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  1. #51
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    I face lots of challenges everyday.. but the biggest challenge right now for me at this moment is COLLECTING from a client.. I am sooo pissed of at a client right now (an independent film company).. they've made me do some websites, with extreme pressure, lots of changes, and mistakes on their end, which i've fully tolerated.. they're supposed to pay me back November 15, 2005 (during the release of the film).. until today they've not paid me for reasons, THEY DONT HAVE ANY MONEY YET.. what a load of bullsh*T..

    If I couldnt produce work by their deadlines, then they wont pay me.. now that i worked 2 shifts to give them what they want at an unreasonable time frame considering they tell me things later, and not at the start of the development, and now they cant pay, it's supposed to be ok? and i should just wait?


    It's a UK based film company... we are "this" close to spreading their crap all over the internet. (as i am not the only one not paid.. there are more than 5 angry people right now) ..

  2. #52
    SitePoint Wizard holmescreek's Avatar
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    Companies that seek out students to do jobs are usually on the cheap. It's good experience for you if your a college student (and the company is legit), but, if your a company expecting to get a really professional site and go for cheap labor of learning students, your probably going to be very disappointed. However, there is the exception, if you can find a student that can provide a portfolio of work.
    intragenesis, llc professional web & graphic design

  3. #53
    SitePoint Zealot Cheyne's Avatar
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    The most frustrating thing for me, is having to sit and wait for someone (designer, coder or whatever) to finish something or even get back to you before you can do anything to the project. I hate sitting and waiting.

  4. #54
    SitePoint Enthusiast That's Me's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing
    Anyone have any ideas about how to improve upon client management, and prevent some of these complaints in the first place?
    Actually, the majority of my client relationships/interactions are positive. Treating clients with patience and respect starts off the whole relationship on the right foot. They trust and believe in my abilities; I appreciate what they're aiming for and want to give it to them. This requires some pretty thorough customer service, listening, and verbal communication skills and is extremely rewarding when it all comes together.

    Non-client related challenges? Well, the most obvious are those everyday challenges with the design/code/program process.

    Designing a logo with that perfect little detail I want.
    Writing the site code so that it's table-less AND beautiful.
    Getting over an unforeseen programming hump.

    These always involve gratuitous fist-pumping and self-proclamations of genius.

    Off Topic:

    Lira, I love your signature. I've been toying with the idea of a Fight Club quote ... perhaps referencing a double latte enema

  5. #55
    Level 8 Chinese guy Archbob's Avatar
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    People asking stupid questions that are answered in the readme(I'm mainly pissed at this because I distribute lots of GPL stuff).
    Last edited by Archbob; Feb 13, 2006 at 00:39.

  6. #56
    SitePoint Zealot Baron Ragnarok's Avatar
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    I think it's having a deadline to finish web design and developement that is really thight from my boss. And have him make me work on other projects while the deadlines coming. See the error in logic?

    B.R.

  7. #57
    Web development Company chrisranjana's Avatar
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    The going is good.. Not much to complain !
    Chris, Programmer/Developer, Chrisranjana.com
    Chennai, Tamil Nadu, India.
    Php Developers

  8. #58
    SitePoint Zealot Vogelfrei's Avatar
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    Sagewing, it's interesting that you point out how many client-based answers there are, because for me my greatest daily frustrations have to do with my fellow developers, not the customer. However, I do understand the plethora of complaints about client expectations!

    Anyway,
    What is it that is most painful about your day-to-day work?
    What makes you most frustrated?


    The most painful thing about my day-to-day work is dealing with legacy code. Our organization's web applications and sites -- our intranet especially -- look like an old house that has been remodeled by a series of owners. We are so busy working on short-term requests, it's very difficult to undertake the large task of rebuilding underlying structures to make them more maintainable. So, I often find myself holding my nose and making patches to poorly-constructed markup and program flow.

