other way and get 0% simple as that.
 
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Fifty2One

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I do some access programming for local non-profits. I have always charged by the job, but typically put the hours on my estimate. I recently completed a job in less than my estimated time, and the customer asked if I would reduce my final invoice.

I'd like to get some other opinions on whether other database designers charge by the hour or by the job.

Thanks!
I always overquote costs then bring in the final goods undercost and pass the savings on to the customer... I also over estimate the duration of the p roduct and deliver early... psycologically the customer wins and I get good referrals from it... but that is also based on my overquotes being conservative and not greedy such as many persons seem to be doing these days... similarly my time estimates are not excessively stretched...
Late installments of payment mean the project is haulted, same as late installments of produce gives the customer the option of suspending payment.
Final payment is due when turnkey product is delivered, documentation is provided upon final payment received... after completion support is provided only if previous commitments have been met.
I might seem a bit anal for a lot of customers, but I need to protect myself from being ripped off.
I have a good reputation with good customers and do get referrals from previous customers by providing services ahead of schedule and under original budget, even if it meant that I had burn the candle at both ends and eat only tins of beans for a week or so...
 

The_Doc_Man

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I have found that if you are doing a small project, you do a sanity check up front. If the project names a goal, you can reasonably charge fixed fees only if you have certain knowledge of something.

1. Was the goal defined in a printed (or soft-copy) document in sufficient detail for you to estimate to (within a week) of how long it will take you to do it? If the detail is lacking, DO NOT TAKE IT AS-IS. If you cannot break it down into bite-sized chunks, it might be more than you want to swallow.

2. Was the goal defined as a product, a service, or a result? You treat these differently.

Example of product: A database that tracks a small business's widget
inventory. You can often do this fixed-fee. But the catch is, as noted above, CLEARLY DEFINE what is to be delivered. CLEARLY DEFINE a product change process that EXPLICITLY STATES renogotiation for fees if the change substantially alters the nature of the product.

Example of a service: Operations support for a specific period with well defined duties. You can often do this on a work rate, i.e. hourly rate. The customer will know how much to budget. But the bug-a-boo is getting a clear definition of expected duties. And you look at those duties REALLY HARD before you name the rate.

Example of a result: This one is painful because it is open-ended and can end up tarnishing your reputation. It can also gouge your customer's wallet. Let's say the customer says "Set up my computer with adequate security for my user base and hang around long enough to teach me how to maintain it." That's a goal or result that requires you to first evaluate the computer before you know what it will take, and it also requires you to decide whether your customer is a true chowderhead.

3. Do you have a lawyer on retainer? If so, pass ANY contract by that lawyer before signing. Ask about implications of any fine-print clauses or any clauses that say (for example) "Federal Acquisition Regulations I-IV are included by reference." Watch for clauses regarding "subject to applicable contracting laws for the state of CF" (confusion) or whatever state you are in. See if that means you have some obligation not in the contract but explicitly in state law. Or federal, as appropriate.

4. If you have neither a lawyer nor a written contract, please advise me where you live, I have some bottom land to sell you from south Louisiana.

5. DO include (in your contract) a reference to whatever specification you were given as an implied part of the contract. Name the date of the document from which you are working. Be absolutely sure you have a copy of the document as of that date.

6. If you ask for a contract and your client says, "Why? We're both gentlemen here" - odds are your client is NOT a gentleman.

7. Determine up front if your client will want a change-of-specification method in the contract. Believe it or not, these are your friends. One company I worked for was notorious for allowing contract changes at any stage of the contract. For a nominal fee, of course... We made more money off of changes than we did off the original specifications.

Just some random thoughts.
 

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