Saturday, 5 December 2009 at 12:18
3 Reasons NOT to do a Web Development Project
OK, now it's just us. These are three reasons (excuses actually) for doing web development projects which I hear a lot. They can all be prefaced with "We're doing this project, even though we're losing money on it because..."
...this is a big name client, a famous name and so it would be good to have them on our client list.
But they're treating you really badly right? You find yourself doing about twice what you would do for any other client just because they're a big, famous name and you want to please them. If you have relationship like this with every big name client that you work with, how long are you going to last?
...this is only a small (money) project but there will be bigger ones from this client in the future.
This might be true. But this means that you have to especially careful to get the balance right between the value that you give to this new client and the money you charge. There's a terrible temptation to bend over backwards to please your new client, in the process losing money and even worse, setting their expectations for your relationship for the future.
If you are being extra nice to them because they're a new client, make this clear that that's what you're doing! Make it clear that you're giving them an introductory rate or a 25% discount or whatever. Use this small project as an opportunity to understand your client - and identify any potential problems. Could you really work with them on a bigger project?
...we need this project just to keep busy and get some money coming in the door.
Ouch, ouch, ouch. And that's just when it's written down. When you actually hear the pain in someone's voice as they tell you, essentially, "We're taking on this money-losing project because we need the money." Oh dear. Hard times. Tough choices. So what can you do, if you really do need the money? Well, one thing is to make the discounting that you're doing explicit. This gives you much better scope for charging your full fee later on any further work. Another, even better option, depending on the sophistication of your client, is to offer a high-quality, reduced scope, full-price solution e.g. "we can't give you the bespoke site you want for that money, but we could skin a wordpress site that gives you 95% of what you want."
But finally. This is the hardest alternative. If you don't think you can make money from the work, don't take it on. As the Zen master said, empty your cup so that it may be filled. Use the time to finish any work-in-progress that is lying around and get it finished. Use the time to improve your processes. Use the time to talk as a team about what the recurring problems are with the work you do, and to suggest possible solutions. Advertise to existing clients and potential clients that you can now take on and deliver work at short notice - for a premium!
Oh and of course. Get some training. I can do it at short-notice for a premium ;-)
If you liked this blog post, you might like these: "I'm your software developer and I'm listening", "John Seddon's Re-thinking Lean Service", "The Value of Something"
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