bidding advice for a contract

Discussion in 'Perl Misc' started by cartercc, Aug 4, 2008.

  1. cartercc

    cartercc Guest

    I have been solicited to make a bid for a database project. The
    company is small but has been around for 20 years or so, and the owner
    has made a name in EE. The people (potential clients) are not idiots,
    and the company is a highly regarded company with a long history that
    manufactures electronic components for aircraft, missles, etc., and
    deals with NASA, the USAF, DARPA, as well as defense contractors. I
    want to do the work, not only because I could use the money, but
    because of the reputation of the company.

    They have specified a database to track (1) purchasing, (2)
    manufacturing, (3) inventory control, (4) user specified enhancements,
    and (5) full documentation, and have specified a contract end date of
    September 24, 2008 by whch all work would be finished and the project
    would be delivered. They will not have their requirements
    specification until August 13, and based on my previous conversations,
    their requirements documents will probably be less than a page in
    length with very general, ambiguous specifications.

    They haven't decided whether to used Access on Windows or a networked
    enabled application with MySQL on Linux, but they want it to integrate
    with their existing software. Unfortunately, their existing software
    doesn't seem to be open source and they don't know whether thay can
    furnish any sort of API to tie into their existing applications. I
    probably won't know what to integrate with until I actually am awarded
    the contract, so I am ignorant at this point.

    They want a fixed price bid. (Did I mention that?)

    I intend to furnish a fixed price bid based on their specification,
    detailing the tables and queries, the user interfaces, and the modules
    I expect to build according to their specifications. I know that this
    probably will not last the first week, but I don't want to be locked
    in to a low price because of the failure of the client to detail all
    the requirements up front.

    $100/table
    $50/query
    $200/interface
    $500/module

    Is there a better way to handle this? I really would like the work,
    but I don't want to lock myself in to an impossible position. Does
    anyone have a form contract that I could look at that provides
    appropriate protections?

    Thanks, CC.
     
    cartercc, Aug 4, 2008
    #1
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  2. cartercc <> writes:

    [ ... ] lots of specifics snipped

    > They haven't decided whether to used Access on Windows or a networked
    > enabled application with MySQL on Linux, but they want it to integrate
    > with their existing software. Unfortunately, their existing software
    > doesn't seem to be open source and they don't know whether thay can
    > furnish any sort of API to tie into their existing applications. I
    > probably won't know what to integrate with until I actually am awarded
    > the contract, so I am ignorant at this point.
    >
    > They want a fixed price bid. (Did I mention that?)


    Don't decide on a fixed price now.

    > I intend to furnish a fixed price bid based on their specification,
    > detailing the tables and queries, the user interfaces, and the modules
    > I expect to build according to their specifications. I know that this
    > probably will not last the first week, but I don't want to be locked
    > in to a low price because of the failure of the client to detail all
    > the requirements up front.
    >
    > $100/table
    > $50/query
    > $200/interface
    > $500/module
    >
    > Is there a better way to handle this? I really would like the work,
    > but I don't want to lock myself in to an impossible position. Does
    > anyone have a form contract that I could look at that provides
    > appropriate protections?


    There are fairly standard non-disclosure contracts for this kind of
    thing, I guess.

    Anyway, this kind of project will probably take quite a bit of time to
    investigate before you can give a decent estimate. Get a
    non-disclosure contract, sign it, give them a couple of hours of
    investigation time. If it takes more than a day to figure out
    (especially if the total project won't take more than a week or so)
    make them pay for the rest of the time spent investigation.

    All of this is assuming they're actually trustworthy. Your description
    sound fishy.

    --
    Joost Diepenmaat | blog: http://joost.zeekat.nl/ | work: http://zeekat.nl/
     
    Joost Diepenmaat, Aug 4, 2008
    #2
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  3. cartercc

    cartercc Guest

    On Aug 4, 3:37 pm, Joost Diepenmaat <> wrote:
    > > They want a fixed price bid. (Did I mention that?)

    >
    > Don't decide on a fixed price now.


    You and I both know that this is bidding on a pig in a poke, but they
    are used to giving fixed price bids and this is what they want. I have
    spent about two hours with them, and they are totally closed to the
    idea of paying by the hour or component.

