One of the biggest time sucks in consulting is estimating. One way to combat this would be to bill weekly, but as I said I don’t have a decent answer to some of the questions surrounding that.
When Estimates Get Away
Doing one estimate, and a single revision for a client isn’t an issue, that’s just how the business works. The issue comes up when you work with a client and they ‘finalize’ a feature set and you send out an estimate 4 times.
Right now I’m looking at one such project. I’ve got $1200 dollars invested in estimating around $2000 worth of work. My first instinct would be to tell myself that I need to bill the client for discovery time, but I can’t in this case. See there is another freelancer that is doing the discovery and sending me the ‘final’ functionality.
The only tactic I can see out of this is to start billing for estimates on projects like this. Make it company policy that I’ll do 2 estimates on a feature, then it’s billable at $200 for an estimate upfront. I can see clients not going for that, but I need to stop wasting my time on non-billable work.
In theory knowing that they’re getting billed will help push them in to getting the ‘final’ features sooner.