    Even when the opportunity to restructure does arise -- such as when we rebranded and rebuilt our public internet site, last autumn -- the next obstacle is our development team itself. People's old habits are ingrained, and their existing techniques have always been good enough, so it's an uphill battle to get them to change. That's frustrating, and I place a great deal of the blame on myself for not knowing how to educate, how to convince them to shift their practices, or even to communicate that there are other ways at all.

  9. #59
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktu
    My biggest issues ? I suppose the biggest are clients who take forever to provide content and keep changing their minds what they want. I have one client who was here the other day whose site has been "under development" for 14 months now who dropped by with a whole pile of changes and who now "needs" the site to be ready by the end of this month.

    To counter this I'm building clauses into my new contracts to deal with jobs that drag on and on and on.

    Richard.
    Wow... you read my mind! I actually came in search of a good web design forum site for this exact problem. I have a client who just refuses to give me the last 2 pages of content. His site has been "under development" for 5 months now. On an 8 page site!! I'd say this is a big frustration for me.

    I charge in thirds... 1) deposit, 2) layout approval, 3) approval of site THEN upload to his server AFTER final payment is made. I can't seem to get this guy to finish his site, thus paying me my final payment. I even told him, just put something together to get your site online and we can always revise it. Still waiting. sigh...

    I'd love to know what you are putting in your contract to keep "jobs from dragging on and on and on."

    I'm brand new to this site... It seems like just what I was looking for. :-)

    Teri

  10. #60
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Vogefrei -

    Interesting remarks. I especially relate to the 'trying to get other developers to change' part, because in addition do doing WWW work I am also a consultant to software companies who use the Rational Unified Profess and other such tools.

    People seem to take this attitude: whatever they have seen succeed in the past, is the 'best' way. Whatever they have seen fail in the past is the 'worst' way. But, they aren't very open to a new way, that they haven't seen. Developers are to process-averse sometimes, which is ironic because they are the ones who benefit most.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

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  11. #61
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tteri77
    Wow... you read my mind! I actually came in search of a good web design forum site for this exact problem. I have a client who just refuses to give me the last 2 pages of content. His site has been "under development" for 5 months now. On an 8 page site!! I'd say this is a big frustration for me.

    I charge in thirds... 1) deposit, 2) layout approval, 3) approval of site THEN upload to his server AFTER final payment is made. I can't seem to get this guy to finish his site, thus paying me my final payment. I even told him, just put something together to get your site online and we can always revise it. Still waiting. sigh...

    I'd love to know what you are putting in your contract to keep "jobs from dragging on and on and on."

    I'm brand new to this site... It seems like just what I was looking for. :-)

    Teri
    I agree that every contract should have a termination date, at which point the whole thing just ends. If it's organized properly, with milestones and deliverables intelligently connected to payments - you reduce your risk into known quantity.

    When I sign a client contract, I know exactly what I will gain/lose if the client were to dissapear at any given point on the project.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

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  12. #62
    SitePoint Addict lostatsea's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by LinhGB
    Clients who ask for some odd functionalities or even a whole site, and go "It should only take you X of your time, should be easy etc." as if they are web developers themselves - in which case they shouldn't be hiring me.

    Actually now that I think about it, the biggest challenge that I've ever faced is to help business clients make a "seamless" transition from offline to online, especially in explaining to them that the online business model is quite different. One of the main obstacles is the way they usually manage their business database and content offline. Some of them use such outdated systems that it makes it nearly impossible to synchronise them with the online server. In my experience, this transition is the major obstacle that discourages businesses from having more than a mere "brochure" website.

    My boss does this to me for every project I begin...Oh, it should only take a xx minutes or xx days to complete that...

  13. #63
    SitePoint Zealot ricktu's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by tteri77
    Wow... you read my mind! I actually came in search of a good web design forum site for this exact problem. I have a client who just refuses to give me the last 2 pages of content. His site has been "under development" for 5 months now. On an 8 page site!! I'd say this is a big frustration for me.

