Ryan Lanciaux

Random programming blog.

6 Tips for Better Web Project Quoting

An often overlooked area of Web Projects is quoting.  Many developers continually hone their programming and design abilities, however, few value quoting ability as a necessary tool.  Quotes that are inaccurate can cost you; if you are too high, you are either ripping off your client (apart from the ethical reasons it is also bad for you because it may eliminate any future business and referrals) or you will not be awarded the job.  Here are some steps for better quoting. 


You will not sell anything that does not meet the customers needs – no matter how good the price is.  Knowing your customer is the single most important aspect of quoting.  Sometimes clients will ask for something that they don't really need.  Instead of simply recognizing what they are asking for, it is important to understand what they would like to achieve.  As developers or designers it is our job to educate the client; to show them a more efficient way to accomplish their goal or maybe even point out some things that were overlooked.


Know exactly what you are capable of.  Do not propose something that you can not deliver.  I realize that it is the nature of technology that it will always be evolving and we will always be learning new things; every project brings about new challenges.  That being said, it is a disservice to both you and your client if there is a lot you need to learn before you can accomplish your proposed solution.


Your proposal must be thorough.  Obviously, being thorough does not mean using technical jargon that would be above the clients head (remember you want to educate, not confuse).  Clearly present what you intend to do and why it would benefit your prospective client.  All the bases must be covered all assumptions must be stated; do not leave any wiggle room for assumptions because that can lead to a mess later (I know its somewhat repetitive but I can't state it enough).  

#4 PRESENT YOUR PROPOSAL PROFESSIONALLY (alliteration not intended)

Your proposal will be seen as a reflection of your work.  Make sure you place the same kind of time and effort in to the flow and layout of the proposal as you would any other design piece. 


According to Murphy's Law, anything that can possibly go wrong, will go wrong.  Account for this in your time estimates.  Take note of the areas where there could be problems.  Take some extra time while quoting to research more about what the possible outcomes could be and create a plan of action.  This plan will give you a better idea of what time-frame you're looking at.


Sometimes, good quoting simply comes down to experience.  The more jobs you have quoted, the more data you have to work with to determine where you were off and what areas you should focus more on.  This may be common sense but make sure you keep track of how many hours you quoted for a project and how many actual hours it came out to be.  Additionally, break down the project into different sections.  A more module approach will help you determine where things went wrong.

Hopefully this will be helpful to you no matter how experienced at quoting projects you are.  Please post your thoughts or any other quoting suggestions that you may have.  (originally written 3/17/2007)