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  1. #1
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Working outside your specialty

    I'm curious what you do when you receive requests for work that fall outside your specialty. For example, if you are a PHP coder, and someone needs some ASP work, how do you handle it?

    Here are a few choices:
    1. Decline the work
    2. Refer the client to a friend
    3. Find a freelancer that can do it and still charge the customer directly
    (you may have other solutions)

  2. #2
    SitePoint Wizard chris_fuel's Avatar
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    My opinion would be:

    "I'm very sorry, but I deal with PHP based websites, and it would be a disservice to you if I claimed I was able to do an ASP website for you. However, I do know some people that I can recommend to you that will get the job you need done to your highest expectations."

    If you never stated you did ASP, and you tell the client that you don't do ASP, then I really don't see anything bad coming out of it. In the event they do get pissed off, I'd wonder about if I actually do want them as a client (unless they throw tons of money at me :P ). Plus you know that any more work coming your way will be just PHP.

    The freelancing option... that seems kind of.. too risky to me. You'd have to get someone asap. If something goes wrong, you might have already payed some guy (could be some loophole or something but... step 2), and the client will probably be asking for money back. Then they'll say "Oh this person did a horrible job" and icky word of mouth comes in.

    However, if it does go right, you get money out of it, some guy gets paid, but be ready to accept possible asp requests from that word o mouth thing.

  3. #3
    _ silver trophy ses5909's Avatar
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    This happens to us quite a bit actually. We get calls to enhance ASP sites and while we can do ASP.Net, we have no desire to touch ASP. For this I would refer them out or simply give a "thanks, but no thanks" kind of response.

    We recently got a request for work on an OSCommerce app. We told the client we weren't OSCommerce developers and what might take an oscommerce developer a few hours, could take us 5 times that long as we aren't familiar with their codebase etc. The client appreciated our honesty and we recommended they look elsewhere. after a week or so the client came back and said they werent really happy with what they found and they didnt mind that it would take us 5 times as long and cost 5 times as much (hypothetical numbers), that they would like us to do it anyway.
    Sara

  4. #4
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    In my experience, it really depends on what the client is asking for.

    There are some situations where the client is specifically wanting you (either as an individual or company) to take care of the work. In this instance, I would explain my lack of expertise in the specified area and recommend someone more qualified.

    There are some situations where all the client wants is a solution. In that situation, I would outsource the work, normally because the client is involved with me on a higher, more business-critical level than a simple website or whatever else.

    Further to the second option, there are different times for my choices of outsourcing at cost price, and outsourcing at a premium to the client.

  5. #5
    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    I refer the client to a friend within my network. I normally don't do option 3 because in the end I'm the one answerable to the quality of the product, and I have no way of knowing what's going on.
    Winners Respond. Losers React.
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  6. #6
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    I normally refer them to a friend or company I know would do a good job, because I have worked with him / them before - or I just decline the job if I don't know a friend / company for this job.

    I do not like to hire a freelancer I have not worked with before for a client of mine.

    I would hire a freelancer I have not worked with before for my own stuff, but not for a client - it's just too risky.

  7. #7
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    I was approached not long ago to build a Oscommerce site which i would not normally do but the time frame allowed me to take on the job as i was able to get familiar with it and set it up how the customer wanted it. Longest part being the HSBC payment gateway...nearly regretted saying yes but at the end of the day the customer was happy with it.

    Normally would of said no.

  8. #8
    Life is short. Be happy today! silver trophybronze trophy Sagewing's Avatar
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    I used to take work outside my specialty, but lately I won't even consider it. It's not just that we have enough work in our area of focus, it's that I've found work from other areas to be a sort of distraction that takes away from our focus.
    The fewer our wants, the nearer we resemble the gods. Socrates

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  9. #9
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    It really depends on the job. If I feel that I am able to do it, then I would say yes, even if the effort is going to be huge. I would only say no if I can't provide a good service. The reason is very simple, I am not always in the position to say no to a project, even if I know that it is going to cost me a few sleepless nights.

