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Needless Complexity

researchediting
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
21 of 30

Perhaps I'm missing something. Perhaps a mod can weigh in to clarify.

As I recall, after long and loud clamor from the community (including me), Upwork modified the offer form so that contract type is available from a pull-down at any point prior to acceptance of a contract. I virtually always accept a prospect's chosen and published contract type, assuming they know the norms of their business. (Upwork does not provide one of the basic norms of my business, so I have a spreadsheet to handle conversion calculations from either contract type.) On the rare occasion when contract type merits discussion, that discussion takes place before acceptance of the offer—after which there is indeed no recourse but to cancel the contract and make a new one.

kochubei_valeria
Community Manager
Valeria K Community Manager Member Since: Mar 6, 2014
22 of 30

Douglas Michael M wrote:

...contract type is available from a pull-down at any point prior to acceptance of a contract.


Hi Michael,

 

This is still very much true. The client can switch the type of the contract from hourly to fixed-price and vice versa when creating an offer and even after it's been sent but BEFORE it's accepted.

There is a video demo for it here

~ Valeria
Upwork
researchediting
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
BEST ANSWER
23 of 30

Valeria K wrote:

Douglas Michael M wrote:

...contract type is available from a pull-down at any point prior to acceptance of a contract.


Hi Michael,

 

This is still very much true. The client can switch the type of the contract from hourly to fixed-price and vice versa when creating an offer and even after it's been sent but BEFORE it's accepted.

There is a video demo for it here


Thanks, Valeria!

View solution in original post

prestonhunter
Community Guru
Preston H Member Since: Nov 24, 2014
24 of 30

I'm totally fine with the idea that for different types of work, different contract models may be preferable.

 

It might be useful to strip away all generic and philosophical considerations and talk about specifics. For development projects, I recommend project owners use hourly contracts if they want to achieve higher-quality results.

 

Simple example:

Client hires a freelance developer to add a dropdown menu so that users can select what type of pet they prefer: cats, dogs or birds.

 

The developer does that, and the contract is closed.

 

Later the client decides she wants to add "snakes" and "gerbils" as additional options.

So she goes into the back-end database to add these options to the pets table.

What the heck? There is no PETS table?!

 

Upon further investigation, she finds out that the pets dropdown menu was HARD CODED in the source code.

 

This is nuts, right? She thought there would be a pets table, but there's not. It turns out the freelancer thought it would take less time to hardcode the dropdown menu options into the source code.

 

So now the client needs to hire somebody to completely revise the system so that it isn't hard coded, and so that she can add or edit new pet options using an admin tool. This is causing all kinds of delays.

 

But the original freelancer did not do anything wrong. He completed the task he was hired to do.

 

With an hourly contract, he may well have asked the client if she wanted a pets table, and of course she would have said yes. He may have asked about other things, such as adding an admin tool to edit the pets list. And adding graphics illustrating each pet type, etc.

 

The freelancer also would have had an incentive to add helpful comments, use really clean, modular code, and whenever he turned in his work to the project manager, he would have seen that this was all high-quality source code which fit well into the overall project. Versus a fixed-price contract in which the developer MIGHT have done all these things. Or MIGHT have only fulfilled the exact specifications in the contract agreement.

 

An hourly contract does NOT GUARANTEE a high-quality result. An hourly contract can be abused by dishonest or incompetent freelancers. But if properly managed, hourly contracts allow for time to produce higher-quality work.

 

That IS NOT ALWAYS what the client wants.

Sometimes a client ONLY wants a quick, fast result and a known payment. There's nothing inherently wrong with that.


So I would never say that an hourly contract is the "only" way to work with freelance developers. I am simply pointing out one of the possible advantages.

resultsassoc
Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
25 of 30

Preston just addressed a case where hourly is better for both sides, and actually uncovered the way to determine every part of a freelance job, not just whether it is hourly or fixed-price.

 

In Preston's example, he is asking questions. Lots of questions. In his example, the fictional freelancer asks the fictional client if she wants a pets table. I already know that Preston is too good to ask the question that way; he would ask "Do you want to be able to add more kinds of pets?" The functional question yields an answer to the hardcode or not issue.

resultsassoc
Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
26 of 30

I appear to have kicked over a hornet's nest. There's a great deal of insight in most comments. My favorite is "There is no one size fits all." Which is part of what my original post addresses. When a process is automated, as UW has done with almost everything, it doesn't automatically create a "one size fits all" solution, but it does create boundaries for the solution. The solution must be found within the boundaries.

 

Just as it is difficult for a new client to understand where and why fixed price or hourly is more appropriate, it is even harder for a new freelancer. In those cases, the freelancer is almost compelled to respond only to hourly projects. Otherwise, the freelancer's risk of cost overrun is too high.

 

I had and have no intention of calling freelancers who do hourly work "lazy." It's always a case-by-case basis. However, hourly pay does in fact pay for input, not output. Scope creep happens in most jobs, whether the client and/or freelancer is new or not. It is indeed easier to deal with scope creep in an hourly job, yet that's not always possible, especially if the contract limits chargeable hours.

 

I am happy to learn from friend Michael that UW has already fixed the problem, I evidently was unaware of where the fix was. I do little hiring on UW, most of my default freelancers are offline or hired through another, less rigid, board. And, I just accepted my first online job in more than a year. My largest UW projects have always been fixed price, even the few that are technically hourly. In those cases, the client acknowledges eventually that he/she did not know what he needed at the beginning, is still doing some floundering, and I'm not going to cheat a client. Thus the client pays whatever I bill. In no case do I use time tracker.

 

I was glad to see that another freelancer pointed out to a client that hourly would be more efficient than fixed price in one case. That is a sign of freelancer value creation and professionalism. The client's interests always come first, and if there is a less-expensive way to produce the quality needed, it is incumbent on the freelancer to point it out to the client. Many kudos.

 

I fully agree that Preston's advice is always well-thought-out and valuable. My view of freelancing is not limited to Upwork, which is so small that it is not even a round-off in the world of global freelancing. In the much broader world, most freelancing is done fixed-price plus expenses. When the label-centric model of the music industry collapsed, a few pros were ready to begin freelancing their slices of the pie. A small business owner I mentor called me yesterday to say that her last employer just hired her on a retainer basis equalling what her salary had been to provide PR services for one artist rather than work full-time for the label. Vertical integration rises and falls in most industries over and over. It is during the disintegration phases that freelancing makes the most money.

researchediting
Community Guru
Douglas Michael M Member Since: May 22, 2015
27 of 30

You're welcome, Bill!

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
28 of 30

Bill H wrote:

I am happy to learn from friend Michael that UW already fixed the problem

It hasn't "been fixed"  - That's the way it has been as long as I can remember.

The problem is that how you think Upwork works and how it actually does work are two different matters altogether and always have been.

 

resultsassoc
Community Guru
Bill H Member Since: Aug 18, 2017
29 of 30

Probably true. UW is its own universe, and its rigidity and focus on commodity services make it unappealing to me. Thus, the mechanics of its inner workings are similar to the number of angels that can dance on the head of a pin: Who cares?

petra_r
Community Guru
Petra R Member Since: Aug 3, 2011
30 of 30

Bill H wrote:

Probably true.


Then maybe not constantly stating that Upwork does X, Y and Z when all of it is entirely untrue would be a good idea?

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