How will my business be billed for this project?
Once we have an approved project estimate, a 33% “upfront” payment is required to begin the design phase. The reason we ask for an upfront payment is that once the project begins to move forward the hours begin to tally quickly. We mark the initial invoices as “Paid” and will apply to the “credit”. Once the credit is depleted, invoices are sent bi-monthly, due on 30-day terms. ION reserves the right to cease project activity if invoices become past due.
How flexible are your rates?
ION’s standard billing rates may be subject to negotiation dependent upon the size and length of the engagement. In addition, when building an application for commercial purposes, ION is open to discussing rate reductions and other accommodations in return for a participatory ownership arrangement.
You asked what our budget is fairly soon into the first meeting. Why do you need to know that so soon? And, how are we supposed to know what our software will cost?
We ask this question fairly quickly in the process so that we can make an “educated guess” whether or not the potential customer has realistic expectations about what they want their software to do, relative to the cost required to create that functionality. In the far majority of cases, if a potential customer already has a budget in mind they have either already been given a project estimate from another vendor, and may be “shopping” it, or, they already know what an “off-the shelf” product will cost to implement. In either case, this “budget” does not actually address the potential cost of developing the features of the custom software the customer “really” wants.
How can I be sure that you won’t take the information we give you, and pay you for, and then use it for one of my competitors?
ION Resources is accustomed to signing Confidentiality and Non-Disclosure Agreements with many of our clients.
Why do you ask me to do all of this “homework”, regarding inputs and outputs, desired features, etc.?
There are several reasons why we request that our Clients complete some “homework” as we begin the project. First of all, no one understands and can describe your business and its processes better than your staff. The exercise of your staff coming together to discuss how they do their job and how it integrates with the business as a whole is often very enlightening. We have experienced several cases where companies were able to eliminate bottlenecks and greatly streamline and improve processes that had been in place for years. Also, having this information enables ION to provide a much more informed project estimate.
How do you go about estimating a project?
Estimating a software development project is a very dynamic process. Customer “homework” goes a long way towards defining the processes and complexities involved with designing and coding the software. With this information ION can review and ask questions based specifically on what the customer believes they need. Once the design phase is completed to the customer’s satisfaction, ION will be able to provide a more accurate Project Estimate.
Does ION conduct projects on a “fixed bid” basis?
No, we believe that the “fixed bid” philosophy immediately creates an adversarial relationship between the customer and the software firm. We consider fixed bid projects to be a recipe for failure – unless the fixed cost is much more than the software may actually cost to complete. When you decide to create your custom software you are not purchasing an off-the-shelf or even custom built “product” with a fixed cost, rather you are hiring ION’s expertise to create a software tool unique to your business.
Please remember that the scope (and ultimately, the cost) of your custom software project is largely determined by you and the members of your team. Based upon your “homework”, ION can only estimate what tasks are required and how much time is required to complete them successfully. No matter how thorough the upfront design specifications may be, customers will ALWAYS change their minds from the original design and will ALWAYS want to amend the first design and add new features. Inevitably, these changes lead to increased design, development, and testing activities. Any business, especially a software company, is not going to be willing to make these changes without being compensated.
Why does ION want me to test their work? They should know if the code has been written correctly or not, right?
Testing is perhaps the most important aspect of a development project. We ask our clients to test their software because inevitably they will throw the code a “curve”, asking it to perform a previously unknown function, or use data in a previously unknown manner.