What is an appropriate rate to charge?

I’m not sure how to estimate a job. I understand you can cut costs with open source software to take care of common tasks (login/pass capability), but I’ve been asked for customized functionality for this site.

I have been asked to build a website for a laboratory that allows vets to request tests and then get the results online. The vets register at the site for login rights to the site and request the particular test. The techs at the lab enter the test results to the database. This information would be stored in the MySQL database for the lab to have records of the tests. The vets can view the test results online or have it emailed to them.

This is the first time that I have had a large project, or what I think is quite large. As I go further in the project, there are more considerations for it. The amount of work for the database (setting up tables properly) etc.

I gave an estimate of $3000.00 but other developers said I should be around $6000.00 at the end of the job.

Thanks for any opinions.

You should check out symfony. It will help you keep costs low by providing you with solutions for numerous problems you mentioned using open source software to keep costs down while allowing you to build a fully customized app.

With vague specs given, IMO the best option is to give them a vague estimate, e.g.

'Based on the info given, I’d estimate $3000-$6000 - it really depends on the precise requirements. What kind of budget do you have put by for this project?

At this point you may find out they only have $400. However, they may not wish to reveal their budget, in which case I’d say:

[I]‘Okay, no problem. We can spend a little more time on the phone discussing the requirements, and maybe I can give you a better estimate, but if you want an exact price I’ll need a couple of hours with you running through your detailed requirements and I can then draw up a detailed project plan with exact costs.’

[/I]Depending on your outlook/gut feeling/current financial situation, you can either provide this consultation for free, charge for it, or charge for it and refund if they proceed with the project.
But I tend to really push for an indication of budget(after I reveal a ballpark cost estimate)- you’re not going to be a happy bunny when you discover their budget is $400 after you spend an entire morning providing free consultations and project planning.

When giving estimates for unscoped work give a range based on your experience with similiar projects and a basic run-down of what the project will do. After that make sure you get a full detailed scope of all the work, you need to work out what each part will cost you in hours so you can charge for it all. Always trust your gut, don’t subtract from esitmates because they sound high.

The project sounds like it could be done for $3,000, based on your breif description it’s just letting one group of users add something to a database and letting another view it. That’s rather easy and you don’t need to charge 15k or 2 million for something that won’t take you a month to develop. But you really need to nail down the requiremnts to know for sure.

You know if you ever really fail to quote the right price you can be honest with the client and say you made a mistake. You’re human, they are human. If you request more money and put your case across the worst they can say is no. They might get angry and scream, oh well, at least you tried. People often get lost in the business bullsh*t and forget we are all human - we have emotions. There is a great reward in being open and honest.

I would go more like $15000. Your not accounting for a lot of extras.

Feature creep?

What about client communication? You will spend (and should) a great deal of time interacting with your client. If you don’t, you probably won’t deliver exactly what they want.

Writing specs, pre-planning, tests, etc. If their serious about it and you are too, you ballparking way to low, IMO.


Agreed with shadowbox, and I suggest reading

Head First Software Development - it is a good primer on how to define scope, an area where you seem to need a bit of help.

Good luck!

I worked on a similar project for a few years (but much larger in scope). I believe the final bill was somewhere in the 2 million dollar range. Like I said, much larger in scope :wink:

How long do you think it will take you to code this? How firm are the requirements? Any legal risks with the data (doubt it as it is for animals)? Any ongoing maintenance contracts?

I entirely agree with this. If the scope is so simple, then it should take no longer than 10 days to create the design, database and code it all. If this is true, we’d estimate this for $500-600 :slight_smile:

Maybe I don’t understand the specs?