    I charge in thirds... 1) deposit, 2) layout approval, 3) approval of site THEN upload to his server AFTER final payment is made. I can't seem to get this guy to finish his site, thus paying me my final payment. I even told him, just put something together to get your site online and we can always revise it. Still waiting. sigh...

    I'd love to know what you are putting in your contract to keep "jobs from dragging on and on and on."

    I'm brand new to this site... It seems like just what I was looking for. :-)

    Teri
    Teri,

    you're part way there already. I haven't finished writing it but basically what I'm planning is splitting payment into three components. One third deposit and the second third due when I finish coding the shell of the site. The final third of course is due once the site is ready to go live. This way I at least control when I get two thirds of the money. I suspect/hope it will also give an incentive to clients to speed up the provision of the content as they will likely want to see the value of the money they have already spent.

    I also plan to include a clause stating that after a certain point a "site in progress" will be dropped from the production schedule. In other words once thery do get the content together they may have to wait a couple of weeks for a gap in my schedule before I can begin working on their site again. I believe this part is important as just lately I had a client drop with most of the content stating he needs it complete by the end of the month (I've been waiting for this content over 14 months). Now that will cause delays on jobs I'm currently working on which isn't fair to these clients who have done the right thing and provided content on time.

    I also offer to help clients with content but to date none have wanted to pay extra to get the content done.

    Heres hoping this idea works.

    Richard.
    Turning Point Development Pty Ltd
    Turning Ideas into reality

  14. #64
    SitePoint Wizard Pedro Monteiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by holmescreek
    Last note, "Don't stick too many irons in the fire." You will end up tired, and rushing the work. Always make sure that when you complete a project, it is a project that you are proud to put into your portfolio -- if it's not, then your next client will not be impressed when they visit the site of the last job you finished.
    .
    I would say just don't add those sites to the portfolio. Adding to this, I would say that 50% of the work professional Designers do does not get in the portfolio.

  15. #65
    SitePoint Wizard Pedro Monteiro's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by shockbotkins
    I don't recall a time I've been fustrated over my clients even when it's something common, I believe it's because I love what I do and its my purpose of life to help serve them. I do know that if you're getting stressed then your current job may not be for you. Just keep in mind that even though you may be self-employed, you work for them not for yourself.

    But yea that's my thoughts on this thread, best of luck to all of you.
    What business did you say your in??

  16. #66
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    Our greatest challenge are time and our very clients
    Website development feed on deep artistry.

  17. #67
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    Quote Originally Posted by ricktu
    Teri,

    you're part way there already. I haven't finished writing it but basically what I'm planning is splitting payment into three components. One third deposit and the second third due when I finish coding the shell of the site. The final third of course is due once the site is ready to go live. This way I at least control when I get two thirds of the money. I suspect/hope it will also give an incentive to clients to speed up the provision of the content as they will likely want to see the value of the money they have already spent.

    I also plan to include a clause stating that after a certain point a "site in progress" will be dropped from the production schedule. In other words once thery do get the content together they may have to wait a couple of weeks for a gap in my schedule before I can begin working on their site again. I believe this part is important as just lately I had a client drop with most of the content stating he needs it complete by the end of the month (I've been waiting for this content over 14 months). Now that will cause delays on jobs I'm currently working on which isn't fair to these clients who have done the right thing and provided content on time.

    I also offer to help clients with content but to date none have wanted to pay extra to get the content done.

    Heres hoping this idea works.

    Richard.

    Thanks for the suggestions. The thing that amazes me is that the site is now more than 2/3s done. So close. I'm not sure I understand how a person couldn't be more excited about finishing it up to get his site online. It's their BUSINESS they are representing. I feel like I care more about their business presence than they do!

    As far as the content... I have a hard time expressing to clients just how important their content is. I mean, I try, but this seems to be an area that clients really don't want to put in the extra money for. I, too, have offered to help with content, but like you, they don't want to pay for this extra help.