    > Anyway, this kind of project will probably take quite a bit of time to
    > investigate before you can give a decent estimate. Get a
    > non-disclosure contract, sign it, give them a couple of hours of
    > investigation time. If it takes more than a day to figure out
    > (especially if the total project won't take more than a week or so)
    > make them pay for the rest of the time spent investigation.
    >
    > All of this is assuming they're actually trustworthy. Your description
    > sound fishy.


    This is a big player in a small but critical industry. There aren't
    many who build electronics to put into aircraft, missles, spacecraft,
    and bombs, which is why I don't want to mention names.

    We both know what's going to happen, but I am strongly motivated to
    give them what they need and I want to be able to do it reasonably and
    legitimately.

    Thanks for your input.

    CC
     
    cartercc, Aug 4, 2008
    #3
  4. cartercc

    Guest

    On Mon, 4 Aug 2008 14:36:32 -0700 (PDT), cartercc <> wrote:

    >On Aug 4, 3:37 pm, Joost Diepenmaat <> wrote:
    >> > They want a fixed price bid. (Did I mention that?)

    >>
    >> Don't decide on a fixed price now.

    >
    >You and I both know that this is bidding on a pig in a poke, but they
    >are used to giving fixed price bids and this is what they want. I have
    >spent about two hours with them, and they are totally closed to the
    >idea of paying by the hour or component.
    >
    >> Anyway, this kind of project will probably take quite a bit of time to
    >> investigate before you can give a decent estimate. Get a
    >> non-disclosure contract, sign it, give them a couple of hours of
    >> investigation time. If it takes more than a day to figure out
    >> (especially if the total project won't take more than a week or so)
    >> make them pay for the rest of the time spent investigation.
    >>
    >> All of this is assuming they're actually trustworthy. Your description
    >> sound fishy.

    >
    >This is a big player in a small but critical industry. There aren't
    >many who build electronics to put into aircraft, missles, spacecraft,
    >and bombs, which is why I don't want to mention names.
    >
    >We both know what's going to happen, but I am strongly motivated to
    >give them what they need and I want to be able to do it reasonably and
    >legitimately.
    >
    >Thanks for your input.
    >
    >CC


    Raytheon
    I can do it for twice the price, twice the guarantee..

    sln
     
    , Aug 4, 2008
    #4
  5. cartercc <> writes:

    > On Aug 4, 3:37 pm, Joost Diepenmaat <> wrote:
    >> > They want a fixed price bid. (Did I mention that?)

    >>
    >> Don't decide on a fixed price now.

    >
    > You and I both know that this is bidding on a pig in a poke, but they
    > are used to giving fixed price bids and this is what they want. I have
    > spent about two hours with them, and they are totally closed to the
    > idea of paying by the hour or component.


    Ok... Triple your estimates.

    >> Anyway, this kind of project will probably take quite a bit of time to
    >> investigate before you can give a decent estimate. Get a
    >> non-disclosure contract, sign it, give them a couple of hours of
    >> investigation time. If it takes more than a day to figure out
    >> (especially if the total project won't take more than a week or so)
    >> make them pay for the rest of the time spent investigation.
    >>
    >> All of this is assuming they're actually trustworthy. Your description
    >> sound fishy.

    >
    > This is a big player in a small but critical industry. There aren't
    > many who build electronics to put into aircraft, missles, spacecraft,
    > and bombs, which is why I don't want to mention names.
    >
    > We both know what's going to happen, but I am strongly motivated to
    > give them what they need and I want to be able to do it reasonably and
    > legitimately.


    So they're big and they know how to deal with contractors. If they
    won't even give you a real insight in what needs to be done before you
    have to give an estimate, you're being played. Just sign a
    non-disclosure agreement, investigate, and decide after that. Or raise
    your estimate even more.

    Personally, I wouldn't feel comfortable making any kind of fixed-price
    deal unless I really knew what I was getting in to. Especially not if
    the kind of people I was dealing with were obviously more experienced
    at playing that game and the stakes were high (for whatever you'd
    consider high). IOW: if it came to this, I'd give it a pass.

