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There are times however where cost isn't a good reflection of value, and I hope this sort of conversation will help us all to better understand that.

An open letter to RFQ projects

Greetings everyone. I recently got a RFQ that came in with some project goals and a bullet list of features and requirements much like those I am sure many of us get all the time. I took the time to reply, as I always do. Letting the potential client know that we’d love to help with their project, but submitting a quote without discussing the goals, needs and environment can be tough.

I thought I would share my reply, in case it helps others understand why it is hard to quote a project without time to consult.

Or maybe someone will be able to copy/paste this into their reply to one of these in the future. :)

Thank you very much for the opportunity to work with you and bid on your project.

I would love to work with you on your project, but my experience has shown me that bidding on a project without getting a sense of what the goals are and a feel for how it will be used is a recipe for failure. I have read your documents, but so much of a project’s success is dependent on meeting the needs at the detail level. Understanding the goals behind the requirements and specifications is almost more important than the specifications themselves, both in terms of cost and success.

One simple example is your third point in the data entry section. You mention that you would like the “user to complete the data entry if no user of that name exists“. This is a common feature, but it can be solved many different ways. 

  • We could allow the user to search existing names, and let them choose what to do. 
  • We could force a search to occur before entering the client. 
  • We could provide a live match on client name and prevent entering a duplicate full name but this fails to catch the Tom/Thomas duplicates.
  • We could go so far as to estimate is there are existing matches while entry is occurring, giving the user an interface to switch to selecting an existing client if the see a likely match. (and even force an override if there is a “close enough” match based on a set of rules).

There are many other options, and each can have a minimal or profound effect on the cost  As you can imagine, what solution would work best is a decision that we should make together. 

I find that when we submit a bid, we all feel compelled to live and die by that number and the nuance of what was asked for, without working together to build the best solution for your needs and budget.

What I am saying is that I’d love to work with you and your organization, but I don’t think a bid will help you evaluate us, nor will it put us in a position to serve you better. Wold it be possible for us to meet, go through your needs, and discuss your overall goals a budget a bit? 

I understand that many clients need to filter a large number of potential contractors down, and cost is an important consideration. There are times however where cost isn’t a good reflection of value, and I hope this sort of conversation will help us all to better understand that.

Agree … disagree, let me know in to the comments below.

Author Court Bowman

Court Bowman has been working with in the IT field his whole life, working as a network engineer, database developer in Oracle and Progress and as a IT director for several firms. He has been working with FileMaker Pro since version 2 and has been a reoccurring speaker at the FileMaker developer conference. Apart from his expertise in FileMaker Pro he has experience in system architecture and design, data modeling and database architecture. He also has years of experience as a process and workflow consultant and has helped with the design and deployment of hundreds of systems in FileMaker and on the web.

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