There is a good handbook page dedicated to this topic you should read before posting a job in this forum.

HowTo: Hire a Drupal site developer
Skills of a successful back-end web developer
Skills of a successful front-end web developer

Your posting should also include which parts of your project the developers will be allowed to contribute back to the Drupal project. Projects which allow the developer to contribute back to the community are preferred.

If you would like to speak to someone right now, please get an IRC client and join irc.freenode.net server, and join #drupal-consultants. There are consultants in that public channel 24/7.

Comments

One of the most common issues I've come across with people looking to hire a Drupal developer is the difference between having a theme made and having a complete site built. If you're not sure what the difference is, you're probably looking for the second.

In general, a theme doesn't add any special functionality to Drupal, it just changes how it looks. If you need features that don't come standard with Drupal (news letters, WYSIWYG editing, node types other than story/blog/page, an image gallery, a "most viewed stories" block, anything like that), you need more than just a theme, you need a full site. Unless you plan to install and configure modules yourself, make sure you work out all the details before settling on a price.

--
John Forsythe
Need reliable Drupal hosting?

--
John Forsythe
Need Drupal hosting? You should read my review.
Drupal Modules - Search, rate, explore. Over 2200 module reviews!

Clients just don't understand the term "estimate" and "effort". They keep changing requirements and expect you to deliver the solution without additional costs.

As much as there are posts of "developers running away with money", there are also equal posts of "clients taking services and not paying". We need a separate forum for both. So far I only see posts against developers being allowed and this is not fair.

Roshan

Roshan Shah
+1 (323)319-3609
Serial Entrepreneur | Skype : bpocanada
Drupal Development in India |Paid Drupal Support

That's why it is necessary to define clearly what are the project features. Not only it helps to give a fair price but also it makes more easy any discussion later.

I am using planner in Ubuntu for any project. With that I can develop the tree of the tasks and write an estimate in time. I develop this tree in very details The hourly price is set up and at the end I know how much I will charge.

After that, that list of features/tasks is signed by the client along with the contract in which it is said that there is no problem to add features later, and the hourly price the client will be charged.

Then, and this is very important, from the beginning, I never accept to add anything for free. And I'm tough on that. If you start to give the finger, the client will often try to catch the arm. They usually think that what can be said in a short sentence is easy and quick to set up. Also they often use some terms approximately with an idea in their mind which is totally different from the words are meaning. (I had recently a client speaking about a forum with in mind an intranet space with plenty of features inside, among which there was a forum). So it is very important to go in details to clear the misunderstandings. If at the end there is one, the client will always say that it's your fault.

For those who thinks that a contract is not always necessary, I say this is wrong. The contract is not there in case of lawsuit, the contract is there to have a written trace of what was the agreement.
After that client have different profiles and dealing with them can be complicated. The article http://www.smashingmagazine.com/2009/10/15/identifying-and-dealing-with-... is very interesting for this point.

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Julien MARY

I'm just finishing up my first paid Drupal gig. The client first brought up the written agreement, about which I was very enthusiastic. They outlined exactly what was expected, and consequently the build went a lot more smoothly than trying to "talk it out".

This is all good stuff for the next one. Thank you Julien.

john

john

Julien is completely correct in this respect. When i was just starting out in this business, i made the mistake of having no clear spec, and allowing clients to squeeze in little changes here and there all the time. End result = $2 / hour. Not good.

The point about contracts being primarily NOT for use in lawsuits is also a good one. What they are there for is accountability and protection - protecting the vendor from scope creep and the tendency to want infinite work for finite money, and protecting the client from underdelivery and bad actions. When it comes down to it, a contract is only as good as the people who sign it. NEVER do business with anyone you may even suspect is unethical. It never pays, in the end.

Just like to mention that the same is true for business plans. Many people write them for their investors, or the bank.

Business plans are best written for YOU! They're supposed to be an honest suitability report in a sense, helping you understand whether a business is truly viable, by identifying problems and hopefully providing solutions for them.

