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SUPER Project management for freelancers


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- - - Talk given at IT-Days March 2013 at - - -

How do you handle life as a freelancer? How do you deal with clients? How much should you charge?
Are you thinking about becoming a freelancer? Or are you already one? This session will offer you some hard-learned advice, some tips and tricks from the trenches and some insights into the life of a freelancer.

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SUPER Project management for freelancers

  1. 1. Project Management for Freelancers Jarne W. Beutnagel ( Business Academy Aarhus, IT-Days March 2013
  2. 2. Why are you here?
  3. 3. I can hasfreelance?
  4. 4. Why freelance?
  5. 5.  Freedom? Power? Fame? Fortune?
  6. 6. Disadvantages
  7. 7.  Full financial obligation  Insurance  Retirement  Holiday fund  Sick days  Taxes
  8. 8.  Full responsibility for  Getting new projects  Running projects  Handling clients  All of the product
  9. 9. The difficult part
  10. 10.  Balance between work and personal life Workflow of projects Dependency on clients (avoid being bound by a few key clients) Getting started
  11. 11. Getting the first job
  12. 12.  Work for friends or family  Find a small project  Non-profit projects always look good and you feel less bad about not getting paid much
  13. 13.  Finish one of the prototypes you build for a client here at school  Arrange a small fee for finalizing a school project so that the client can use it
  14. 14.  Make use of referrals  Ask people to refer you to their network  Focus on problem solving, not on tools or techniques. Say “I make small web sites that are simple to use”, instead of “I do HTML5, CSS3 and awesome jQuery effects”
  15. 15.  Go out there and make friends  Go to conferences, talks, events  E.g. Startup Weekend, Creative Mornings, Goto  Have quality business cards
  16. 16.  Write about stuff  Get a voice and start participating in discussions  Have a blog  Use social media
  17. 17. How to getmore work
  18. 18. You need to realize what you are and how you are perceived
  19. 19. YOU are the product
  20. 20. Freelancing is a business (making you a business owner)
  21. 21.  Be sure to take on each role with responsibility Become competent in many areas
  22. 22.  Hang out where the other cool kids hang out Put in bids on freelance sites Speak to your network
  23. 23. For most freelancers80% of work comes from the network
  24. 24. Selling yourselfThe all important portfolio
  25. 25.  You can’t afford not to have one Can’t build it? Buy it. Can’t design it? Buy it. Get inspired
  26. 26. Running Projects
  27. 27. Be clever about itUnderstand what a project is
  28. 28. THE PROJECT COMPONENTSUnderstanding what a project consists of
  29. 29. Environment Control Valida-Goals Production tion
  30. 30. THE PROJECT STRUCTUREThe composition of a project in phases
  31. 31. ‘SUPER’ PROJECTSSimplified Uniform Project Environment for Results
  32. 32. THE 4 PHASES 1 2 3 4 Initiation Plan Production Completion
  33. 33. OVERVIEW• Divided into 4 phases 1) Initiation (project setup) 2) Plan (research, ideas & concept) 3) Production (design & development) 4) Completion (hand-in & delivery)
  34. 34. 1 INITIATION 1 2 3 4 Initiation Plan Production Completion
  35. 35. • Communicate terms and conditions• Know what the client wants, not what they say they want• What are the client’s expectations?• No contract, no project • Use a standard contract • Set up payment terms
  36. 36. • Have a separate project description• Define success criteria• Identify project stakeholders• Determine number of revisions• Set up online project management services (not per email)
  37. 37. 2 PLAN 1 2 3 4 Initiation Plan Production Completion
  38. 38. • Ensure you know what to build and the client agrees• Lets the client see what goes into a project• Control the amount of client feedback involved• Get sign off before production
  39. 39. 3 PRODUCTION 1 2 3 4 Initiation Plan Production Completion
  40. 40. • Separate overall plan from detail focus• Ensure early planning and assignment of resources• Put focus on the confirmation of each task
  41. 41. 1) MANAGE TASKS Backlog Worksheet DEFINE PLAN
  42. 42. 2) SPRINTS THINK SPRINT Finish Prepare Make Confirm
  43. 43. 4 COMPLETION 1 2 3 4 Initiation Plan Production Completion
  44. 44. • Prepare a high quality delivery• Get the final approval from the client• Give the client a chance to see it through, find mistakes and for you to correct them• Ensure that success criteria achieved
  45. 45. Know what you didTime Tracking
  46. 46.  Use time tracking software. Always Lets you communicate with the client  On the invoice so the client can see what you did and what he is paying for You will know how effective you are Improves your future estimates
  47. 47. Try to categorizeTypes of Projects
  48. 48.  Group projects together, so that you get a better overview Find common attributes  Length  Complexity  Type
  49. 49.  Which ones do you value the most? How much of your time would you like to spend on this? How profitable are these types of projects? Map them out
  50. 50. Try to categorizeTypes of Clients
  51. 51.  Group them together to identify  Profitability  Need for support  Amount of “friction”  Level of quality expectations  Size  Portfolio fitness