    --
    Joost Diepenmaat | blog: http://joost.zeekat.nl/ | work: http://zeekat.nl/
     
    Joost Diepenmaat, Aug 5, 2008
    #5
  6. Just some more ramblings from me...

    cartercc <> writes:
    > On Aug 4, 3:37 pm, Joost Diepenmaat <> wrote:
    >> > They want a fixed price bid. (Did I mention that?)

    >>
    >> Don't decide on a fixed price now.

    >
    > You and I both know that this is bidding on a pig in a poke, but they
    > are used to giving fixed price bids and this is what they want. I have
    > spent about two hours with them, and they are totally closed to the
    > idea of paying by the hour or component.


    I didn't say that: I said: "Don't decide on a fixed price *now*"

    >> Anyway, this kind of project will probably take quite a bit of time to
    >> investigate before you can give a decent estimate. Get a
    >> non-disclosure contract, sign it, give them a couple of hours of
    >> investigation time. If it takes more than a day to figure out
    >> (especially if the total project won't take more than a week or so)
    >> make them pay for the rest of the time spent investigation.
    >>
    >> All of this is assuming they're actually trustworthy. Your description
    >> sound fishy.

    >
    > This is a big player in a small but critical industry. There aren't
    > many who build electronics to put into aircraft, missles, spacecraft,
    > and bombs, which is why I don't want to mention names.
    >
    > We both know what's going to happen, but I am strongly motivated to
    > give them what they need and I want to be able to do it reasonably and
    > legitimately.


    You *can't* know what needs to be done, because they won't tell
    you. All you need is some time to figure out what needs to be done, so
    you can then make a decent estimate. What I'm saying is that if the
    time it takes you to make a decent estimate is large compared to the
    time it'll take you to do the job you've got 2 options:

    1. estimate really high and then add at least 50%

    2. investigate first, but have them pay for the investigation if it
    takes more than a day (which shouldn't cost more than 10% of the
    total)

    --
    Joost Diepenmaat | blog: http://joost.zeekat.nl/ | work: http://zeekat.nl/
     
    Joost Diepenmaat, Aug 5, 2008
    #6
  7. cartercc <> wrote:
    > I have been solicited to make a bid for a database project. The
    > company is small but has been around for 20 years or so, and the owner
    > has made a name in EE. The people (potential clients) are not idiots,
    > and the company is a highly regarded company with a long history that
    > manufactures electronic components for aircraft, missles, etc., and
    > deals with NASA, the USAF, DARPA, as well as defense contractors. I
    > want to do the work, not only because I could use the money, but
    > because of the reputation of the company.


    > They have specified a database to track (1) purchasing, (2)
    > manufacturing, (3) inventory control, (4) user specified enhancements,
    > and (5) full documentation, and have specified a contract end date of
    > September 24, 2008 by whch all work would be finished and the project
    > would be delivered. They will not have their requirements
    > specification until August 13, and based on my previous conversations,
    > their requirements documents will probably be less than a page in
    > length with very general, ambiguous specifications.


    So you're supposed to bid for a project for which you won't get
    any exact specifications before you bid on it and for which you
    then have about six weeks of time to finish?

    > They haven't decided whether to used Access on Windows or a networked
    > enabled application with MySQL on Linux, but they want it to integrate
    > with their existing software. Unfortunately, their existing software
    > doesn't seem to be open source and they don't know whether thay can
    > furnish any sort of API to tie into their existing applications. I
    > probably won't know what to integrate with until I actually am awarded
    > the contract, so I am ignorant at this point.


    > They want a fixed price bid. (Did I mention that?)


    So, again, you won't know what you're supposed to do before you've
    got the contract? Read again what you wrote: you don't know what
    database is going to be used. They didn't really decide yet about
    anything at all, but they want it integrated into their existing
    software, but they don't have any useful information about what
    their existing software is. The requirements include 'user speci-
    fied enhancements" (whatever that is and whoever decides about
    that). And you're going to be bound by the contract to submit
    final results on a fixed date merely six weeks later on a fixed
    price.

