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  1. #1
    SitePoint Evangelist ikeo's Avatar
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    How to bid ... (should I even)

    I responded to a job posting on one of the now ubiquitous job posting sites. To my surprise, I got a response telling me that they were seriously looking at me and 2 other guys for their project.

    Today, I got sent this detailed description of the project, along with files, a db schema and possibly even some code. They then asked me to put together a bid for the project.

    My worry is, putting a decent bid together for these guys will take quite a bit of time (I reckon 2 to 4 hrs).

    1. Should I do it? It seems odd to me to handle a job posting this way, usually I thought they'd just pick you and ask you for your estimate. But It seems like I'm still auditioning for the gig ... I don't like that
    2. Should I ask them to pay for the bid? My thinking is, I can apply the cost towards the project if I get it and if I don't at least I get paid for my time.
    3. Give them a 30 minute ball-park estimate instead? (don't even know if its doable ... the project seems too complex for that).

  2. #2
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    I would absolutely charge them for my time to put the bid together, and then offer to put what they paid toward the cost of the project should they go with your bid. Build your bidding time into your project cost so you don't lose out there, either. This is not disingenuous -- you would have done this anyway. As you are planning the project cost, build a portion in for time spent gathering requirements and generating a proposal and then simply charge that ahead of time.

    This approach may cost you the job up-front, but if it I believe it will be to your advantage in the long-run.

  3. #3
    King of Paralysis by Analysis bronze trophy
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    Quote Originally Posted by ikeo View Post
    My worry is, putting a decent bid together for these guys will take quite a bit of time (I reckon 2 to 4 hrs).

    1. Should I do it? It seems odd to me to handle a job posting this way, usually I thought they'd just pick you and ask you for your estimate. But It seems like I'm still auditioning for the gig ... I don't like that
    Who would pick someone for a job and then ask how much it is going to charge afterwards? Cost is always a factor in determining the selected vendor.

    2. Should I ask them to pay for the bid? My thinking is, I can apply the cost towards the project if I get it and if I don't at least I get paid for my time.
    You can always ask, personally I consider the bid process to be a cost to the vendor and a risk that they undertake.

    3. Give them a 30 minute ball-park estimate instead? (don't even know if its doable ... the project seems too complex for that).
    If you do this make it absolutely crystal clear that your estimate could be way off and that this is a rough estimate at best.

  4. #4
    The knight who said ni! RockyShark's Avatar
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    I've never charged a client for a quote - I would never pay for a quote on anything myself so I can't really justify expecting others to pay.

    One thing I don't do anymore is tender for jobs like that - where you never meet the potential client. It's hard to sell your experience and knowledge when you don't ever speak with the decision-maker. Pretty good chance they will be just looking for the cheapest quote, which is not what you want to be IMHO.

  5. #5
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    Quote Originally Posted by RockyShark View Post
    I've never charged a client for a quote - I would never pay for a quote on anything myself so I can't really justify expecting others to pay.

    One thing I don't do anymore is tender for jobs like that - where you never meet the potential client. It's hard to sell your experience and knowledge when you don't ever speak with the decision-maker. Pretty good chance they will be just looking for the cheapest quote, which is not what you want to be IMHO.
    I think that's key. Looking back now my reply seems a little silly -- I wouldn't pay to have a quote put together either, but nor would I spend 2-4 hours putting a quote together for someone (unless I had already met in person and pretty much sealed the deal.) I guess my main question would be, why would it take 2-4 hours and is there a way to do it more easily?

  6. #6
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    Quote Originally Posted by ikeo View Post
    Today, I got sent this detailed description of the project, along with files, a db schema and possibly even some code. They then asked me to put together a bid for the project.
    Detailed project description is a sign of a serious business that has done the homework. I think you should spend some time and draft a professional response. You won't loose much by speding an hour but if it turns out to be good deal then you can make good money. Thus, the payoff outweighs the risk.

    You can quote a range if you think it's too risky to do a detailed analysis.
    Mukul Gupta
    Indus Net Technologies
    _______________________________________
    Design | Development | Internet Marketing

  7. #7
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    There's a big difference between a quote and a proposal. If you feel you are being asked to provide a 'proposed' solution for a prospect, I would consider charging. If you are merely being asked to work out a price based on a provided detailed specification (I think this is the case considering they've even provided database schema), just go ahead and quote them, or try to provide a good estimation of costs.

    I'd always suggest having a chat to any prospect who has only ever communicated via email etc - it will help you develop the start of a more personal relationship plus of course help you discover any obvious showstoppers very quickly. Try to discover what the main criteria is for the when choosing what developer they will go with (i.e. ask them directly). If they want the lowest price, do you think you are suitable? If they want high level of ongoing support do you think you are capable of doing this? etc etc.


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