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Trust and Efficiency–Yes, that is the point

This piece on charging hourly for programming services really nails it, I think. Programmers often get bogged down in fears that they will not be paid fairly unless they get to charge by the hour for everything. But there isn’t any financial incentive to minimize bugs when you are charging extra for them. And you are communicating something to a customer when you use this approach, and it isn’t that you are a seasoned professional who has confidence in their work. You are telling them: I intend to squeeze every last dollar out of you.

When I build software for a customer, I charge a flat fee, and I cover bug fixes for free for a warranty period (typically 60-90 days after the software goes “live”.) After that point, bugs get fixed under a flat monthly fee support agreement with the client. That support also includes unlimited responses to email questions (from a designated customer contact person) and troubleshooting if there is an issue. Clients can budget appropriately for support, and they don’t have to worry that there will be unexpected expenses that crop up. Also that support means I will prioritize their bug fixes so if there is an emergency fix needed, they don’t have to wait for me to have some time freed up. This is a win-win for everyone.

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What the critics are saying...

Avonelle is a rare IT professional who can communicate with business users on a level they can understand, and who can recommend creative technical solutions that are in line with the business goals and the business budget. Avonelle is conscientious not only about meeting deadlines, but also exceeding her customers expectations around quality software while providing superior customer service. Avonelle is an inspiration to me.

Valerie Vogt, Director of IT Advisory Services @ Inetium