(   )
                          (    )
                           (    )
                          (    )
                            )  )
                           (  (                  /\
                            (_)                 /  \  /\
                    ________[_]________      /\/    \/  \
           /\      /\        ______    \    /   /\/\  /\/\
          /  \    //_\       \    /\    \  /\/\/    \/    \
   /\    / /\/\  //___\       \__/  \    \/
  /  \  /\/    \//_____\       \ |[]|     \
 /\/\/\/       //_______\       \|__|      \
/      \      /XXXXXXXXXX\                  \
        \    /_I_II  I__I_\__________________\
               I_I|  I__I_____[]_|_[]_____I
               I_II  I__I_____[]_|_[]_____I
               I II__I  I     XXXXXXX     I
            ~~~~~"   "~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

Fri, 14 May 2010

Project Work and Crazy Expectations

I've never been a fan of detailed or formal requirements docs for software or other projects, as I've found the customer's needs always change and sticking to a pre-made list is impossible. But there has to be *something* to start with, something reasonably detailed enough to make an estimate (and I recommend doubling that before telling the customer). I got an email from a potential client recently:

"...help me in setting up an already purchased server, programming of some modules in Perl and handling in cron jobs for one of my projects. I would appreciate a quick turnaround time."

Apparently, this was enough detail to come up with a fixed-bid estimate - even after I challenged and asked for more detail.

Another example - a friend of mine wanted me to develop a web-based, database enabled app with user, admin and reporting interfaces, calendaring and email hooks. This was supposed to be an easy project I could put together one night, in my spare time.

Sometimes conveying the scope of a project is hard. Hidden from the casual user is how a software app works under the hood (all-too frequently behind a web browser). When you've been doing project work for a while, you get a sense for where the pitfalls and time-sinks lie, it's just hard getting clients to see them. I'm sure I've heard this analogy somewhere before, but projects like these are like icebergs - the part you see is just the smallest part. Unfortunately, to your clients, this part is all that exists.

posted at: 08:57 | path: / | permalink |