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JoeDavola

To The Software Folk - Working As A Contractor Without Being Ripped Off?

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A Software Developer friend and I are starting to do some contracting - out first jop so far has been a great learning experience technically, but financially it's not been worth it at all. We've ended up doing many, many more hours than we charged for, partly because the software wasn't spec-ed out well enough (our fault), and partly because of the go-live support that we've had to provide.

The software that we've written, as will be the case for most of the software that we'll be writing, is essential to the 'back office' day to day running of the business. We were paid a fixed amount for the development of the original software (which was very cheap; apparently three companies were part of the tender process and we were the cheapest, which we were fine with as we were starting out), but almost a year on we've never been paid a penny more than that. Some queries we've dealt with things that you might argue were off-spec, but others were just things that were the jobs of the people who ran the business day-to-day, but we've still had to invest time in responding to them to tell them "this is your work, not ours".

A few months back there was a thing that they asked for that was clearly off-spec, and when we said we'd do it but it would cost £X, suddenly it wasn't deemed necessary and would be put off until 'a later date'. We spent an hour and a half in a meeting with them recently (at their request) and they had a series of what basically amount to change requests, which was fine but at the end of the meeting one of them made a comment that basically they didn't expect to have to pay for any of this as most of it would fall under the 'support agreement', whatever the hell that means.

Basically they're taking the piss, expecting the two of us to be their long term IT department without paying us any money. Because this was our first job and we figured they would be good publicity, we've been more tolerant of this than we should. After the last meeting I commented to my business partner that by spending an hour and a half meeting with them, plus travel time, we'd spent 4 man-hours on them already which strictly speaking we should be billing for...

Has anyone else here been in this situation and can advise on how to proceed? We've written them a great bit of software and ideally what we need is an agreement that any support (be it answering an email query, spec-ing a bit of software, or writing the software, going to meetings) is billed at £X per hour - we'd be completely transparent about what every second of time is being spent on (I already have a time tracking tool set up to do this), and we'd bill them at the end of every month, and our quoted hourly rate is bloody low at the moment anyway.

We'd like to keep a good relationship with them, as for the most part the 'ground level' staff have been great to work with. We were also hoping to get introduced to more clients from them, but it's gotten to the point where I just want to cut off from them completely if the money has dried up completely - if they won't pay us any more then we just have to tell them that we're going to stop replying to their emails altogether, right?

Any advice on how to proceed with that, and are there are any resources that anyone would reccomend for how to structure contracts like this in the future so that we get paid a fair wage in the future instead of being expected to become an unpaid member of the client's company?

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I've been there :)

These days I won't generally do bespoke development because it's not worth it (because of the issues you state) except in some very specific circumstances, which usually require having a previous business relationship with the client.

Bespoke software requires a really in-depth specification document which is chargeable. Most people baulk at that from the outset. It is not in my interest to spend three days working on a detailed proposal for something that's only going to fetch £1k.

Without that document, scope creep is inevitable especially with certain clients - the "I paid you £5k for e-commerce but what I actually want is Amazon.com and all the associated back end features". Scope creep is the process by which the client discovers what it was they actually wanted in the first place, and sours relationships.

I spent years building kit, and these days, I "sell" my Back Office software as an off-the-shelf product which is very customisable, and will adapt the software for specific clients, though it always remains a single code base so fixes and updates can be rolled out to everyone.

The first thing you need is a "rate card" which specifies the cost per month, the emergency response time, and the standard response time. It resembles the kind of table you see on hosting company websites, with the packages across the top and the features down the side.

Mine is split into four packages - well, three really, the fourth is an extension of the third:

"None" - no monthly fee, no phone support, minimum billing = £100 per hour or part thereof, no target response time

"PAYG" - buy a block of time @ £60/hour, minimum 5 hours, minimum billing = 20 minutes, target response time = 72 hours, emergency = 4 hours

"Contract" - pay monthly, starts from £150 for 3 hours/month, faster response times.

"Enhanced" - the same but starts from £500/mo for 10 hours, fastest response times and some other rolled-in benefits.

Service times - these are related to priorities. Define what the word "emergency" means. My definitions:

Low - generally used for parked or low priority items which will normally queue behind all others

Normal - most items

Medium - more important than normal but not high

High - an important item

Emergency - an item which, if not attended to promptly or immediately, will cause an actual loss of sales or the loss of functionality which enables you to conduct your normal business or activities.

If you leave something until last thing on Friday and need it for the boss on Monday, that might be your emergency, but it is not mine nor will I treat it as such. Clients *cannot* choose the priority.

