Once you’ve got your completed design document, it’s time to generate a quote, which prices the elements and modules that you propose to build. As such, it is in your best interest to make your design as detailed as possible in order to most accurately estimate every element in the project.
The estimate should look like a giant laundry list of parts. The estimated number of hours should appear in a column next to each element, and another column should list the cost of that item (derived by multiplying the number of hours by your hourly rate). The quote should have a total at the bottom.
Your quote should provide a clear, concise estimate of work to be performed, how long it will take in hours, and the total price. You should also include a description of what happens if the actual work goes above (or below) the estimated number of hours; how new feature requests (a.k.a. scope creep) not covered in the original will be handled; what happens if a particular task takes more time to complete than estimated; and so on.
Precise estimating of a gargantuan database project is never easy nor is it ever that precise. But don’t worry if you don’t get it right the first time, you’ll learn for the next time and get better after each estimate. And if you’ve got a change control system in place (which could be as simple as having a client send you an email approval of any changes), it shouldn’t be a problem if your estimates aren’t dead on.
Just remember that when talking about a client’s money and time that open communication is key. Always relay important information such as “I think you’re going to run over budget by $10K on the dog tracking module” to the client as soon as you are sure the overage is inevitable.
Estimating Software Tools
If you’re new to building requirements, design documents, and estimates for FileMaker database projects, no problem! There are a few FileMaker-based tools that will help you with every step of this process.
Organizer Pro, a fantastic solution by CoreSolutions Development, is all you’ll need to manage FileMaker database development projects period. It has everything: a client/contact database, sophisticated contact and document management systems, a quote generation module, and a project management module, as well as many reports, invoice generation capabilities, a built-in calendar, a time sheet entry and tracking system, a task list, and much more.
Here’s a screenshot of the quote module, showing the detailed estimate of all the steps that you might have during the “requirements gathering” phase of the project.
One great thing that speeds the estimate-building process with Organizer Pro is that when you start a quote, the many different phases of a project are brought in automatically so that you only have to put hours next to each (or delete them if they don’t apply to the current project). You can also quickly edit the defaults, and turning a quote into a project (with all related activities and work orders intact) is as easy as clicking one button.
Organizer Pro is a powerful solution that can help you manage your FileMaker (or any other software) development efforts.
Doc Builder ) by Stolen Apple Productions is another excellent FileMakerbased tool that allows FileMaker developers to quickly and easily specify, estimate, and track the progress of all of their development projects.
Doc Builder’s best feature is its ability to allow you to gather very detailed requirements across the multiple modules, components, and pieces that make up each project. (Individual elements can have an infinite number of specific requirements listed.) It can also generate and print estimates based on the requirements, and add change requests to a project and track them along with the original requirements.
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