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Archive for June, 2008

Things You Need to Know – Part 1

Thursday, June 19th, 2008

Some clients insist on a quoted project price.  As a design company it is very hard to sustain ourselves on flat rate projects. Once we start designing a new product and the client evaluates it, they almost always have new ideas and improvements based on what they have seen.

Estimating the time a project will take is a tricky process.  It is, after all, research and design.  We do our best, but honestly, it’s very difficult to create a concrete projection. You just don’t know what the obstacles will be, and how hard they’ll be to get past.  Generally that means creating an estimate and adding ten to twenty percent depending on the number of disciplines involved, the state of the requirements and client history. That’s not to say we don’t ever take the chance, we’re just pretty cautious when we do.  Sometimes we have taken a loss, and sometimes we have declined to submit a proposal.  It depends on the project.

In one case the potential client wanted a detailed project plan completed as a quote.  It was an exciting project, and we would have loved to get it, but it would have taken hours just to set up the plan, and we had no assurances that the project would have been awarded to our company.  We also had no guarantee that our project plan would not have been used by another company.  We would still love to take on projects like that one.  It would be nice to find a way.

Things I need to know. Part 1

Monday, June 9th, 2008

Recently we signed a contract with a new client to work on reverse engineering an existing product.  I took one of our engineers to meet this client to talk with him and to find out the actual requirements of the product, so that the engineer would be prepared to make those changes in his design implementation.  The interesting part was that while the engineer & the client were talking alone, the client said “hey, you know, I really need this thing by the end of July, but don’t tell the owner, I don’t want him to worry about it”.  Now, I appreciate his concern, but that’s something I need to know.  Scheduling time for a project without a deadline is a very difficult thing, and if I had not been told about the July deadline, we might have failed this client, just because he didn’t want me to “worry about it”.  I need to make sure that doesn’t happen.  So how do we encourage our clients to be up front with us and to really give us the scoop on what they need?