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Do you ever feel angry at unappreciative clients?
This is what happened:
My client is the manager of the advertising department at company X. He intends to buy a commercial product from High Price Solutions for $250k, maybe next year. In the mean time I was asked to develop a low-cost solution they can start using while waiting for approval to buy the HPS product.
My application uses only open source software, and therefore I have been able to develop something relatively quickly without charging too much. The other day the company X manager got really angry when I showed him my demo. He said "How come this can already do almost everything we need, and it's so inexpensive?" I told him it's because I'm using free software, which made him even madder. (My partner told me I never should have said the software was free.)
This isn't the first time I have worked hard on a project and then felt unappreciated. But it is the first time a client got angry because I got the job done too fast and charged too little.
Any similar experiences?

PC
Sunday, January 12, 2003

Ask him what part of saving money pisses him off so.

Crusty Admin
Sunday, January 12, 2003

And stop writing cheap, good software, I've got a big mortgage, and people like you just make it harder to make a big dollar.

Cheers
Sunday, January 12, 2003

What, Cheers, you missed the thread about nobody being entitled to a job?  (=

Sam Gray
Sunday, January 12, 2003

The following is just my guess.

So what is the manager supposed to tell his supervisor? "Hey, I was going to waste $250k to buy an expensive piece of software because I knew nothing about computers. I didn't know it'd be done with a much lower cost using open source software and freeware. Buying the expensive software is a big mistake and I should be fired.

"The job market is so terrible; definitely you can find a more competent guy to replace me with a even lower salary. Thank you."

S.C.
Sunday, January 12, 2003

I realize he was mad because he knows he is not qualified to make a decision about software, and is afraid he made a mistake wasting $250k.
I just thought some might find it amusing. I also wonder how common it is.
I've had lots of experiences with clients being utterly unimpressed with things that required knowledge and a lot of hard work. No matter how much intelligence you program into  your application, it still is not as smart as your clients (however incredibly dumb they might be). Therefore, nothing you do can ever impress them.

PC
Sunday, January 12, 2003

Well... it just goes to show that YOU can save the company money, and he can't! =)

Wei
Sunday, January 12, 2003

Another solution up your price.

Crusty Admin
Sunday, January 12, 2003

Clients are usually total fools.  Sometimes their foolishness works in your favor.  Sometimes it doesn't.  Just shrug and chalk it up to fate.

J. D. Trollinger
Sunday, January 12, 2003

Yes, you should definitely jack up your price.

Charlotte C.
Sunday, January 12, 2003

"He said "How come this can already do almost everything we need, and it's so inexpensive?"  . . .  This isn't the first time I have worked hard on a project and then felt unappreciated. But it is the first time a client got angry because I got the job done too fast and charged too little."

I guess there's something I don't quite follow. 

If he sees your cheap, fast solution and he gets mad, then he's not getting mad at you.  He's getting mad at the vendors of the expensive solution or idiots within his own company who were recommending the expensive solution.

What makes you think he was mad at you?  I guess you could be disappointed because his reaction was to get mad at the expensive vendor, and not to be grateful to you.

You might try a subtle method of suggesting gratefulness as appropriate reaction:  "Well, sir, don't get to mad at them.  They're burdened by a big overhead and they're probably using sub-par programmers with low-quality tools.  I can offer you a great inexpensive solution because I'm a genius who works by myself, and I like to pass the savings on to my clients."

Herbert Sitz
Sunday, January 12, 2003

Offer to do a version with extra functionality for 50 percent of what High Price Solutions are charging. Corporate executives are often so used to spending money that it's reassuring for them (to have to spend money.)

.
Monday, January 13, 2003

Maybe he gets a % of the 250K and you are not helping him!

Prakash S
Monday, January 13, 2003

I'm not surprised he is mad at you, he has probably spent a lot of time and effort justifying this purchase to his managers / directors in this business. Now you have gone and made him look stupid to these senior people in the company.

In fact he has probably been boasting to his friends on the golf course about how much money he is going to spend on this project and now they think he is a dork as well.

What really amazes me though is that he wanted to spend 250K and you gave away a solution for peanuts. You are not a commodity, start learning to sell your real value.

