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PICList Thread
'[BUY] If I want a quote'
2006\03\24@075504 by olin piclist

face picon face
Tag changed to BUY.  This doesn't seem "off topic", but not specifically PIC
or EE, but is relevant for posting a good BUY request.


Gus Salavatore Calabrese wrote:
> If I want a quote from one of the developers
> on this list to write some code based on some
> PIC hardware that I would define, how should I
> present the request properly ?
> ( Only want a fixed price quote, so I would have to
> define things to a level that satisfied the developer )

You first need to get used to the idea that you aren't going to write the
spec suitable for a fixed price bid yourself.  In all the years I've been
doing this, I've been able to provide a fixed quote and then implement from
just a customer supplied spec exactly once.

Writing a good spec is an engineering effort in itself.  It should be looked
at as an integral part of the overall project and something that will take
skilled resources some time (and therefore money) to do properly.  This
means you are going to pay for a good spec to be written one way or the
other, or you'll end up paying much more in project problems later.  The
spec must take into account what you want, but must also clearly describe
what the consultant must do (and sometimes not do), and how to measure
completion.  You probably have a good idea what you want, but understand up
front that you are not likely expressing this in the terms a consultant
needs.  Be prepared for the consultant to start with your requirements
description and feed back a detailed spec from his point of view.

This is usually an iterative process since various parameters will be
missing in your description.  The consultant will pick some values and write
them into the spec, then you may realize that's not what you intended.  You
object to parts of the spec, the consultant modifies it according to his
understanding of your objections, you look at it again, etc.  For a
complicated PIC project and depending on your level of expertise this may
take up to half a dozen drafts and a couple days of engineering time.  Even
if things are reasonably well specified up front, figure at least 4 hours
engineering time to nail down the few remaining loose ends, write it up in
clear form, etc.

Of course this process takes time and therefore money.  A good spec is money
well spent, but some customers either don't get that or otherwise want to
cheap out by trying to get the consultant to pay for it.  When economic
times are bad, you can sometimes squeeze consultants to do the spec.  They
look at it as taking a chance investing in the spec to get a badly needed
job in return.  However, these kinds of customers are invariable a pain in
the butt to deal with.  They always have the attitude the the consultant is
trying to rip them off, are never happy with anything, and always trying to
squeeze out every last penny.  In bad economic times, like from 1 to 3 years
ago, consultants have to put up with this in various degrees to make a
living.  In good times, experienced consultants walk away from customers
like that without wasting time on them.  Right now we're in OK times, having
emerged somewhat from the bad times.  I've turned down several jobs in the
last few months for these reasons where 2 years ago I might have put up with
it.  Currently I would probably not proceed with a spec without some kind of
pre-payment.  Pre-payment is good not only because I know I'm getting paid,
but also shows that the customer is real.  I now require some amount of
prepayment from all new customers.  This is usually some fraction of the
estimate or of the fixed price.


******************************************************************
Embed Inc, Littleton Massachusetts, (978) 742-9014.  #1 PIC
consultant in 2004 program year.  http://www.embedinc.com/products

2006\03\24@100242 by David VanHorn

picon face
>   Pre-payment is good not only because I know I'm getting paid,
> but also shows that the customer is real.  I now require some amount of
> prepayment from all new customers.  This is usually some fraction of the
> estimate or of the fixed price.



Usually, I work in thirds.  1/3 up front, assures me I'm not wasting my
time. 1/3 on delivery, leaving 1/3 after 30, so the client is assured of
some support effort on my part, if needed.   This has worked pretty well
over the years.

Client pays all hard expenses as well.

2006\03\24@102813 by Bob Axtell

face picon face
This is the best explanation of the process I have ever read.
Well thought out. This needs to be archived, James.

--Bob

Olin Lathrop wrote:

{Quote hidden}

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'[BUY] If I want a quote'
2006\04\09@002503 by Vitaliy
flavicon
face
Olin Lathrop wrote:
> You first need to get used to the idea that you aren't going to write the
> spec suitable for a fixed price bid yourself.  In all the years I've been
> doing this, I've been able to provide a fixed quote and then implement
> from
> just a customer supplied spec exactly once.
>
> Writing a good spec is an engineering effort in itself.  It should be
> looked
> at as an integral part of the overall project and something that will take
> skilled resources some time (and therefore money) to do properly.
[snip]

I wish all developers understood the importance of a good spec. :)

Most developers I've encountered were eager to "just code it."

Best regards,

Vitaliy

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