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Optimistic client

 11:28 pm on Jun 11, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi All,

Working as a freelance small/medium business web development.

Anyway, gets a call from the relative of a client of mine says him and his partner (business) run a ticketing agency and would I give them a quote on a website where paople can buy new AND sell their unwanted tickets, with my clients taking a cut of sales from people selling unwanted's.

IE: concert/west end show/grand prix ect ect....

This type of project (in my eyes) is a vast undertaking, not to mention the ecommerce side which I feel may need to be purpose built as they want to take percentage of profit (I dont know of an ecommerce system that could handle this), it will require admin areas, login and register and also probably an area where the seller of unwanted tickets and the proposed buyer can communicate and ask questions ect....not to mention everything else.

SO....what do I tell them, I have already mentioned the complexity of the project and that it will be an expensive ongoing project.

What do I do next, how can I quote them?




 4:19 am on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

I'm not sure what you're asking . . .

Map out how you would custom program this, for surely it would need to be custom programming.

Consider all the features you mentioned, including - possibly - some sort of escrow requirement for people trying to game the system by selling fake tickets.

You'll also need some sort of verification process. When selling tickets to consumers, it's a no-brainer, but when you open up "just anyone" to put tickets up for sale, fraud protection is a big part of your job.

Go over this top to bottom, consider every possible way it could go bad, and how you can program to prevent it.

Job one is to determine "milestone one." An ongoing project defines changes that will generally be made obvious once a working model is in place. Milestone one should be a functioning system that does the initial requirements asked for. Make a list of items that determine milestone one.

Then go item by item of your list, think about how you'd program it, and how much time it would take to program each module/function/ task. As you think through the programming, other requirements will arise. For example, someone posts a ticket for sale, will you be checking against prospective buyers who have entered a "wish list" for this ticket? Are there notify by email functions when new users offer tickets for sale? Is it a bidding process, or a one-off price the seller will determine?

After working through your outline, add up the costs and double it. That's right, even at the best of best times, unless it's a "clone" of something you've done before you will be very lucky if it only takes twice what you though it would.

Add it up, put it the details of your outline, as well as WHY the client needs each item you describe, the times involved all in a proposal, and submit it.

IMO proposals on custom projects drive me nuts. I have to think and rethink each phase and always question if I'm missing something, while trying to balance it all with a potential customer budget. I think my proposals cost me more "work for free" time than nagging client phone calls.


 5:28 am on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi Rocknbil,

Had great help from you in past, nice to hear from you again.

Well my propblem is, this is too grand a project really for me, when it comes to developing custom processing facilities like you say, its WAY out of what I do.

T know where to start, and how long it would take is something you cant answer without the skills you need to do it.

So maybe the answer is to get a few quotes of my own from some sources I know and claim a finders fee ect...



 9:07 am on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Well my problem is, this is too grand a project really for me

Knock it back, I do it regularly!

Taking on projects that are difficult to define and scope out is asking for trouble. We did it two or three times before the penny dropped. There is nothing wrong with just telling them that this is not the type of work that you do.

The finder's fee idea is good.


 5:45 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Agreed, find a tried and tested programmer and outsource it.

Fortune Hunter

 8:56 pm on Jun 12, 2009 (gmt 0)

Agreed, find a tried and tested programmer and outsource it.

I like this philosophy personally. I have one programmer and two graphic designers that I use almost exclusively on projects. However I differ in the sense that I don't simply outsource and forget it...

I use these people as members of my team even though they are technically independent contractors. I get quotes from them on a project, add a little padding in case they are a bit low and put some fees on top for my part of the project and give a proposal. The client thinks they are contracting just with my company and I do all the project management and billing. It is a strategic alliance that works amazingly well, at least for me.

The client doesn't even know these people exist as I just refer to them as "my team" as opposed to my "employees" I know I am using semantics here, but it works and it allows me to not only take on much larger projects than I ever could alone, but also make a lot more money. My business has expanded a lot since I have started doing this about 3 years ago.

The size of my average contract has grown about 10 times what it was when it was just me doing all the work. It truly is a wealth building strategy for the independent developer. I am now able to take on some of the large web development companies in my area, but still undercut their prices by a healthy amount because I don't have the same overhead they have. This arrangement is actually pretty common in the residential and even commercial construction so I just applied it to my business.

Synergy where the sum of the parts is greater than the whole or something like that :)


 2:01 am on Jun 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

geoffb I had someone ask of me a similar set up once. You might try osConcert and modify it to save expense, I think it might be open source?


 3:12 am on Jun 13, 2009 (gmt 0)

Am I missing something? It sounds like a ticket broker network and there are several huge ones already out there that will offer every bell and whistle you could imagine needing.

And it already handles the commissions on consignments.

Don't reinvent the wheel, plug them into a network which will expand their inventory anyway.


 1:05 pm on Jun 15, 2009 (gmt 0)

References to the West End suggest that this is a UK operation. Remember that reselling certain tickets is illegal, make sure that any controls to be coded in are their responsibility to define. You don't want them trying to blame your "bad" programming if they get caught out handling dodgy cup final tickets.


 2:20 pm on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Refer him to StubHub and be done with it. Many lay people come up with these "grand" ideas just to make a buck that have already been done before and have no chance of succeeding.

Nor do they even understand the complexity of their idea. I wouldn't have even given this client the time of day that you have given him.


 5:56 pm on Jun 16, 2009 (gmt 0)

Hi all,

Thanks for getting back to me. Even when I said at least it would cost 10s of thousands s he squirmed, truth is this type of thing is way over the 100s of thousands.

MWpro, I would normally go that way and ignore, but it is a relative of a recent client of mine so I thought at least I should set him straight on the financila costs of these projects.

I really feel he thought I would be talking maybe 1000 tops....he he-fool!


 9:22 pm on Jun 17, 2009 (gmt 0)

I think there is room for more of these sites in the UK, if they have a ticket agency they already have merchant services and know all the issues of legally reselling tickets so its a relatively small project. I'm surprised you diddnt bid for it.

the ecommerce side which I feel may need to be purpose built as they want to take percentage of profit (I dont know of an ecommerce system that could handle this)

Simple workflow. The merchant site takes all the sale and then transacts an amount - commission to the sellers account after the 60 or 90 days to reduce chargeback

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