Many people lose years of their life working towards doomed projects because they simply weren't honest with themselves in their business plan.

Okay so I am at the other side of the table of most of your concerns. I am the client. Though before you tar& feather, I am a nice client. Okay so I may not know Drupal well, this is exactly what all of us clients are struggling with. We have never been great at telepathy or mind-reading. We simply do not understand Drupal well enough to truly enter into a business arrangement while our level of knowledge is so low.

I am hear because though not a developer, I am none-the-less having to be an active Drupal member, so that I can learn this stuff at least enough to operate my own CMS at peek performance, if I get one that is!

So any advice for the opposite arrangement? I took a second on my home and gave a guy nearly 10 thousand dollars for this Drupal travel website. It is now 2 years later and I had Gloscan out of India do some theming which was more out of pocket. SO in essence I still have no completed website and the guy did almost nothing. He knew and it was in the contract that i needed a fully functional CMS. Now I can't change out any top navigation tabs no Footer Links, nothing, except of course the work Gloscan did for me. I wish I could of hired them from the beginning, Roshan and his team, so I would not be having this discussion right now. And I am the opposite this guy really did me harm yet I am good enough to not even want to tarnish his name here and say anything, yet he obviously could care less about me.

So what is a contract worth? I have a law degree and its not hard to win a judgment in cases like these, but collecting now is a horse of another color. It is nearly impossible. The judge will say yes pay up this amount court adjourned. No one pays. Lawsuits are therefore not practicable, unless the judgment leans real-property or corporate assets, once the umbrella is blown.

Any suggestions? This is a nice guy too to boot [my developer]. Its that I have over 50 emails from the guy claiming he will do this and that on such and such date and he is a continual no show. I have no more spare 10k yet poured my whole life into writing and creating content for this travel website and now I am supposed to walk away?

I am too stupid I admit to learn Drupal at the level of really developing this properly. Suggestions? We are really not talking about clients who screw developers we are all talking about people who are assholes who screw other people. My problem is identical to yours it sounds like.

If you have a law degree, you are most certainly not "too stupid" to learn Drupal. If you are willing to take the time to learn, there are enough resources out there for you to finish your site for free. It's really a matter of whether you have more of time or money. Paying someone else to do it is certainly faster if you can afford it. But digging in and learning is better than walking away if you can't.

Please note I am in no way saying what happened is acceptable; merely pointing out that you shouldn't write off the "learn Drupal" option too quickly if that's the only option you have left.

Michelle

I have similar problems in my business which does not include programming.
I think to an extent you have to send a proposal to them including what they requested.
I know it takes time, and you may lose a few clients but I have found it is better to spend a little time up front and lose a client than it is to spend time, and perhaps real money doing the job then not gettin paid.

The long reply is in the defense of all End-Users/Your Clients!

Roshan, the reason the Forum posts are directed maliciously towards developers and not the clients is simple. You guys are "in the know." We are not. So while we know what we want to create we cannot speak your language [computer language and tech talk!] therefore we get frustrated and may very well ask you to do a revision of something that makes no sense to you at all.

Not too long ago I found myself hiring a Drupal company in India and I told him I needed a very simple integration of a module page, or a hotel page and that all the programming was already in place in the back-office. I said if he started in the morning, I truly believed this, surely would be done by the lunch hour.

But do you developers see the problem? I hardly think there are many clients who get out of bed each morning and vow to upset their developer and drive them to booze, or are trying to rip them off. Why would they do this? Makes no sense. It is however a breakdown in communications, as I had not known the scope of the project, as I had first let on.

On a serious note guys there is no person I trust more than Roshan for expert Drupal advice -- no one. Though not a developer I have a long line of top successes and can recognize when someone is at the top of their game. Roshan, if this is even the same Roshan who did my theming recently, is someone at the top of their game. Where he's short on patience, he makes up with high skill level.

