It happened to me recently, I'm kinda newbie on PMing, so I ask this to an experienced community.

A potential client contacted me through the guy (intermediary) who offered the job to me. But to define if I can do it, I need to do some pilot testing with the things that I've been asked to integrate. By doing this I could get more realistic budget, and time/work estimates.

The wisest thing I could think of is talking to the mediator to ask for the elements to do those tests, and then define if we can do this on time. It's actually doable, but depends on the team (and myself) having a time rate of understanding fast, so it could be affordable to the client. And by saying this of course it's clear I still didn't tell them my price.

Our team's usual market is web IT, and I'm asked to develop a desktop HHRR controller with some hardware control devices.

But doing this could lead to the client expecting of us to get to work, or at least give him hope of we will do that soon enough.

And last but not least; those tests require some hours of work by the team and myself, What do I do with those hours? Are they paid? Should I let it pass by putting from my pocket to see if I can take or not this project? What if the project is not worth taking and people has worked on its viability?

  • Oh, and excuse my English, it's not a native lang to me.
    – apacay
    Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 14:22
  • Are you building a tool that you do not know, or are you required to use a tool that you do not know to build a widget that you do know? Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 16:04
  • @David The second one. Fron the scope analysis I get that the widget shouldn't be hard to get if I get a way to integrate the tool/device with the develoment tools we are working with (eg .Net)
    – apacay
    Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 17:01

3 Answers 3


Some factors to consider:

  • Is the client in question large enough that there could be follow on work?
  • Is the technology being used in demand, or would this be a one-off project where you'd never use these new skills again?
  • Are people on your team interested in acquiring this skill?

Based on factors like these you'll need to decide whether the client should be billed for your learning curve, or whether it makes sense to eat these costs to grow your staff and your business.

  • 1- the client is big enough but I don't know what do u mean with be follow on work (my Eng is not native), 2-The tech is used in demand in most large enterprises, but I've never done this hard/soft kind of work (Our team's usual market is web IT, and I'm asked to develop a desktop HHRR controller with some hardware control devices) so I guess this could be a one-off project, 3-they are interested.... But every one looks for their own purse (stakeholders), so I dont know if I can set a learnin billable time. And if I cant deliver a quality prod I wont take the job. Img 4ourgroupisimportant2.
    – apacay
    Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 17:15
  • Sorry, the meaning of "follow on work" is "will there be new work after the completion of this project?" Do you expect this to be a single transaction or the start of a relationship? Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 17:49
  • Ow, right, It could be the start of a relationship, perhaps after we've done they would like to increase the scope on the same project. But I'm just guessing, there's no actual proposal from the client.
    – apacay
    Commented Jul 29, 2011 at 17:58
  • If it's the start of a relationship (at least possibly) and the technology looks interesting and usable beyond this project, then eat at least some of the learning curve (don't bill the client for the entire cost of the training you'll need to do). That way you both benefit. Commented Jul 30, 2011 at 14:36

If this technology is indeed in demand in the market place and could mean a viable opportunity for your team to expand your market base, then it sounds like you should pursue. There is always some learning that takes place on projects for which the sponsor pays; however, this is brand new to your team. So I do not think it is the type of project learning that is appropriate for someone else to pay. I think it needs to be an investment on your part to acquire the competency needed. This means that you have done the analysis that says your return from the opportunity exceeds your investment.

Should you take this particular job? What is best for this client? Can you gain the competency fast enough to do a credible job for this client? Or is this going to be part of your learning where you are putting your client at too much risk? Can you buy the competency such that you bring to bear the people who already experts and then the rest of your team can learn from them?


Tooling can help, but assign the first sprint to a learning exercise that you will throw away before starting the real project. This will pay itself back very quickly.

Make up a similar domain, very small scope, few screens/functions that will exercise the key points of the tooling ... Don't aim for all of it as this could take months to master ... Your goal is simply to get over the initial WTF stage so you can make intelligent / informed decisions on the real project.

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