    I like the idea of adding a "drop" clause to the contract and letting them know upfront that if they take too long in finishing up the site, they will be dropped from the production schedule and it could be a while to be able to schedule them back in once they've been dropped. Maybe that will inspire them to finish. I'm wondering what that point is that you decide to drop them.

    Anyway, I wish you luck with your 14 month client. Man, that's a long time!

  18. #68
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    Really enjoyed reading this thread. It's had a sort of calming effect on me after a day where many of the issues mentioned have come up.

    We lost a client that we've been developing a design for over the last 3 months because they have decided to stick with what they have. I'm not going to name the company or point you in the direction of the site, nor am I going to show the development designs we have done. I will however point you in the direction of the site they referenced yesterday which they saw as using good design and colour.

    ...........ahhhhhhh........deep breaths now..........that's it........calm yourself.

    At least we have the 50% up front cost we insist on before undertaking any work.

  19. #69
    SitePoint Addict operator's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by That's Me
    Designing a logo with that perfect little detail I want.
    Writing the site code so that it's table-less AND beautiful.
    Getting over an unforeseen programming hump.

    These always involve gratuitous fist-pumping and self-proclamations of genius.
    I know this feeling so well... and I LOVE it!

    Quote Originally Posted by tteri77
    Wow... you read my mind! I actually came in search of a good web design forum site for this exact problem.
    Well, you've found the right place. Sitepoint is an awesome community of great folks. Welcome!

  20. #70
    SitePoint Zealot sumanpaul's Avatar
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    I am too inexperienced to post in this thread.
    still I couldnot resist my self from telling an incedent.

    I am hobby web design and development for about 2 years. I have my day job, and I work at spare time.

    Few days back I had made a design for my friend, he has a popular youth portal.
    In those I didn't know about CSS layout. I did it using table layout. He was somewhat happy. Well if I say you about the price that I got you will lough Its around 40$ in terms of USD.
    Now once I was in mid of the project he told me that although you are doing two page standerd template, plz make small headers for all the 15 sections. I said OK it will be a small job, and I will not charge for that. Well when I did , he started increasing his demand. He said its not spicy, plz make a bit more artistic. He send me some pics, although i could not use them.
    Now once its finished, he said that a new idea is in his mind,i asked what?
    he said it would be great if the main page header change each week of the day. I said its not a new idea but sound good.
    he said that plz make 7 headers, for friendshiop. i said ok.

    the project got complete i got my 40$.

    now few dyas back he again called me and said now he is implementing the template in his website but he want to make the template w3 validated. I said the template is using table for layout, it will never meet the standerd. You have to pay to good designer to make standerd website. Then he said ok , do one thing, atleast make it XHTML(when I designed it I didnot know about those stuffs well, its years back). I did it.

    Now yesterday he just called me , and told that he has a new idea. i asked what?
    he said I want to make a site like www.fropper.com I said OK. And I want all the facilities of fropper. I said GREAT. Then he said I have a huge budget for it I asked how much. he said 300$.
    I asked ...300$ for what only the HOMEPAGE LOL he said r u kidding. I am giving the offer to you to make a site like fropper.

    I rightaway said that its not possible. he asked why?
    I said I will not be able to do it. its very tough I dont have that much expertize. he said, but why, u know PHP,u know dreamweaver ...blah blah

    ultimately he went

    I am not sure if you people understood what I meant to say...but I would like to hear the comments about these incedent
    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
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  21. #71
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    I will go against the grain here and say these two things:

    1) I like working with clients. I expect them to be uneducated about certain things - that's why they hired me. I pride myself (well, I try to) on being patient with them, and an effective communicator. Hopefully they can become better clients as engagements go on, and that's good for everyone. This is idealistic, yes - but most of the time it works.

