My clients were a father and son requesting an inventory system for their business. They were also family friends. They had a lot of product, but it was currently tracked via post-its and memory. The requirements were simple enough. They needed a very simple CMS. I suggested an excel spreadsheet, but they needed it to sync between computers and their two locations.
Me: So I can make you a website can do that. Let’s talk about how you want the inventory displayed when you log in, and we can work out what fields we need for data entry.
Client: We don’t want a website. We just want something that will keep track of everything between both locations and not on the internet.
After a little back and forth, and double checking they were not planning on setting up a network between locations, they both agreed a website with the CMS was the best course of action. (I should have gotten this in writing…)
I make a pretty simple CMS, test it and it works. The son signs off on it and I move on. (Once again…should have gotten this in writing.) 3 months later I get a very angry phone call from the father.
Client: The site is broken! Nobody can do anything!
Me: I am logged in….seems like it is working. What are you trying that is broken?
Turns out the son never told the father he signed off on the work and he assumed nothing was done. 6 more months goes by, another angry call from the father.
Client: When are you going to be done with this site?!?
Me: What do you mean? We talked about this last year?
Client: Can you just come into the shop and show me what you have done?
So I go in, show the father the site and now requirements are coming out of left field.
Client: So we need this to be faster so we can enter things in as people call. Also, we need to be able to sync this with the phone system so we can tie orders to customers as they call in. Where do I print checks from this? How do customers log in to upload photos of the stuff we might buy?
I told them for all of that work I would charge them at least $15k, based on industry standards I could find googling for about 2 minutes, and that was on the low end.
Client: If we wanted to pay that much, we would buy this other product that is industry standard. I thought we were family? Give us a deal.
Me: I think we’re done here
Last time they reached out to me, they threatened to sue me for not delivering the site to them that they requested. Luckily for me, none of this was in writing and my lawyer friend said they didn’t have a case.
Moral of the story? Get everything in writing. Especially if it is for friends or family.