Here are the steps we'd expect to go through when you contact us:
- talking through your project,
- offering tangible outcomes,
- accepting the contract and initial payment,
- presentation of the result,
- final payment.
We're happy to meet with you whenever you're ready to talk thought your project. While we will generally encourage you towards an open source approach, we understand the reason for secrecy (and do keep our own projects private until we're ready to release them). We are happy to sign any reasonable confidentiality or non-disclosure agreements at any point, although we'd recommend that you tell us as much as you can about the project as early as possible.
And just to be sure that you're happy that we're not going to steal your idea and run off with it, we are likely to tell you all of our own ideas!
As part of talking through your project, we'll be trying to break down your project in to a number of manageable steps and will talk through with you what we'd recommend, so as to come to an agreement between us is the appropriate first step. If you're ready for us to build something for you, we will provide you with a breakdown of the work that we'd recommend.
We specialise in making the things, but you are going to be the expert for your project (you've spend much longer thinking about it that we have!) so this is the point where we come to an agreement on exactly what will happen. It's in both our interests to have this as specific as possible; a set of tangible specifications. This way, we know exactly what we have to produce, and you will be able to tick off everything we've done at the end.
Quotation and Contract
I believe that unnecessary paperwork should be avoided, and that's why we shy away from big long paper contracts with signatures, printing, signing, scanning, emailing, posting and faxing. In essence, all we need to do is to agree what will happen: we'll make a formal offer of services and you'll need to accept.
The normal form of this is that we will email you with a list of the specification that we've talked through together (and it's important that these are short, tangible results that can be verified on completion) with costs, and you'll be determined to have agreed when you pay the initial amount.
With your quote and specification, we'll detail the amounts and timing of payments. Normally this will be material costs and half the billable days up front, with the remainder due on completion.
We use fixed material costs for both our benefit. From our perspective, we don't have to keep coming back to you for any little thing that we find we need for your project, and for you; you can rest assured that there are no surprises with the cost. If we've made a mistake, missed a bit, or we break something, we'll sort it!
We know that it's a big leap to let someone else take charge of your personal crusade, that's why we only ask for half the labour up front. You don't have to pay the whole of the remainder unless we can demonstrate that we've fulfilled all of the things that we agreed we would do.
Next we'll go off and make it for you.
Maybe it's the first time you're project has gone together, maybe it's the first few off the production line. Either way you can be assured it's in good hands. We'll have given you an estimation of the time it'll take, and when you can expect to receive your project, but we'll be to keep you updated with its progress if you want.
Once your project is ready, we'll ask you to review the result. We'll be referring back to the original specification to see what we've produced fits exactly what you originally specified.
One of the reasons why we'll recommend taking the smallest step to completion is that if this is the first time that your project has gone together, is that you'll often learn something completely unexpected. If we've produced the minimum viable project, then you get to learn these things as early in the process as possible.
We'll run through the specification at the time of presentation, and go through and check that everything's exactly as we said we would produce. If it ticks all the boxes, we'll present you with the final invoice.
Obviously we know that things can and do change as you're going thorough producing a new thing, so we'll work with you to adjust, pause, or fix whatever you find, at any point through the process. If necessary, we'll come to an agreement regarding the changes and work from there.
We'll normally ask for the first invoice (typically materials plus half the labour) to be paid before work starts. And at the end we'll invoice for the remainder (normally due for immediate payment when we've provided the project at that point).
When you're ready, we'll talk to you about the next phase of your project if you'd like us to be involved. However, we're adamant that you should be able to hire whoever is most appropriate for your project, so we'll make the current information on your project to whoever is taking over the next step, as soon as you request.
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