My business processes keep costs predictable and controlled. Everything hinges on the accuracy of the Project Plan and Timeline documents that come out of the Architectural Phase. Here’s how we get from here to there with no surprises:
- My Standard Contract regulates how I work, how we interact, and how I bill. Any agreement we get into will require explicit acceptance of that contract.
- There is no billable hourly rate on web production services bound by the scope of the Project Plan, or for the Architectural Phase mentioned below.
- Only cognitive services (such as team reviews, research, meetings, and consultations) are not a fixed cost. They include planned meetings and reviews, or any activity required to adjust the Project Plan (including research) after leaving the Architectural Phase, and are subject to the billable hourly rate of the selected FlexSupport Plan.
- I do not test my designs for display on Mac OSX Safari or on desktop screen resolutions lower than 1152px wide. While all my designs are mobile compatible, if you want very specific layout configurations for some devices, then regardless of browser or platform that will add a non-budgeted cost increase at design time which I can only roughly estimate based on the nature of the display. If we already know about this need, then the budget already includes it.
- In our first meeting together I will be seeking enough detail to give you a Preliminary Estimate using what I think is the most relevant web package and FlexSupport Plan. I will provide this in writing by the next business day in the form of a Proposal. What we really need if we are going to get this done right is a Project Plan that will change the Preliminary Estimate into a Verified Estimate within a 10% margin of error.
- The Project Plan is the document that ensures maximum fidelity between what is being expected with what is actually delivered. Creating the Project Plan happens in the first paid phase of our work together, which is called the Architectural Phase. This phase is authorized once I receive a 30% deposit on the Preliminary Estimate.
- The primary work products of the Architectural phase are the Project Plan and it’s associated Budget and Timeline. Together these complete a formal requirements analysis of your needs refined from the Proposal. They provide, at minimum, a schedule of costs, all verified requirements, and a timeline tied to the schedule of costs as we hit each milestone on our way the finish line. These documents also provides the following contractually binding assurances:
- The costs associated with each timeline Production Milestone are now fixed, unless a Change Request is introduced. Even then, it might be possible to keep the milestone’s cost unchanged. It is extremely rare for the cost of a Production Milestone to change once it appears in the Project Timeline. I will do almost anything to avoid such an event because they usually represent a disruption to the budget andimpact other aspects of project as well, including project velocity. This is why I am so insistent on going through the Architectural Phase, even if it is only for 2-hours total on small project. It bakes-in quality assurance right from the start.
- The cost for cognitive services and when they are likely to happen is clear. The timeline shows by date and milestone when cognitive services invoices are likely to be issued. Costs for cognitive services are never fixed and are based on decades of managing high velocity projects. Keeping these costs under control is a major reason we have an Architectural Phase.
- You can see both the Integration Date, and the Project End Date, presented in an intuitive timeline built around the worst-case scenario for project duration and cost.
- While we are in the Architectural Phase, billable time is incurred according to selected FlexSupport Plan and deducted from your deposit. Any overage is then billed at the end of the phase or at key milestones, depending on the complexity of your needs and how involved this planning phase needs to be.
- If, for some reason, you decide not to move forward with the project at this point, I keep the 30% non-refundable deposit. However, you are still in full ownership of the Project Plan. You can use this customized, professional blueprint of your requirements to get more ideas or competitive bids; and be far better understood by other technologists.
- If you wish to proceed, I simply invoice on the milestones as I reach them according to the Project Plan.
- Warranty: The process imposes a quality control cycle that requires your involvement at scheduled intervals. This keeps everything correct as we move through the timeline to completion.
- Upon completion, the site is taken live and FlexTech Media re-tests it the same day of go live. You have 7 business days to complete your own testing and verify all is well after our re-testing is completed. I correct any problems encountered during this 7-business day period at no charge, unless such problems are actually Change Requests; which are new requirements or adjustment to the site not previously mentioned. When that is the case, such aspects are not considered bugs, they are considered billable Change Requests and must be formally documented as new requirements added to the Appendix of the Project Plan. The work to document and organize Change Requests is billable as a cognitive service.
More About Project Plans
Project Plans can include sitemaps, video links, or other media I create to facilitate understanding. All of this now belongs to you, as does the Project Plan. At this point we have achieved a focused understanding of exactly what you need. This provides project level quality assurance from the start, reducing the likelihood of cost overruns by eliminating ambiguity. Remember, changes introduced mid-stream are usually more expensive to deal with than if such things were considered from the outset.
Some Project Plans are simpler than others. They are always human readable and understandable by the right audience in the right sections. It is the DNA of your project and will be invaluable for keeping your site maintained, secured, and updated with the latest capabilities as time goes by.
Project Plans are what is known as living documents. Some of my more complex projects have Project Plans that remain updated years beyond the go-live milestone. This gives you, me, or other technologists and decision makers, a clear understanding of what was built and why.One more thing about Project Plans. They can reduce by up to 50% the fees incurred for cognitive services such as consults, research, testing, milestone reviews, or other meetings. They help us save time, maintain good project velocity, and control costs.
Remember that I invoice for cognitive services separately than for production milestones, so anything that helps manage such costs to begin with is highly desirable. Cognitive services are where most projects experience cost overruns due to needs not properly scoped up front. In the preliminary minimum estimate I provide, I estimate cognitive services at 30% of the total as well, just to be safe. This sort of padding is reasonable based on 25 years of work in this sector, but like I said earlier a good Project Plan can knock that down to 15% if we are all on the same page from the beginning.