Tony E
Monday, January 13, 2003

The price difference comes down to the distinction between enterprise products & projects. If you are making a product whose target market is a limited number of corporate clients you have to charge big to pay the wages of all your developers.

Often projects can be wa-ay cheaper, where you are writing bespoke solutions for clients.

Still, HPS' price seems excessive, normally enterprise solutions use a lot of custom software, much of which would be hard to duplicate.

Richard
Monday, January 13, 2003

It may still be worth 250K for them to have the other solution.

If they are willing to spend that kind of money on a single software system then its likely to be mission critical, at the very least its going to affect the bottom line.

Is the open source, tacked together (in the nicest most professional way that is), solution going to be trusted with the future of the organisation.  Will you as the creator, support person, single linchpin be put in the position of the last body before chaos?

On the other hand spending 250K when you already have a system that does most of what you want is bound to be a better job in the long run than a 250K system that's just provided based on client 'requirements' and salesman's 'promises'.

250K buys a lot of worth if it can be managed, the open source transitional solution is a powerful tool in managing that investment.

Simon Lucy
Monday, January 13, 2003

Listen to your partner.  Let him have the face contact with the clients, and try to learn from him.  No, you probably shouldn't have mentioned that the software was free.  Yes, you probably did charge too little. 

Bob Greene
Monday, January 13, 2003

There is also the "almost" to take into account. Getting from "almost" to "all" can sometimes mean putting in 100x more effort than you had to getting to "almost".

Just me (Sir to you)
Monday, January 13, 2003

Getting back to the anger, your client may not actually have been mad at you. He is more likely to have been angry that he has to spend $250,000, or that he will be made to look stupid if he as to change his mind. Maybe you just happened to be around when he got mad. Not professional, not clever, but unfortunately not rare.

David Clayworth
Monday, January 13, 2003

Yes I think he feels safer with the $250k system, because the high price suggests that it's a big company, which should mean better future support.
But the open source software is high quality (Apache, PHP, ImageMagick).
The HPS does more than they need in some ways, and less in others. I could have programmed exactly what they need and it would have been cheaper.
I can understand the guy's reasoning -- more expensive means a bigger company, which means more dependable. In general, that may be true.

PC
Monday, January 13, 2003

If they are afraid that your "free" software will have no support, perhaps you can offer them a long-term support contract. Money for you, security and high-quality software for them.

runtime
Monday, January 13, 2003

PC﹕

Yes. This is amusing; and yes, I think this is quite common. If the manager is "senior enough" to decide which $250K SW to buy, he probabily knows nothing about computers but COBOL, AS400.

S.C.
Monday, January 13, 2003

It's worse than that. He doesn't have an email address and as far as I know has never even used a word processor. I suspect he had never seen a computer before my demo.

PC
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

PC, it looks like you're dealing with somebody who's in a completely different world.

And I'm not trying to be nasty; I think that this manager is simply completely unfamiliar with the software world, and thus has no experience or knowledge on which he can base his opinions.  This situation is a disaster waiting to happen.

You might be happier if you run, now, from him or the company.

Brent P. Newhall
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

I don't know. I don't work for him directly, I'm a consultant for one of his vendors. We're doing this project gradually and he will get to see the value of using a web database to keep track of images, rather than mailing disks around all the time.
(I was exaggerating when I said he never saw a computer before).

PC
Tuesday, January 14, 2003

A web database to keep track of images, thats hardly cutting edge.  How could anybody justify 250k for that?  Are we talking Turkish Lira?

Perhaps theres more to it, and he doesn't realise.  Perhaps the browsing of jpegs on line is just the tip of the iceberg, and theres all kinds of technical stuff you need to be in business to understand. 

Ged Byrne
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

I totally agree with TonyE. When the PHB decides to move shop, one of the more prominent lines on his resume will be ... "I raised funding, managed and implemented a 250k xyz project .... blah blah blah".

Most huge IT projects I have seen are about just that... what size budget do you control?

I have seen spending well into upper six figures on a Lotus Notes web solution that could easily have been implemented for a tenth of that using open source technologies. The only problem is the manager would have received less inches in the sector IT magazines.

Just open your typical trade magazine, and look at how many companies have idiots grinning away as they tell the world about their new uberIT project.

tapiwa
Wednesday, January 15, 2003

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