Monday, January 25, 2016

How (Not) to Bid A "Rescue" Project

Some of you who read this blog, now or in the future, may have the misfortune of being an independent and bidding your own projects. If so, you have my sympathy or you might not, depending on whether or not you are good at such things. It seems as though there are at least two types of people in this world, those who are good at bidding projects and those who are not.

What makes the difference is not altogether clear to me, but two indicators of those who are bad at bidding projects include being a “nice guy” and having “low self esteem”. But that is not all that is going on because in fact I know some people who are very nice and can bid projects. So its not so simple.

Nevertheless, this post is targeted at those who are self-confessed lousy at bidding projects and consistently get themselves in trouble because of it. In fact, the trouble that you can get into can destroy your career and possibly your life, as has happened to me.

The situation is as follows.

A friend or colleague calls out of the blue. He or she needs your help on a project that has gone south and at the very last minute he/she calls you to help. Of course they do not have any money. This is sometimes called a "rescue" project.  What do you do?

There are three possible solutions.  One is you say no.  But in Hollywood, one is not supposed to say no, unless one of two things is true.  Either you are busy (or committed) on another project or you named your price and your price is too high. In either case they hate you, or they may. Thats just too bad. Thus you set your price high, and if it comes through you live with it.

But if, God Forbid, you dont set your price high and you try to do their project, then you will be in a situation where you are late and do not have the resources to complete the project. Then you will be called irresponsible and quite possibly crazy. That is what has happened to me.

Take for example a project where my “friend” calls up with six weeks left in a two year schedule. He wants a solution crafted from the GPU, this is in the years before programing the GPU was as straightforward as it is today. You can read all about it in this post: No Good Deed Goes Unpunished in Computer Animation.

I got no money for my efforts and my friend slandered me for 10 years and does to this very day. My friend has worked at all the very best companies, including Disney Imagineering, Google and Nvidia. I have not had the pleasure, no doubt because of his slander. Or not, I will never know.

What should have happened is that I should have said something like (a) I would love to work on this project, (b) but it will take at least 16 (sixteen) weeks and cost not less than $100K, of which half of that is due up front, and which is not refundable. (c) After examining the project, I may determine that it will take longer and cost more, which the client is free to accept or not, but if not, the project is over and any moneys are not refundable, (d) we will use my contract, not theirs, and (e) it is up to the client to allow enough time after my deliverables to integrate the GPU code into their system. (f) If they need my help with that integration or if they need any modifications then that will necessarily be extra, and (g) the client will own all rights to the delivered code but I retain the right to do similar work for others without restriction.

And finally (h) I make no warranties about the fitness of any code delivered for their project and payment will be due whether or not the code is useful to them.

If I had done this, then probably the client and myself would have been better off.

Its just business you know.

One more thing, that I think needs to be emphasized.  Its their project.  They got themselves into this crummy situation, its not your project.  You have no obligations unless you let them sucker you into it.

Now of course many of these same principles also apply to non-"rescue" projects as well, as we will discuss in later posts.

No comments:

Post a Comment