All of these things are easier when done upfront and harder to implement later on.

A motto: exceptions become expectations. Example: you pick up the phone to someone on a Saturday and help them. Next time there's an issue on a Saturday, they'll expect the same. Another example: you don't charge for a phone call that goes on for two hours during which you give expert advice on search engine marketing. The next time there is such a call, the client will expect it to be free. A precedent has been set.

All calls and issues are logged in a ticket system to which the client always has access. This calculates how much time was used and I keep a close eye on that. I will overlook a five minute quick call, but I'll always log an in depth one or one connected with support or training.

Set out very clearly what's included so the client knows what they're expected to pay and you know what you're expected to provide, and don't "do favours". No favour goes unpunished.

Also be clear about what's not included. An example is a paper jam in their printer or their broadband breaking down. You are not providing support for everything and anything vaguely IT related. There are other companies who do just that. Don't do it, not even once, even if it seems like a nice thing to do.

It is worth trying to resolve this with the client because the best way to gain business is word of mouth. It may help on this occasion to be honest - that this was new, you're still learning, and you think this (the rate card) is the right way to go forward.

It sounds like you're in a good place with what you have built and well-positioned to sell it on to other people. Which comes to Intellectual Property rights, and Terms and Conditions, but that's probably enough for now ;)

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Presumably they realise that since the software is back office essential, then you've got a bit of a choke hold on them for future support, and are trying to negate that by capitalising on your desire to please them. I can't say I blame them for trying, but it sounds to me as though you need to let them know that you're as aware of the strength of your position as they are of theirs.

I'm not one to advise on what should go in the contract, but at the very least I would expect a line in the sand after the initial design, test, and sign off (and perhaps go-live support), followed by further pricing structures for clearly defined change requests, end user support, and lastly an annual licensing fee / support charge.

Ultimately, customers will try on anything they can, so in a few years you'll still be coming across new and very cheeky attempts to shave a few quid off the bill. IMO its just a matter of clearly defining as much as you can and getting their sign off on everything that constitutes an additional charge.

As for time spent in initial sales type meetings, that's really a cost you have to factor in to the bits you can charge for.

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What sort of software work are you involved in? Web stuff? Windows desktop applications? General Business applications or specialist technical/scientific applications? etc

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I've been there :)

These days I won't generally do bespoke development because it's not worth it (because of the issues you state) except in some very specific circumstances, which usually require having a previous business relationship with the client.

Bespoke software requires a really in-depth specification document which is chargeable. Most people baulk at that from the outset. It is not in my interest to spend three days working on a detailed proposal for something that's only going to fetch £1k.

Without that document, scope creep is inevitable especially with certain clients - the "I paid you £5k for e-commerce but what I actually want is Amazon.com and all the associated back end features". Scope creep is the process by which the client discovers what it was they actually wanted in the first place, and sours relationships.

I spent years building kit, and these days, I "sell" my Back Office software as an off-the-shelf product which is very customisable, and will adapt the software for specific clients, though it always remains a single code base so fixes and updates can be rolled out to everyone.

The first thing you need is a "rate card" which specifies the cost per month, the emergency response time, and the standard response time. It resembles the kind of table you see on hosting company websites, with the packages across the top and the features down the side.

Mine is split into four packages - well, three really, the fourth is an extension of the third:

"None" - no monthly fee, no phone support, minimum billing = £100 per hour or part thereof, no target response time

"PAYG" - buy a block of time @ £60/hour, minimum 5 hours, minimum billing = 20 minutes, target response time = 72 hours, emergency = 4 hours

"Contract" - pay monthly, starts from £150 for 3 hours/month, faster response times.

"Enhanced" - the same but starts from £500/mo for 10 hours, fastest response times and some other rolled-in benefits.

Service times - these are related to priorities. Define what the word "emergency" means. My definitions:

Low - generally used for parked or low priority items which will normally queue behind all others

Normal - most items

Medium - more important than normal but not high

High - an important item

Emergency - an item which, if not attended to promptly or immediately, will cause an actual loss of sales or the loss of functionality which enables you to conduct your normal business or activities.

If you leave something until last thing on Friday and need it for the boss on Monday, that might be your emergency, but it is not mine nor will I treat it as such. Clients *cannot* choose the priority.

All of these things are easier when done upfront and harder to implement later on.