He normally takes on a higher-end client than I currently am, therefore I am unfortunately in need to find a new Drupal developer, again, so should any readers think they could pick up the pieces of my website, do contact me ASAP. Warm Regards, R

I have also faced a problem regarding theme development or full site development from a client. He posted for theme development but later i realize that he was having full site development consideration in his mind. That was horrible experience. Thanks for your post now. At least we can give a reference to this thread if there is any controversy.

--
Professional theme developer
sakib.live[@]gmail.com

Mohd Sakib
http://www.worthapost.com/
Email: sakib.live [at] gmail.com

Absolutely right, but often clients are not the most CMS/Web savvy to understand the difference between themes and sites. They see a well-designed theme on someone's CMS site, and they want "something like it", or something "along those lines", thinking it may be a relatively simple copy and paste operation. Properly informing the clients in advance or explaining it on the web designer's business site may help avoid confusion.

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http://www.ministryofdrupal.org

I was hired for theme development when the client needed a full site with custom modules and only budgeted 30 hours. Not knowing how much work this kind of full-site customization is, he promptly refused to pay. Upon hire he assured me that all he needed was a theme to "drop in" and "light PHP." I am not sure what he thought that meant. A nightmare experience which taught me to be *really* clear about my abilities and what the client's actual requirements are. This process is highly detailed in a large corporation for a reason. Lack of it can really bite a consultant's behind.

At the very least report such clients so other service providers know how to deal with them. It is the heart and sole of your business. Don't allow anyone to go without paying - It is great to give people freebies for something in return but to let people walk away with everything without paying and you are left with nothing but BAD feeling is nonsense.

You lose double by walking away empty handed because you spent time for nothing and then if your next client could not pay likewise you really are in trouble.
-
Roshan Shah

Roshan Shah
+1 (323)319-3609
Serial Entrepreneur | Skype : bpocanada
Drupal Development in India |Paid Drupal Support

One of the things I've encountered when you free lance is not only do you have to be a developer/designer you also have to be a salesman, project manager and business analyst. This being said, whenever I freelance a job (almost always, I do make some minor exceptions) I ensure there is a draft of a SRS that defines what the client will receive. I walk through this with the client and we both sign off on the SRS. Which is also the statement of work. I will deliver to them what is defined in the SRS and if they want something different or change what they want - additional costs may be incurred and a Change Request is required.

After the SRS has been determined an LOE is drafted by myself and an estimate is created based on this. I provide the client the cost per hour and the hours estimated to complete the work. You can decide how to bill overages/underages (example +/- 15%...You go over your estimate by 50%...you eat 35% of the time). It wouldn't be fair to ask the client to pay for your mistakes in under estimating...

If the client doesn't approve of the cost then you only lose a couple hours. The time to draft the SRS and the Estimate should be minimal for a small job (< 3 hours).

If you stick to a similar process (I've been using this process for a couple of years and the company I work for has been using this process for 6-7 years and it works great) you will ensure your client and you both know what is going on.

I agree that some form of an SRS is critical on most projects if you want to maintain your sanity, mortgage and marriage.

A traditional requirements spec may be too heavy; we're experimenting with a boilerplate SRS that specifies to a moderate level of detail and can be customized by-client. It's a lot more than clients are used to getting from the development firms they've dealt with before. (We're primarily a design shop, so this was a new discipline here, but perhaps because of that we've been able to keep to it pretty well.)

In my experience, what most development shops issue is a proposal, not a spec, and it's difficult to get specific based on the proposal. We give them something specific. It sets a metric for when and whether a feature is "finished", and as you allude, establishes when you need a "change" versus when you just aren't delivering on the feature.

Another thing about the SRS: It protects BOTH CLIENT AND PROVIDER. If what you want is to get a job done (and that's what most people want), then what it does for you is create a set of rules you both agree to apply to the project.

