Quoting for new prospects


Our quoting process is the shortest we could come up with, it’s free for the client (as it should), deliverables oriented and always under development to quote faster and more accurately. In this article we wish to share why we do it the way we do it.


Let´s say you are a company that wants to develop a new line of business. Or maybe you want to make some process more efficient. Perhaps you’re evaluating nurturing a new channel between you and your clients, or your employees. If that’s the case, chances are you are hiring someone for the job. It’s just natural: this way you can pay with money what you don’t have in time and in doing so, you can trust someone with more experience than yourself on the particular field you need, and let’s face it, avoiding a new learning curve is always nice… Oh! (I almost forgot) Paying as little as possible is a deeply vested concern of yours.

Once you’ve made up your mind is time to go looking for contractors. That would be easy if people were to be trusted, but they are not, so you go looking for referrals, and then start meeting with people. If you are lucky and everything goes according to plan you can have all meetings on the same week and have a clear idea of when will the process be over and how much time will it take… right?

Wrong.

Ruling out the possibility of you being stuck with just one provider, and given that there is little chance that he already knows how much money and effort the new project will take, quoting is always a laborious task (and it involves many people). This is not only because contractors and providers take their time, but also involves various degrees of uncertainty in every step of the way.

If you are reading this you probably think this is just for software (since, hey, we are a software factory) but this is true for almost everything: flooring update, getting married, starting a new toy production line and yes, new software projects as well.

Quoting for new software projects could result in a process particularly challenging though, and the main reason for that is that everything starts with an idea inside the client’s brain with not much detail to it. So immediately afterwards there’s this whole process of OK-this-is-the-idea-but-now-let’s-figure-it-out that usually takes time and money (that no sane client will ever pay). What you are looking for is some way to get a clear picture of what the deliverable will be. That is already a hustle. You’d also like a deadline and a fixed price, and of course you expect that to hold, because after all, it is your money.

This is no new discussion, and there are many tools to help you with the process (some not that sophisticated), but all in all, for most of it, we are free to try, innovate, persist and iterate on how we quote for new projects.

At Monits what we’ve done is putting together a Quoting team (yes, I know, but it is a part time job so you can do it even if you are not that many) that spends a time playing with your idea and in 40 hours of work we get to rough graphic proposal, like the one illustrating this post, a dumb app to install on your phone, or a wireframe set. After that we would arrange to meet you (Skype is always an option) and walk you through the solution we developed.

Our main objective is to get to a point when we agree on what we want. If we can do that, then the rest if nuisance. We’ve found the coming to terms part is the one that takes time, but that is exactly why we have a sales representative. Note that there is no mention of functional analysis, use cases, flux maps or anything like that. That’s because we will do that once we’ve started. If anything gets out of hand we’ll make a reality check with you.

The ending of the story should be a happy one. You have a time estimate. A number starting with the sign “$”. A direction everybody agrees on. It’s time to write that check!

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