    > I intend to furnish a fixed price bid based on their specification,
    > detailing the tables and queries, the user interfaces, and the modules
    > I expect to build according to their specifications. I know that this
    > probably will not last the first week, but I don't want to be locked
    > in to a low price because of the failure of the client to detail all
    > the requirements up front.


    Again: they won't tell you what exactly they want (or what
    "probably will not last the first week" else means?), but you
    have got to promise that you will deliver it on time?

    From what you write it looks as if this company has some expe-
    rienced engineers. Would you really expect this kind of non-
    existent "specifications" from real engineers? What it looks
    like what you're dealing with is a bunch of absolutely clueless
    beancounters. They don't know what they want, but they want it
    cheap and yesterday. What do you expect out of this? A T-shirt
    with "I got duped by company XYZ"?

    Make them treat you as a professional. Tell them that you can't
    make a bid unless you know exactly what you're bidding on. Make
    them give you enough time for coming up with an estimate of how
    much work it will entail. Don't make promises on things you can't
    forsee.
    Regards, Jens
    --
    \ Jens Thoms Toerring ___
    \__________________________ http://toerring.de
     
    Jens Thoms Toerring, Aug 5, 2008
    #7
  8. cartercc

    cartercc Guest

    On Aug 4, 7:21 pm, (Jens Thoms Toerring) wrote:

    > So you're supposed to bid for a project for which you won't get
    > any exact specifications before you bid on it and for which you
    > then have about six weeks of time to finish?


    Yep.

    > So, again, you won't know what you're supposed to do before you've
    > got the contract? Read again what you wrote: you don't know what
    > database is going to be used. They didn't really decide yet about
    > anything at all, but they want it integrated into their existing
    > software, but they don't have any useful information about what
    > their existing software is. The requirements include 'user speci-
    > fied enhancements" (whatever that is and whoever decides about
    > that). And you're going to be bound by the contract to submit
    > final results on a fixed date merely six weeks later on a fixed
    > price.


    Yep.


    > Again: they won't tell you what exactly they want (or what
    > "probably will not last the first week" else means?), but you
    > have got to promise that you will deliver it on time?


    Yep.

    > From what you write it looks as if this company has some expe-
    > rienced engineers. Would you really expect this kind of non-
    > existent "specifications" from real engineers?


    Nope.

    > What it looks
    > like what you're dealing with is a bunch of absolutely clueless
    > beancounters. They don't know what they want, but they want it
    > cheap and yesterday. What do you expect out of this? A T-shirt
    > with "I got duped by company XYZ"?


    Yeah, the president of the company (whom I've not met) is a PhD and a
    former EE professor at a respected engineering school who has done
    very well with his business. They sure has hell wouldn't build an
    electronic component this way. They'd build, test, build, test, and
    continue until they had it right. You may have picked up on something
    that I was not willing to see.

    > Make them treat you as a professional. Tell them that you can't
    > make a bid unless you know exactly what you're bidding on. Make
    > them give you enough time for coming up with an estimate of how
    > much work it will entail. Don't make promises on things you can't
    > forsee.


    That's right. The thing is, I'd really like to have the opportunity to
    do the work, and they really need someone (like me) who knows how to
    build something that would be really useful.

    They have promised some specifications. I may give them a fixed price
    for a fixed product based on their specifications and see how that
    works.

    Time for a story. I'm just completing a project at work. The main
    script generates a data file used for the preparation of about 1500
    contracts for temporary employees five times a year. I started off
    with a nice little script, which over time has turned into a real
    monster. A couple of weeks after I wrote the initial script, I was
    informed that about 20 offices based payment on different factors with
    different gradients, some used hours, some used piecework, some used
    levels of experiences, many used combinations of these, some used flat
    rates, etc. After coding the logic for all of this, the function was
    three times as long as the original code. And that was just the start.

    One of the main things was a job combo, where one project was given
    two names. My script generates a contract for every job, so issuing
    two contracts for one job was a BIG mistake. After discussion, I asked
    whether these combos ever occured in anything other than pairs. I was
    given an absolutely ironclad assurance that these combos only occured
    in pairs, so I spend almost two full days rewriting the script, and
    it was not a trivial effort. Friday afternoon, I finished. Saturday
    morning I got an email. Guess what? There was a TRIPLE! And my script
    trashed the third part of the job. So I had the pleasure of trying to
    handle it Saturday.