A motto: exceptions become expectations. Example: you pick up the phone to someone on a Saturday and help them. Next time there's an issue on a Saturday, they'll expect the same. Another example: you don't charge for a phone call that goes on for two hours during which you give expert advice on search engine marketing. The next time there is such a call, the client will expect it to be free. A precedent has been set.

All calls and issues are logged in a ticket system to which the client always has access. This calculates how much time was used and I keep a close eye on that. I will overlook a five minute quick call, but I'll always log an in depth one or one connected with support or training.

Set out very clearly what's included so the client knows what they're expected to pay and you know what you're expected to provide, and don't "do favours". No favour goes unpunished.

Also be clear about what's not included. An example is a paper jam in their printer or their broadband breaking down. You are not providing support for everything and anything vaguely IT related. There are other companies who do just that. Don't do it, not even once, even if it seems like a nice thing to do.

It is worth trying to resolve this with the client because the best way to gain business is word of mouth. It may help on this occasion to be honest - that this was new, you're still learning, and you think this (the rate card) is the right way to go forward.

It sounds like you're in a good place with what you have built and well-positioned to sell it on to other people. Which comes to Intellectual Property rights, and Terms and Conditions, but that's probably enough for now ;)

A very good reply.

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Some companies understand that IT costs money and are willing to pay for it. Others do not think it is important or they think IT people are cheap.

The lesson here is to learn to spot which are which and to, without hesitation, walk away from the former and only work for the latter.

Here in Wales, for example, the public sector bodies pay rubbish salaries for permie IT workers... and not that brill contract rates if you are Welsh.... so I avoid them. In many parts of the Welsh public sector IT jobs, demanding expensive to learn skills, are on the same pay band as secretaries, etc. The Welsh NHS, for example, has loads of former nursers working as programme and project managers, on great salaries, over-seeing IT workers earning a pittance.

I digress... learn to spot the w*nk companies / organisations and walk away.

Regarding speccing work - it is difficult as people always expect far more and think that even minor changes in software takes minutes.

If IT workers were doctors they would expect one person to be a GP, fanny guru, brain surgeon and heart specialist all in one... and still make the tea and sweep the office.

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What did you originally bill for?

Did you provide warranty/support for the software for x months?

Ideally, you bill for the software delivered. Offer a 12 month period of warranty/support.

Then bill for anything after that.

Providing on-call support is a separate thing from software normally.

Oh, always use a hardware dongle for any low-volume custom software.

They can be bought for a few £10s. Build the cost into the package.

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You need to split the software into modules - people like the word 'modules' which basically means features.

You then sell them the software with limited features for X. You then charge them a separate fee for support of that feature and that feature only. This could be X hours a week telephone support. Half a day a week on site. Several days a week on site. You basically offer all of these options and they can then decide to pay for it or not.

You then offer them more modules on a cost per module - feature - basis. You then, as above, offer to support each feature on a modle by module basis.

If they buy moadule X and Y from you but only pay for support for module X then you do not support modeul Y even though they bought it.

You have to decide where the modules you sell them is a one-off cost or an annual cost. You could offer a number of annual costs for the module(s) and support.

Updates, of course, only come with your premium service.

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Here in Wales, for example, the public sector bodies pay rubbish salaries for permie IT workers... and not that brill contract rates if you are Welsh.... so I avoid them. In many parts of the Welsh public sector IT jobs, demanding expensive to learn skills, are on the same pay band as secretaries, etc. The Welsh NHS, for example, has loads of former nursers working as programme and project managers, on great salaries, over-seeing IT workers earning a pittance.

Strange you mention that. An idiot from my school registration group works as a project manager for the NHS in Newcastle.

This guy is inbred stupid - we had 4 bands at school: High, Medium, Low, Shtuthefckup, sign the register and go home.

He was in the latter.

An Uncle got him a job as porter. He worked his way up.

He's studying Prince at the moment. I know, as he took photos of the books and posted them on FB.

Im not sure he ever learned to read.

He's further confirmation that the NHS really needs to be shutdown and re-started by someone who knows what they are doing.

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Some very good replies here already.

One additional thing - what does your contract with them say? I am getting a slight fear that you don't know what a support agreement is. It might be that you've inadvertently signed yourself up to one without knowing it. Particularly, if they supplied a template contract for you to sign.

For future reference either bill on an hours worked basis, or a well specced basis (with 30 days bug fixing at end of it). Any additional support billed as per DTMark's suggestions.

Also if you decide to sell the product onto other clients - please check the contract that you are able to do so.

I'm afraid a certain amount of freebie meetings/advice is path of the course - aka pre-sales (or at the very least, free market research).

