dmaks: (Default)
This is a post originally written at Jun 20 2013. Moved from tumblr here.

1. I’ve just finished a fixed price freelance job which I thought would take me 2 hours, but took 8, due to third-party components problems.
2. Also, I failed to fulfill all requirements, so I can’t even charge the full price.

It seems to me, if I split a task into smaller chunks, I may be burned less. In this case, if I did 2 milestones:

* Make website screenshots one at a time (no concurrent requests) for 50% of the price.

* Many concurrent requests for other 50% of the price.

I would still fail, because I’ve overspent time on both tasks. It would also be no good to stop doing a milestone because I’ve already spent too much time doing it because of the contract with the client.

What could be done about it? Only doing tasks that only use good old known components for a fixed price? Having a 3x-4x multiplier for tasks that have new untested components seems like a good idea. Would save me in the case of the first milestone, but not in the 2nd.

The question in this case - when do you give up? I gave up when it became clear that no existing components would work without fixing them first. And that would require a lot of time. But, giving up after spending allocated time doesn’t look good to me, maybe 1.5x of allocated time?
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Another job I've got is about installing a PHP webapp into a new server. The client mentioned that the webapp cost him an insignificant sum of money (I would have taken twice the money for doing something like that I guess). It turned out that, neither the app create its database on the fly nor provided a script that created db/user and tables. And, certainly, no documentation. It turned out, the database consisted of many tables and I had to either deduce from the code what the tables/fields were or take the existing (thankfully!) database from the old server. But, after spending almost two hours moving it, it still didn't work.

Also, I've made another mistake on charging, which is, I thought I'd finish it in 1-2 hours, so I said it'll cost $30-60. Too bad. In such cases, there's really no way to estimate how long it'll take. I should have gone for hourly job instead of fixed price. Anyway, I'm not going to continue it unless I'm paid per hour. Either that or I'm happy to take $35 and leave it to be finished by somebody else.

It's ironic how it costs so much even to move the webapp to another server when it cost so little to develop it. But, if the original developer made a better effort to create documentation, database creation script, even installer, it would cost more in the first place, but it would cost less now (and in the consequent installations).
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Blog about programming, Linux and Mac

October 2013

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