    Now, my nice, clean script is a nightmare. I can't read it and
    understand what I've done. Make a little change here, a little change
    there, by the way we also need you to do this, and over a period of
    time you have a real mess. It wouldn't take long to clean up, but I'm
    tired of it, a little disgusted, and my boss can't understand why I
    would want to clean up code that nobody will ever see. So, it will be
    a mess for the guy who has to modify it when things change. With my
    luck, that would probably be me.

    CC
     
    cartercc, Aug 5, 2008
    #8
  9. cartercc

    Ben Morrow Guest

    Quoth cartercc <>:
    >
    > One of the main things was a job combo, where one project was given
    > two names. My script generates a contract for every job, so issuing
    > two contracts for one job was a BIG mistake. After discussion, I asked
    > whether these combos ever occured in anything other than pairs. I was
    > given an absolutely ironclad assurance that these combos only occured
    > in pairs, so I spend almost two full days rewriting the script, and
    > it was not a trivial effort. Friday afternoon, I finished. Saturday
    > morning I got an email. Guess what? There was a TRIPLE! And my script
    > trashed the third part of the job. So I had the pleasure of trying to
    > handle it Saturday.


    Heh. There are only three numbers in computing: 0, 1, and infinity.
    Unless it only makes sense for there to be one of something, assume
    there may be an arbitrary number.

    Oh, and of course: the user is *always* lying. :)

    Ben

    --
    I must not fear. Fear is the mind-killer. I will face my fear and
    I will let it pass through me. When the fear is gone there will be
    nothing. Only I will remain.
    Frank Herbert, 'Dune'
     
    Ben Morrow, Aug 5, 2008
    #9
  10. cartercc

    cartercc Guest

    On Aug 4, 9:25 pm, Ben Morrow <> wrote:
    > Heh. There are only three numbers in computing: 0, 1, and infinity.
    > Unless it only makes sense for there to be one of something, assume
    > there may be an arbitrary number.


    After a lot of thought and several false starts, I used a hash with
    the key of the primary section and the value of the secondary. Nice
    and easy, if the number of the primary section matches a key, I modify
    both the primary section and the secondary section. Works great!

    Now I guess I ~could~ fix it so I get array refs or hash refs for each
    key, but MY fix was to count the section numbers, generate an error
    file for all sections where the value was anything other than a 0 (a
    single section) or 2 (a double section), and send an email to the
    person responsible for data entry with the errored out sections. It's
    her error, after all.

    > Oh, and of course: the user is *always* lying. :)


    I prefer to think that the user believes that the developer is a
    magician or sorcerer so the user doesn't have to worry about things
    like consistent data. Or, in the case of my contract question, minor
    details like requirements. ;-)

    CC
     
    cartercc, Aug 5, 2008
    #10
  11. cartercc

    brian d foy Guest

    In article
    <>,
    cartercc <> wrote:

    > They want a fixed price bid. (Did I mention that?)


    Easy. Come up with a really big number that is worth your time for the
    project period. Your fixed price is balanced by their fixed time frame.
    You just have to figure out how much that period in your life is worth
    to you.

    When they don't meet their time frame, you start over with another
    fixed price. :)
     
    brian d foy, Aug 5, 2008
    #11
  12. cartercc

    Peter Scott Guest

    On Mon, 04 Aug 2008 14:36:32 -0700, cartercc wrote:
    > This is a big player in a small but critical industry. There aren't
    > many who build electronics to put into aircraft, missles, spacecraft,
    > and bombs, which is why I don't want to mention names.


    If this company really is 'big' in that industry then they most certainly
    are used to issuing time and materials contracts, and the person who told
    you otherwise is either a rank newcomer or trying to play you. Either
    way, don't show them that *you* are a rank newcomer to the supplier side.
    How can you possibly agree to a six week task when the specifications are
    so loose that it might be a six month task? I don't know what you're
    hoping to get out of this when the way you're going about it, they may
    not only not pay you but claim damages for non-performance by the time the
    dust settles.

