How can I determine how to charge for supporting SharePoint sites and SharePoint development?

I recently created a site in SharePoint and I need to setup a maintenance/support agreement for the site. In addition to the site, there are some custom modules that were developed that we monitor. What considerations should I be making when determining how much to charge for supporting the SharePoint site and any custom applications developed for the site?

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Your meta question title and example question body don't quite match. The question "What price should I charge" is definitely too localized, however your example question doesn't ask how much to charge, but rather "What considerations should I be making when determining how much to charge", which I think is definitely on-topic. –  Rachel Jan 8 '13 at 14:15
    
FWIW, my initial reaction on this question was "vote to close" but I see the points that Thomas Owens is making, and I have to agree that it's on-topic for us. –  GlenH7 Jan 8 '13 at 14:32
    
@Rachel: Yes, I have made the same argument before. It does bother me a little, however, that we close some questions because the OP couldn't verbalize the question in a way that fits our sensibilities. Given Thomas Owens' assertion that we should read the "how" and "why" into questions (see comments here) this seems especially unfair; rather than quibbling over the wording, I think we should just categorically allow or disallow such questions. –  Robert Harvey Jan 8 '13 at 16:06
    
@RobertHarvey I don't think we can "categorically allow or disallow" questions without some clarification about which type of questions you are referring to. "How much should I charge" is too localized, however "What should I consider when determining a price" is not localized and very much on-topic. I would "categorically disallow" questions phrased the first way, however I think the 2nd way of phrasing questions is perfectly fine for the site and should be evaluated the same way we would evaluate any other on-topic question –  Rachel Jan 8 '13 at 16:28
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@Rachel: Yes, you said that before. :) I'm just a little surprised that questions about economics that don't pertain directly to programming are allowed at all. To put it another way, figuring out the price of things is not specific to the programming profession. –  Robert Harvey Jan 8 '13 at 16:30
    
@RobertHarvey Well this site was originally meant to be "not programming related" ;) But anyways, I would say this definitely falls under "freelancing and business concerns" as many freelancing developers who release a product are responsible for determining what price to charge for their software or services, so I would expect them to best be able to answer my questions about how to determine the price for a software product or service. (also, I edited my previous comment slightly to clarify what I was trying to say so it doesn't sound like just a repeat of my first comment) :) –  Rachel Jan 8 '13 at 16:37
    
OT: migrate to sharepoint.stackexchange.com :-) –  Martin Schröder Jan 21 '13 at 12:15

2 Answers 2

Too localized

The question is too localized and applicable only to the author and is a poor fit for P.SE

Good question, but broad scope

The question is open enough that it does not need the specifics of that application.

In this case, the answer would be roughly equivalent to Camels and Rubber Duckies. As this has already been answered - I believe the OP should be pointed to the article and the question closed. Attempting to have people rewrite C&RD in a shorter form will leave something out.

Bad question, too broad scope

The question is vague and asking for a class on economics and marketing - and a poor fit for P.SE.


I don't believe that "how much I should charge" is a good fit for P.SE. It becomes either a question that cannot be answered, or one that requires a significant amount of text for the answer to be done correctly.

Your questions should be reasonably scoped. If you can imagine an entire book that answers your question, you’re asking too much.

Just a quick look on amazon...

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Yes. Cost estimation is a very important part of software engineering. Although this question specifically refers to SharePoint, I would suspect that a good answer would include useful information for anyone who is creating and selling software under a maintenance contract as well. I'm not too versed in cost estimation, but perhaps more information is needed to adequately answer the question and comments should be used to elicit this. However, I believe that addressing how to determine costs of a development and maintenance project are covered in the field of cost estimation, and this is covered in our FAQ by both software engineering and freelance and business concerns. This might be too broad in its present form, but it's not off-topic.

