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09 September 2009

Ask MeCha: How do I put in a bid? Recently, I was issued a coding request by a fellow bunny (hi!) [More:] but I have no experience with putting in a bid. Do I just make up a figure? Do I have to submit an estimated completion date?

How do these things work?
Is it an informal thing? If so, you should be able to work it out between the two of you. But that's so obvious that I assume it's more a case of the fellow bunny tipping you off to their work looking for bids. If so, any largish organisation should have a formalised procedure. Contact them / check their web site, etc, to see what you have to do. Sometimes these can be very specific about what they want you to put in the bid and how to set everything out.

You should set out a list of the tasks you will need to do (isn't that the starting point for most coding projects anyway?) and then estimate how long each will take. Allow extra time for corrections and changes they might ask you to make. This will help when you have to set out a formal bid.

The tricky part will be setting a rate. Ideally you want to be charging as high a rate as you can without being higher than the next best option. Too high and you'll lose out to someone cheaper, but too cheap and people will suspect that you aren't good enough. See if you can find the usual industry rate and then undercut it by a little (but not too much).

You'll also find that the more detail you have in your bid the less danger there is of this. If people are thinking "hey at that low price he can't be taking into account foo (and therefore probably doesn't know what he's doing)", then having foo right there are step two in your bid will address that straight away.

Good luck
posted by GeckoDundee 09 September | 20:46
Be sure to define the parameters of the finished product or service you will deliver so you have clear targets that say you are done. Without that there can be a disagreement about when things are complete and you can end up putting in far more time than you intended if you want to get paid.

Make it very clear what functionality the project will deliver and what methodology, architecture, and tools will be used to achieve that functionality. Without that definition you can be subject to project creep and again end up spending more time than you had planed to.
posted by arse_hat 09 September | 23:17
Write and agree to a spec first. Without a spec that precisely defines the software that you're going to write, it's almost inevitable that you and the client will have disagreements over what constitutes the finished product.

If you're used to just hacking around, writing a spec and following it may be a new experience, but if you try to go without you'll probably quickly find out why most commercial software products begin from one.
posted by Kadin2048 10 September | 16:41
FYI - Since I know more people here than there!. . . || I missed the speech!