ICON's Fail-Safe Process has been created to offer a flexible means to engage with us that offers you the benefit of constant access to services on as needed basis, as well as structured and accurate estimations when you need them.
As our client, at any time, you can request services on an as needed basis. You just call us up and request something, or add it directly into ICON Central (our project management system). This is the preferred method if you just have small tasks that don't warrant estimation, or if you have a high volume of tasks for us on an ongoing basis. By default, all work that we do for you is on an as needed basis, unless you request an estimate for a particular task. Most clients use a combination of as needed services and estimates depending on the task and their budgeting needs.
Whenever you ask us for estimation on a task or project, we always deliver them as a "Not To Exceed Hourly Estimate". This means that the cost will be less than or equal to the estimated hours, and we will not charge for hours that we work over the Not To Exceed Hourly Estimate. This gives you the benefit of being able to budget on a known fixed ceiling cost, but also take advantage of lower costs if we are able to complete the task faster than we estimated.
We developed this method after working with many clients, and realizing that it's exactly what every client wants us to do, even if they use different terms to describe it. You want us to give you an estimate that we'll stick to no matter what, so that's what we do!
Because we are transferring the risk of an over budget project from you to us, and giving you a fixed ceiling, it requires us to thoroughly research and document the Requirements of the task. Depending on the size of the task this can be done within a few minutes, or if it's a big task it can take multiple calls between you and us, third party vendors, and so on in order to specify Requirements in enough detail and ensure that all of your Requirements are documented, and that we both understand each Requirement in the same way. Depending on your needs we might also need to create screen mockups, workflow diagrams, or graphic design examples to help clarify certain areas. If you already have developed some requirements yourself, or created screen mockups or PowerPoint demos, then you've jump started the process and saved some work.
Once the Requirements are specified to the point where we feel comfortable signing our name to an estimate, then we work internally among us to determine the number of hours that we will commit to in the Not To Exceed Hourly Estimate.
All work that we do to gather the Requirements and create the estimate is billed on an as needed basis according to the Software Development and Professional Services Agreement. In some cases, clients do not want to pay us for the meetings, brainstorming, advice, vendor evaluation and selection, documenting, design recommendations, architectural guidance, project planning, and all the rest of the work required to be accurate as they don't understand the value of it to their business. In that case we only work on an as needed basis and do not give estimates. If you are selecting a vendor right now who is giving you an estimate without properly planning the requirements, then question their motives, and remember the quote attributed to business author Robert Half "Free advice is worth the price."
The Work Order simply contains the detailed requirements for the tasks you've given us, our Not To Exceed Hourly Estimate, and any miscellaneous costs required for the tasks if applicable (i.e. third-party software costs, hardware we need to buy). If you accept the Work Order, then you just sign and send it back to us. It then automatically attaches to our Software Development and Professional Services Agreement automatically.
Work Orders are tracked separately in ICON Central from as needed services, so that we can see the hours separately for each Work Order and ensure that we don't bill you for overages.
ICON Central is our online project management tool that we have specifically developed to automate our Estimation and Work Order System. You will have access to this tool and the ability to view all of the projects and tasks for your company at any time. For each task you can see whether it is New, In Progress, or Completed. ICON Central will automatically notify you when tasks change statuses. You can also add tasks for us through this tool rather than via phone or email if you prefer.
If you have any questions on our Estimation and Work Order System, please let us know so that we can clarify any details.