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I'm new to freelance consulting. I'm performing a statistical analysis in R. I've been hired to perform a specific analysis and give a specific predictive model.
I've only agreed to give the analysis as is without the code, but they would like the code considering a different price. This specific client is known to reuse expertise they find and pick from consultants and use in house assets to replicate.

I know that they won't know how to read it nor seem to fully understand the fact that most of what is written is very case specific and very well not be applicable to similar events. Although I do risk being not hired again. I'm tempted to:

  • Say no (original price, give only results and workflow)
  • Give them the whole code and see if they're able to decipher it. Results workflow and scripts (bigger price)
  • Try to meet at the middle and give a better idea as how would they be able to perform similar analysis under similar conditions. This actually means training their personnel. Results , workflow, scripts, time explaining the details to their personnel (even bigger price + hours training)

I am a bit lost and would like to hear what's the industries standard regarding this (if any).

TL;DR in R consulting is it normal to give and explain the code used to obtain certain answer (scripting wise) or is an explanation of the workflow sufficient.

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Negotiate, and give the client what they need

Unless they are taking other business from you, give them the scripts and offer to walk through the code, assuming you are being compensated for your time and the value you add. Agreeing initially for just the results and not the code allows them to pay a cheaper price in the event that your work was done poorly or didn't actually meet their needs. Since the original agreement was for a lower price without code, consider this as a bonus and as a way of them saying that your work provides value.

Why do businesses hire consultants?

Businesses hire consultants because they have a problem that they cannot solve with in-house talent in either a timely manner or an affordable manner, and these folks oftentimes look to consultants for additional training or to solve a recurring problem in their business. Good examples might be a wellness coach, an anti-discrimination coach, or a product safety specialist. You know, the type of person who comes to your workplace to teach you how to eat healthier, or how to work in diverse environments, or how to use a piece of equipment without chopping off your fingers! In short, they provide value in the form of knowledge that lasts long after they are gone.

Or maybe they hire a consultant to provide statistical analysis, first by giving them a fish then by teaching them how to fish. They're now asking you to teach them to fish, and it sounds like they are willing to pay you for it.

There may be future work

As the expert in their specific problem, there may come a time when they come back to you with more needs that their in-house talent cannot meet in either a timely or a cost-effective manner. Having had a positive business relationship with them in the past, one that doesn't involve you holding them hostage, they are likely to reach out to you should they have more tough problems to solve.

I've only had a few freelance clients in the past seven to ten years, but those few have given me plenty of repeat business as a result of the services I provide. Make sure you're being compensated, but don't hold your clients' hostage either. There's more money in building a solid reputation and network either in recurring work or in referrals.

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Depending on their area of business, for example medicine, it might be neccessary for them to provide the steps taken to get results too. If they weren't sure about your expertise it might have been a smart move to first let you produce results and only then the scripts if they work.

When making a price for the scripts, you need to consider two facts:

  • How much is it worth them, meaning how much would it cost them to develop the same script from scratch? Here with the side condition that they have input and output as a test case. How much of that was already paid for the results?

  • How much would it cost them to hire another freelancer to do the job?

Depending on these you can figure out a fair price and you can back it up with the good results you already provided. Don't overcharge or they will look for other options, but also don't undercharge or they will keep abusing you and you will hardly get to higher prices once the first is too low.

With the time you already spent, also consider how much it costs to clean up your code for delivery, if it is in a bad quick and dirty hacked state.

It is also not unusual to ask for code in any area of development, be it only to have a backup in case your company/freelancing stops working. I've seen factors of 2x to 10x of the product price, but that largely depends on the above questions, how much it is worth to them, not how much it costs you to produce it.

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