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I don't give a sh!t whether it works or not! You just pay the invoice, and I am happy! :blink:

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Well, I've found this thread useful... Especially, thanks DTM - good stuff.

I can't add much, but I will say make sure the customer values your time. Make up a figure for your day/hour rate and stick with it. If you want to offer a cheaper service, offer a discounted rate, rather than just making it cheaper (if you see what I mean). Make sure the customer knows how much value he gets.

So, for DTMs example

Hourly rate = £100.

Discounted rate for a larger contract / good customer / whatever - 50% discount, or £50 an hour.

Make sure they know this is discounted, so is good value.

This is even good for the customer - they're getting expert service, and at a discount. If you make it cheaper, then they'll consider themselves to be getting cheap service and nothing more.

If you want to give something away for free that is fine (well, be selective) but make sure they know how much value they've got - perhaps even send out an invoice for £0. (3 hours at £100, discounted for the good customer, £0). If you don't say this they'll not even notice you've done it. If you make it clear they'll be thankful that you've helped them out and that it would have cost money to get it sorted otherwise).

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Well, I've found this thread useful... Especially, thanks DTM - good stuff.

I can't add much, but I will say make sure the customer values your time. Make up a figure for your day/hour rate and stick with it. If you want to offer a cheaper service, offer a discounted rate, rather than just making it cheaper (if you see what I mean). Make sure the customer knows how much value he gets.

No. Just amke sure they are billed for your time.

I could not care less (really) if they value if or not as long as they pay for it.

I'll come and clean their toilet and washpots as long as they pay the £900/day rate.

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Brilliant, thanks DTMark, I was hoping you'd answer cause I know you're in the same game as me! :)

These days I won't generally do bespoke development because it's not worth it (because of the issues you state) except in some very specific circumstances, which usually require having a previous business relationship with the client.

Bespoke software requires a really in-depth specification document which is chargeable. Most people baulk at that from the outset. It is not in my interest to spend three days working on a detailed proposal for something that's only going to fetch £1k.

Without that document, scope creep is inevitable especially with certain clients - the "I paid you £5k for e-commerce but what I actually want is Amazon.com and all the associated back end features". Scope creep is the process by which the client discovers what it was they actually wanted in the first place, and sours relationships.

This is the key isn't it, and for the most part I only have myself to blame for not spec-ing down to the lowest levels of granularity. They wanted a bit of software that was a public facing site that was used to process applications and back office management in a certain business domain, and it was spec-ed out at the level of "we want a site for Blah Mangement, to manage Blah and Blah". And then when you build something you get "but how do we do Blah and Blah" which are things that in some cases we should have guessed would have been necessary and in others were just never mentioned. As you say, scope creep can happen at quite a frightening rate and you end up having to add loads of features that you never allocated time for.

I thought the solution next time was to basically do a product breakdown to a really minute level and get their agreement that anything above this would count as a change request and cost extra. But I think user's generally want a flat fee for a bit of software that will solve an often ill-defined business need, which is something that I've realized is going to be very tricky to make good money out of.

I spent years building kit, and these days, I "sell" my Back Office software as an off-the-shelf product which is very customisable, and will adapt the software for specific clients, though it always remains a single code base so fixes and updates can be rolled out to everyone.

Very interesting. My long term aim was always to build a framework to speed up development; a mixture of products that could be configured without any code changes (that deliver some of the benefits of much more expensive enterprise level products that I've worked with as a contractor over the years) and lower level tools that could be used to generate as much of the 'boiler plate' code as possible to remove all the time and error spent on doing that.

This project has taught us lots about how this framework should work technically and we'll no doubt achieve more in less time with the next job. We've already written some tools that will automate things that we spent absolutely ages doing and fixing errors on in the first project.

I find it interesting (and quite impressive!) that you've managed to put together a single code base that is managing to serve many customers. On the one side of the spectrum there is totally bespoke development, and then there is the current trend for products out there that the big companies sell for millions to big public sector institutions that promise to be all things to all people, big endlessly configurable messes that promise to do away with programmers but cause as many problems as they solve (I'm not referring to your product here of course!) - I have ample experience of these things during my years consulting.

So my approach was going to be something in the middle - a series of 'configurable' bits that could be used out of the box, combined with some bespoke coding for unique business needs and obviously data modelling and migration from old systems. Try to strike the right balance between the 2 extremes that I mentioned above - think a custom solution 'wrapped' in a configurable one - with the majority of the functionality being the configurable pre-written stuff.. But I have my concerns that this might become a maintenance nightmare (what if I had say 20 clients firing emails at me and not expecting to have to spend money on a reply - I'd have no time for actual work).