Agile methods: Please note that using some kind of an SRS does NOT mean you're not using agile methods! You can still use agile methods. You just need to:

  • Specify the requirements in a different way;
  • Have some way for you as a service provider (or you as a client) to say, with confidence, that you know x is in-scope or out-of-scope.

hey, thanks for sharing this, this is extremely usefull to me!

this happens sometime, when communication is not so clear.

I feel that clear requirement and proper communication is the key to success with hiring drupal developer.

How about a section here in the forum, where developer can show case some themes, and sell them. I know , we have a section to showcase our theme, but how about selling theme in one seperate section.

One more idea to promote more free drupal theme..........
We should have a section where people can showcase new theme design and ask for sponcers of the theme. The sponcers link will be placed at footer of theme.

http://www.techhunt.org || Free Drupal Themes

----------------
Premium Drupal Theme

Selling themes on Drupal.org may not reflect best on the community spirit. I believe there should be a clear distinction between community showcase and business. The same goes for showcasing sponsors.

========================
http://www.ministryofdrupal.org

In a vast pool of service firms and freelancers, here are few questions you may ask.

- speak with the provider on phone. Rather then Skype or chat, better to speak at least once to them via phone.
- ask for their code contributions (i.e whether they contributed any modules). If you are non-techie or cannot evaluate code, you may try and check out the contributed module and issue queue for that module. Also try and see if the module has been kept current and there is an effort to fix the issues.
- ask for URLs to live working sites
- ask for references with whom you can speak
- Talk to the developer who will work on the project
- Ask for photo / video on their infrastructure
- Find out about their internet connectivity. You don't want excuses that the Internet went down.
- Do they have weekly updates, conferences, present detailed time sheets?
- What is their employee retention ratio?
- What is their client retention ratio?

For high traffic sites:
- Ask what kind of support options they have once site is put in production
- Ask whether they have 24x7 Infrastructure monitoring services and admins inhouse? How to they handle emergencies?
- Ask whether they have experience in hardware sizing, LAMP stack tuning as well as inhouse performance optimization expertise?

You may also find someone at Facebook Drupal Service Providers Group http://www.facebook.com/group.php?gid=2449272488&ref=ts.

Roshan

Gloscon Solutions Inc : Drupal Development and Support, India
+1 (323) 31903609
Skype : bpocanada

Thats a mild version of a check list to prescreen but better than nothing.

Our latest free site... no checklist needed.

( though I have a problem updating core at times as I go in and rewrite many of the mods (core and other )

customizing to the site and when I update - well thats a trip in it self.. I'd rather be dealing with check lists.); ((g))

Thanks for all who contrib to Drupal..

Joe
http://www.patriotsrevolt.com ( another free site for the right )!

"please get an IRC client and join irc.freenode.net server, and join #drupal-consultants. There are consultants in that public channel 24/7"

There's no one there.

Edit: NVM, lol I found it now. It's full of people indeed!!

There's 29 people and a bot in there right now. Lots of people lurk and there's not a ton of conversation but we have interesting ones now and then.

Michelle

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See my Drupal articles and tutorials or come check out life in the Coulee Region.

This section and the comment is fascinating. I know that colleagues and friends who are in business have a hell of a time with developers. The most common response to any question about their business sites' development is: "I can't get a developer to do what they say they are going to do and deliver on time. When I do get their work it rarely performs as required and then I am over a barrel with them demanding more money and more time to fix the issues they have got wrong.". My point here is that there is a very common perception in business (UK) that developers are unprofessional pirates who act beyond normal business regulation. Having looked at the Drupal developer complaints about clients in this section it seems clear to me that the establishment of clear contracts, clear project definitions and deadlines is of benefit to all concerned. So my question has to be if Drupal developers have defined a code of conduct and performance which establishes them as a 'profession' and gives developer and client specific and clear duties, expectations and performance requirements. Speaking as a client, I have found that my expectations are rarely matched by developers and most specifically in the area of deadlines. I also recognise that my expectations, this is improving though,often fail to understand full the amount of work required to produce the outcome I desire. My final conclusion has to be that we all need much, much clearer communication before entering into agreements.