    2) I never charge 50% up-front anymore. I find that it's not worth it. If I look at all the client engagements I sign in a year, then determine how much money I am at risk of losing due to non-payment/collection - I find that the risk is actually quite small. If, for example, 1 out of 10 clients doesn't pay on time (or at all) I have already contained the loss by using payment-based milestones. So, I can accurately predict my maximum loss that could be incurred prior to my pulling my team off the project. Since the up-front payment is an obstacle and an annoyance to many clients (not to revisit the earlier tangent about this) I find that it's much easier to simply sign deals and invoice immediately then make sure the invoice is paid before the first associated milestone.

    Over the course of a year, I spend more time servicing clients and less time worrying about getting paid. The ingredients required to make this work are:
    1) Good clients who can't afford to get into legal tangles, and will pay (even if slowly)
    2) Enough cashflow to be able to support long terms
    3) Effectively written agreements that put payments in line with milestones/deliverables in a manner that allows the vendor to quantify their true risk, and the vendor to have a comfortable payment schedule.

    This is the win-win agreement. To get there, you have to climb the client-ladder and reach a point where most of your clients are big/successful - that way they have very little motivation not to pay anyone. I'm not saying this is easy, but it's not some academic or esoteric approach, either. It can certainly be done.

    I think that if people spent more time climbing the client-ladder and less time trying to protect themselves from getting screwed, the problem might self-correct.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

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  22. #72
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing
    2) I never charge 50% up-front anymore. I find that it's not worth it. If I look at all the client engagements I sign in a year, then determine how much money I am at risk of losing due to non-payment/collection - I find that the risk is actually quite small. If, for example, 1 out of 10 clients doesn't pay on time (or at all) I have already contained the loss by using payment-based milestones. So, I can accurately predict my maximum loss that could be incurred prior to my pulling my team off the project. Since the up-front payment is an obstacle and an annoyance to many clients (not to revisit the earlier tangent about this) I find that it's much easier to simply sign deals and invoice immediately then make sure the invoice is paid before the first associated milestone.
    Hi Sagewing...

    I'm not really sure I understand about the milestones, and I would love to hear a workable option to what I've been doing. Like I said, I charge what I think is a usual payment schedule: 1/3 deposit, 1/3 after layout approval, and the balance after the site is approved but BEFORE it goes live on their server.

    Most of the time, it works well I think, but right now, I am having a hard time getting this client to get me the last pages of content. No content from him, no final payment for me. This doesn't happen often to me, but I really can't afford this kind of thing.

    Can you tell me more about how you might set up the milestones??

    Any suggestions on how to get my very busy client to get me his last 2 pages of content and finally finish his project?

    Thanks!

  23. #73
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    tteri77,

    Risk management is such a massive and complex field, I'm apprehensive to try and address it in a single post! But, I will go for an example. Think of it this way:

    What is the basis for the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 arrangements? Why 1/3? Why not 1/2, or 1/4? To me, it seems arbitrary. And, as a process consultant I dislike anything arbitrary. I need an objective to base my agreement upon.

    My objective (yours might be different, but this is a generic objective) is to:

    1) Satisfy my client
    2) Limit my risk. Limiting risk = knowing exactly how much time and money I will lose if the project doesn't go well, under a variety of potential circumstances.

    So, based on that model – I may not really NEED a payment upfront. I am willing to risk some time/money on most projects. I think most of us are if we only knew what we were really risking!

    Let’s say, for example, I am working with a new client. I trust them, but they are new to me. I want to start by deciding EXACTLY how much time/money I am willing to risk on this client.

    It's important to note that clients DO appreciate the extension of credit (meaning that I wont ask for an initial deposit) so I should extend as much credit as I can, without going beyond my tolerance for risk. Many of you will debate this, but larger clients will expect and appreciate the use of standard terms, and will expect their business credit and size to get them some benefits, usually a 30-day term with new vendors. This is not always the case, but I know that the inability to bill on a 30-day term is seen as a mark of unprofessionalism by many companies (please don't flame me on that, I just think it's true).

    Disclaimer: In many cases you cannot extend credit and should get a down-payment. My point is that it shouldn’t be a rule, and you can do a bit of analysis to determine the best way to go.


