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I am creating an online education portal for a client who pays on time and likes the work which I'm doing but after a day he says "Hey, I liked the work you did to the ABC section but after discussing with my partner/adviser I realized that without XYZ, ABC would not look nice and much functional."

Let me explain one situation: The website has a forum. The full layout of the forum was discussed and approved with the client before the starting of the project. Now when it has been created, he says to add a star-rating system in every comment. Now I have to create another module for this which will consume extra time and effort without money as this is a fixed-cost project.

So how do I deal with this type of clients such that they are satisfied as well as I get paid well?

  • 1
    Are you on a fixed cost or time-based contract? If time-based, just spend your billable time for adding ratings. If fixed cost, then make a separate agreement on change request. – bytebuster May 22 '13 at 7:24
  • @bytebuster: This is a fixed cost project. I've edited the question. – jayantS May 22 '13 at 7:32
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I would advise following approach:

  1. Define the scope of the work (which means "what will be delivered"). With an ongoing project like this you probably won't be able to do this retroactively (because you definitely do not want to damage your good relationship with the client). But, you can do it for future requests.

    I.e. "<module>, that will have following functions and settings: <here goes your list>, admin will interact with it this way: <description of admin gui> and users will interact with it this way <user gui>".

  2. Define what is not in scope - This is actually very important, because as you gain experience, there will be many future enhancements you can anticipate, and you can decide with the client if they are in the scope or not.

    If the client decides to add these enhancements later, that is clearly change request and you will have less difficult negotiations to cope with.

  3. When you hit a grey area like you just described, ask the client to pay, but first tell him what the change means for you. Imagine talking like this:

    • You: "You are asking me to add feature XYZ. That is reasonable, but since it was not described in the original request, it will cost me XY hours of work. Would you be willing to pay for the work, please?"
    • Client: "But we agreed to a fixed price for the solution; you should calculate in unexpected changes like this."
    • You: "Not everything can be calculated in advance. You have a formal right to demand this feature as part of solution, but understand that if you force me to do it for free, it will have impact on the speed and quality - I will be forced to do it as quickly as possible so I wont lose much money on that. In the end, it will harm us both; please reconsider."

    And so on. In the end, if the client is honest and not just trying to take advantage of you, you will arrive at a compromise, and you will get at least some money for the extra work.

    If he tries to rip you off, you know that you have to be strictly formal next time, not giving him any chances (and maybe not giving him your best, because that is reserved for clients who appreciate your work and are honest with you).

  • One more hint - i your work contains gui, make gui sketch or gui prototype part of scope definition. This is usually more convenient for the client to understand. If there werent any star ratings in prototype, it is clearly CR and client will be more likely to accept it as CR. – Erchi May 22 '13 at 12:03
  • In addition to the 3rd point in the answer, try to deal with the current situation as quickly as possible, because these "small change requests" may continue indefinitely and in the end you may still end up with bad reputation (just because you didn't want to complete the last change the client requested to be done for free). – Dzhuneyt May 22 '13 at 14:22
  • When it's fixed bid and you get change requests, it's imperative that a) you defined what is covered under the current contract and b) and what types of changes fall out of scope. I usually make small changes for things like layout, styling or copy on the original spec, but changes to functionality require a change request. It needs to be defined upfront and then reinforced when the change is requested. – John Teague May 22 '13 at 14:44
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I would get a scope of some form in writing that both parties can agree to, even just a bulleted list of what a feature or job will contain. Give a limited flexibility on changing features within that list but anything new that isn't in the list is a new job and would require a new quote.

I would always be wary of even great clients that do this too much as it sets a precedent and it can be difficult to break.

Set the ground rules up front and it will save you pain down the road

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There are a couple of approaches you can take here. One is to make sure that you've built some contingency into the price that you agree with the client, on the assumption that they will inevitably want to make changes and enhancements once the site has started to take shape. That's an inevitable part of building a website unfortunately. Even if you go down the route of planning everything up front down to the minutest detail, there will still be features that hadn't been thought of or enhancements that need to be made.

The other approach is to be very up front and honest about the scope that will be delivered at the agreed cost. Anything above and beyond that would trigger a change request, which has its own associated cost. It's important to agree this situation and the cost associated with the change requests before you start the project so that the client understands the implication of changing their mind ad-hoc and they don't feel like you've got them over a barrel when they ask for legitimate changes. In your case you could try negotiating a fee for this change but it would need to be handled delicately so as not to incur bad feeling.

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Your contract with the client should include a detailed entry of the scope of what will be done. within your contract should be a clause for scope creep. Often it should state that should a client go well outside of what was agreed, he or she must renegotiate a new contract in addition to paying a kill fee for the first unfinished project. There's a great video lecture titled "Mike Monteiro | #### You. Pay Me" (Vimeo, Youtube), I highly suggest watching it.

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    Welcome to Freelancing.SE! This answer could use some improving, as we are geared towards professionals. Some tips to improve your post included linking to the video (instead of asking us to find it), and including some more information. That will definitely help get some reputation! – Canadian Luke Aug 13 '13 at 20:21
  • Really not sure this answer is constructive... – Andrew Aug 15 '13 at 10:04
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Use your best judgement.

There is no one right answer, in principle it would be additional work but there is more to it than that.

I have a client which I recently completed a site for, and there was a great deal of creep in the project, however I decided to go with it as I knew there was a good additional job which may come up for him - I wanted to keep on his good side.

Sure enough he cleared the next project which is twice the price of the previous, and I think he may have found someone else because he knows several other designers.

I would always allow a small amount of creep (I even price a few extra hours in too some projects), always try to keep the client happy even if it means a little more work.

If the project starts slipping a long way, then you need to say something - and I would strongly advise you to make sure the project is clearly outlined from the start for this reason and many others.

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