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How do estimates differ in different companies? Why did someone count five hundred thousand rubles for you, and someone counted five million according to the same TK? After all, the project is the same, and the salaries in the studios are about the same, what's the catch?
For starters, I suggest looking at an example of a professional (correct) estimate that our studio is developing:
In the correct estimate, all tasks from the terms of reference must be written out, absolutely everything. They are estimated in hours, broken down by a calendar plan in the form of a gantt chart, divided into stages. With this approach, we know exactly how much time-money a particular task takes, when it will be started and when it will be completed, which task can be developed in parallel with another. That is, when ordering a technically competent estimate, you can be sure that the team that prepared it took into account all the nuances, planned the project structure for communications.
But this is a very time-consuming process, because to estimate even a medium-sized project, it takes at least two full working days for a small team: backend + frontend programmers, project manager, designer. All of them must carefully study each line of the technical task several times, clarifying a lot of details and nuances with the customer, forming a pool of tasks on the project. Tasks can be more than a thousand. At the same time, the team will offer different ways of implementation, because a professional programmer or game designer can, in the process of studying the technical specifications and drawing up an estimate, offer better and more modern solutions to the customer.
One of the problems is that the assessment of an IT project is far from simple calculations used, for example, by painters or plasterers, which take 30 minutes to draw up an estimate, based on the price of painting a square meter and knowing the area of the plaster - to calculate the total estimate, for example, for painting walls is no problem.
The programmer must think over the future architecture and logic of the project, keep in mind various solutions for almost every task and choose the best from them, moreover, most tasks are interconnected and when evaluating one task, you need to understand that it will affect another, possibly even from another department.
And here is an example of a free, regular estimate that a customer sees when contacting a model agency:
or like this:
As you can see from the examples, often in a free estimate you have to be content with only a superficial assessment - naturally, because no one spent several working days to compile it.
Why are we against surface estimates?
Compiling a superficial assessment, without delving into details and nuances, without discussing the real solution of problems with the customer, without singling out a full-fledged team - we cannot be sure that our assessment, for example, of 2 million rubles, will not cost in the end to the customer in 8 million rubles. Would a customer want to work with a company that would cause them to lose money?
Why not get the estimate right, you ask? The answer is simple: in a normal studio, an application for the development of an IT product is left from one to three times a day. You and I already know that in order to make a professional estimate, you need three people to work two days each, or six working days. With an average Russian salary, the cost of compiling such an estimate will be about twenty thousand rubles and even more. Three estimates a day is already sixty thousand daily. At the same time, the conversion to order in a typical studio is about 10%, because no one has canceled the competition. It turns out that the studio cannot economically afford its employees to make correct estimates for free - this is simply impossible, so you have to be content with a superficial estimate, most often which is just a kind of ready-made template in which the numbers and part of the tasks change. Of course, a superficial assessment is still based on some position and assessment of the programmer, most likely he even read your TOR once, given his experience - he named an approximate fork by the hour, and the project manager multiplied this assessment by two to reduce risks and take into account possible problems.
In fact, such an assessment does not bring any benefit, and vice versa - it only harms the customer. Try to compare the estimates received from different companies.
There are some tasks in one estimate, others in another - are you sure that no one forgot to add some tasks to the estimate? But what if some major modules and blocks of the project were missed? Will the price change then? Compare the two estimates and you will see that the tasks are different, the cost is different. So which one to choose? That's what we are talking about - the price of such an estimate is zero. However, it is, because it is free.
Why do I have to pay for an estimate at all, since I can get an estimate from any other studio for free?
Will you start building a house worth 2-10 million rubles according to the notes in the notebook of a foreman from Central Asia, or will you still use the services of an educated engineer? Will an engineer work for free? No?
Even with a clear, detailed professional technical task, it is very difficult to accurately calculate the cost of a project, especially when there is only a concept of the project.
How does the customer think - why should I pay 20,000 rubles for a professional estimate, if there are studios that will do it for me for free. But this is an illusion of choice. This is a decision that may seem right to you.
If you follow the path of a professional estimate, no one forces you to choose our studio for project development. You can order an estimate from us - and choose another contractor. All that remains is to send our estimate to your potential contractors and ask them to enter their hourly rates for specialists - after all, we have already written out all the tasks. Then - you will be sure that these are estimates that are equal in meaning, because they have a single list of tasks and the only difference is the hourly rate.
Do an experiment:
After receiving a surface estimate from the company, ask if the final price, will this estimate be included in the contract and will the price change? The answer will surprise you. It will be something like this:
This is a rough estimate, for a more accurate estimate, let's write the TOR.
That is, there is no sense in this assessment, you still need to make a normal estimate - which is included in the cost of the TK. Do not pay for the estimate will not work. You will pay for it either now, or when you write the TOR, or when you develop the project.
Either (if there is a TK)
If there are no new tasks, then yes, the price is final.
And how do you know if they will or not? After all, the customer does not know whether all the tasks are written out and reflected in the estimate. This is the trick.
After ordering the correct estimate from us, send it to your potential contractors who previously submitted their surface estimates and ask them to enter their hourly rate. As a result, the price will triple. Again, what's the point of such a superficial assessment then?
The question is, what is the value of supposedly such a detailed estimate for you? Because of the desire to save 20,000 rubles, you risk both overpaying for the project, and vice versa - ending up with semi-finished products due to the fact that the budget is required twice as much as planned in the estimate, and then the swing begins - but you forgot it, but you didn't count it. They will say that we didn’t count it, otherwise we counted it - when people don’t receive money for work, then it can’t be called work.
The most important thing in the estimate is to write out the entire list of tasks, there may be 2000 of them. Look at the estimates that will be sent to you - will there be 2000 tasks? No, but where did they go?
The market forces IT companies to follow the path of superficial assessments, because they cannot offer customers every time to make an estimate for a fee - customers will simply go where the estimate is free.
But we do not stop trying and we believe that a superficial assessment is worse than if there was no assessment at all. Especially if the customer's company is run by an owner who is interested in developing the project himself. Any owner will agree with our position. Our clients always come to the conclusion that this was the right way, either immediately or after mistakes and after they get burned.
You can send us the estimate that the contractors sent you, if you want us to analyze them, this is included in this price.
We will analyze the estimates of competitors, we will not go into details, we will just clearly show what could be forgotten in it and what questions should be asked. We will help you ask the contractor you like the necessary questions on the estimate.
Often the customer himself cannot do this - there is not enough experience to ask the right questions at the level with the agency.
Instead of a conclusion: rely on numbers and facts, only hard data, only verified information.