There are so many desperate freelancers, they basically tell you ANYTHING to get a job. I am not being negative here, and realistic I am...I just hired someone to do a Drupal customization and made the scope so clear, we even provided a PDF with visual representations of everything like a storyboard.

After four different people looked at it, tried to do the work, etc. (and yes I paid them), none were able to deliver the navigation on the PDF as stated, even though each of them indicated they could.

After all was said and done, I asked one of my regular software engineers who knows nothing about Drupal and was able to get this working in a couple of days as required.

The many alleged Drupal experts as they call themselves were not experts at all and one even promised a 10am delivery deadline and never emailed me back.

Very much an industry riddled with hacks, self-taught amateur programmers and just people in general desperate for any job they can get.

Christopher Spencer
The Spencer Company
borntodeal@gmail.com

Christopher Spencer
The Spencer Company
borntodeal@gmail.com

There is a shortage of Drupal knowledgable people. Anyone competent in Drupal can find work easily. The trouble is finding someone who is competent and still has time to take on more work. When the people with a clue are all booked, it's easy for people without one to swoop in, claim they know more than they do, and do a crappy job. If anyone is desperate, it's the people doing the hiring because of the lack of qualified talent.

Michelle

--------------------------------------
See my Drupal articles and tutorials or come check out life in the Coulee Region.

That is why you either go with firm which specializes in Drupal or find some freelancer who is really good with Drupal and can work with you on a long term(and not drop the project mid way) . In either case you would be better off if you would have taken time to do some reference check either by calling their clients or by visiting their linked in endorsements.

Roshan
--
Drupal Development

Gloscon Solutions Inc : Drupal Development and Support, India
+1 (323) 31903609
Skype : bpocanada

Sales and marketing is something that has to be learned and exercised every day. Being "Salesy" is not a good approach. Discovering a potential clients problem and providing the best drupal solution and config, and being able to demonstrate that solution is a good start.

There are always difficulties in every project but loving what you do, hard work and open communication can be a solid backbone for providing the best solution to your client.

Most of my clients just want to be able to manage their own sites and be able to update content frequently with some bells and whistles, like image gallery, RSS, mailing list, etc.

Minimize their pain through every aspect even if you have to meet with them in person 10 times before even starting, make sure they understand and reach that level of comfort that they are going to get the best solution for the dollar they are going to spend.

I typcially don't accept any payment until the site is released and the client is happy. I give them until the very last minute to say hey, I changed my mind. That hasn't happened to me yet, knock on wood.

There are some clients that I discovered in the begginning that I can't help no matter how free or advanced the technology but it is on me to discover that before starting instead of just taking work to make dollar.

I provide the full service to the client and hope I provide the best solution at the most reasonable/affordable cost. Server setup, domain name management, drupal install, theme layout, theme graphic design, training, disaster recovery, long-term support and answer the phone at 2am for support and resolve client issues immediately or as quickly as possible. I'll farm out graphic design in some cases but I can spend between 60-80 hours 3-6 weeks to run the full course of a project from trying to figure out what a client needs (most of the time they aren't quite sure what they need) to 30 days of free support and site tweaks after site release.

I'm not selling my business here but just trying to say that typically a client is looking for the whole package and not just a portion.

I run in to a lot of potential clients that want A lot.. and don’t realize what kind of work and time it takes to get something like that.

They show me sites like amazon.com a custom $50k site another $75k site and then say I want this with this and this and it will be better then these.

I say how much money are you willing to spend on this? Hmm. $1,100. to $1,500.
I just say I can’t help you with that..

It is a trap, they will never be happy with what anyone gives them they want a custom Lamborghini with unlimited modifications for the price of a used geo metro.

This happens internally at some service providers, as well.

