Detailed Terms of Work
When Program Management is required, the project(s) are more complex, or a service invoice totals more than $800.00 (US) in production labor, the terms on this page go into effect. A project is the purchase of my time and expertise. This page describes my approach for pricing and delivering finished work. Warranty information and other fees are also described.
Base Hourly Rates
The hourly "production rate" is used to calculate a fixed package price in Step 2 Estimation. The calculation is simply:
(Estimated number of hours) x (the base production rate) +/- 10%.
Discounts may apply for prolonged projects, returning customers, and for multiple projects phased payments paid in advance as earnest deposits – prior to work performed in that project phase. See the “contract terms” page for current design and consulting rates.
Exception: If an “hourly rate agreement” is made, I will establish a schedule for budgeted hours (“up to 10 hours”), and will monitor that usage to ensure I do not exceed your budget.
I charge only for production and scheduled meeting times. I do NOT bill for research and development that is not specific to your project. In other words, I don’t bill you for the time I spend trying to figure out HOW to do something. I bill you for only the time used that actually produces something you can use.
Please read further for project management specifics.
Step 1: Your Proposal development
Before I give you a final price invoice, we will talk -- either over the phone or in person -- about what you want to accomplish in your project. I like to talk to people in person because this gives me the opportunity to spot details that are implied in passing conversation. It’s amazing how much you can pick up in just a few minutes.
If we are in accord, the next step is to develop a scope size and complexity of your project using my “investigative design” process. I may take a few days to contemplate what you need, before putting together an estimate.
If I think that there’s a better, cheaper way to perform your work without my services, I will tell you what that option is.
If you would prefer that I perform the work, and I am both capable and available to do the work, I will then prepare a statement of work estimate.
Step 2: The Statement of Work & Work Estimate
For short or “simple” projects, you will get either: 1) a range of hours (e.g. 4-6 hours) that are billed at my hourly production rate or; 2) a flat fee for the entire project. We will meet again and negotiate the labor costs based on your allocated budget and our earlier discussed proposal.
For “complex” or “longer” projects, the estimate is provided to you as a PDF document that concisely:
- Describe what I think the project is supposed to accomplish for you;
- List the specific things I will do that will meet those goals;
- List the specific tests that we will apply to ensure that those goals are met by my work;
- Provide which calendar days I will schedule for your project;
- List any obligations, materials, and dependencies that you are responsible for securing prior to working on the project or project phase;
- List of phased stages for work and estimated labor costs;
- Outline any specific additional terms that will be in effect for this project.
I work in stages that build upon each other to final work delivery. I estimate the amount of time and required materials for each stage and break this down for you. “Simple” projects may have just one stage, whereas more “complex” projects may have multiple stages. In general, invoice payment schedule is tied to the completion per project stage with the exception of the starting payment deposit (more on that in the next section).
The estimate is good for as long as the project scope remains unchanged, and further assuming I’m still available to do the work.
If you add a feature or change the context of the project, the estimate could be affected. It’s best to talk to me first; it may not cost extra.
Step 3: Starting Your Project – the "Earnest Deposit"
If you accept my invoice estimate, you must make an starting payment (aka earnest deposit) to initiate my production process. A deposit payment is typically 25% to 50% of the project estimated labor cost.
Invoice Payments are typically divided into three parts. For example:
• Earnest Deposit: Starts the technical design and production process.
• Staged Payment: Made upon approval of some mutually-agreeable condition.
• Final Payment: Upon receipt, you are provided with the final working deliverable (encrypted), plus all the unencrypted source code so you can recreate or modify your final project. At this point, all licensed access and copyrights are transferred into your ownership, and the completed project's status becomes a "work for hire".
For “very short” or “very long” projects, the number of payments could differ. For example, “very short” projects may be paid in advance in one lump sum, or divided into just a starting and ending payment -- the typical business approach. Projects that take longer than three months will typically be billed on a monthly basis. The number of payments will be clearly detailed in the "Statement of Work" estimate.
PLEASE NOTE: Each stage must be paid for in full before the next stage begins. If payment is deferred, work on your project is deferred as well and the original schedule is invalidated.
BILLING POLICY: Unless we have arranged otherwise, my accounts receivable terms are 2/15 NET-30; int. 1.5% past due from the time you receive my invoice -- a 2% discount if you pay within 15 days, total balance is due 30 days from invoice, Interest charged @1.5% compounded monthly on any unpaid balances over 30 days.
Step 4: Production
I perform the work. You review and accept it. We adapt our schedules as necessary.
Each phased stage is invoiced separately. The first few stages are made very short with a concrete deliverable. This is so you (and I) can evaluate our business relationship. The stage is invoiced upon your acceptance according to the project scope and terms we’ve agreed upon in the statement of work estimate.
Addition of Features during Production: If you decide that you want to change the direction of the project after you have signed off on the statement of work estimate, this is regarded as a change of scope. You may be billed for the time it takes to re-evaluate and re-schedule the changes. When possible, we may defer new features to the next phased stage of production (if possible) and if it maintains the original project momentum. Most of the time, it is better to add changes to a follow-up project. We will maintain a “wish list” of features that we’d like to add, but are willing to defer until the current stage of work is delivered and complete.
Change Requests: All changes in the project scope must be made in writing, (via email is acceptable) or through my website. Change requests made over the phone (or via voice-mail might be convenient for you; however, it is impossible for me to confirm whether my understanding of those changes are the same as yours.
Additional Expenses: If I encounter requirements to purchase material resources on the behalf of your project, I will first request your authorization in writing (via email most of the time). Work will stop until the material resource(s) are received. However, this is a rare occasion since my initial estimate would list any material resources needed on project commencement.
Additional Billable Time: Likewise, if I see the opportunity to enhance the project with additional unbudgeted time, I will first request authorization from you in writing (via email).
Rush Rates: If you require a project to be completed that, due to no fault of my own, requires more than 6 hours a day, weekend or holiday time, a 150% to 200% production labor rate increase is applied to ALL hours during the rush period.
Cancellation of a Project: A project is the purchase of my time. If for some reason the business relationship fails, all remaining work can be canceled without further obligation to you. You will, however, be invoiced for all scheduled production labor completed during the current phased stage.
Step 5: Project Completion
When all the work -- for all the stages -- is complete, you’ll be presented with a “release candidate”. The release candidate is evaluated by you to determine if it meets the initial statement of work and “ready to migrate to general release” -- using the initial criteria we established at the beginning of the project. If all is well, you will officially accept the release in writing and make your project’s final payment.
Upon final payment clearance, you will receive the master files and sources that can be used to recreate the work. You will give me a non-exclusive license to use the source code in order to maintain the work, in addition to whatever additional copyrights transfers we have negotiated.
The warranty period for my surrendered work is 90 days; if you come across a bug or a problem in the original surrendered work, I’ll fix it without additional charge. However, if you modify or change the original work, the warranty is nullified as I will have to charge you the time to figure out what you did to make changes.