What do people on here do when writing a Project Specification for the client? Due to the nature of the work, you can write the most precise specification, but it always changes slightly - sometimes quite a bit - after the quote has been agreed and the project progresses.
I'm writing my T&Cs, and I need to refer to the 'Project Specification'. How do I cater for these changes in the T&Cs? I have a section about Additional Costs, but I'm having trouble as to what constitutes the Project Spec. Should I write a definition at the beginning of the document, maybe:
Project Specification: Work required by the client. This can take the form of a Project Specification document and/or email correspondence.
What do you think?
How do I cater for these changes
If by cater you mean to accommodate, then hourly. You can allow, say, a marginal estimate. I recommend against the "opaque" fixed bid. So you would have X hours, detail of deliverables, hours +/- ten percent, three hours, or what have you.
Fixed bid where you pitch it like "I'll paint any car, any color, for just $69.95. Drive it, haul it, heck I'll come to your house...." That's common. But break out hourly, break out anything that has to be bought for the project, like a control or a stock photo price."
What you want to do is let the client know they have three hours for anything not covered explicitly in the spec. They get some comfort, you get some control. Everybody's happy.
The secret is itemize, itemize, itemize.
I'm having trouble as to what constitutes the Project Spec
You can write a fifty page, bound and collated spec ...with bar graphs, waterfall charts, and pie graphs, function points and unit tests ....the client will come back with "that's was included in the spec." Rest assured, they have never opened the thing when they say this. And they have no intention of looking at it, ever.
If and when you have a good idea of, say, the top five cost overruns for whatever you're doing, you can try out a list of what's not included.
Otherwise, your agreement clearly states you agree to walk my dog. And you will be astounded as I twist and turn a simple, clear, sentence in whatever you write, to come out any way I want it to. (Don't forget your scooper and plastic baggie).
Yes of course that's not what the terms and conditions actually mean ....what's your point?
Thr first thing you should do is have a thorough discussion(s) with the client and get as much information from them regarding their website's requirements in terms of presentation and functionality.
I normally give a fixed price quote but detail exactly (or as very much as possible) what is covered and what is not covered by the quote. I state what content (images etc) the client provides and what I will provide.
I normally allow the client a couple of changes to the content between them approving the mockups and final sign-off. I state additional changes will be quoted at time of change request.
Overall, my aim is to protect myself as much as possible from "scope creep".
So when a client rings up and says, "Oh btw can you add this or change the way this button works blah blah...", I reply "Yep, no problem but since it isn't in the specs. we agreed to, it will take me 1 hour and so there will be an additional charge of $x.".
This helps keep control of costs and keeps the client informed of additional costs so there are no nasty surprises to the client when you give them the final bill.
Thanks for your indepth replies.
Reading my post back I didnt make myself clear. What I was getting at is how I refer to the 'Project Specification' in the T&Cs. For example - I do make a fairly detailed spec before I do any work and get the client to confirm the spec. But invariably there will be changes - such as payment gateway, changes to the CMS, maybe an additional page etc... Its understandable from a client's perspective that its not until the project progresses that things come up. As long as theyre not time consuming things (which I would charge extra for), then I will include them within the original quote. BUT I dont want to keep updating the original Project Spec document and get the client to confirm it. So I need a definition in my T&Cs that describe the Project Specification document as "... a document, email correspondence pr meeting notes that outline the work required to complete the project". God - am I making my life difficult!? I just want to be sure that my T&Cs are watertight.
I think you just need to use clear, understandable language that both you and your client have the same interpretation of. And, I think that while you shouldn't have to update the original project specification document all the time, you should certainly be ready to provide written additions or alterations to that document.
A simple way to do it is simply to have the agreement say that the project specification document is final upon execution of the agreement, and any alterations to those specifications must be in written form. Then, clarify this further by explaining that changes to specifications have impact to form, risk, cost, or schedule to the delivered product must be be approved in writing through a signed change order document that includes any cost/schedule/other details.
Then create a simple document to use as a change order and whenever there is a substantial change send it to the client and ask them to fax it back signed. You do usually just do this in a freestyle manner, as long as your language is clear. List changes in simple language, "Item 1: The payment gateway as defined in section 4.3 of the specification document will be changed to <new gateway>. This change will incur an additional cost of $300 and add 3 days to the schedule".
Easy! You can certainly rely upon just email as written evidence of an agreement. The problem is, agreements can be ambiguous and you can sometimes prove what was said, but not what was understood. Doing a change order in a simple but distinct and clear document is a winner.