We've tried outsourcing in the past, with mixed results. And by mixed, I mean that we typically either:

  • Get the project but end up having to manage the subcontractor so tightly to get an acceptable result that we end up spending more time than we would have to do it ourselves;
  • Don't get the project because the (better) outsourcing partner we've selected is too expensive.

So we've been building the sites ourselves.

The problem is that internally the Creative Director and Account Manager are often demanding a Lamborghini at that used Geo Metro price point. So we bid low and I end up putting in a lot more time on the project.

I don't have a remedy for that; we haven't found one, yet (which is to say, I haven't, since the people I report to just don't seem to get the nature of the problem). I'm just pointing out that this isn't a problem limited to client-provider relationships.

That's similar to why I left the ad agency I worked at 3-1/2 years ago. The AE/CDs had no idea what they were selling and/or promoting. They just stuck it to me to build something that looked just like xyz.com, but on the cheap, and who cares what return it brings. Now I build 100% less all-flash sites, and 100% less dreamweaver sites. I almost never have to bill a client to change a copyright or fix a typo. The flip side is I build 100% more functional (and IMHO more effective) web sites.

What's most irritating is that they won't own it.

If the project runs over time or I end up averaging 60 hour weeks, it's not because they insist on over-delivering ("I want to put a slideshow on the front page...let's add some video...of course they have to be able to upload files of unlimited size via the web even though we've never delivered that to a client before, what did you think?) or scheduling two or three website deliveries in a month and a half -- it's because I didn't scope or estimate the projects correctly.

I think the best things one could do as an independent contractor would probably be to find ways to:

  1. clearly explain the concept of requirements
  2. clearly explain what you'll deliver
  3. politely require that increases in scope get acknowledged and compensated-for

Alas, I don't think I could make a living just doing websites freelance, or I'd think about it. In my market, there doesn't seem to be a middle ground between the shops that bid huge to cover their overhead and the ones that crank out commodity work at a commodity price I don't think I could compete with and still pay my mortgage.

I have hired several contractors... I can't tell you how many times I have been ripped off.

Everyone talks about clear and precise documentation and contracts as the method to prevent problems. I'm not saying documentation isn't important, good documentation is vital.

But contracts do not make a person honest or competent no matter how well they are written. 99.999% of all civil law suits have great documentation and contracts.

We need website referees. The client, contractor and referee come to an understanding as to the scope of the project, cost and time frame. The referee makes sure the documentation is clear and accurate. A referee is there from the beginning, stays with the project until the end. The Referee will insure that the site is being developed correctly. The referee can 'inspect' the work and rule on all of the little 'fouls' as they occur keeping the project on track. The Referee will be able to recommend a payment schedule as work is completed. The Referee will be able to tell if the contractor is incompetent and is unable to perform the tasks required. If the client is attempting add more or change the project, the Referee will negotiate those changes and make sure the contractor is compensated for those changes.

If the project has a problem, and ends up in court, the referee can act as the arbitrator and settle the issue very quickly. The referee will issue a judgment to the prevailing party, which can be registration with a court of competent jurisdiction and have a lien issued.

Courts will love this Referee system because disclosure is already completed (the exchange of documents) and all issues of law has been settled (in the contract), and the facts of the case are ready to be ruled on by the arbitrator (Referee). There is no judge, no jury and the case is not taking up court docket time.

A single referee could oversee many web projects and could be paid 10% of the project, plus fees for additional services.

I am looking for a person to act as a Referee for a project that I'm starting. If you are interested please contact me at pwriter@zunzone.com.

Escrow is a service that provides a middleman in transactions. Commonly its used for something like real estate or online services, this middleman ensures that payment is received on one end, and product/service on the other. All 3 must sign on and off.

I dunno what the good escrow services are nowadays, but you might wanna look in these areas if you need someone credible. I don't think you would want some random person for a middleman, especially if there must be NDA's involved or you are worried about your intellectual property.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Escrow

These are very useful comments. Thanks,
Izzy

i'm looking for an experienced drupal developer to help update a popular an existing news site.

