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Helper II

How do you scope your client projects?

It seems like everyone has a different way of scoping their projects. Some go based on estimated time, others based on specific deliverables.


I remember working for an old-school consultant who insisted every project have an exhaustive list of line items with complexity and cost written down for each thing.


So how about you? How do you go about scoping your client projects?

Advocate IV

My projects are content- and marketing-related, not development or design, just fyi.


I scope by deliverable with sub-tasks. I definitely do not break out a price for each item or an hourly rate. In fact, I try hard to avoid talking about money-per-time with clients. I figure it's our collective job to decide what they need done, my job to lay out exactly what it will take to get to the desired end result, my job to figure out how to make it happen and how long it will take, and our collective job to agree on a price that provides me sufficient compensation for my time/effort/knowledge, feels reasonable given the market, and represents value to the client.


My agreements always include a list of deliverables and language stating that if additional things get added to the project we'll talk about increasing the price. 


I guess I'm lucky - haven't yet been in a situation where I get asked to do more than I think I should be doing given the agreed-upon fee.

Erika Kerekes, Founder & Condiment QueenNot Ketchup Gourmet Grilling Sauces
Super User I Super User I
Super User I

My company is a web design and development firm and like @NotKetchup we go with the sub-tasks to build a project. For us one of the most important thing is the insertion of client gates in all of our product plans. We don't do time estimates because we don't control project time. We can say things like "A typical project like yours on average takes... for us." or "We can usually complete a WordPress website in..." but nothing more than that. Our project plan contains no timing and our quote would not be based on a specific hourly rate.

We have some clients that provide the needed content, approvals and feedback quickly and others that can sit on sections for months. Internally all sub-tasks sections do have timing but we don't have enough control of the total tasks to give a total time deliverable. As the project goes on we will schedule appropriate review meetings so that clients know when the next phase will be completed. We NEVER start a new section until there is a client approval on the previous section because the phases we have not begun are flexible. We don't even do a internal timing estimate for sections until we begin the section.

Our project plans tend to be as specific as the listed client specification. Some clients say "I want an event calendar." and some say "I would like an event calendar with List view, Day view, Event search, Google maps, Upcoming events widget, Google Calendar exporting and importing." so you can probably guess which one is more detailed?

Creating project plans is probably my least favorite things but because we work on projects as a team they are absolutely essential. One thing I will say is there is no such thing as a project plan that is too specific but generic plans can really be havoc on any project. I miss the time when website scope and requirements were all in my head.

...turns out that my two cents is worth less or more depending on the current exchange rate.

roy darling *my posts seem a lot shorter in my head