July 29, 2019

The freedom of “Scope Last”

If you think of yourself as someone who executes the activities of his or her craft, you are placing an artificial limitation on your ability to serve your clients in a mutually profitable way.

Let’s say Alice is an excellent Rails developer. If she thinks of herself as “someone who builds amazing Rails apps” then the cost that she incurs delivering her service is a function of how much Rails work a given client needs done.

If on the other hand, Alice thinks of herself as “someone who knows how to build amazing Rails apps” then she has way WAY more flexibility in setting her costs.

For example, Bob comes to Alice and says, “I need a Rails app built. Carol told me that you’re amazing. We should talk.” Great! Alice sets up a call with Bob. The speak and Bob describes his situation.

Depending on Bob’s unique combination of available resources, time constraints, risk tolerance, desired outcomes, and a slew of other factors, Alice might rightly recommended any of a dozen or more options in a proposal.

Here are just three potential “Bob scenarios” each with three options that Alice might offer to help Bob reach his desired outcome within his constraints:

Bob has a low budget, lots of time, and would enjoy learning Rails

Bob has a moderate budget, not a lot of time, and has access to a junior Rails dev that is inexpensive but is slow and does mediocre work

Bob has a large budget, a looming deadline, and a few non-Rails web developers who are pretty busy with marketing initiatives

I could go on all night but I’ll stop there.

Here’s the thing...

If you stop defining yourself by the activities that you undertake on behalf of your clients and start thinking more broadly about how to package and sell your expertise, you’ll have loads of freedom when it comes time to pick a scope for a given price.

Value first. Price second. Cost (i.e., scope) last.