The Design of Software (CLOSED)

A public forum for discussing the design of software, from the user interface to the code architecture. Now closed.

The "Design of Software" discussion group has been merged with the main Joel on Software discussion group.

The archives will remain online indefinitely.

How to triage an existing application for consulting contract?

I've been asked to work on a project that I didn't start.  I am pretty good at breaking down work into requirements, but I'm worried I'm underestimating something the previous developer may have done.  Any advice what to watch out for and plan extra for?
Mark Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2008

I doubt you have provided enough information for any meaningful answers.

Q. I have started a project, any hints on things to look out for?

A. Everything
Ray Smith Send private email
Monday, October 27, 2008
+1 to Ray for that.

This is the classic "How long is a piece of string?", but we don't even get to see the string!

I'd say you have two real choices:

1) Work on a time and materials basis, i.e. get paid by the hour, so you don't carry the risk.

2) Spend time figuring out the application, however long it takes, then accounting for your time in your fixed price quote (if you don't get the job, it is cost of sales).

Now, you may have a hard time convincing the client that option #1 is the way to go, but that is how I work in most cases.

It seems reasonable that the client should carry the risk in cases like this, as they are responsible for the previous work. Of course, ymmv, imho, etc.
Scorpio Send private email
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

I get your drift, your question is more about how to manage the situation....these boards love details instead of philosophy.  My advice to you is to ask some open ended questions to your client.  Talk about scope and see if they know what their talking about.  The next thing I would do is ask them what you could do in a week that they could start using now.  Define that and knock it out.  That week will tell you how the rest of the project is going to go.  I think this limits your risk and also stays away from the circular conversation about time and materials that always happens with clients.
Steve Send private email
Tuesday, October 28, 2008
Do they have  a bug/feature request list?

Can they demo the app?

Do they have any design documents/ Let you peak at the code?

Those three will tell you how well together the project is.  A bug/feature list will show you how well thought out what they want/need from you is. The demo can give you ideas about how well put together it is/work flow they are aiming for. The third will give you some idea about what kind of code base they have.
Tuesday, October 28, 2008

This topic is archived. No further replies will be accepted.

Other recent topics Other recent topics
Powered by FogBugz