    I would warn the customer that ASP is not my area of expertise, and that it would take longer, though, so he can make a decission.

  10. #10
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Sagewing View Post
    I used to take work outside my specialty, but lately I won't even consider it. It's not just that we have enough work in our area of focus, it's that I've found work from other areas to be a sort of distraction that takes away from our focus.
    Yes, that's about where I fall on this topic also, though sometimes we get a really good customer in which I will make exceptions. If it seems there will be continuing work over a period of time, it makes it a little more worthwhile to work with some freelancers that are more knowledgeable about the area of specialization. Has anyone ever taken this route?

  11. #11
    SitePoint Guru rageh's Avatar
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    Under no circumstance should I consider option 3. It is far too dishonest for my liking. I myself would not do something outside my area of work. It is too distracting. But I may consider option 2 if I know someone who can do a good job.
    Last edited by rageh; Nov 7, 2007 at 15:37.
    ------------------

  12. #12
    Kiwi Fr00t jylyn's Avatar
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    4. Learn ASP
    In my case they only wanted something really basic anyway, and I'd never looked at ASP before so it was actually quite interesting...

  13. #13
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    situation is simple. you can learn asp if you have enough time. if you don't have it, then rejection is correct answer
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  14. #14
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rageh View Post
    Under no circumstance should I consider option 3. It is far too dishonest for my liking. I myself would not do something outside my area of work. It is too distracting. But I may consider option 2 if I know someone who can do a good job.
    I don't know that it is dishonest in all situations, but I have always felt honesty is THE most important thing in business. For example, for local customers I tell them exactly what I will be doing. They know that I have expertise in web development, and trust that I will do a good job managing the project.

    If someone told me they were personally doing the coding, and then I later found out they did not, I would start to question their integrity.

    It's good that you made this point, because it is always important to be honest with your customers.

  15. #15
    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvduval View Post
    I don't know that it is dishonest in all situations, but I have always felt honesty is THE most important thing in business. For example, for local customers I tell them exactly what I will be doing. They know that I have expertise in web development, and trust that I will do a good job managing the project.
    Yups. It won't be dishonest if you tell the client that you are out-sourcing it and that you will charge a small project management fee for it. Most clients would be happy to oblige since it takes the headache off them.
    Winners Respond. Losers React.
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  16. #16
    SitePoint Guru rageh's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by dvduval View Post
    I don't know that it is dishonest in all situations.
    I find it dishonest if you tell the client that you will do the project and it is actually someone else whose coding skills you don't know. You give the impression that you will do the work while you are not. You cannot vouch for work some freelancer out there will be doing especially when you don't know that freelancer. I am not talking about when you tell the client that you will subcontract the work to someone whose ability to do the job you do not know. That is what option 3 is. If you talk to the client that honestly, they may say no, thank you.

    But if you subcontract the job to someone who you know can do the job, that is fine. BTW, that is option 2. If you tell the client exactly how you will go about doing the job, that is fine. They either accept or refuse.
    ------------------

  17. #17
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    Quote Originally Posted by rageh View Post
    I find it dishonest if you tell the client that you will do the project and it is actually someone else whose coding skills you don't know.
    If you told the client that you would do the project, then yes, I can see that as being dishonest.

    If, however, you tell the client that you will provide them with a solution, that's a completely different matter, without dishonesty.

  18. #18
    SitePoint Wizard Wolf_22's Avatar
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    Always sell yourself! If the job is "outside of your specialties", then who cares! It's probably still doable. Technology isn't the hard part in this game. It's the personality, work ethic, and desire. If you want it bad enough, you'll figure out a way to make the client happy.

    If you get a job that requires something that is completely alien to you, say, COBOL, then you should team-up with someone and workout a deal. Commission is always good stuff.

