Anticipated Duration and Timeframe
The timing associated with a project is another essential area where you must assess a project for suitability to decide if it is worthy of consideration. Timing actually encompasses two slightly different issues. The duration of a project is how long it will take to do: how many hours of work or days you’ll need to put in to get it done. The timeframe refers to when the project needs to actually be worked on, which may include a deadline for completion, and possibly also a specific start date.
The duration of a project is important to know for two main reasons: effective pay rate and scheduling. The first applies mainly to fixed rate projects, while the second is relevant to both flat rate and hourly jobs. Note that another issue is simply your preference when it comes to longer or shorter projects, which have both pros and cons.
Effective pay rate is related to budget: you can only determine if a project is worth doing from a monetary standpoint by comparing what you will be likely to earn against the hours it will take to do. Estimating the number of hours required to get a job done is an art form, something that will really test your expertise in your chosen field of endeavor. It is an essential part of proposal pricing, and doing it properly requires full understanding of the project and how you plan to tackle it. However, even during the project assessment phase, you should be able to come up with at least a “ball park” estimate to decide if you want to explore the job further. You can use this approximation with the estimated budget to figure out if you should expend more resources on bidding, or just go to the next listing.
Scheduling is essential for the fairly obvious reason that you cannot do work that you do not have time for. Sometimes you may find yourself with a lot of room on your plate, easily able to accommodate even time-consuming projects. At other times you may only be able to squeeze in short jobs here and there. Naturally, the timeframe during which the job needs to be done also has an important impact on scheduling, as we’ll see in a moment.
Some projects don’t have any timeframe restrictions. The clients who list these jobs need work done and don’t really care when that happens, as long as it is reasonably soon. But most clients don’t just want their work done “any old time”—they want it finished in a timeframe that meets their business needs. To many customers, it doesn’t matter how good or how cheap you are if you can’t do the project within their timing parameters.
Unlike budget, most clients are not shy about clearly stating their timeframe requirements, often right in the project description. Most sites allow the client to specify a work timeframe, and they will often make use of this feature. Even if a freelancing site doesn’t provide data fields where timing information can be entered, clients will just write in the description field when they need the job done by, or when they want it to start.
You may encounter conflicts between the timeframe specified in a project’s official due date, and what the client says about the project. This sometimes occurs because freelancing sites supply a “default” timeframe, such as one or two weeks, which clients forget to change. Most of the time, what the client takes the time to write out is the more accurate requirements. And of course, if you aren’t sure, it doesn’t hurt to ask. Most timeframe restrictions are focused on the end of the project: clients frequently have deadlines by which work must be completed. Meeting these deadlines is essential: you should not even consider a project with a deadline unless you have both a reasonable belief that you’ll be able to get the job done on time, and the flexibility to be able to find additional hours to finish by the deadline if it turns out that you’ve underestimated the work involved. Clients do not react well to being promised that work will be done by a particular date and then having the date slip.
Occasionally you’ll encounter a project that has a very short deadline compared to how long you’d normally expect a client to allow for the work. Other clients may not have fixed deadlines but will simply say that they are in a hurry and need the work done “ASAP”. These are rush jobs, a special case that you need to think about carefully before deciding whether or not to pursue.
Once in a while you will find a project listing where the client specifies a project start date in the future. One common reason for this is that the work requires input from a task currently in progress; another cause is a client waiting for the availability of funds. A deferred start date obviously puts less pressure on you as a freelancer, but it can be a real challenge when it comes to scheduling—you know far better how busy you are today than you will be in several weeks. Worse still, the further out a project’s start date is pushed, the more likely it is that the client will either delay it further, or pull it back in, further making scheduling problems. Be sure to only bid on such projects if you currently have a light workload or flexibility in your schedule. And be prepared to juggle projects if the timing changes.
Home - Table Of Contents - Contact Us
The Online Freelancing Guide (http://www.FreelancingGuide.net)
Last Site Update: February 1, 2012
© Copyright 2001-2012 Charles M. Kozierok. All Rights Reserved.
Not responsible for any loss resulting from the use of this site.