    --
    Peter Scott
    http://www.perlmedic.com/
    http://www.perldebugged.com/
     
    Peter Scott, Aug 5, 2008
    #12
  13. cartercc

    cartercc Guest

    On Aug 5, 9:14 am, Peter Scott <> wrote:
    > If this company really is 'big' in that industry then they most certainly
    > are used to issuing time and materials contracts, and the person who told
    > you otherwise is either a rank newcomer or trying to play you. Either
    > way, don't show them that *you* are a rank newcomer to the supplier side.


    I've been there and talked to the management staff. I've seen what
    they do. They are focused on their product but their record keeping is
    mostly manual. The literally keep track of inventory and purchases on
    yellow pads. The use Excel to track testing data but have no security
    or logging, so they can't tell who made what entry. They have a real
    need and they know it. The problem is that they are trying to do the
    requirements engineering themselves and they don't have the backgroud,
    despite their expertise and talents in other areas.

    > How can you possibly agree to a six week task when the specifications are
    > so loose that it might be a six month task? I don't know what you're
    > hoping to get out of this when the way you're going about it, they may
    > not only not pay you but claim damages for non-performance by the time the
    > dust settles.


    I'm hoping to do a good job and be paid for it. You and I both know
    that the initial plans will change after the first week, but they are
    convinced that they can waterfall their way to success. I want the
    contract but I'm going to have to present something that will attract
    the client while at the same time protect myself.

    Besides, if they have a problem, others might have the same problem,
    and I might be able to leverage a good solution for this client into
    work for others. I've asked them what their competitors do, and
    apparently this industry is so specialized that they all mostly use
    manual methods or the standard Office applications. Seemlingly there
    is no COTS solution available to them. It would be nice to be able to
    do the work one time and get paid for it multiple times.

    CC
     
    cartercc, Aug 5, 2008
    #13
  14. cartercc

    Guest

    On Aug 4, 11:48 am, cartercc <> wrote:
    >
    > They have specified a database to track (1) purchasing, (2)
    > manufacturing, (3) inventory control, (4) user specified enhancements,
    > and (5) full documentation, and have specified a contract end date of
    > September 24, 2008 by whch all work would be finished and the project
    > would be delivered. They will not have their requirements
    > specification until August 13, and based on my previous conversations,
    > their requirements documents will probably be less than a page in
    > length with very general, ambiguous specifications.
    >


    >
    > Is there a better way to handle this? I really would like the work,
    > but I don't want to lock myself in to an impossible position. Does
    > anyone have a form contract that I could look at that provides
    > appropriate protections?
    >
    > Thanks, CC.


    As others have said, you might want to walk away from this. The last
    time I saw this sort of situation (generalized requirements, short
    timeframe for the features listed, lack of defined infrastructure), it
    was put out to bid because the company had already chosen who they
    wanted for the work, and their by-laws or some other constraint
    required competitive bids.

    Not saying that is what is happening here, as you say they have a good
    reputation, but it is always a possibility and something you might
    consider.

    Further, even though the dates they indicate show a 6 week project,
    they may skid on those requirements, and will not be likely to allow
    you to skid on the deliverable. Each week you spend in development
    might require a similar amount of time in documentation (Fully
    documented is a red-flag term unless better defined in the
    requirements), so this might be a rather ambitious project timeline
    unless you already have a lot of experience in developing just what
    they are looking for, and already have something on tap that you can
    modify for their purposes.
     
    , Aug 5, 2008
    #14
  15. cartercc

    cartercc Guest

    On Aug 5, 11:24 am, wrote:
    > As others have said, you might want to walk away from this. The last
    > time I saw this sort of situation (generalized requirements, short
    > timeframe for the features listed, lack of defined infrastructure), it
    > was put out to bid because the company had already chosen who they
    > wanted for the work, and their by-laws or some other constraint
    > required competitive bids.


    Thanks for your input.