Here's a question for ya Mark - do you charge a yearly 'licence' fee for your software? I was chatting to someone recently who had worked quite high up in a company that did CRM software, and that was recently bought out by a big American company. He said that the profit wasn't in the actual initial development i.e. installing/configuring the product at the customer's site, but in the license fees that you could charge (and long term the software becomes indispensable to the business and not something that can be easily/cheaply switched over, so the software vendor can get away with charging the big licence fee).

The first thing you need is a "rate card" which specifies the cost per month, the emergency response time, and the standard response time. It resembles the kind of table you see on hosting company websites, with the packages across the top and the features down the side.

That's really useful, thanks a million. Something to think about there, we'll need to formalize our own charges in a similar way.

Agree with the "exceptions become expectations" thing, I learned that many years ago as a fresh faced developer working under some crap bosses! :)

What ticketing system do yo use to track time? Or did you just write your own.

Thanks again Mark, really useful stuff.

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Presumably they realise that since the software is back office essential, then you've got a bit of a choke hold on them for future support, and are trying to negate that by capitalising on your desire to please them. I can't say I blame them for trying, but it sounds to me as though you need to let them know that you're as aware of the strength of your position as they are of theirs.

I'm not one to advise on what should go in the contract, but at the very least I would expect a line in the sand after the initial design, test, and sign off (and perhaps go-live support), followed by further pricing structures for clearly defined change requests, end user support, and lastly an annual licensing fee / support charge.

Ultimately, customers will try on anything they can, so in a few years you'll still be coming across new and very cheeky attempts to shave a few quid off the bill. IMO its just a matter of clearly defining as much as you can and getting their sign off on everything that constitutes an additional charge.

As for time spent in initial sales type meetings, that's really a cost you have to factor in to the bits you can charge for.

Yeah, I think we under-charged big time - there was no licensing fee, no monthly support charge. We offered to 'support' the software for 6 months after go-live but I think when we wrote that we thought that meant functional bug fixes when in fact support in this case seems to have involved becoming a part-time member of the business. Add that to the general scope creep and I doubt we've made minimum wage on this first job, but it's still be an invaluable learning experience so I'm still happy we did it.

I think in future we'd want a flat fee for the core functionality plus an agreement on all support after go-live that wasn't directly related to bugs in the code, but it's a case of knowing realistically how these things are actually negotiated.

I agree that explicitly charging for meetings is crap, but the thought crosses your mind when they meet for 2 hours and then go 'by the way there's no money', or they meet for 2 hours for a job that they're only going to pay you 6 hours of work to do.

All a learning process I guess.

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You need to split the software into modules - people like the word 'modules' which basically means features.

You then sell them the software with limited features for X. You then charge them a separate fee for support of that feature and that feature only. This could be X hours a week telephone support. Half a day a week on site. Several days a week on site. You basically offer all of these options and they can then decide to pay for it or not.

You then offer them more modules on a cost per module - feature - basis. You then, as above, offer to support each feature on a modle by module basis.

If they buy moadule X and Y from you but only pay for support for module X then you do not support modeul Y even though they bought it.

You have to decide where the modules you sell them is a one-off cost or an annual cost. You could offer a number of annual costs for the module(s) and support.

Updates, of course, only come with your premium service.

Food for thought, thanks. Perhaps instead of some wonderful big integrated solution we concentrate on splitting out smaller products (with associated business buzzwords) that can be bought one at a time.

I'd much rather engage with a business in a more complete manner if they'd pay me, as I know I could provide them with much of the functionality that the microsoft's/oracles of this world pay big money for, at a much lower rate. I've done business intelligence, enterprise integration, all sorts of stuff, and I'm able to talk to these small businesses about what they do and suggest ways of working that saves them money and speeds up the day to day running of the business. I really enjoy doing that. But there's no point if the money's not there.

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Strange you mention that. An idiot from my school registration group works as a project manager for the NHS in Newcastle.

This guy is inbred stupid - we had 4 bands at school: High, Medium, Low, Shtuthefckup, sign the register and go home.

He was in the latter.

There are so many unbelievably thick/lazy people in business analysis / project manager / team leader pseudo-jobs that it's not even funny. I used to resent having to sit beside some of them when I was a junior programmer, doing long hours while they did literally naff-all.

