Effort and reward for consulting projects

09/05/2013 § Leave a comment

I have been pondering how effort and reward vary by the size of the project. There’s no data to this, just jaded experience from many years of consulting. There just seem to be some project sizes that generally work well, and some that are difficult for the money involved.

General observations:

  • Under ten grand — quite variable projects; some are easy and some are impossible
  • $35,000 —  a really horrible number. The client wants a $50k project but doesn’t have the budget
  • $40,000 — oddly, usually much better than $35k. If the client had wanted a $50k project, they would have found the extra money. They really just want $40k of work
  • $80,000 — sweet. This is a great project size. Enough budget to do something interesting, small enough that admin effort is low, reasonable client expectations
  • $90,000 — client wants $100,000 project but that’s a scary number
  • Over $100 grand — it all depends, so manage carefully.

For those of you who are visual, I came up with the following chart to show average effort:reward ratio by project size (solid line) and the spread around the average (dotted line). Values over 1.00 mean the effort is greater than the reward; values under mean the opposite.

effort-reward

 

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