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Have you ever had to abandon a job?
not my first choice, btw
mcjohnson




msg:4508531
 6:29 pm on Oct 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

Have you ever had been a year into a web dev job and just realized it is simply NOT going to work? If so, what did you do about it?

Here's my situation; I run a small but very well respected Web dev firm. I have a high customer satisfaction rate and a lot of work in the pipeline.

That said, I took on a job last December that has become somewhat of a nightmare. It required some pretty in-depth programming for which I, as I sometimes do with great success, outsourced the coding.

The firm to which I outsourced it initially just did.not.getit. After several thousand dollars and no real progress, I pulled the job from them and moved it to a firm that promised a better result.

$3000 more dollars were sunk into that firm and after about 10 months, I am no closer to having a finished product that I was before. Moreover, I am getting some rather constant and concerning excuses about how what I am asking for is not technically possible (which I do not believe. It's somewhat of a clone of another website so I am not asking for magic, just some pretty specific form data passing and sharing)

The client is understandably frustrated. I am at the crossroads of moving it to yet a 3rd firm, but I am at the point now where to move the project forward, I will be spending my own money, because the client refuses to pay any additional funds. I don't really blame them. What they see if a shell of what they have asked for and very little to show for what they have paid.

So the question is: Have you ever reached a point on a job where you have said "This is CLEARLY not going to work. I can throw good money after bad, but I am building on sand and it's never going to launch".

At what point do you advise the clients that it's just not feasible to finish the job? And to what detriment to your reputation?

The contact with the client states pretty specifically that should either party terminate the contact a pro-rata share of the deposit will be returned, taking into account work done to date. In this case, that would practically result in NOTHING returned to the client. I have poured more money and hours into this job than the deposit would cover.

Your thoughts are welcome.

 

LifeinAsia




msg:4508545
 7:00 pm on Oct 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

$3000 more dollars were sunk into that firm and after about 10 months ... concerning excuses about how what I am asking for is not technically possible

Seems to be a contradiction here. Why are you letting them get away with keeping money for a project they say is impossible?

When we subcontract work, if the results are not something we can use, they don't get paid. Period.

It sounds like you bit off way more than you could chew. As your client, I would not be at all happy that *I* have to pay for your mistake. Admittedly, it would be partially my fault for agreeing to a contract that allowed you to get paid for not producing anything usable (not something I would generally do, especially if I knew the other party would have to sub-contract the work).

httpwebwitch




msg:4508573
 8:24 pm on Oct 16, 2012 (gmt 0)

I've abandoned jobs a couple of times - but never because they were "technically impossible"... Usually "impossible" is a lame excuse for "don't want to solve it" or "doing it right would be waaay too expensive". I've abandoned projects because the initial requirements gathering and/or proof of concept have shown that the effort required would be far beyond the budget, that I don't have the equipment or skills to finish the job, or that I can't devote enough time to satisfy their deadline and/or expectations.

The right time to abandon a stinking ship is ASAP. When you notice that it might not be profitable to continue on with it.

In one case, I returned what little I had accomplished in return for a small portion of the deposit, because the bit I had done was worth the time spent. In other cases I returned nothing to the client and abandoned payment altogether. Time lost spent on wasted effort.

Yes, it is damage to your reputation, but only if the client blabs about it. So, do your best to mend the relationship with apologies and concessions as appropriate to the situation. But don't make emotional decisions -- abide by the contract, and get paid what you deserve. Even if that's a financial loss.

In agency & freelance work, this kind of thing happens. A diverse workload will hopefully balance out the occasional losses with successful profitable projects too.

mcjohnson




msg:4508688
 12:30 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

webwitch, thank you for the sage words. I know what I need to do now and I appreciate the wisdom.

incrediBILL




msg:4508696
 12:51 am on Oct 17, 2012 (gmt 0)

$3000 more dollars were sunk into that firm and after about 10 months


What kind of expertise did you expect to get for such little money? I'm more concerned about the time, 10 months? I'd be expecting results much sooner than that.

I have poured more money and hours into this job than the deposit would cover.


Not meaning to be harsh here, but that's not the client's fault. I'd be prepared to either give them a full refund or expect to get sued.

As a last ditch effort, have you looked for any Open Source that might get close to what the customer wants because I've found so much stuff already available these days that I outsource very little.

paladin




msg:4511853
 5:45 pm on Oct 24, 2012 (gmt 0)

mcjohnson,
I sent you a separate PM. But if your reputation is worth it you may want to invest in getting the job done at your expense instead of abandoning it.

Now I do not mean every future part, but if you had the payments set against milestones then make sure the milestones that were paid for are complete.

The contact with the client states pretty specifically that should either party terminate the contact a pro-rata share of the deposit will be returned, taking into account work done to date.

IANAL - but from what you described here it sounds like the work done to-date is unusable/worthless. What is the value of useless code?

jesusescobarmc




msg:4541098
 9:47 pm on Jan 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

Unfortunately, yes. I was under-paid.

wheel




msg:4541111
 10:23 pm on Jan 31, 2013 (gmt 0)

I wouldn't abandon. I'd fix it, give the client what they wanted, and apologize profusely for the delay. The underlying problem is that you agreed to take the job then actually had someone else do it - or more appropriately, failed to do it. That's all on you, and it's what you get for outsourcing.

You should figure out how to fulfill it, then use it as a learning experience for your business. Everyone has that contract that bites them on the butt once in a while, but your inability to properly quote shouldn't be coming back on the client.

I'm knee deep in a contract right now. Way underquoted, and I'm going to have an extremely difficult time fulfilling the contract. I would love to put it behind me, but can't. When I took the contract, I was upfront with the client that I don't normally do this type of work for others and in fact the first thing I did was spend time with them to show them how to do the work inhouse. Still, I ended up with a contract. Now, with the workload being much bigger than I expected, I've gone back to the client, told them of my difficulties and asked for an extension on the timeframe. they've happily given me the extension. Having to ask for an extension is embarrassing enough without telling them I won't deliver at all. And in the end, they'll get what they want, and I'll get paid. Client's happy because product delivered, wife's happy because hey, money.

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