I had a meeting with a potential customer last week and I decided to decline any further planning of the project and now I'm not sure if I shouldn't have done that.

The customer is looking for some company to develop some software for them. They are not a software company and don't have any in-house knowledge about development.

They have hired some external person helping them with the technical details and that person has very strong opinions on what tools to use for developing and how to develop (I guess these are based on what that person knows).

I decided to decline the project because for me, it looks more like they are looking for somebody to do only the coding and not actually deliver a finished product.

Should it be a red flag if the customers want to buy a finished product and at the same time be involved in the process how that product should be made?

2 Answers 2


You perhaps jumped the gun a bit.

The way you describe it, I see no red flags - but a couple of orange ones.

With a non-technical client, the potential for the exact type of disagreement you describe is quite large.

For them, IT might be uncharted or previously badly charted territory - so they now over-compensate by attempting to micro-manage the process.

A way forward could be to demonstrate that you actually have their best interests at heart; that you choose your tools to get the job done faster and better - and being completely transparent about progress having a short feedback loop.

Having said that, whether one is successful often depends on the personalities of key people; stubbornness or pig-headedness is pretty much impossible to navigate satisfactorily.

Were I in your shoes, I would have proceeded with the client - only stopping if it became obvious that a clash of personalities would prevent you from delivering successfully.


In my experience, it is not uncommon for a client to want to be involved in how a project is created.

The client often wants to make sure things get configured how they need them from the start. As opposed to receiving a final product then coming up with a change list to cover everything they need altered.

After all, aren't milestones there for this reason.. to suspend development mid-stream and correct anything that needs changed. Not sure I've ever gotten a project, then merely delivered a final product with zero client input along the way.

  • 1
    I agree that its important to work together with the client on what the final product should be - but i dont feel comfortable if they are starting in a position where they want to decide what programming language should be used and what kind of tools to use for development. If this is important for them, they can just hire a developer inhouse and tell that person how to do the job
    – SmallDev
    Dec 22, 2020 at 1:54
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    @SmallDev Maybe I missed that part about what language and tools you must use. Yes, that seems a bit much - one would not tell a plumber which wrench to use, or a mechanic which screwdriver to use, etc.
    – Scott
    Dec 22, 2020 at 2:02
  • I agree with @SmallDev, it's too complicated to work with a client which will decide what programming language we'll work with over that one which we mastered absolutely well. I were in your shoes, I'd only accept proposes which have to do with my skillset. In my humble opinion it makes more sense at the end from any freelancer propose.
    – Jorge Luiz
    Dec 26, 2020 at 23:46

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