Monday, September 30, 2013

on pricing

Ages ago, I complained about trying to get pricing for work that didn't exist yet. As I've gained experience and worked on more complicated/technically demanding projects, I've needed more pricing/technical support up front. Keeping identifying details secret has become a non-issue for me ("undisclosed location. Sensitive client. Somewhere in X state. Next!"), but parts of the process are still awkward.

When I really need to get in the weeds with a proposal for a technically demanding (potentially very expensive) process, I end up leaning pretty hard on vendors. Nothing is off the shelf. If we have this concentration in this geologic setting, and we have this list of logistical constraints, what little parts and pieces are needed to deal with these problems? So I draft something for the vendor(s) and they go off and spend some time building a proposal, and I question some things and clarify other things.

So then we've spent a lot of time pulling together a robust option that I can put in my cost/technical proposal. I get some number of these, and then they go to the client, who may decide on one item, some combination, or throw their hands up at the cost and wait for the ever-elusive funding.

Meanwhile, the vendor has spent all this time and effort on a proposal that has disappeared into the ether. That's the way the business goes. Calling me and sending plaintive e-mails monthly does nothing to change this process one way or the other. Yes, I was serious when I said I needed costs to evaluate potential options that may not ever happen. No, the client hasn't selected an option, because what needs to be done is several times the client's annual budget and the client is trying to scrounge up funding from long-term budget tweaks and competitive grants.

Rest assured, I appreciate the effort and if I ever do get the go ahead to spend money on a particular option, I will call up that helpful vendor and we will make it happen. Until then, we all need to sit tight.


C W Magee said...

Do you only talk to your vendors when you need a quote, or are you in semiregular contact regardless of specific issues?

Short Geologist said...

Depends on the vendor. If it's someone I work with regularly, we have a pretty casual relationship. If I haven't worked as much with them, they're more likely to push potential sales. My regular vendors know that I'll call if I need something - bugging me doesn't work. I don't call just to chat, but it's a small industry and we often cross paths.