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Re: Big project (non-techie), but I have no idea how to start... cost/time/technology

3be658a4
Active Member
Norm H Member Since: Dec 23, 2019
1 of 6

I am starting to use upwork for a very small project(s), say <$200 each.

I have a larger project that I would like to attempt (probably in the $5k-10k range, I've never attempted something like this before). I know what platform I would use (WordPress, out-of-the-box plugins, etc), but nothing beyond that - only what I want the site to contain in the end. The site involves pulling data from other sites/APIs and creating a database that would then display on this site. I am not a programmer/techie of any kind. I am wondering what advice people have on how to begin. I have a lengthy description of specifics that I am looking for, but have no idea how a freelancer would complete it: the time required, what cost, what technology would be used. In a case like this would I ask a few people for proposals (and of course pay for each person's time to create a proposal)? Any other best practice to use on how to take on a big project for a novice?

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
2 of 6

Norm H wrote:

I am not a programmer/techie of any kind. I am wondering what advice people have on how to begin. I have a lengthy description of specifics that I am looking for, but have no idea how a freelancer would complete it: the time required, what cost, what technology would be used. 

 

Any other best practice to use on how to take on a big project for a novice?


Hire a good project Manager.

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
3 of 6

re: "In a case like this would I ask a few people for proposals (and of course pay for each person's time to create a proposal)?"

 

No, don't do that. You already have the project description. And you are going to hire a good project manager.

 

Hire a few people (at least five) to talk to you for about twenty to thirty minutes each about how they would go about doing this project. This will get you a better idea about how things can be done.

 

You could hire a few potential project managers, and talk to them for a short time. As consultants. Then hire one of them as the project manager.

 

A project manager can help you hire a number of individuals to work on the project. One of the most important things the project manager will do is to tell you who to fire.

 

One of the worst things a client can do with a project like this is to hire one freelancer and spend thousands of dollars and end up with nothing. A project manager makes sure the developers working on the project are all contributing real, usable work. If they aren't, he gets rid of them. That way you never lose a significant amount of money on the wrong people. With a good project manager, you won't lose more than about $100 on any freelancer before realizing she's not right for the project.

 

Don't bother hiring one person to prepare a big all-inclusive proposal and then have them do the whole project. That would simply be a waste of your time and money.

 

A project this large must be done in a modular fashion. Even if only one individual does all the work, it needs to be modular. Each piece needs to be demonstrated and testable. And then the next. And the next. Don't work with anyone who can't demonstrate things working until the very end. Those are the scammers.

3be658a4
Active Member
Norm H Member Since: Dec 23, 2019
4 of 6

Super helpful Preston, thank you.

I have never worked with a Project Manager before, so this will be a first, and this recommendation sounds completely reasonable.

This may be outside the bounds of the original question, but was wondering:

1. Should I expect Project Managers to have the ability to estimate time/costs for both themselves *and* all developers that they hire as a part of the interview process? (if so, maybe that brings their time to an hour? The project description I have written is extremely detailed as I would envision it, but I would hope someone (the Project Manager?) would be able to tell me what is/isn't possible) 

2. I assume your recommendation is absolutely that I don't try to figure out the upwork developers to use, but rather leave that to the Project Manager?

3. If yes to 2, do I think simply let the Project Manager "control" my account for hiring/monitoring all developers? Say I have $5k to spend on the project, do I have the ability to cap everyone involved at $5k, or is it really up to the PM to control all costs and it is understood that I have that limitation (but I don't directly enforce it)?

4. May be a naïve question...I am looking for a pretty specific project (involves bringing in data from 3rd parties, then displaying within an easy-to-digest format). Is it required that the PM have experience managing that type project? I'm just concerned maybe there isn't a PM that has done quite the same thing before...but maybe that is groundless...

Thank you again.

 

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
5 of 6

re: "Is it required that the PM have experience managing that type project?"

 

Answer: No.

 

The project manager needs to be able to receive, review and test work that has been submitted. She will NOT be creating the source code. But she needs to keep the project on task. She needs to be able to get the development team to let you test the project for yourself. Incrementally.

 

It does only ten percent today. But that is good. You can test that for yourself. Don't try to finish 100%. Try to finish 10%. Then 15%. Then 20%. Etc.

 

I don't think there is a single answer to your other questions. Different project managers and different project owners will work differently.

 

A key thing is that whoever you work with, you are regularly seeing new functionality in place, which you yourself test. And to be safe, you should regularly store a copy of source code in a place that only you have access to.

 

Note that it is not required that you let the project manager hire directly, but many projects do that. If you do that, then your project manager does not log into your Upwork account, but is set up officially as a hiring manager with delegated authority.

resultsassoc
Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
6 of 6

Norm,

 

Preston is correct. I will differ with him slightly (and acknowledge that in some cases he will be right and I will be wrong).

 

"Is it required that the PM have experience managing that type project?"

 

No, but the PM should have some knowledge of the industry or domain. The PM only needs to be knowledgeable enough that the responding freelancers and their communications can be satisfactorily evaluated. I managed a $5 billion government-industry four-year project and brought it in within three years at $4 billion. There was a scientific portion of the project where my understanding was inadequate, but I enrolled in a graduate program in the field and by the time I needed the knowledge I had it. Otherwise, as an eclectic, I had adequate understanding of all the parts and the best practices and likely costs. If your project is a significant expenditure for you, the key will be hiring a project manager who can adequately judge the reasonableness of costs.

 

One more suggestion: Don't hire a PM who has nothing but government experience. They are interested in proving diligence, not achieving it. If the PM sends a freelancer a message referencing paragraph IV D 5 b (2) (w) and the proper format for reporting, he's looking at the wrong things.

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