Normal / Ethical contracting in the construction world operates off of payment points
You do the contract, 1/3 upfront, 1/3 when you pass certain points, and the rest at the end of the job. If a client can not pay even a small token amount I stop. Chances are I will never get any money at the end of the job. Normally I setup the hosting, get there domain setup drupal and place a logo or name for the first payment.

We don't start without upfront payment. We used to deliver the product on Client's server (once they tested on our staging) after 70% payment was done. But we realized that getting balance 30% payment was a big pain and hence we now deliver product on 100% payment in advance(in stages). Clients do ref checks, etc.

We give 30 to 60 days free support and in most cases we over deliver and add value to client during project execution. This makes it win-win for both.

A client who does not understand relationship between effort (requirements, architecture, solution build, testing, project management, training, documentation) as a part of product development, is not our client.

Gloscon Solutions Inc : Drupal Development and Support, India
+1 (323) 31903609
Skype : bpocanada

I'm not sure why there's so much issue about people finding good Drupal developers/jobs and dealing with payment concerns. I'm a programmer and just want to deal with the technical details without having to worry about these things that I'm not best suited to anyway.

That's why I've been using services like Rentacoder: http://www.rentacoder.com/?txtFromURL=AId_1870085 and oDesk: http://www.anrdoezrs.net/click-3853895-10713612 for many years. They help buyers connect with sellers and deal with the payment so both parties get a fair deal and can just focus on getting the work done. There's no need for "referees", lawyers and complex contracts. The buyer specifies what they want, available sellers pick up the work and do it. Both Rentacoder and oDesk have specialists available (similar to referees) that deal with any issues.

Rentacoder is more focused towards fixed price work where the buyer deposits money in advance and the seller gets paid once the work (or stages of it) are completed and the buyer is happy. If there are any problems during the project either side can ask Rentacoder arbitrators to step in and sort the situation out. oDesk is more suitable for long term work and offer a guarantee to sellers that they will get paid for the hours they do. To do this they use software that takes screen-captures and web-cam images of what the seller's doing while claiming hours. The buyer can then confirm that the hours were worked and not just made up before making payment.

RAC and oDesk is a big NO and waste of time. If you get $10/hr service there, you will get similar quality, end up frustrated. It is usually used by individuals who want to get small project done. There are one off exceptions of some solid delivery once a while but by and large people end up micromanaging lot of things. Even as a Service Provider, most Tier-1 and Tier-2 Drupal shops don't prefer such sites. Mid to Large sized projects are usually done via hand-shake, with a personal touch, thorough reference check and word of mouth referral.

Even nowaways, RFP's are out of fashion as customers/competitors have started using them not for real projects but to get solution, process knowledge in response. In most cases, they already have a chosen provider but just as a requirement that they have to get certain number of responses before awarding contract, they float out RFPs.

Best way to find a solid developer/firm is to work with your local Drupal group, find a firm. If that firm does not have spare capacity, that firm will already know companies in India, China, Europe who do work in Drupal and will know how to extend and expand when needed. As a client, you don't have to micro manage resources. This is already happening as many firms now compete and collaborate with each other at the same time.

Gloscon Solutions Inc : Drupal Development and Support, India
+1 (323) 31903609
Skype : bpocanada

Please be certain to have it clearly listed that updates will be run during the development process. You should absolutely not pay thousands for a site, only to log in and see the modules being used are out of date by 3+ months and Drupal out of date by nearly a month.

In my eyes it's just standard practice to hand a client a site that is fully updated. The only exceptions are when the available update has bugs or issues that would cause problems with the site. When that is the case, I clearly outline that for the client so they know why it isn't updated.

I recently received the admin log-in for a site from the people who developed it. Until that moment they were the only ones with full admin access.

I see it needs updates. I figure "oh, they must have come out in the past day or maybe over the weekend" (it was Monday morning). I check and find that there are updates - including multiple security updates - going back to April. This was just this past week.

