Free lunch Ireland

There’s a contract tender website that Gaisan peruses every now and again and even ocassionally picks up a contract or two from. It’s an appealling, functional and well-run site. So where’s the problem? Well there’s just one that I’ve identified. Massive differences in expectations between project posters and project bidders and far too many complex projects available with tender estimates that are completely unrealistic. However, as described in my previous post, there are still quite a few people willing to professionally shoot their feet off just to make some money. E.g. Let’s say a small employment agency decides they’re going to go online with job/applicant profile management, opportunity tracking, online ad placement and CC payment handling etc. Sounds realistically complicated no matter how much code exists out there you’ve still got to produce a smooth and professional site that works reliably and securely. In real terms that involves painful exercises such as creating templates, coding CSS, image editting, browser comparisons, SEO etc. Let’s say it’s a full week’s work to finish. At least, bear in mind this SHOULD generate additional revenue for its owners. So that’s 8 hours * 5 days = 40 hours. So how much for this project, ceiling of 1000 euro or 25 euro/hour. Why should it be more you may ask? Well my answer is simple. About 50% of our business involves redesigning sites that were botched the first time around. Generally these were ordered by people who had unrealistic expectations about cost, functionality and performance. Frequently customers who are reluctant to pay our rates at first are pleasantly surprised at the high quality, personal service and the painstaking attention to detail. So who’s to blame? Some customers definitely have unrealistic expectations. I heard someone say they could get a website including hosting for 30 quid. Fine, go get it. Some web and software developers do casual work that isn’t declared for a substantial discount. Some just don’t know any better. In my opinion the grey market for s/w services is killing the industry in this country and damaging public perception. Academic applicants for IT places have dipped substantially and many 2nd level students cite the following reasons for not applying.

  • The works is difficult and the hours are long
  • IT salaries are modest by comparison with trades or professional activities

The job should be difficult and should require smart and dedicated people. That’s a given but the salaries need to reflect this or the best and brightest in this country will wisely follow other career paths. As in my previous comments I’d urge software engineers who can afford it, not to do freebies or cut-price projects for anyone. Instead focus your mind on how much money you would have made if you’d chosen the following professions:

  1. doctor
  2. psychologist
  3. solicitor
  4. plumber
  5. electrician
  6. auctioneer
  7. auditor

They’ve been at home for the past 2 hours while you’re trying to get that last bit of code to work or struggling over that last storage/switch/whatever configuration detail.