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Beteiligte Autoren:
Michael Q, Fabrice Harari, GuenterP, Allard

How can I price subcontracted app development by a third party?

Startbeitrag von Michael Q am 15.01.2015 14:13

It seems to me that in order to obtain a reasonably accurate estimate from a 3rd party for development of a complex WB app, I have to describe the app in detail. But as we all know, the devil is in the details, and that is where most of the time and cost go.

So I think I have to describe the project in every minute detail, list all the data elements, all the screens, layouts and the fields on them and how they interact, business rules, program flows, layouts and fields on reports, hosting infrastructure, etc.

By the time one I have gone through that process, identified competent potential developers, communicated this all to them, had lots of back and forth discussion etc. I might as well have written the app myself! (I know Windev and believe that I can pick up Webdev fairly quickly). However a good developer experienced in WB is going to be much more productive right from the start.

I don't like the idea of the whole product being entirely dependent on me in the early stages, particularly if 24/7/365 support must be provided. However I am very attracted to doing the initial development myself because I believe it will enable me to produce exactly what I envisage without the overhead of having to communicate this to someone else.

After a minimum viable product has been developed, the differentiator between success and failure is outstanding marketing and this is where I probably should focus my time.

Q1: Is there a quick way of estimating cost from a third party?

Q2: Would third party developers typically work on a project alone or with another person. In other words, if the devloper falls under a bus, is there going to be someone else to take up the slack quickly?

Q3: As the business hopefully matures, the coding will probably need to be handed over to one or more new full time in-house developers. Or will it? (If I had done the original coding perhaps this would be easier than if it had been subcontracted?)

I don't know if I should just press on with the coding myself, or expend a lot of effort in trying to get quotes for external development. I would be grateful for any experience, advice or comments that you may have.

Thank you,



Hi Michael,

warning: WebDev is very different from WinDev! However, once I had a customer who bought WebDev only, studied it, imported a big database of products into a MySQL database and built a web site with several thousand screens for a worldwide known company. All of that took them 2 months only.

1 - there's no quick way for estimating cost of an application
There are books about that and all of them agree that a quick and safe estimate is basically impossible, but you can gain experience and after doing about 50 very similar projects you may be able to give a quick and good estimate.

Usual procedure is to do the analysis and a screen-by-screen / window-by-window image + description, charged by hours. Good bookkeeping is essential here. The customer would be able to use that description of database and program in order to ask for offers from the competition. After all, they paid for it. Don't let them talk you into doing that for free! There's nothing like a free lunch.

2 - The developer-under-a-bus syndrome can be eliminated by an agile or extreme programming approach only which means you'd have to have a team of developers and of course, a project manager, a secretary, a tester or a test-team and an ISO-9000-like inner mechanics which ensures that errors found are fixed by developers. Prices go up skyhigh with that. Otherwise, if the developer leaves it's hard to catch on. Most times its adviseable to restart the project from scratch and re-use well-done and well understood parts of the old project. Programmers often have funny approaches and concepts for doing their job, which make half-baken projects a horror trip for those who have to finish. At that point most times you will understand why they left so abruptly. Bottom line: If you think you're a good programmer then do medium sized projects on your own.

von GuenterP - am 15.01.2015 15:02

If you want someone else to do your coding and want them to give you a good estimate then you have to come up with details. If you donnot want tat give them what you want to achief and let them figger out how to do that on a pay by hour basis .
If you give the external person a garrantee on hours then the hour rate can be quite lower then the normal rate for small projects.

For indipendent coders getting work is always a challage and and thus a project that is longer is interresting for them. No time to spent on finding work, so no unpaid hours. This means that a normal hour rate of say 60 euro can come down to 40 or 35 euro.

You could use the sourcecode manager on your server. So all development of the developer is on your system. This way you can see what he does.


von Allard - am 15.01.2015 21:37
Hi Michael

1. I agree with Guenter, there is no quick way to do that, and for I bill my customers for the time spend doing it when they want to go through that route...

2. You are a developer.. Therefore, however you decide to collaborate with somebody, it is up to you to stay up to date on the development and know your way around the project. By doing that, you ensure not only that you can restart the development at any point, but also that the coding levels are satisfactory for you and that you will not end up in the situation described by Guenter.

Now, there is no quick fix for your question and I have seen many approaches to the problem with my customers... Here are a few :
1. Some of my customer are building the analysis and the UI without any code (it cans be pages or windows, it doesn't matter), then giving me the UI with a quick description of how the UI should behave and what it should do and I'm coding it accordingly.
2. Some want to establish a full requirement list (which I bill) in advance, and then have a detailed estimate module by module.
3. Some are happy to tell me what to do and pay by the hour and to check the result regularly. The understanding is of course that if they fill that the work is not worth the money, they'll find another solution
4. Some are giving me a description of what the app should do and letting me do the whole plumbing
5. Some want to be with me while I code (they are the second developer in the Agile philosophy) either live (they come on my Carribean island for a week or two, by example) or via teamviewer
6. Others just do the testing each time I send them a new version (once a week?) and check the corresponding code quality
7. Some ask me to work on a project from the beginning and to advise them on how to do it as best as possible
8. Others call me when they cant do something by themselves and ask me to intervene on their existing code (and contrary to what Guenter says at that level, I haven't found a code I couldn't fix yet)

So, what am I saying?

YOU are the one managing the project...
YOU have to decide what makes YOU comfortable going forward
YOU can be as involved as YOU want in the development phase, in the testing phase, in the debug phase, in the support phase, and YOU can decide to let somebody else do all that for you
YOU can also decide to change the rules in the middle of the project...

There is no rules, no shortcut, no quick fix... Only YOU :-)

Best regards

von Fabrice Harari - am 15.01.2015 21:46
Thank you all very much for your comments.
Most helpful.


von Michael Q - am 18.01.2015 11:05
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