Typical mistakes of an "experienced customer" in freelance

I, as a person who worked as a freelancer for more than 7 years, and grew up from a freelancer into a small IT company of 10 people. I could not pass by a very informative article: 10 tips for the customer in freelance .

And with permission, I wrote my answer, so to speak, to Chamberlain. From the point of view of a freelancer.

The author is a classic example of a heavy customer. When there is no work, yes, we take such, but most often ideological differences begin from the very beginning and cooperation ends without beginning. I will be glad to designate them (discrepancies):

1. Always fix the "rules of the game" in the contract

Very true said about the contract. As a rule, they contain either frankly stupid or frankly enslaving conditions. Typical problems of contracts from the customer:
1a. late fees are paid only by the contractor, while, believe me, at least half the deadline is the customer’s fault: a slow reaction to the provision of data, fear and inability to make decisions, limited powers of the contact person. All this terribly slows down the work. I think fines should be symmetrical.

2a. the terms in the agreements are all agreed upon in one piece: 50 days. No more no less. And the fact that in the middle we have two approvals of the sketch, at which the reserve will think for at least a week and play with font sizes is not taken into account. As a result, consent to such an agreement may result in the customer deliberately delaying the feedback, and fines are imposed on the contractor.

3a. mechanisms for termination of the contract are not specified. But the customer may simply refuse to provide, for example, access to the services involved in the project, and the project will hang in the air until the day of judgment.

Conclusion, I will never sign a customer contract if it contains potentially dangerous points. If for the customer to insist on his most important thing - we will never work together.

2. Write a clear statement of work

Yes, the item is described perfectly. Everything would be so!

In practice, I have never met in 7 years, not a single statement of work written by the customer so that this would prevent the appearance of additional “Wishlist”, which we did not evaluate. There is always a lot of water, little specificity. A bunch of unlit areas. Yes, even expressions like "personal user account, as on the site www.mail.ru ". What is it like? And with personal mail too? If you’re not like that, I will shake your hand three times.

P.S. Usually we ourselves are completely from scratch, even before the start of work, we write a detailed statement of work, based on the scribble that the customer sent. This is the only way out of agile to avoid unnecessary work. Of course, we are talking about projects up to 100 person-days. Above - only agile.

3. Always speak TK

Absolutely empty item. Even harmful. Any kind of voice communication is always a half-empty bazaar "niochem." The same applies to ICQ and Skype. Email only.

Controversial issues are noted directly in TK by comments and questions and are discussed in thoughtful correspondence.

UPDATE: Under the pressure of criticism in the comments, I have to admit that the initial oral discussion of the project is REQUIRED. And then we already write TK and by correspondence we coordinate all inaccuracies. And here I will stand to the end: discussing each question that has arisen orally, or by chat, is a crime, the killing of your precious time and that of your client.

4. Be sure to keep a joint list of current tasks

Yes! Shake your hand.

5. Pay on the fact

I always understand the fears of the customer, but believe me, the risk is at least mutual. The contractor at least risks to work for free. And believe me, inadequate among customers is found no less.

Therefore, the ideal scheme of work, for example on the site: 30% advance payment, 30% after accepting the sketch and 40% at the very end.
Maximum 30% advance, 70% at the end. The rest, sorry, smells of outright disrespect or even a scammer.

6. Do not neglect reviews from previous customers

7. Examine the profile for inconsistencies.

8. Do not stop at the first "good" option - consider a few

Three times yes. I always love to say: "hire for a long time, fire quickly."

9. Arrange a “test drive”!

But on this, usually the relationship ends.

At the tender stage, doing anything is 99% worthless. Never justified itself. Never. Even if you win such a tender, the customer initially begins to treat your work without respect, because you worked for free. Such a relationship will never be mutually beneficial. A classic one-goal game in which you should never take part only if you do not die of hunger.

A test drive is a small task, ideally good, but, as a rule, a small task in practice comes down to completing someone else's spaghetti code, which is simply impossible to accompany. As a result, we refuse the task, we lose the customer.

But the idea itself, with proper implementation, is probably not bad.

10. Bargain with the candidates!

The author writes very correctly: “ If a person cannot justify the clearly requested amount, then most likely he does not understand what exactly he has to do and how much he can spend time on it .” But why not ask a person to write an estimate according to cost items, by modules, by work, in order to check the adequacy of perception?

Bargaining, of course, is possible, but from practice, this greatly affects motivation. Win 20%, get a bunch of little things done on the principle: "strike in Italian." Having become a customer, on the contrary, I practice small bonuses for the “on time and high quality” completed project. Works good.


The summary is simple. Following the strictly specified rules, you will find an executive fool. A good specialist who respects his work will not agree with a number of the voiced conditions.