I'm a freelance web developer and I charge by the hour. I realized that my previous Research & Analysis process was very inefficient and I'm looking to improve that to save more time and get better results. Most of my projects are for small companies and individuals looking for a start-up, but I do occasionally get larger projects. One of the steps I've taken is to split my R&A process into two parts which basically are:
- Collect the basic project requirements from the client.
- Review the project requirements and decide whether possible to accept the project.
- Send an estimate to the client if the project should be accepted from my side.
If the client approves the estimate:
- Meet and review the results with the client to finalize the requirements.
- Respond to the client with a detailed quote.
I drew my inspiration from this article: http://inspiredm.com/web-development-projects/
Charging my clients for the preliminary R&A is not logical but I'm not sure about whether I should charge for the follow-up R&A and if no, how much time I should spend on it. Furthermore, I want to avoid unnecessary meetings and prefer a solution that would not take too much of my time even if the client was just looking around so to speak.
Apart from splitting my R&A process in two, looking at how other freelancers deal with this problem, one possible solution that appealed to me the most, is to have an online questionnaire on my website that will send me the client's request via email for my review. If I do this right, then said online questionnaire will act as the preliminary R&A thus saving me a lot of time. Though I'm not sure how that would impact my clients. It works well for me but would it work for my clients as well?
- Am I right to split my R&A process in two parts?
- Should I charge my clients for the Follow-up R&A as per my hourly rate?
- How do you think an online questionnaire would impact my future clients?
- Should I mention my hourly rate along with the questionnaire?
- Should I mention the general terms of agreement with the questionnaire?
Any suggestions please?