16 July 2014

Why We Charge a Fixed Weekly Price to Build Software

Hiring Gaslight isn’t hiring people. It’s bringing on a true partner. We don’t rent our designers and developers out as hired guns. Instead, we build close collaborations with our clients, and pair them with dedicated, tight-knit design and development teams.

If you stopped by our office, you might be hard pressed to tell the employees apart from the clients, who are often looking over our shoulders as we work and providing real-time feedback. This process is central to our business, and to better support it, we moved away from an hourly per person business model two years ago.

Today we bill all our clients a fixed weekly rate for a design and development team. It’s a pricing approach that’s unusual for the industry, but we believe it benefits our customers and helps us build better products. Here are three reasons why:

Fixed weekly billing reduces risk for clients.

There’s no way around it: Building custom software is risky and expensive. To truly solve complex problems, we go through a discovery process with our clients and craft solutions that are timely and appropriate.

But this approach means there’s a large set of unknowns when we begin a new project. As we move through our agile development process, the picture becomes clearer, but there’s no way to predict all the curves in the road upfront.

Weekly billing allows our clients to reduce some of the risk as they develop an app, because it’s easy and straightforward to manage their budgets. They know exactly how much each week costs against their overall budget.

Flat rate billing allows us to build better teams.

Every client works with a dedicated design and development team, typically two developers along with design and project management as needed. Billing a flat weekly rate gives us the flexibility to put the right people on the right projects at the right time.

We might tap a Gaslight team member with expertise in a certain tech stack or domain to help maximize our delivery. Or pull in an extra designer for a few days on a visual-heavy project. We found it was much harder to do this with an hourly billing model.

An estimate for a software project is nothing more than a guess.

I know, I know. That other company gave you a fixed price for your entire app. But no matter who is doing the estimating, it’s nothing more than a guess. We could come up with a number to make potential clients feel better, but we’d be wrong.

Instead, we focus on understanding our client’s problem well enough to get a sense for the size of the project. Then we talk about the budget, and based on our past experiences, we discuss if it seems reasonable in relation to the goals for the app.

When we know your budget, we’re able to work with you to maximize the deliverable and stretch your dollars. We constantly ask questions like, “Knowing the budget, what is the next most important thing to accomplish?”

A weekly rate helps us focus in on an app’s most important features and build those first. Everyone knows the weekly rate and can plan accordingly. There’s no re-estimating halfway through or up billing for any features you discover you need along the way.

In the end, the value we deliver to our clients is our partnership. Our clients trust us to craft the technical solutions that solve their business problems. High quality combined with our process is what makes our projects successful.

Want to see for yourself? Check out what we’ve done for past clients in our case studies.

Heads up! This article may make reference to the Gaslight team—that's still us! We go by Launch Scout now, this article was just written before we re-introduced ourselves. Find out more here.

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