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I swear I’m not a hipster (sips coffee that has passed through a cat), but I was into fixed-price projects before they were cool. Here are four things I’ve learned to stay ahead of the curve and make fixed-price projects successful.
1. Know what you’re building
Take a look at the time budget and outline what the team wants to accomplish during that time at a high level, making sure you all know exactly what each feature will do and what it will not do. Remember to address different browsers, devices, and operating systems. The team should worry about execution once the problems we’re solving (and the problems we are not solving) are well understood.
Avoid scope creep with well-written specifications and written approvals (more on that later).
2. No place for brevity
Clients love to say, “build me (x)” and consider everything clear. Ask questions and get answers before you begin building.
What is x? Who uses it? What should it do? What shouldn’t it do? Where is the added value? How will it be used?
3. Estimate in time
Set a plan for what happens when the budget is exhausted and how you’ll cut scope in that case. Make sure your client is on board with your plan. Avoid estimating time or price before you know what you’re building.
4. Get it in writing
Here is a handy template for specifying things well for fixed-price projects. When clients see a detailed proposal of the solution and sign off on it, it makes it much easier for the team to understand what we’re building. It also makes it easier to track change requests and charge for those as they are requested.