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Can I ask questions about how much I should charge for my Android or iPhone app? –  Robert Harvey Jan 7 '13 at 21:46
    
@RobertHarvey If you elaborated on details, absolutely. I'd be more than happy to explain how to use tools such as COCOMO or SLIM to perform time and cost estimation, or lighter weight methods for estimation. I'm sure others would also be able to provide tools or methods for finding similar applications and techniques for creating your price based on similar applications. –  Thomas Owens Jan 7 '13 at 21:52
    
I see. I view it as more of an economic problem personally. Market elasticity, and all that. –  Robert Harvey Jan 7 '13 at 21:56
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Perhaps, but those are still business concerns. I'm not saying that "business concerns" isn't too broad - it probably could be narrowed slightly or clarified. However, depending on the nature of the question, if it fits into other areas that are objectively on topic... –  Thomas Owens Jan 7 '13 at 21:58
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Yes, we have a similar "escape clause" on Stack Overflow ("practical, answerable problems that are unique to the programming profession"). All of the mods hate it; it's too broad, and encourages the asking of vague, unanswerable questions that don't otherwise fit the FAQ. –  Robert Harvey Jan 7 '13 at 21:59
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@RobertHarvey That statement is in every FAQ. It's as "practical, answerable questions based on actual problems that you face" in the Prog.SE FAQ. Perhaps the question is too vague, but people need to step up and comment - explain why it's too vague and say what information is necessary to make it a good question. No one is an expert on everything that is on-topic. To me, it seems like a reasonable question that fits with the site defined in the FAQ. If I'm wrong and it's not, please, comment with a close vote so I (and the asker) understand why it's being close voted and can try to fix it. –  Thomas Owens Jan 7 '13 at 22:04
    
Not that statement... The one at the top of the FAQ, that sets the site scope. The one you're referring to describes the "Not Constructive" close reason. I already close-voted the question, and you told everyone to stop commenting :) –  Robert Harvey Jan 7 '13 at 22:05
    
@RobertHarvey Oh. I see - that's...I'm sorry. Anyway, I'm no expert on cost estimation (I'm pretty good at scheduling and time estimation, though), but I read that question and immediately saw a cost estimation question. Part of the problem is that the reason why a question is bad might not be obvious. I would prefer to err on the side of caution and let people answer it, unless there are comments that are useful to let everyone know "hey, I know about this topic, but I can't write a meaningful answer because..." –  Thomas Owens Jan 7 '13 at 22:08
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@ThomasOwens I just want to ask you to clarify one item Robert brought up about Android and iPhone apps. If I ask a question stating "I wrote a killer app that does X, Y & Z and it is for W market and Q users. How much should I charge for it?" Would that fit? What are the parameters that are needed? I assume "I wrote an iPhone app, how much should I charge for it?" would be closed. Where's the line? –  Walter Jan 7 '13 at 22:17
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@Walter Probably not. There's an old blog post about similar things, but I'm not finding it right now. "How much do I charge" straight up would probably be off-topic. But if you were interested in how to determine how much you should charge, that's different. An answer about how much specifically you should charge is too localized, but learning how to determine or calculate a price or rate is general enough to be useful to others. We can tell you how to go about doing your work, but we aren't going to do your work for you. –  Thomas Owens Jan 8 '13 at 13:43
    
@ThomasOwens Thanks for clarifying. –  Walter Jan 8 '13 at 13:45
    
@ThomasOwens Perhaps you could include information from your last comment in your answer. The question title here on meta is asking if "How much should I charge" is on-topic, however the example question body doesn't ask how much to charge, but rather "What considerations should I be making when determining how much to charge..". The first is too-localized. The 2nd is very much on-topic. –  Rachel Jan 8 '13 at 14:13
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@Walter This blog post is what I was referring to. It's about shopping recommendations, but it still is useful in this instance. –  Thomas Owens Jan 8 '13 at 14:16
    
But determining what to charge is certainly not unique to programming (though the marginal costs can be almost uniquely low) -in fact it's nearly universal. Why is pricing on topic but, say, workplace questions relatively targeted to programming off topic? –  psr Jan 8 '13 at 20:13
    
@psr Software cost estimation is significantly different than mechanical engineering cost estimation. It's why there's a large body of research devoted specifically to estimating the schedules and costs of software projects. –  Thomas Owens Jan 8 '13 at 20:40

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