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Client wants assurance of completion if web developer becomes ill

What is the best way to provide assurance to the client?



6:27 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

I am independent web developer, and work on my own, dealing with all areas of a site, ranging from coding, design, scripting, database integration, SEO, etc.

A potential client has raised the issue of what would happen if I became unavailable for any reason, i.e. ill. They have a fixed timetable. Clearly my portfolio is based on my own work, which would not necessarily be of such quality if I had to effectively arrange a subcontractor.

Does anyone have any suggestions?

My only real solution is to recommend a few other people (I probably do know enough people that could do the work) if I fell ill, who could pick up the work, assuming I had sufficiently documented what I was doing as I went along.

Also, if so, should I therefore accept payment on completion only, or still insist on 25% upfront (which I have already indicated is my standard practice).

If, alternatively, I subcontracted, should I therefore accept the risk when signing a contract, i.e. state that the payment goes to me directly, and that if I have to subcontract that's a matter I need to deal with internally?

I can very much understand the client's dilemma. I believe they prefer my work to a rival company's work, but feel that the latter would be safer even if it is probably more expensive.



10:35 pm on Jul 28, 2004 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I recently ran into a similar issue. I went to a competitor (they're much larger than me) and asked them to quote on the job. I worked their quote into my estimate to the client.

If I get sick or can't deliver the competitor will take over. I will subsequently make no money on the project if the worst happens but the client will get the final product and my business' reputation won't be tarnished.


1:16 am on Jul 29, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Welcome to WebmasterWorld, talisman!

One: As mentioned, you need a contractor who can step in if necessary. I have several people who usually only work as subcontractors as needed but a couple of whom are capable of fulfilling a contract if necessary. We have mutual "complete as required" contracts between ourselves. Never been needed (knock on my wooden head) but nice insurance for self-employed types.

Two: Actual disability, contract fulfilment insurance. Yes real insurance. Never been needed (knock again) but a business expense I am pleased to pay.

The two together have calmed clients fears about using a "one-man shop" for years now.


11:21 pm on Aug 3, 2004 (gmt 0)

>I probably do know enough people that could do the work
Team with one who is good technically and that you trust with an incentive : give him a % corresponding to the fee you would pay a lawyer :) even if you don't get ill so that he would follow your work regularly during the project because I think by experience it will be very hard for him to do so at the last moment.


11:15 am on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Sticking with standard technologies & methodologies in addition to solid documentation on your part (not just code comments) should insure that any qualified developer should be able to step in and come around the curve in short order. Ask yourself if your using a technology or language that is foreign to the majority of the development community. If the answer is yes then you might want to reconsider that piece and find something that allows your application to stay within mainstream technologies.

Note of advice... Don't write the technical documentation for free. That comes at the same hourly rate as the rest of your work. You'll find this very time consuming. Some of it you should already have from your original implementation. Are you modeling any use cases before building?


10:14 pm on Aug 4, 2004 (gmt 0)

>solid documentation on your part

Solid documentation can very long to do, I have directed many projects where I saw that developers don't even know how to document: they just repeat the code in plain english instead of making a synthesis of it :).

And unfortunately client doesn't want to pay this part of time generally that's why I would rather recommand to team with somebody; of course some documentation won't hurt but for a small project of only one person informal communication is much more fruitful - in the examples above where I had once 6 java developpers to manage then sure not enough documentation would be harmful.


12:45 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Senior Member 10+ Year Member

Developers that can't model their design into a document are not qualified developers...


5:38 pm on Aug 5, 2004 (gmt 0)

>Developers that can't model their design into a document are not qualified developers...
Yes but if it is client's developpers you have no choice :)

And how many developpers master UML for that? Because if you really want to document things properly that's the formalism today. And unfortunately using tools like Rational Rose is not very productive because of lack of integration between IDE tool and the UML tool although it depends on the langage (java is rather well integrated but php hmm).


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