    If you get requests for services requiring the downfall of an entire race, then call Chuck Norris.

  19. #19
    phpLD Fanatic bronze trophy dvduval's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by rageh View Post
    I find it dishonest if you tell the client that you will do the project and it is actually someone else whose coding skills you don't know. You give the impression that you will do the work while you are not. You cannot vouch for work some freelancer out there will be doing especially when you don't know that freelancer. I am not talking about when you tell the client that you will subcontract the work to someone whose ability to do the job you do not know. That is what option 3 is. If you talk to the client that honestly, they may say no, thank you.

    But if you subcontract the job to someone who you know can do the job, that is fine. BTW, that is option 2. If you tell the client exactly how you will go about doing the job, that is fine. They either accept or refuse.
    I can see it being somewhat of an issue to, for example, grant access to a clients website to someone you don't know. Having worked with freelancers so much over the years, I know the "hoops" pretty well. If for some reason, a person I hired to do the work for the client did not do quality work, it becomes my responsibility to get it done even if it means I don't profit on the job.

    But imagine the client, who has no experience working with a programmer, hiring someone and the job going really bad. With me, I have experience selecting a good person in the first place, as well as with getting backup if something goes wrong.

    I have no problem being completely open with the client, and letting them know exactly what is happening. I have people come to me all the time looking for quality work, knowing what I do. In many cases, I work with people that I have known for more than a year, but sometimes I need a specialization that falls outside of the normal scope.

  20. #20
    SitePoint Evangelist artcoder's Avatar
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    If the job is too far outside my specialty, I will usually decline the work and refer client to others.

    If the job is close enough to my specialty that I can understand what is going on but just slow at doing it, then I may consider outsource.

    For example, I do ZenCart, so if someone comes to me asking for OSCommerce work, I would usually decline.

    But if client comes to me and ask for a functional modification of ZenCart. Yeah, I can figure it out after hours of debugging and tracing. But an outsourced specialist who does this kind of thing everyday can do it much faster. In this case, I would accept and outsource. (In my contract, i would state that I may hire outside contractor under my management as needed. But will not reveal password nor sensitive info.)

    PHP and ASP are too different. It is not just syntax difference. They run on different types of servers. Apache vs IIS. So I would decline in this case. And I would not feel comfortable enough to outsource when knowledge is too far outside my domain.

  21. #21
    Floridiot joebert's Avatar
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    Depends entirely on the project.

    Small enough projects can be handled yourself, larger projects are good to pass along if possible.
    If you've got nothing better to do sometimes doing the legwork to find someone else to do the job & be a middleman is worth it.

    Alot of times people request to have things done by certain people not because that certain person knows how to do the work, but because they trust that person.

  22. #22
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    Yes.I think it depend on which work ,then I will deal with it.It is very important that something would b e finished good and quickly.

  23. #23
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    I would probably just refer them to someone else. The time it may take to actually learn the different skills to the point where I could successfully do the job would outweigh any time/cost benefits and be pointless.

  24. #24
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    Quote Originally Posted by artcoder View Post
    PHP and ASP are too different. It is not just syntax difference. They run on different types of servers. Apache vs IIS. So I would decline in this case. And I would not feel comfortable enough to outsource when knowledge is too far outside my domain.
    I disagree here, I work with both. They are different, but not really that different. Most of the differences come in the syntax, because, funny enough, it is not a oop thing.

    Don't know with ASP.NET because I only looked at it briefly, but I haven't worked with it seriously yet.

  25. #25
    SitePoint Wizard jimbo_dk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by molona View Post
    I disagree here, I work with both. They are different, but not really that different. Most of the differences come in the syntax, because, funny enough, it is not a oop thing.
    If a PHP coder jumps straight into ASP.NET for the first time for one of my projects, I certainly wouldn't trust his work. Any programmer could make something work in a new language relatively quickly, but making it work efficiently and securely are a whole different matter.
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