One of the first things prospective clients often ask is my daily rate. I suspect this is because this is one of the only quantative factors that can be compared across different developers. This post describes why I’d encourage prospective clients, and fellow developers, to look beyond daily rates. This isn’t because my daily rate is particularly high. In fact, I am at the lower end of rates in the UK having chosen to not work through recruitment agencies. Instead, it’s because the total development cost tends to be more dependent on many more factors than a daily rate.
First of all, working solely on the basis of a daily rate usually suggests you don’t know how long the project will take. Reputable developers should be able to present a plan of how long each of the areas will take and a quotation for the cost based on their daily rate. Obviously, if the client changes the scope then the daily rate becomes more meaningful as a basis for the extra cost based on the extra time required.
The next important variable is that some developers work faster than others either through prior experience or natural talent. Again, this is a good reason for the client to insist on a quotation and a plan. However, it’s still possible for a developer to present an over-optimistic plan due to lack of experience. It’s important that the client monitor progress against the plan. This means receiving and assessing partially complete deliverables. Missing milestones is the first sign that you might have taken on an inexperienced developer that will not only increase the duration of your project but might also produce poorer quality code and hence a poorer quality product.
Finally, here are some other factors that can increase the cost of projects, some of which reach far beyond daily rates and into business processes…