I sit with a project that I need to quote, and until the job is awarded, I can only use "View source" to check, and ask a few questions about the system. That makes quoting outright impossible for me to do.

My question is: how do one go about quoting for such a project? What kind of questions should I ask? Do I decline to quote? Due to uncertainty, do I pad my quote?

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  • 1
    Does it have to be a flat fee? Would they entertain the idea of an hourly/daily rate? – Robbie Dee Feb 12 '14 at 10:36
  • Hi Robbie. It is a very good question, and I will indeed ask of them what they are thinking in this regard. Kind regards. Kobus – Kobus Myburgh Feb 12 '14 at 12:14
  • @RobbieDee - just to give feedback on your suggestion, they are thinking about a flat rate for budget purposes, but I will try and get them on a daily rate basis. Thanks for your comment. – Kobus Myburgh Feb 13 '14 at 16:52

This is a normal problem with running as a freelancer - you have to take a risk and quote accordingly. Its the same for every business, that requirements come in and you have to estimate the cost of delivering them, sometimes you'll get it right, sometimes you'll get it wrong, the idea is that overall you'll make enough money to make it all worthwhile.

So, accept the risk and increase your quote accordingly.

  • Tnanks gbjbaanb. Your answer gives me the correct info to proceed. Just one question: if you quote "accordingly", from your experience, do you double the quote? 1.5 times the quote? Even triple the quote? – Kobus Myburgh Feb 12 '14 at 12:13
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    At the company I work for, they take the estimated days to design, code and test and then multiply it by 4. (after all, there's a lot of management overhead that has to be paid for somehow!)(ok, that includes a bit for sales, operations, and support type activities too). Remember it is better to quote too much and let them "get a good deal" by negotiating you down than it is to quote too little in the first place. You need to convince them that your bid is the one they want to go with due to other factors like technical expertise and professionalism, never because you're cheapest. – gbjbaanb Feb 12 '14 at 13:39
  • Thanks gbjbaanb. Very valuable insights! Unfortunately, I can not upvote yet - need 15 rep. But will soon! – Kobus Myburgh Feb 13 '14 at 16:49

You can always ask to sign an NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement) and ask to view the code or at least a sample of it.

You should also be focusing on the business problem rather than the technical aspect. If this is legacy PHP code, you're taking a risk and so is the business and you should be charging as much as possible: double your current rate because the risk is high.

  • Hi! I like your answer - I have not at the time thought about the business aspect. Indeed a valuable point... – Kobus Myburgh Jun 22 '14 at 13:27

Thoroughly document any assumptions you make in preparing the quote - say you quote ten days and it takes twenty due to circumstances you couldn't have foreseen, you don't want the client owning paying for ten days. Having the assumptions documented might even prompt further (hopefully useful) discussion.

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