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Instead of a bland PDF outlining all my terms and conditions, I have explained how I operate in a clear and readable way, so you can see exactly what you will be getting without having to unpick any confusing terms and conditions clauses (because who likes reading those things anyway).
When planning a new project, there are several steps I go through to make sure I am confident I am the right developer for you, and that I have all the information I need to make sure I can complete the build and give you a fair an accurate cost.
To start, we can discuss the project and your requirements, and I can gain an understanding of your business and your goals for the project. I can also determine whether I will be a good fit for the work; I will only take on something I am confident I can produce to a high quality.
Sometimes, I may need to undertake some research to find a solution for some of the project requirements. Depending on the amount of research necessary, this may be a paid pre-project process, whereby I'd come up with an overall plan for the project, and the direction I would plan to take with it.
Once I have enough information to understand what will be required for the project, I will put together a project proposal outlining my plans, and an estimation of the cost. This will only be a high-level estimate to give a ballpark figure, and would be subject to change with a more fine-grained scoping process.
If you're happy with my proposal and the estimate is in line with what you were looking to spend, I will produce a full scope document detailing the project's functionality and everything that will be included, and provide a fixed quote for the work.
I have worked on several projects that have had a cost agreed based on an initial brief, before all the finer details of the project were fully known or understood, which can lead to problems with budgets and deadlines once more detail about the project become known. The final quote may be higher than the initial estimate, but it will be based on a full and complete scope, so should cover everything the project needs, and avoids nasty surprises down the line with increased costs or missed deadlines due to additional requirements.
Once you're happy with the scope and quote, we can sign the paperwork and get going!
I will then get cracking with the development of your project. If appropriate, we will work together to come up with a Minimum Viable Product (MVP) milestone for the project, and plan the tasks in order of priority. I will be in touch with regular updates and show progress on a staging site, and will go through a QA and UAT (quality assurance and user acceptance testing) process at the end of the project to make sure all is in order.
Whether we initially launch an MVP version, or the full finished product, we will get your project live and start to reap its benefits.
Other bits and bobs about how I operate and will manage working on your project.
Projects under £5,000 will be split into two even payments, with 50% due upfront to get started, and 50% due prior to launch.
Projects £5,000 or over will be split into three payments, with 50% due upfront to get started, 25% at UAT stage, and the final 25% due prior to launch. As an alternative, I can offer a 10% discount for full payment upfront.
Any upfront payments are non-refundable if the project is cancelled, and if a project is cancelled between invoices with more work completed than has been paid for, we will work to agree a fair amount to settle for the work completed to date, which will then be provided to you. All invoices will need to be settled in full before any code can be released.
During the course of a project, it is natural that you may want to make changes or add additional functionality as we go. Some freelancers and agencies will insist on charging extra for anything that wasn't explicitly covered by the scope, however I have seen first-hand how this can be frustrating for clients, especially if the changes are small or it's a particularly large project with a high cost attached.
There are genuine reasons why additions and changes may need to be chargeable. Depending on what it is, a change may require existing code to be re-factored and re-worked, which may have wider implications beyond the specific feature being worked on (for example, if a database table structure needs to be changed), or may add additional levels of complexity for other functionality. There's also the simple time aspect; additional functionality means more time, and more work provided, which would usually incur an additional cost (the same as speccing an additonal £500 option on a new car would add to the cost, even if it's already a £50,000 car).
However, I try and find a balance and compromise when it comes to charging extra. If it is feasible and practical to absorb an additional feature or change, I will try to, however if it is fair and reasonable to charge extra, I will send a separate quote; this will be solely at my discretion. This is, however, why I am keen to have as comprehensive a scope as possible before I provide a quote for the work; that way there are no nasty surprises. In fact, I would rather spend two days writing a comprehensive scope that ends up being over budget meaning I don’t win the work, than work with a loose brief and have costs spiral once the project has started. Depending on the payment schedule, any additional quotes would be payable at the next planned invoice, or before launch if the project was paid for upfront in full.
If the project has a hard deadline, this must be communicated during the initial project planning phase before even an estimate for the work is provided. I will not be able to guarantee the delivery of the project by a specified date if it is not agreed at this stage, and will not be able to agree to a shortened or newly introduced deadline under any circumstances. Sometimes, it may be possible to plan an MVP release of the project to meet a deadline, then completing the rest of the scope post-launch.
I also impose a feature freeze of either 1 or 2 weeks before the planned launch of a project, depending on the size. This is to ensure we have a stable and well-tested codebase to go into the launch with. I have direct first-hand experience of having to make major 11th hour changes to a project, which has then resulted in broken functionality; I am only human and make mistakes, however I will be more likely to make them if I am under pressure to make large changes in a short space of time, and there will be less time for me to have a chance to spot any issues. I will allow minor tweaks at my discretion, however if any larger changes need to be made, it will necessitate either a delayed launch, or written confirmation that you accept I have professionally advised against such changes at this time, and that there is a risk of unforeseen issues arising from them.
My standard working hours are 10am - 6pm Monday to Friday, however I also work flexible hours so may not always be around during the day. While I may occasionally push up changes or respond to emails outside of these times, it should not be relied upon that I will be available out of hours. My email address and phone number will be included with any estimates, quotes, and invoices if you need to contact me, however I ask that personal boundaries are respected when doing so.
When it comes to making phone calls, I politely request that, where possible, they are planned and agreed in advance, with at least a rough agenda so I know what the call will be regarding. This helps me plan properly instead of having to fumble for information at the time. Unexpected phone calls can also hinder productivity; a 10-15 minute interuption can take over an hour to fully recover from and can have a very detrimental impact on focus, especially when having to switch between unrelated projects. An unexpected call may affect my productivity on another clients' project, or even your own. For this reason, I would appreciate some advanced notice of any phone calls, even if I do end up being free immediately. I will also try and extend this courtesy to yourself as well.
These rules are relaxed in the event of an emergency, such as a site being down or hacked, where I will respond to an email or call outside standard hours, but this will only be for genuine emergencies.
I want to operate on a few key principles:
I will always give you clear and, to the best of my ability, accurate advice. I will never try and sell you anything you don’t need or lead you in the wrong direction, and will offer full explanations of any decisions I make. No question is too small, and there are no stupid questions; I will be happy to explain anything you are unsure about in as much detail as you need.
I will always communicate clearly and in a friendly manner, will take the time to go through anything you do not understand or would like explaining to you, and will resolve any issues to the best of my ability as quickly as possible.
In return, I would expect information or assets I require to complete your project to be provided in a timely manner, for any issues, grievances, or complaints to be communicated in a calm and rational manner to allow me to find a swift resolution, and for invoices to be paid in full and on time.
In essence, I want our working relationship to be pleasant, productive, prosperous, and mutually beneficial.
I look forward to working with you.