I am a contract consultant in technology, which means that my goal is to ultimately end the project at delivery, handing it off to client, perhaps remaining on retainer. I do what I am tasked but solution, budget and schedules are priorities. Client/Contractor onboarding also important. With this in mind, I offer several Terms of Engagement, that meet these goals. These Engagement terms are…
- Hourly. A tradition approach, with a weekly minimum. Scheduled in advance. Invoiced weekly. I also provide a log of work with invoice. Net 14 day terms. Rate is negotiable.
- Monthly, with list of projects. Billed bi weekly.
- 70/30 Engagement. My prefered strategy, explained below.
- Outsource or Subscription. I develop a solution and rent / maintain project for x amount of time.
- Research. This can be a Technical Plan or Due Diligence. Deliverable can include demonstrations as well as paper. Ideally, Research evolves into a development role.
Before I begin, I would like to say that I work best independently, requesting help when needed but I can play on a SCRUM style team as well.
On occasion, I will subcontract a microtask. In this situation, I never reveal the Client, The microtask is usually to fill in a technical gap or handle something less skill intensive. But I am always 100% engaged and in control.
In all cases, Invoices include a detailed log, which could be used to reproduce my work and should be considered a resource for your tech staff.
Options 1 and 2, The Hourly and Monthly Engagements, are self explanatory. Invoices weekly, 14 day terms, schedule time slots. Development is usually on my own resources. Usually, transition into one of the other engagement terms.
Options 3, 4 and 5 require some explanation.
OPTION 3… The 70/30 engagement
Usually a Mobile, Cloud API or BlockChain project. The goal of a 70/30 engagement is to deliver a project at 70% of initial budget. This leaves 30% of budget to handle minor issues, such as cosmetics or not spend at all. But 70/30 does require that client respect certain rules aimed at limiting change orders which always increase costs.
The goal of this 70/30 strategy is to incentivize the client to keep the scope of work / project simple and specific. The concept is for client to agree to a budget, for sake of an example, let’s say $10,000. My goal will be to come in at 70% of that budget, $7,000, with 30%, $3,000 savings, as a reward for being a good client.
How does this work.
initial consultation is free. Client should produce a 10 minute Pitch as to what they are trying to accomplish. Their vision. A story that they could convert to a funding pitch. The goal is to educate the developer, myself. I counter with alternative ideas, obstacles, suggestions, questions, theoreticals all aimed at a more solid plan of attack. To conclude stage 1, I determine if I can do the project, how I would do the project, timeline and a 100% budget. But I would also expect the client to trust that I understand his vision enough to start without a formal scope of work. I would just work from my notes and my interpretation.
If Client has stage 1 confidence to continue, a 20% start fee would be taken, in this case $2000). The Client needs to understand a couple of key points to maintain simplicity. Top priorities are: Application Navigation… from splash page, to first page with buttons and screens. Functionality… UI ( User interface ), code logic, back end integration. Last … and of least importance, cosmetics, such as logos, colors and graphics. This is saved for last and gives the graphic designers something to design for.
Deliverables include a functioning iPHONE and or ANDROID app with a back end management portal. I usually deliver several versions of the app. Delivered as a working prototype that could be feature complete. 30% due upon completion of Stage 2. In this case $3,000. Total spend is now at $5,000 and I have been incentivized to work as quickly as possible. $5,000 remains of total budget.
Client selects version going forward. Makes final change requests. Change Requests may or may not be accepted depending on their complication. Cosmetics should be ready at this point and will be added at this point.
Stage 3 Deliverable is ready for submission to iTUNES and/or Google Play Store.
20%, $2,000, due upon completion of Stage 3. $3,000 remaining in budget. But assuming no change requests, project can be submitted to iTunes and Google Game store for distribution.
Keep in mind that I use the term Submission and not Acceptance. iTUNES has a review process for applications and a project can be rejected for any number of reasons that Apple refuses to make public. Some reasons are obvious, such as pornography. Some are technical, such as using unsupported frameworks that abuse the apple system, perhaps burn the battery from overuse. Many are for applications that do not comply with a certain UI standard, even a misspelled words will fail an app. Of Course, A crash will always fail. I can not formally list minimum submission requirements because as an apple developer, I signed an NDA with apple, and even then, it’s kind of a moving target. But I can advice and guide.
In the event that an application is rejected, I will address the fixes at an hourly rate funded by the remaining 30% of budget and resubmit. Reasons for app rejections are usually minor and may not need a technical fix, simply an explanation to the apple review board and resubmission works. I had a submission fail because the apple review board felt I was using Copyrighted graphics. I also had an app submission fail because I was using the Apple address book. Apple reviewers are paranoid for the sake of Apple reputation. Accessing the Apple address book could permit harvesting of contacts. By the way, I approve of apple’s paranoid review policy. The resolution was that I petitioned, explained the reason for using the address book, resubmitted and application was accepted.
Back to the 70/30 Engagement Strategy. This may seem an aggressive strategy but I am very comfortable with 70/30 for projects with a deliverable. Assuming the client plays by the rules, they are rewarded with a project delivered on schedule and under budget.
But There is the chance that more change orders are required after stage 3 and before app is submitted. Hopefully, these are minor changes, such as graphics but could be more involved. If a stage 4 is required, then change orders are executed at an hourly rate from the remaining 30% budget. If they are major change orders, than the process would start again from Stage 1, the delivered project becomes a starting point and a new budget number would be set.
The 70/30 objective is to deliver a fully functional project while controlling costs. Projects naturally get maintenance and improvements over time, but at considerably lower budget costs and high control. At this point, I would consider a retainer type relationship.
70/30 applies best to Mobile and Backend projects. Embedded projects are similar but more predictable.
Option 4… Outsource or Subscription.
For the client that has not time or internal resources to study, innovate and develop, I offer the Outsources / Subscription solution. In this engagement, I sign appropriate NDA protecting company secrets, I study requirements, determine if I am qualified and have resources to accomplish project. If I accept, I develop, manage, secure and support a long term client specific solution that is rented back client. Solution would include a minimum service guarantee and offer technical support especially during initial onboarding. Terms would include a minimum guaranteed duration with optional extensions. Monthly Prepayment terms. I would reserve right to make incremental changes, improvements and may even preemptively add features, from time to time, without a request . The solution would probably reside in the cloud, such as Google App Engine, but I am not opposed to on prem. There will always be a redundancy and backup plan in place.
This solution is aimed at medium to large companies with a niche requirement. I would produce entire system including mobile app, Cloud Portals and IoT devices for logistics and Industrial applications. More than likely, I will be capable of servicing requirements in an agile manner, using the latest and mature technology that is Enterprise ready.
This type of engagement is also for well funded startups that are heavy in marketing. I effectively become a temporary CTO as the founders pursue revenue. I require an initial payment for development and, I control the technology strategy with emphasis on a durable system that scales, has redundancy and can run lights out.
Option 5… Research.
As the name implies, I study and offer a technical plans. Possibly plans can evolve into another engagement type. I can conduct technical Due Diligence, technical audits including a security audit. I can write RFPs as well as assist in landing projects. Of course I can also research a project and educate key personal in a company.