I have 10 years of experience in the IT, mainly in SharePoint & .NET development/customization. i had the 10 years working on a full time job, since 1 year i started working as a freelancer, all the projects i worked on during my freelancing, i set the following process:-

  1. I apply to the project inside Up-work or Freelancer

  2. the customer contact me

  3. for hourly rated and fixed price, i am always been asked about an estimation for the cost.

  4. so i set up a session with the client for 1-1.5 hours (before gaining the contract) to understand the requirements

  5. then i give them an estimation with +/- 15%-20% variation

  6. i completed around 10 projects in this way. and i am a top rated freelancer

but now i am working on a project for building ISO approval process, and the system have a lot of templates and workflow and approvals going on. so i had 2 meetings with the clients (1.5 hours in total), but i still can not define the scope. as to be able to understand this project i need to have requirement gathering sessions for not less than 10-12 hours, and i am not sure if i am suppose to do those for free. so i am thinking about this process:-

  1. Ask the customer to create 2 projects inside Upwork, one which is hourly based and the other is fixed priced.

  2. for the hourly based we can setup 10-12 hours on requirement gathering over 3-4 days.

  3. based on the requirement gathering i can write a design document.

  4. review the design document with the customer and get their approval.

  5. once the design document is approved, i can provide a fixed priced project for the implementation. i need 2 projects as in Upwork we can not change a project from been hourly based to be fixed priced.

does my appraoch for this large project, sound valid? or i can improve it? for me and for the potential customer as well? at the end to understand the project i need 12 hours >> and to understand what i need to implement i need a design document...


1 Answer 1


There is probably no general one-size-fits-all approach to this problem.

In a perfect world, the client pays for all your time. However, sometimes landing a large project may be worth an investment - especially if getting that project will lessen the future need for often winning small projects.

Whether it is possible to have client the client pay for requirements gathering could depend on which side needs the other side the most; the more unique your skills are, the better chances are you can dictate terms.

In the end, it depends on what is most important to you: Getting the client or always being fully paid for your time. Most often the answer lies somewhere in between; only you know where you are on this spectrum.

I would advise against your suggested approach. In a Danish context, creating a separate project of a few hours for requirements gathering seems overly bureaucratic. If the client suggested it, I would not argue against - but I would never propose it myself.

If this client is strategically or financially important to you, a defensive approach is probably wise - especially if the 10-12 hours in the end will represent a small percentage of time consumed. Your choices are:

  1. If the client is super important: Absorb the cost not even mentioning it to the client
  2. Or, if possible - somehow spread the cost across the length of the project
  3. Or - in the contract, explicitly state that the initial requirements gathering is considered part of the project

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