    I know the other two guys bidding on the contract. The 'requirements'
    were sent by email with copies to everyone, including those who
    expressed an interest in bidding. To me, this is an indicator of the
    inexperience of the client which facilitates collusion among the
    bidders. I'm satisfied that this is a legitimate process to address a
    serious problem.

    > Not saying that is what is happening here, as you say they have a good
    > reputation, but it is always a possibility and something you might
    > consider.


    After reading these comments and talking with some other people, I'm
    beginning to see some politics. The owner of the company is currently
    on vacation during this process, and this effort is being headed up by
    (essentially) third tier management, so I'm guessing he gave
    instructions before he left and the instructees are making a valient
    effort to complete the instructions before he returns. Hence the lack
    of detailed requirements.

    > Further, even though the dates they indicate show a 6 week project,
    > they may skid on those requirements, and will not be likely to allow
    > you to skid on the deliverable. Each week you spend in development
    > might require a similar amount of time in documentation (Fully
    > documented is a red-flag term unless better defined in the
    > requirements), so this might be a rather ambitious project timeline
    > unless you already have a lot of experience in developing just what
    > they are looking for, and already have something on tap that you can
    > modify for their purposes.


    I do this sort of thing for a living, already having a full time job,
    so I have a substantial code base already. It's not like I'll be
    writing this from scratch. Still, it's my experience that a project
    like this will stretch over a period of years. The last project I did
    similar to this one was in development for over two years, always in a
    state of flux due to changing requirements, even though the first cut
    was fully functional a week or two after I started.

    If you want a prebuilt solution, use something like Access,
    Quickbooks, etc. Buy it and adapt your business processes to the needs
    of the software. You will have a working solution immediately. If you
    want a custom solution that you can adapt to meet your business needs,
    don't expect to have an immediate solution. One problem here might be
    the desire to combine the benefits of a pre-built solution (immediacy)
    with the benefits of a custom solution (customizability).

    Remember? Good, fast, cheap: choose any two.

    CC
     
    cartercc, Aug 5, 2008
    #15
  16. >>>>> "cc" == cartercc <> writes:

    cc> I'm hoping to do a good job and be paid for it. You and I both
    cc> know that the initial plans will change after the first week,
    cc> but they are convinced that they can waterfall their way to
    cc> success.

    More relevantly: once they've got your signature on the contract, any
    success they have is because of their smart choice in hiring a
    contractor, but any failure is clearly the fault of the contractor they
    hired.

    You've got no clear requirements and no clear scope, but any estimate
    you make is going to be treated as a solemn promise.

    This is a disaster waiting to happen, and when it does, every indication
    will be that it is your fault, because you were dumb enough to sign a
    conract saying you could do what they needed without knowing what they
    needed done.

    Charlton


    --
    Charlton Wilbur
     
    Charlton Wilbur, Aug 5, 2008
    #16
  17. >>>>> "cc" == cartercc <> writes:

    cc> I do this sort of thing for a living, already having a full time
    cc> job, so I have a substantial code base already. It's not like
    cc> I'll be writing this from scratch.

    This sounds like an intellectual-property lawsuit waiting to happen.

    Unless you have a contract saying otherwise or you're operating under a
    very unusual legal code, the code you write as part of our employment is
    considered work for hire, and you do not retain any rights to it.
    Borrowing code from one employer to give to another employer is highly
    inappropriate unless both employers know about it.

    The more you argue in favor of this, the worse an idea it seems.

    Charlton



    --
    Charlton Wilbur
     
    Charlton Wilbur, Aug 5, 2008
    #17
  18. cartercc

    Willem Guest

    Charlton Wilbur wrote:
    )>>>>> "cc" == cartercc <> writes:
    )
    ) cc> I do this sort of thing for a living, already having a full time
    ) cc> job, so I have a substantial code base already. It's not like
    ) cc> I'll be writing this from scratch.
    )
    ) This sounds like an intellectual-property lawsuit waiting to happen.
    )
    ) Unless you have a contract saying otherwise or you're operating under a
    ) very unusual legal code, the code you write as part of our employment is
    ) considered work for hire, and you do not retain any rights to it.

