Naked CEO series: Clients love to beat you up on QA and PM

by oneafrikan on April 30, 2007

I’ve never met a client who didn’t want to skimp on PM (project management) or QA (Quality Assurance) time. Most times, clients use QA and PM time as a sink to reduce cost. They go “How could we ever need more than 5 days PM time for this project?”, or “Surely testing should only take a few hours?”.

I think the assumption they make is that projects just happen on their own, or that you don’t need to do QA…
Well, wrong. Just plain wrong.

I often wonder, whether in their profession they would give their time away for free? Probably not… so why should our PM time (or effectively any non coding time) be free then?

One of the hardest lessons I’ve learnt of late is that I’m never ever going to back down again when it comes to negotiating with clients on PM and QA time. It’s just biting me in the ass now, and it plain sucks. The intention is always good – you want to spend less PM time, and you want to write better code that will never ever break at all, but the reality is, in my humble experience, never ever as good as that.

  • PM time never, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever, ever takes less than 20% of your project duration. Never. More like 50%.
  • QA time should be at least 50% to 75% of your project duration in general. And you need a QA person to do it, not a developer, ‘cos most developers don’t test through user eyes.
  • In most web software projects, you should be looking to allocate a total of no more than 20 to 40% of your total project time to development. The rest should be PM, QA, and a few bits and bobs – but never make the assumption that development is all that you need to budget for…

I wonder if we’re unique, or anyone else in the industry is experiencing the same things?

One comment

The percentages for QA and PM that you are talking about seem pretty high (sounding like a client here!). I guess that a lot of it has to do with the size of the projects that you are dealing with – the longer the projects the smaller the total percentage of time for QA and PM (although obviously the actual amount of time increases).

In my experience this also has a lot to do with the type of project – if you are building a website then your PM goes through the roof because every client (and quite often every individual in the client organization) has a viewpoint that is supposed to be incorporated. As someone (actually a client of mine) once said: “Building a website is like a religious experience – everyone has an opinion that they feel very strongly about”.

by Malcolm on May 18, 2007 at 10:30 am. Reply #

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