Categorized | Business, News

How to price your tech services

Posted on 15 May 2008 by Demian Turner

I was googling around to see what folks are charging for the range of services software devs offer. Although some humorous sites (a must read) are amongst the top results returned, how to price one’s services is of course a serious question.

One categorisation of services could be as follows:

  • consultancy
  • training
  • software development
  • support
    • ad-hoc
    • packages

For me the list runs from most difficult to easiest, and I charge accordingly.  Consultancy general involves technology recommendations, project specification, business analysis, etc, and the kind of input you can give after say 10 years experience is considerably different to what you might have offered after 5.

Next is training, and the reason I’ve put that higher than run-of-the-mill development is that preparation is involved.  For a 1/2 day or 3 day course considerable prep work is involved.  Subject matter can cover any software or platform you’re an expert on, but ideally you want to be teaching something that you built that you know better than anyone else.

In third position is regular software development; the more I do of this the more I see it as generic implementation – a commodity, and therefore chargeable at a lower rate.  Given a skilled team, whether you do the coding or you direct others, the final result is pretty much the same.  System design, however, makes all the difference and should be charged as consultancy.

And finally there’s support, which is like helpdesk work: the people paying you either couldn’t be bothered to read the manual or they’re on the beginner end of the programming spectrum.  Not to sound negative, support is the bread and butter of many businesses, however anybody really excited about software doesn’t want to be caught doing this.

So I’m curious what folks think of this way of breaking down development services and the rationale for charging?

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3 Comments For This Post

  1. DrSlump Says:

    In my experience offering on-site development services can burn you. I was often requested to join a project at large development shops and 90% of the time the project manager didn’t have a clue about web development (that’s why they contact an ‘expert’ in their own words) which meant I had to do my developer duties and also take a lot of architecture decisions (lots of refactoring). So, I’m now just offering consultancy even if the job requires mostly coding.

  2. Ivo Jansch Says:

    I’d say that there’s support and support. We have a service desk at Ibuildings, but it’s nothing like a helpdesk. They are basically a development team on their own, but charged with maintenance and enhancements to existing projects. Regular helpdesk in your sense, we generally don’t do that (we carefully select our customers 😉

    The rest of your breakdown seems solid, more or less similar to what we offer. Except training perhaps. There’s standard off-the-shelf training which is cheaper and takes less preparation and custom training which requires a lot of preparation. Those are basically 2 different things with different rates.

    System design can indeed be considered consultancy, although we have architects in a separate ‘professional services consultants’ team, but also some architects that are more or less the senior developers of their teams.

  3. Remote Support Guy Says:

    I’ve got a basic price list for some services on our site, and I have added $325/hour for the bothersome clients that bother us during an otherwise productive morning or afternoon of coding.

    The new screensharing features in iChat sure are great, we’ve also used Gatherplace’s remote support with some margin of success.

    -Brian

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