When I am quoting out a project and specifically a website build, I am doing it with the expectation that there are no unforeseen delays. Project delays add to the total hours consumed and needs to be accounted for in the initial quote. I will outline the major reasons why in this blog. I make the best effort to set my expectations up front when it comes to an acceptable time to complete a project.

Time Brings New Ideas

The longer a project sits , the more ideas the client or end client will bring to the table. In many cases these are in the spirit of the quote, but would be added as a paid “change order” had the project progressed along in a timely manor. The longer something “sits” , the more these new ideas will factor in. In most cases this “new idea factor” is a direct reflection on the natural evolution of the business.

Familiarity with the Project

A project that is excessively delayed will mean that the developer will have to re-familiarize themselves with the project itself as well as the code structure needed to achieve the requirements. When weeks and months go by with no substantial feedback, there is additional time it takes to re-orientate. This additional amount of time needs to be factored in. There is a well documented scientific basis for this called the “forgetting curve“.

Maintenance While in Development

When a project is excessively delayed, the developer is maintaining a site on the development server. This can include JavaScript conflicts, plugin updates and other miscellaneous issues. On the safe side I like to factor in the ballpark of 10-15 hours (depending on the size and complexity of the website) of maintenance work required on a CMS such as WordPress per year. This would mean that a project that goes for 4 months would require an additional 3.33 to 5 hours of maintenance alone.

Setting the Expectations up Front

On any new flat / project rate website builds I am asking my agency clients to include a variation of the following in their contracts:

Timelines: This project is quoted based on the assumption that project moves along with no unforeseen client delays. Delays add costs to the project from a “new idea factor” that time brings as well as having to re-familiarize with the project. A project that has longer delays will mean extra time to maintain the site as it sits in development. Final payment will be requested for any project that is pending feedback for more than ____ weeks without prior agreement. Any additional costs after final payment will be billed by the hour.

This keeps all parties motivated to push the project along to completion. The very few that would not understand this, would most likely be difficult in other areas. The time allowed as well as what defines waiting feedback, still have a “good faith factor” on both sides. Coming back with a change once a week for a year should still constitute a project in excessive delay in my mind.

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