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63

At 60% unpaid bills, the very least you need to do is to stop all further maintenance and support of your code for this customer until they have paid in full. Also realise that you aren't doing this (stopping maintenance and support) to punish the customer - it's simply common sense self-preservation for you and your company. If all your clients would ...


44

You're dealing with a lawyer, and you're not a lawyer. Get a lawyer, don't do anything to harm your client, without prior legal advice and proper representation. He'll sue your a** if you do that. To answer your question directly - unless it is explicitly allowed in your contract (which I doubt), it's most probably illegal.


26

I always recommend a Chess Clock - either a real one or a virtual one. Its easy to hit a button when your focus shifts, and hit it again when you get back to working on your Customer's project and at the end of the day you can view your totals as to how much time was spent on your project and how much was spent elsewhere. I had a horrible issue with ...


25

[Naturally I'm obliged to state that I am not a lawyer, a doctor or an astronaut and you should consult someone who is a lawyer. And a doctor and an astronaut if possible.] Your right to withdraw services is ultimately down to your contract, however I would make the assumption that if it does not specifically mention it then you don't have that right. ...


24

If I do something for a client that I wouldn't be doing soon for other reasons, the client pays for it. I find it works best to value myself in a manner like other professionals do, such as doctors, lawyers, and accountants. Everybody who's not explicitly "pro bono" pays for time and effort - and the only charity programming I do is on open source projects. ...


24

If I'm learning something that I'll take away with me (like say a mainstream new API, or a new feature of .NET or a language that's somewhat useful) then I don't bill, I consider that time time spent sharpening my saw, and it's not the client's fault I didn't know that stuff yet. Now, if it's something obscure, I bill for it at my normal rate. Some ...


23

Get a chess clock. Or a virtual-chess clock Whenever you switch your focus, hit that button. At the end of the day, look at your totals and see how much time you actually spent working on the project vs how much was spent elsewhere. I'm sure there's plenty of free ones online, or you can create one. I took about an hour to make one which is nothing more ...


21

A client pays for results. Productivity per hour and focus per hour are not necessarily linearly related. If you made an hours worth of progress towards the result (and the client agrees by continuing to contract and pay you after seeing the results and your bill), it doesn't matter what percentage of any hour you spent unconsciously cogitating while ...


18

The formula that I usually follow: Initial Rate = Your hourly rate * worst case estimate of number of hours you'd need to finish this project + Expenses Expenses = Power Cost + Money transaction costs (wire, western union etc) if applicable + Any hardware or software that you needed to purchase for your work + Internet Connection Costs Final Rate = (1 - ...


17

Up-Front + Milestones Typically, you should have some payment up-front to begin work. Then, have milestones where you deliver some part of the project to them, or show an update to progress where the next payment is due. This way you have the incentive to keep working on the project, because you don't get paid the full amount until you deliver, and they ...


13

Problem Diagnosis. It's a familiar term, if you ever get your auto fixed or go to a doctor, diagnosis is a common term for figuring out what's wrong. It is also accurate, you have to go under the hood and see how everything is connected to figure out what's not working. It really is akin to working on an engine without the manual, and the company went and ...


11

As a rule of thumb when I realize that a time period has heavy interruptions I bill either half (or if its really bad 25%) of the time. So if I worked two hours but it wasn't consistent, I'll bill it as 1. Another trick I use is TimeSnapper, it does a good job at telling me what time was spent in VStudio versus IE, Outlook, etc..


11

Ask yourself if you are doing mental work or not doing any work at all. What I mean is this: Often I will spend an hour or more thinking about a problem, maybe jotting down some notes or writing some pseudocode in a text editor, or looking at technical sites for ideas/solutions to help me. This time is actual working and you shouldn't feel bad about ...


10

Stop It You have sold the client an hour of your time. Shut off the distractions and give the client what they paid for. ADDENDUM: I'm not trying to be harsh. The question is asking for a technical solution to a non-technical problem. ADDENDUM 2: OK, okay, okay! @Matthew has a good point, some people are natural multitaskers. If that's not the case, here ...


