oDesk - Bidding, Client Interaction and Project Award Policies and Mechanisms
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Project Award Process and Policies
oDesk’s project award process is very simple, especially for hourly work. After you put in a bid you may or may not be interviewed, as discussed above. If the client chooses your bid, he or she selects it using the site’s interface for managing open jobs, and oDesk sends a hire notice to you by email. Most of the time you don’t have to do anything: as soon as you receive the notice you are hired and the job becomes active as of the date that the client specified.
oDesk gives clients tips on how to hire contractors via some tip articles in its help system. There are also some relevant blog articles that contain useful details; these can be worth reading for contractors as well!
There don’t seem to be any specific policies on oDesk regarding the awarding of projects. Clients are of course required to follow the site’s terms of service, but they are generally left to their own devices to decide how to choose contractors.
The site provides the ability to explicitly decline bids that a client doesn’t like, which causes a decline notice to be sent to the contractor, specifying the reason for the decline. This reason may be something specific such as the bid being too high or the client feeling the contractor had insufficient work history, or can be a generic message like: “Just preferred other applicants”. Because of the many bidders, clients often don’t send out individual declines.
There are no complex negotiation mechanisms on oDesk as on some other sites. In most cases, after you discuss the project with the client during an interview, the client will simply accept the terms of your proposal and the project will become active immediately.
oDesk does have an informal terms negotiation scheme. If a client likes you and is willing to hire you but only for an amount less than you bid, he or she may send you an offer different from what you put in your proposal. You have the option of accepting this offer, in which case the project becomes active as before. If you don’t like the offer you can reject it, which withdraws your bid, or send a counter-offer back to the client. The client too can accept, reject or counter-offer, and the process continues until an agreement is reached.
One particular gotcha to look out for in terms negotiation is who pays oDesk’s fees. oDesk does a very good job about being explicit about the difference between pay rate and bill rate, usually displaying both at the same time and being very transparent about the oDesk fee. However, problems can arise when translating informal discussions into actual bids. More than once I’ve negotiated a price for a project with a client, say $150, and then when the client sent me an offer I found that he had specified it as $150 including the fee, so I only would net $135. As the contractor, you then have to decide whether to eat the 10%, ask the client to increase the amount to cover the fee, or offer to split it. I’ve used all three approaches depending on the context and the client. The best advice is to be clear during negotiations if your bid is before or after the fee is deducted.
As befits its emphasis on hourly work, oDesk does not have the fancy milestone systems found on sites like Guru and Elance. Flat rate projects just have a single payment associated with them, and of course, this isn’t relevant to hourly work anyway.
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Last Site Update: December 13, 2011
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