Client checks with the developer. They consider the site "handed off" when they copied it from their server to the live server (not that it was fully working, live, or signed off on by the client). They say that updates aren't run automatically - instead on a routine schedule - except when it is an important update.

When we push the fact that the updates go back months, we are told it was not in the project nor the budget for them to run any kind of updates. You get whatever it was that was out the day they started working on the site (and I'm assuming what they used at that point was the latest - it might not have been since I know many developers who don't keep their "base site" updated).

I was absolutely surprised. To me, handing over an updated site is a basic part of developing a site.

So, please, learn from this. Put it in the details of the contract - all updates within the current branch (and be sure to list what that branch is - 6.x, 7.x, etc.) are to be run prior to the site going live. Any updates that aren't run must have a reason behind it, such as there is a bug in it that needs to be fixed before it can be run. I know we've all run into a few updates that cause more problems than it fixes.

I just wanted to pass that along so that no one else ends up in the same situation.

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Jenni S.
http://www.nulookmedia.net
Portland, OR metro area
Contact Me

I admit I don't have much business experience with Drupal but I simply can't imagine any decent shop would hand over a site with security updates needed. If they came out after the handover then you'd need some sort of maintenance contract in place. But before the handover? That's just wrong.

Michelle

That is exactly how I felt.

The sad thing is this is a fairly big shop and does a lot of work for people. So others are going to get hit with this as well.

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Jenni S.
http://www.nulookmedia.net
Portland, OR metro area
Contact Me

While I almost agree with you I would offer one amendment.

Any upgrades clause should reflect the reality of timelines related to delivery deadlines vs latest versions. If I am going to deliver a website with a deadline of the 31st of this month and an upgrade comes out on the 30th I am *NOT* going to install that upgrade during the night and and hand over an untested system in the morning.

I have never used such a clause but I think it makes sense to have one. Off the top of my head I am thinking that the clause may read something like;

Final product will have all Drupal software versions current to within two weeks at the time of delivery or documented with a valid reason as to why they have not been installed. Any Drupal software versions released within two weeks prior to actual delivery will be installed and tested (offline) not more that two weeks after delivery as part of the support service or documented with a valid reason as to why they will not be installed.

That works as well.

The site I started working on had updates that went back almost the length of the project, which was a number of months. There was no reason not to run 90% of the updates, as only a few came out in the 2 weeks or so before the site was handed over.

Their reasoning was that they don't do any updates during the process - you get whatever was available when they started. And to be honest, I'm not certain that was even the case. It looked like they started with a "base site", which was out of date to begin with, based on some of the dates of updates.

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Jenni S.
http://www.nulookmedia.net
Portland, OR metro area
Contact Me

Doesn't sound good to me. I think you should name and shame them, no matter how big they are. It will either 1) make people think twice before using them, and / or 2) highlight an area in which this company needs to improve, therefore giving future customers a better Drupal experience.

Either / both are positive in my opinion.

To the general point, I agree with the above comment about upgrades. I think not having upgrades within 1 - 2 weeks of the handover deadline is ok, although clarifying this with the clients makes a lot of sense.

A post above suggested Escrow is a fair system. It is not really. The problem is it's one-sided, and is definitely not the same as a referee.

The developer does the work, and then the decision to pay or not is made, and signed off. This is ridiculous. It is completely in the clients favour.

Escrow can only work if there is a referee.

This is just IMHO, but I won't work for someone if there's a chance he/she won't pay. If the project is from a new client, I always include verbiage in the contract that the client must pay in either monthly payments or upon project milestones, and I always require a deposit. That way at least I'm paid if the client decides to change project scope halfway through the project and says that what I've done isn't enough; it gives us a starting point for discussing when and where the project got off track (ie. "you said I was doing a great job last week when you paid me, now you say the project is shit, can you please sir tell me what happened?").

That's the problem with escrow: it will only work to the extent that you trust the client.

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R.J. Townsend
rjtownsend.com