10

Procrastination is your subconscious telling you not to work on what you think you should be working on. Figure out why. On charging customers: figure out how much they would have had to pay for that custom development if they had called Oracle. Adjust accordingly.


10

It depends on the legislation and your contract. For example: In German law there is this funny thing called 'Abstraktionsprinzip', that states that, when you give someone a thing to be payed for, its now his, so messing with it would be the same as destroying anything else he owns. But if you stated in your contract, that, until payment the sold thing ...


10

Get a lawyer. Nobody here is a lawyer AFAIK and AFAYK, and so what we say is not legal advice, is probably not correct for your situation, and may cause you to be damaged further if you follow it. That said, I have the following points. The "kill switch" is probably a bad idea. In almost any situation where the software resides on your client's hardware ...


9

I ask clients to pay 50% up front and 50% when the project is complete and I have given it to them. I have lost a lot of money in the past when clients suddenly pull out and I have not gotten anything off them up front. With the 50% up front you know you can trust them and it will cover your development costs. They will also feel happy that you won't get ...


9

First, the obvious point -- whatever you're going to do, put it in writing, and make sure the client is completely aware of how he is going to be charged. A surprising bill is a lot more harmful than a big bill, every time. Second, the real money for you is in keeping a client over a long period, and making them unafraid to call you when they need you, not ...


9

If you are in the UK, use the Late Payment Legislation. If you run a business in the UK this legislation allows you to charge interest where a customer is late in paying their invoices. This has the potential to be an important part of your debt collection process. And find a new customer, even if the new customer pay's less, life is not long ...


7

You might give the Pomodoro Technique a try. You might try a daily rate. Don't do fixed bid: it's impossible to anticipate scope and requirement changes, and impossible to predict risk and complexity. Either you or your client will get screwed over. Usually you.


6

One solution is to stop billing by the hour and instead go for contracts that are paid on delivery. Since you likely have to come up with an estimate of the number of hours a project will take you to complete a project anyways, you could just multiply that out and charge the lump sum.


6

If you have a brain that keeps switching tasks regardless of how much willpower you exert, like me, there are a few things that can help. Use time tracking software like ManicTime (recommended by @Jon in another answer), RescueTime, or ChronosX that accurately records your activity, including the foremost app, the document or website URL associated with ...


6

price = desired hourly rate * (estimated number of hours to complete * 3) + expenses Thats what I used to use, at least, when estimating projects.


6

One missing point that can be crucial (depending on relevance) is a definition and categorization of deliverables into those for which the client will be assigned copyright (corporate authorship or work for hire), and works that have an open source license (if, for instance, you use any open source libraries, you would not have the right to relicense or ...


6

Nothing on an invoice to a customer should be a surprise to the customer. Given that, I'm hoping that you already set the expectation with the customer that a significant fraction of your time would initially be spent familiarizing yourself with the application both from a user perspective and from a developer perspective. And your estimates for the first ...


5

Regarding the Mark Cuban story, I refer you to the Cult of Done Manifesto, point 4: Pretending you know what you're doing is almost the same as knowing what you are doing, so just accept that you know what you're doing even if you don't and do it. On the main question, when I was freelancing, I took the position that anything I do for one client is taking ...


5

I used to bill hourly when I was consulting for an on-line start-up several years ago, and it struck me that it really was a big act of trust on both our parts. The client trusted I wasn't going to charge him for looking up sports scores on ESPN, I trusted he wasn't going to accuse me of the same if the project I was working on took longer than anticipated. ...


5

A very different formula to those already posted, used with great success by some people, is price = whatever you think the customer is willing to pay at most Obviously, this formula contains a variable that is hard to determine, but I've seen cases where a customer was willing to pay €800 for a task that hardly takes an hour to complete. And similar ...



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