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.