Project Management is Billable!

As many make getting their projects in order a New Year’s resolution (or goal!), I often hear that adding project management is overhead. It cannot be billed to the client. But, project management is. billable. And, your clients are already paying for it. Here are some of the reasons why Project Management is billable: What other costs should always be billable in your proposal? Comment below!

Project management absolutely is billable whether the client realizes it or not. This isn’t an area that a lot of solo developers think about because they just ‘do it’ as part of their development services. The bigger the project the more management that needs to go into it.

You need to account for scrum, project planning, and progress meetings. At the very least there needs to be something in your proposal for meetings with the client. While you’re meeting you’re not coding so therefore it should be billable. If nothing else it plants a seed in the clients mind that they’re paying for that long meeting and maybe condenses it so the coder(s) can get back to work.

I’m in full agreement with both of you. As a customer, I want the solution to be as inexpensive as possible, however, I also want it fully managed in order to ensure nothing is missed and there is great communication between us (client) and the project team. When coached that way, it should be rare that a client goes, “na…lets drop the communication, documentation and scheduling. Go ahead and finish the project whenever, don’t sweat the details. We will figure out as it goes, no matter the end cost.”.

I love that y’all have included project management as part of your offerings. It’s amazing how many people decide to add it after they figure out they can’t handle it and then tell their clients, “It’s OK… you won’t be billed for it.” Um, WHY??? It makes the project go much smoother.

Hm…well there are a LOT of solo Xojo consultants that are competent developers but not great project managers. It’s hard to wear all the hats required for a project. Developer, Project Manager, and Billing are three completely different tasks and skill sets.

We are pretty lucky in that our developers don’t have to worry about billing and management very much. It’s why our business really took off when we hired another developer, and then a 2nd, and management was too much for me to do (and code) so Carol came on board full-time to manage that part of it. That’s in her wheelhouse anyway. So I get to be the “sure I can do that,” person and she can be the “sure we can do that but it will cost you $ to do it,” person. That was very hard when it was just me.

It is REALLY hard to switch hats like that. Developers by nature want to fix things, especially when they know they can. Solving that puzzle is often their reward. Unfortunately, that doesn’t pay the bills! I’ve heard from many software development companies that the best hire they ever made was a project manager and how it helped to grow their businesses. Definitely something to consider if you are wanting to grow! (Of course, not all PMs are Carol either! lol!)

I’ve been on both sides, project- and team-management versus hard core development of electronics and software. Now I know that’s nearly impossible to run a project wearing all the hats yourself and at the same time. You’re on headlines, multiple disciplines and you’re also at a very detailed level while developing. As a perfectionist like me this gets quite complex. It’s impossible to remain objective and you end up working day and night. And next, who’s to blame when things run out of time, budget and complexity? Yes, me, myself and I.
Having someone next to you owning all the domain knowledge is a blessing while developing, but even, it’s rare this person will be aware about all the unusual scenarios which cannot left ‘don’t care’ while building an application, so calculate with this phenomenon also.
I’ve done some projects without a clear and complete definition of the scope, what will be in and what not. Now I can say: Managing customer’s expectations and know where milestones and finish are, is the only way to celebrate a party and get bills payed.
If you have to run a project entirely on you own, it’s probably best to split things and disciplines up. A period of designing and getting designs signed off, time for managing, a period for developing, and test-implementation, period for redesign and fixing bugs, and last but not least time for some documentation to make the user a little bit selfsupporting.

@Joost Rongen - that definitely sounds like the voice of experience! I couldn’t agree more!