    Let’s say my project is worth $xx,000, and the first 6 weeks of the schedule consist of requirements definition. After the first 6 weeks, we move into technical/creative design and then into production. I do the requirements definition myself, so the first 6 weeks are primarily eating up MY time. My time is valuable, but doesn’t require me to put out any cash. On the 5th week, I will involve my technical director and ask him to review/assess the technical specification so far. He’s on payroll so AGAIN, the only expense is our time.

    After the 6 week milestone, I need to get the creative director and lead programmer involved. Those two are on the clock, and they will cost me $xx/hr. So, I really don’t want to go that far without any payment.

    I decide that I am willing to risk my TIME (and a bit my employee’s time) to satisfy this client. I could therefore say that payment is due at the end of the 6th week, upon submission of the technical specification. But, this wont work because I may not get paid right away, and I would have to alter the schedule to avoid putting billable employees on the project. I want to get paid BEFORE I start spending money on the project - that's my objective with this arrangement.

    The agreement calls for a 30 day term. So, the solution is this: I create a milestone at the 2-week point, and I associate it with the first payment. I make sure that the milestone is real, and shows benefit to the client. In this case, I would make a milestone called ‘Submission of Draft Technical Specification’ – it would be defined by the submission of a formal draft to the client, with fancy formatting and everything. That way, the client sees something valuable as they are asked to cut a check.

    Along with that submission, I would invoice the client on a 30-day term.

    Now, I’ve guaranteed that:

    1) If the client pays on time, I’ll get the $ right before I start having to spend cash on this client.
    2) If the client is late, its perfect timing because I can stall the project (maybe) right before I would start spending money.
    3) If the client screws me and the project ends, I know EXACTLY what my exposure to loss would be.

    Ok, so the next question would be: how much to invoice?

    This one is really easy. Using the same mentality, invoice the client so that you receive enough money to cover all of your expenses (thus preventing any loss beyond time) until the next payment milestone! Remember, you can’t just collect enough to cover your expenses up until the next payment-milestone – that’s not quite good enough. You need to collect enough to get you to the expected payment of that invoice, in this case 30 days later.

    Well, that’s just an example and it won’t apply to everyone. If you are independent and you don’t’ spend money on contractors, just come up with an hourly rate for your own time and use that for your financial analysis of the involved risk. You can project how many hours the project will take over x weeks, calculate it by your new ‘internal billing rate’ for yourself, and then determine how much you’re willing to risk, etc. Bill your client accordingly!

    It's also common to submit an invoice upon signing of the contract. Very common, in fact. This give the client 30 days to get you a check, and you are exposed to 30-days worth of risk.

    Before anyone starts flaming me, I DO understand that this example doesn’t cover all circumstances. But, I hope that it will help to clarify the idea of ‘payment-based-milestones’ and how to perform a simple risk analysis on a project.

    Sometimes the 1/3, 1/3, 1/3 plan is good – and sometimes you just have to get half up front! We all know that! But, I hope that as your careers and businesses move forward, you can move into more sophisticated planning & billing techniques. It will make your clients happy because they will feel like they are getting more, with increased convenience. Happy clients will make you happy, and you’ll always know what your risk really is.

    (ok, lemme have it!)
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. — Socrates

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  24. #74
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    The biggest CHALLENGE (and if you know your business very well, the biggest OPPORTUNITY) is offshore outsourcing:

    Web development that used to cost thousands if not tens of thousands can be done now for much much cheaper. Indian, Romanian, Filipino, Chinese, and other outsourcers are constantly driving the cost of development down. This presents GREAT income opportunities if you think about it. It also unleashes NEW VALUE for the customer.
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  25. #75
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    If new value means crappy work at cut-rate prices, yes it is a new opportunity. But having had the pleasure of working with a few of the third world shops I will never go down that path again. Give me a good US/European dev team with some business sense and a brain any day rather than a bunch of underpaid automatons churning out third-rate code at third-world prices.


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