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.
#1 KNOW YOUR CUSTOMERS
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.
#2 KNOW YOUR ABILITIES
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.
#3 BE THOROUGH
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)
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.
#5 ACCOUNT FOR ROAD BUMPS
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.
#6 PRACTICE, PRACTICE, PRACTICE
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)