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Salary - What to charge


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I've been designing a database for a company since December. Initially, this was a small project that was to be done in a month or so. Since then, it has grown to being held on a server that 5 companies access via "Open Remote" to share related client information. There is appearing to be no end in sight for when this project should be "Finished."

The problem was that I had initially spec'd only $25/hr, but I believe I should be paid considerably more than that now and would appreciate some suggestions from those of you who have been doing this a while.

To begin with, I've only been doing this off and on for a couple of years, but I have extensive database management experience and I have proven to do an excellent job with what is required in Filemaker Pro.

Here's what I've done and what I'm in charge of:

-Consult with every employee and determine a way to impliment their individual jobs into the DB functionality (5 different companies)

-Designed DB to accomodate 8 different Job responisibilities, which has included 9 tables, hundreds of scripts and dozens of layouts and reports, not including a semi-ad hoc reporting feature (that turned out pretty cool, I might add).

-Purchased & Set up Server/domain so that DB can be accessed from any location.

-24/7 response time for any problems or questions

-Oversaw Data conversion from spreadsheets to the DB I designed

-All aspects of planning, design & production of database development.

-Trained employees

-purchased and set up their computers

-I've also helped with other tasks like getting their entire file cabinets Document Imaged and put on a server database (60,000 pages or so). My doing this saved them $12,000 compared to what a copying center wanted just to make paper copies in 3 days.

While my experience might be lacking a bit to those of you who have been doing the FM development for years, I'm still getting the job done (which is the most important thing) and everyone is thrilled. The one drawback is it takes me more time to figure things out w/ scripting and calculations that it does for you veterans.

So...any hourly rate suggestions for me? I'd appreciate any insight. Thanks much!

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Quick answer: more, at least 2x more.

How to get there?

I'd use honesty, a little carrot & a little stick. Try explaining to your client that the rate you first quoted them for was on the low end because you were new to the FileMaker toolset, you wanted to do them a favor, and didn't feel right charging more, and you believed the project was going to be small and over by now.

Explain that since then, you have gained skills, the project has grown, and you realize the market rate for your services is much higher, and the project is cutting into a higher % of your available hours. Therefore, you'd like to re-bid the project at a market rate, and with their new features.

If they balk, then The Stick would be something like this: "I'm happy to finish the original specifications we agreed upon at my existing rate, then help you find another developer if you can find someone at the lower end rate." But you have to be willing to walk away, and find other work at your higher rate.

If you can't, then perhaps your idea of market rate is not exactly true in your particular neck of the woods... :o You might want to research this first.

If the project has had "feature creep" and there is no clear documentation of what is expected of you, this is more your fault then theirs (you, the wise consultant, are supposed to not let this happen). In this case, do be humble and be willing to negotiate a good deal.

You may also want to ask around and see what other clients would think is reasonable. If you can find another client who says "Most FileMaker developers charge us $125/hour" this may help your client get a better fix on reality, etc.

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Those were excellent suggestions! I consider my skill level to be intermediate . I just didn't really know what the going rate in the development field was. Realistically, I could charge whatever I want and they would pay it, its not an issue of negotiation. However, I wish to be fair and make sure I'm getting paid appropriatly for what I'm doing and that they aren't paying too much (I know, I'm crazy!). It seems that the $50-$60/hr range is about right.

Thanks for the help!


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"Realistically, I could charge whatever I want and they would pay it, its not an issue of negotiation."

Yeah, right... and I have this GREAT bridge to sell you.

There is always somebody else who will do the work for $25 an hour... after all, you did.

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Harsh words Vaughan - but true. That said, would YOU have done the work for $25/hour?

The services already provided and obvious skills from "mcinfly" are being under paid, but by how much depends on the level of commitment from the employer.

If you are looking for a full time in house position then various market factors come into play. I'm sure if you'd pick up alot more in New York than you would Alaska! Look around for local job adverts for IT Manager (or similar).

If you're looking for contracting rates then I think you're right on $50/60 - but I would restrict that rate for FM work only. Your other skills are worth more - so charge more.

$125/hour may be available, but I doubt you'll get many hours at that rate.

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IdealData, I appreciate your input. I am simply trying to come up with a fair and honest amount to charge my client for my skill set and for my activities in this position.

The idea of charging different amounts for other services that I occationally perform hadn't occurred to me, but I think that is a valid consideration.

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My best advice is to join the FileMaker Solutions Alliance or an FMPug and network, network, network.

You'll find that most developers have a prime rate for work that they find themselves, and a sub-contractor rate for work that other developers farm off when they are busy -- this subby rate is usually 50-60% of the prime rate, which is justified since as a sub-contractor you haven't spent time and money finding the work and chasing up all the bills etc.

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