True story - I once worked on a project with a 'business analyst' who did nothing. As a 'spec' for a project, he took the word document from the previous project, did a find/replace on the project name, and sent it to me as the spec for the next project. Except he couldn't even do that right and the old project name remained in a few places.

Bloke was on about 10 grand a year more than me at the time, and still is. This is why I want to try working for myself, so people like that don't get their wages off my toil.

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One additional thing - what does your contract with them say? I am getting a slight fear that you don't know what a support agreement is. It might be that you've inadvertently signed yourself up to one without knowing it. Particularly, if they supplied a template contract for you to sign.

For future reference either bill on an hours worked basis, or a well specced basis (with 30 days bug fixing at end of it). Any additional support billed as per DTMark's suggestions.

Also if you decide to sell the product onto other clients - please check the contract that you are able to do so.

I'm afraid a certain amount of freebie meetings/advice is path of the course - aka pre-sales (or at the very least, free market research).

It was all quite informal, I don't even think anything was 'signed' as such, but from memory we billed them for what we thought would be the hours required to complete the job (we clearly marked x hours times £y an hour = £z total) plus the support period (6 months I believe) which I think was for bug fixes only.

The other problem was that it ended up being done over 2 phases, as a thing that was just a throwaway statement ended up being a lot more work. So one phase has been live for over 6 months, and another phase has been live for a couple of months, so you have a weird thing about potentially 2 different support phases.

Bit of a mess. Feels like we've been regularly engaging with these people for a year, and all we've got in our pockets is an amount that wouldn't buy a big consultancy's time for a fortnight.

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Food for thought, thanks. Perhaps instead of some wonderful big integrated solution we concentrate on splitting out smaller products (with associated business buzzwords) that can be bought one at a time.

I'd much rather engage with a business in a more complete manner if they'd pay me, as I know I could provide them with much of the functionality that the microsoft's/oracles of this world pay big money for, at a much lower rate. I've done business intelligence, enterprise integration, all sorts of stuff, and I'm able to talk to these small businesses about what they do and suggest ways of working that saves them money and speeds up the day to day running of the business. I really enjoy doing that. But there's no point if the money's not there.

Brilliant that you enjoy it. Good business is not just about doing something that pays, it's about something that resonates with you, and also pays of course.

Very very best of luck going forward.

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Been there, done that.

Also worked for good clients, who value me and pay accordingly. In fact after three months without earnings, I'm just about to start on a new long-term contract, at a daily rate that'll support my lifestyle with something to spare B)

Ideally you seek out - or get headhunted by - the good clients. Your track record can help a lot with that. Next best is if you find an agent you can work well with and can match you with the good clients. Failing either of those, short contracts can keep you afloat while looking for better things.

DTMark's scheme sounds attractive, but I was never able to make it work for me. I guess there's a strong element of personality in there.

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Been there, done that.

Also worked for good clients, who value me and pay accordingly. In fact after three months without earnings, I'm just about to start on a new long-term contract, at a daily rate that'll support my lifestyle with something to spare B)

Ideally you seek out - or get headhunted by - the good clients. Your track record can help a lot with that. Next best is if you find an agent you can work well with and can match you with the good clients. Failing either of those, short contracts can keep you afloat while looking for better things.

DTMark's scheme sounds attractive, but I was never able to make it work for me. I guess there's a strong element of personality in there.

I always charge extra for that! :wacko:

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There are so many unbelievably thick/lazy people in business analysis / project manager / team leader pseudo-jobs that it's not even funny. I used to resent having to sit beside some of them when I was a junior programmer, doing long hours while they did literally naff-all.

True story - I once worked on a project with a 'business analyst' who did nothing. As a 'spec' for a project, he took the word document from the previous project, did a find/replace on the project name, and sent it to me as the spec for the next project. Except he couldn't even do that right and the old project name remained in a few places.

Bloke was on about 10 grand a year more than me at the time, and still is. This is why I want to try working for myself, so people like that don't get their wages off my toil.

End of the day, software - for its software we are talking about - is a very new concept.

Companies have only been using computers for 50 years.

Up until the late 90s it was not unusual for smaller companies to not have ac computer.

These days its unusual for a one-band company to *not* have a computer.

There's still a learning curve for customers and suppliers.

Look at IBM.

I used to work for them in the late 80s,when IBM were IBM as people think it is rather the collection of scamster MBAs and lawyers it actually is these days.

Even then, charged fro the hardware and gave the software for free.

Then they split the charge between software and hardware.

Now, you get hardware virtually for free and the software on a yearly fee basis.

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