    And if the code is written beforehand, and then used in the contract for
    your company ? As in, I write a nice codebase/library in my free time,
    tweak it until it suits me, and then I fullfill contracts by putting
    together pieces from my codebase that fit the specs.

    Just a legal question that came to me when reading your comment.


    SaSW, Willem
    --
    Disclaimer: I am in no way responsible for any of the statements
    made in the above text. For all I know I might be
    drugged or something..
    No I'm not paranoid. You all think I'm paranoid, don't you !
    #EOT
     
    Willem, Aug 5, 2008
    #18
  19. >>>>> "W" == Willem <> writes:

    I'm not a lawyer, and I'm especially not a lawyer in the Netherlands,
    but here's my take.

    W> And if the code is written beforehand, and then used in the
    W> contract for your company ? As in, I write a nice
    W> codebase/library in my free time, tweak it until it suits me, and
    W> then I fullfill contracts by putting together pieces from my
    W> codebase that fit the specs.

    As long as everyone knows what's happening and agrees to it, there's no
    problem. This would probably involve you, the original author,
    licensing the code you wrote to the company you're working for somehow.
    The qualitative difference there, though, is that the code you're
    talking about belongs to you -- you wrote it outside of an employment
    relationship, or you had a contract that said you retained the rights,
    so you're free to license it to anyone you want, or put it in the public
    domain, or release it under an open source license. If you're doing
    something that your employer thinks requires a competitive advantage,
    your employer may not care for this relationship, but you're still
    within your rights to offer it.

    The situation cartercc was describing was different: unless he has a
    contract saying otherwise, the code he writes as part of working for his
    current employer belongs to his employer and not to him. Thus, he can't
    take it and use it for another employer without the first employer
    giving consent.

    In cartercc's case, if everyone knew what was going on and was okay with
    it, it would likewise be perfectly fine. But in his case, that likely
    involves both employers knowing about the situation, and odds are good
    that at least one won't be perfectly fine with it.

    Charlton


    --
    Charlton Wilbur
     
    Charlton Wilbur, Aug 5, 2008
    #19
  20. cartercc

    cartercc Guest

    On Aug 5, 2:17 pm, Charlton Wilbur <> wrote:
    > >>>>> "cc" == cartercc <> writes:

    >
    > cc> I do this sort of thing for a living, already having a full time
    > cc> job, so I have a substantial code base already. It's not like
    > cc> I'll be writing this from scratch.
    >
    > This sounds like an intellectual-property lawsuit waiting to happen.


    I doubt that this would be the case. I work for a large public
    university in my day job, and the code I have written specfically for
    work assignments is no inextricably combined with code that I have
    written for pleasure and outside work that I don't see how it could be
    traced. I have developed the habit of creating modules to do different
    things, like create layouts for web pages and connect and query
    databases, which I carry with me on a USB drive. I don't claim a
    copyright in my work and I don't have any kind of written contract
    that covers IP issues.

    > Unless you have a contract saying otherwise or you're operating under a
    > very unusual legal code, the code you write as part of our employment is
    > considered work for hire, and you do not retain any rights to it.
    > Borrowing code from one employer to give to another employer is highly
    > inappropriate unless both employers know about it.


    What if my employer 'borrowed' it from me? What if I took an
    application that I had written years earlier and adapted it to a
    current project at work? With all respect, I think this sort of
    concern is arrant nonsense, at least given the employers and the
    personalities that I work for.

    > The more you argue in favor of this, the worse an idea it seems.


    I'm not 'arguing' either way. It's a job that's up for grabs and I
    have an incentive to grab at it. I agree that it's certainly not an
    ideal situation, but looking at the sunny side, (1) it's an
    oppurtunity to augment my income, (2) it's an opportunity to help out
    a local company, (3) it's an opportunity to increase my potential for
    like projects, and (4) it would be something that I enjoy. Not to
    mention that I do databases, database applications, and database GUIs
    for a living on LAMP and WAMP stacks, and everything, and I do mean
    ~everything~ they have mentioned to me pertains to a problem that I
    have already faced and solved.

    It might turn out bad, but I've spent some time with these folks and I
    have a good feeling about this.

    CC
     
    cartercc, Aug 5, 2008
    #20
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