Many times we are asked to help with a project, but without having had the opportunity to properly scope the project or go over the deliverables with the client beforehand, we end up delivering poor quality work or work that is way over-estimated. The sooner you meet and understand each other’s expectations, the better the experience for both of you.
When beginning any new project it is important to take the time to consider a number of key questions. The more you know about what you are getting into, the better. This way you can confidently meet the client’s expectations and deliver a high quality product on time. Some of these questions relate specifically to scope while others are more general and will help you better understand the kind of working relationship you will have with the client.
What Is The Budget For This Project?
If you are starting a new project and do not yet have an idea of how much it will cost then consider estimating the project based on the following guidelines:
- The more details you have, the better. This includes things like the scope of the project, how many people you will need, how long it will take, etc.
- Estimating is very subjective. What you deem as a small project can be perceived as large by another
- Be honest about your limits. Even though you may think that you know exactly how much a project will cost, you may be wrong. You do not want to deliver a low quality product because you did not have enough time to properly scope the project. In the end you will be doing the client a disservice.
- Try not to over-estimate. Clients will appreciate it if you give them an accurate quote instead of an over-inflated one. They may also appreciate it if you communicate effectively with them to ensure that they are aware of all the aspects that will affect the final cost. The more you communicate upfront, the better.
- To get an accurate quote, you have to be extremely detailed. For example, if you are quoting for labor only (no materials) then you will need to consider what skill-sets you have available, how many hours you will need each day, how many days a week you will work, etc.
- If you are working on a project that is not yet fully scoped out then take the time to do some research. You can use the information you find to better understand what the client is looking for and thus better be able to provide a quality product at the right cost.
How Many Days/Hours Do You Need To Complete This Project?
This question relates to both scope and the budget. If you did not have enough time to properly scope the project then you should not be estimating the time it will take to complete. Instead, you should be considering how long it will take to scope the project. The same principle goes for hours. It is a good idea to ask the client about what hours they need so you can realistically judge how much time you have to complete the project. If the client is requesting 15-hour days then you know you have quite a bit of work to do.
How Much Does It Cost Per Hour?
It is always nice to be able to judge work by its cost. If you are quoting per hour then it is important to keep in mind that you will need to account for your overhead. This includes things like rent, insurance, electricity, maintenance, etc. The ideal cost per hour is low and should not include any overhead. This usually equates to one of the following:
- A freelancer with very good sales skills
- A virtual assistant who has good interpersonal skills
- An agency that deals with a lot of similar projects and thus is able to negotiate a good rate with a good contractor
- A company that already provides the services you need and wants to make a quick buck
- A company that is highly specialized and thus able to charge a premium
- An in-house team that is already performing the tasks you need and thus does not require as much training or resources as a new employee.
What Is Your Deadline?
This question does not relate to how many days or hours you have to complete the project but rather when you have to have it completed. If you are following a strict schedule (e.g. a fixed bid project) then you will need to be mindful of how much time you have. The goal is to make sure that you do not end up falling behind. When you have a deadline it makes you accountable for the work. You will want to strive for quality but you also want to meet the deadline. This is especially important if you are a sole trader or a part-time business owner. It is also something to keep in mind if you are responding to multiple quotes from different contractors. You want to make sure that you do not end up letting the deadline pass without putting in sufficient work.
What Types Of Content Will You Need To Create For This Project?
If you are not sure what types of content you will need to create for the project then you should ask the client. This will ensure that you create the right material for the project. You do not want to rush into creating something just because it seems like a good idea at the time. Take the time to consider what the client wants and needs so you can create the right content. It is also important that you create content that can be reused. You do not want to end up creating something that is only good for this project because it is unique. Consider what is already available online and create content that is relevant to multiple platforms. If you are looking for inspiration then consider the content that already works and create something similar but not exact. This will help you make the transition from idea to finished product a little smoother.
What Research Do You Need To Complete This Project?
This question relates to both scope and the budget. If you did not have the time to properly scope the project then you should not be estimating its cost but should be considering how much time you need to do the proper research. The more you know upfront, the better. You will want to make sure that you do not end up needing additional time once you start working on the project. In a situation like this you do not want to rush the research. This will cause you to make mistakes that could end up costing you a lot of money.
Who Is Liable For The Errors On This Project?
When you begin a project with a client then you are entering into a contract. This contract specifies the responsibilities of both parties. If you make a mistake then you should be held accountable. The same principle goes for errors. If you find that you made an error in your calculation, be sure to notify the client. You cannot hide mistakes from your clients; in fact it is often best if you are completely open about the errors you made. This way you can both move forward in a good state of mind. It is always easier to fix an issue after it has been brought to your attention. In cases where there is uncertainty as to who is liable then you should seek out a lawyer. This should not be a difficult step to take as you will already have a professional and experienced lawyer on your side. They will be able to help you navigate the ins and outs of the contract and make sure that both of your interests are represented effectively.
Will This Project Be A One-Off Occasion Or Will You Be Doing Similar Work For The Client In The Future?
This question does not pertain to how many days or hours you have to complete the project but rather if you will be doing similar work for the client in the future. If you are doing work for one client then you should assume that the work will be similar in nature. If you are not sure then you should ask the client. The goal is to make sure that you do not do a poor job only to have the client come back and ask you to do the same thing again. This kind of situation can quickly turn into a bad relationship if both parties are not upfront about what is going on. It is always best to discuss these things beforehand so there are no misunderstandings. A good way to start is by having open and honest conversations about the project. In these conversations you can identify potential problems before they arise and work through them effectively. This will make for a better overall working relationship and avoid any unpleasant surprises later on.