  52. 52. Organize it allThe Project Pipeline
  53. 53.  Put all this info together in a visual representation See which type of projects you currently have See what is coming down the line Plan accordingly Tip: Use some services for this (e.g.
  54. 54.  Use this to identify dependencies upon companies E.g. if 40% of all your income is from one client, you are too dependent on this client
  55. 55. Handling Clients
  56. 56. Rule nr 1:The Client is always right
  57. 57. Rule nr 2:The Client is often wrong
  58. 58.  Don’t look at what the client says he wants Look at what goal he is trying to achieve Work towards that goal together
  59. 59. Rule nr 3:You are a professional (so behave like one)
  60. 60.  Always communicate politely Be proactive Be confirmative Have good email manners
  61. 61. The clients writes you:
  62. 62. Hi there,This is what I want for the website. It should besimple to use and very light in color, no heavy.There are going to be many subpages which alsoneed to have the same look. I would like ourlogo to be in the upper left corner in all pages(except on firstpage). Don’t use moody colorsand don’t clutter the pages. Visual look isimportant. Also, if I go to the page I want toknow where I am.
  63. 63. You write:
  64. 64.  What you write:Hi Mr Client,Thank you for your email, it was very informative. From this I suggestto include the following in the project:• Implementation in a CMS system that is easy to use when updating the site• Consistent look between all of the pages• A design that is light in look, not too heavy and with a minimal of elementsHowever I do have a few questions:• What do you mean by “I want to know where I am”? I was thinking about implementing a breadcrumb style navigation. Would that be sufficient?• Do you have any existing design guides (such as colors, fonts, etc.) that you use for your current visual look?
  65. 65. Rule nr 4:You are only as good as your last project
  66. 66.  Coming from a great project is energizing You are more confident during negotiations You know that you rock!
  67. 67.  You mentally feel bad when you do a bad project It leaves a dark cloud after it Your approach to new clients and projects is less passionate
  68. 68. S#!T Clients say
  69. 69.  “It’s just a small thing, won’t take long at all” “We will give a reference and more jobs down the line. Think of this as an investment.” “Normally my [random family member] does this, but he is busy right now.” Meaning: Do it cheap
  70. 70.  “I’m not sure what exactly we are looking for, so could you come with a few suggestions?” “Submit a design and we will choose the best one.” “We would like to test it for a few weeks before we make a final decision.” Meaning: We don’t want to commit and we see your product as a commodity
  71. 71. Don’t burn any bridges
  72. 72. Handling Money
  73. 73. Mmmm money
  74. 74. What to charge1) Know your costs
  75. 75.  Direct costs are the amount of hours that go into a project This is typically what the client is expecting to pay for These could include project handling & support
  76. 76.  Indirect cost are all the work you do for a project, which is not included in the actual bill for the project These costs can be a substantial part of your costs Indirect costs could be:  Negotiating with the client  Support  Shopping for new projects  Learning new things  Finding solutions
  77. 77.  Overhead costs are all the bill you have to pay, regardless if you work or not These include  Rent  Utilities & bills  Food & Beers
  78. 78. What to charge2) Set your normal rate
  79. 79.  What is your desired profit per month?  (remember taxes) How many work hours do you have available? Calculate your normal rate
  80. 80. What to charge3) Set your minimum rate
  81. 81.  What is the minimum you need to have as income each month? You must always have this income to survive
  82. 82. What to charge4) Set your discount rates
  83. 83.  When can you afford to give discounts? Who should get it and why? How much discount are you comfortable giving?
  84. 84. What to charge5) Calculate your rates
  85. 85.  For a particular project, look into  How much income do you have scheduled the coming period?  How many hours are left?  Which benefit will a discount give you?
  86. 86. Are you cheap or expensiveCompare your rates to other freelancers
  87. 87.  Find their rates online Maybe write them and ask? Be a mystery shopper
  88. 88.  Compare your rates If you are cheaper, is that a benefit for you or can you raise your rate? If you are more expensive, is there a good reason for this?  Else try to decrease your costs or increase the perceived value
  89. 89. What you are worth depends on your Perceived Value
  90. 90.  How are you creating value for your clients? What do they value in doing business with you?
  91. 91. Getting your moneyHandling payments
  92. 92.  Divide the payment into sub-payments Get a sub-payment at mile stones in the project  Could be a 25%|25%|50% split  Or 50%|50% Find natural payment point in the project (e.g. design approval)
  93. 93. NEVER hand over the projectbefore the last payment has received
  94. 94. It all comes down to this Cash flow
  95. 95.  How to balance out payments to reduce reliance upon clients paying in due time They often do not pay on time Trick: Offer a discount (e.g. 5%) if they pay within 3 days
  96. 96. Questions?
  97. 97. Good luck!