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  1. #1
    SitePoint Addict Adam A Flynn's Avatar
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    How to handle unquoted feature creaps

    Hello,

    I've been working on a few projects lately, and I've noticed that, on several occasions, clients end up trying to add new features that they didn't talk about when I initially quoted them, and, after projects are done, they're asking for bits on PHP help here and there (again, for small improvements/tweaks that weren't quoted for).

    Most of these tweaks only take 10 minutes to do, and I find it petty to try to charge for 10 minutes of work (especially for good clients). However, these 10 minute jobs are really starting to add up. When I'm being asked 2-3 10 minute questions per week, a sizeable amount of time is being spent without being paid for it.

    My question is, how do I tactfully handle this situation? I don't want to come off as petty (charging like $5-$10 for every little thing I do), but, at the same time, I don't want to be loosing hundreds of dollars to freebies. Have you guys ever been in similar positions?

    Thanks.

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard bronze trophy
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    You could implement a minimum incident fee, this would encourage people to 'save up' their requests into one. Or perhaps a dreaded maintenance contract....

    Another other option is to not charge by time - when they ask for some new scripting, give them a price based on what you feel it's worth. Just because it takes 10 minutes to script a contact form from a ready-prepared class, that doesn't mean it should only cost that company for 10 minutes of your time - it has value to them much greater than $5.

    The third option is to start a time sheet and make a note of all time spent, including the consulting times, time spent reading their emails, time spent opening up folders and apps as part of the work, time spent on paperwork and invoicing etc. Then once a month, or whenever the sheet reaches a specific balance, send out the invoice for xx hours @ £xx per hour. Let them know that each time they ask for a little job, you probably spend more time talking to them about it than actually scripting it, so you have to bill them for that consulting time.

    Or just charge by the day/half day - a lot of companies do this.

  3. #3
    SitePoint Wizard realestate's Avatar
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    Do them for free for a few times, and say you will be charging for future work. No need to be shy to tell them what you are telling us.

  4. #4
    SitePoint Wizard LiquidReflex's Avatar
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    As long as it wasn't stated in the original proposal and contract, then you have the right to charge them for the additional features/modifications. Of course it's tough to start now if you didn't have anything in the contract to start with about extra work.

    I would add in a notation about work after the final project sign-off. This means, once the project is delared "complete", additional work (not including fixes for things that should work anyway) will be handled separately. This usually means you will bill out hourly the extra work that is done. Personally, I have a 1 hour minimum on changes (just to avoid these 10 minute fixes and billings) and then anything over that is calculated every quarter hour (15 minutes). So, if they only need 35 minutes of work done this month, they pay for an hour. If they need an hour and a 15 minutes, they pay an hour and 15 minutes, etc. It may be small bills, but if you keep doing all of these "small" changes the client will assume they call you whenever and get all these little changes made at no risk/cost to them. It's a large risk/cost to you because you are wasting your billable time on small fixes that isn't making you any money.

    The client may not like it, but charging for work they want done (no matter how small), isn't petty ... it's business.
    Kevin Hauge : Modern Leaf Design : Follow Us on Facebook
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  5. #5
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    I have posted this on a few of the other threads as it seems to be a common theme through many of the other discussions here.

    We implemented a "Change of Scope Order". Once the client starts to request functionality or changes that are outside the original contract, we simply say we would be glad to add that or modify whatever if they would just sign the "Change of Scope Order" for us. The change of scope order is described in the original contract and it is spelled out that "scope creep" is inevitable and we want to work with our clients and understand that most do not know what they want until after development has started. On the actual "Change of Scope Order", I list in detail the change along with the time required and the fee. It is a "matter of fact" item (because they saw it in the original contract) so there's no hard feelings, no one is upset because they thought they were entitled to ongoing, never-ending changes. Most of the time the clients say ok and sign and fax back the form -- sometimes they say "wow, I had no idea it would take so much time -- no thanks". It has worked out very well for my business. I started this about 18 months ago and have used it extensively. We've been in business ten years and we got to the place where we had to do something to deal with this that was non-confrontational and we were still reimbursed for the work done. Our goal is to keep our clients for the long term and this is one way that they feel that there are no surprises and no problems with asking for what they want.

    Hope this helps.

  6. #6
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    CrystalVision - just wondering if you would be willing to put up a proformer of what your "Change of Scope" form looks like?

    If you don't want to I understand.


    Cheers.


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