Time and Materials vs Fixed Price Pros & Cons for Business Owners

Even a very experienced development company can not be 100% sure that the given estimation won’t change. In our several years of experience, there has not been a single fixed-price contract without any changes in the scope of work. For those who are not yet experienced in delivering digital products, the way of favorable viewing the time and material contract can be surprising. How is it possible that the pricing model, which assumes so many unknowns , is better than the one in which the most important aspect, i.e. price, is known from the very beginning? As clearly visible, each type of contract is based on different principles and must be considered in terms of projects with different needs or requirements.

This pricing model won’t satisfy the demands of large-scale projects that require building complex features and implementing many components. But if locked by the constraints of a fixed budget and facing unforeseen complications, the development team might look for shortcuts and, as a result, deliver a solution of sub-par quality. As a result, you might have to spend more money on fixing issues once the project is finished. Another common fear of choosing this pricing model is that you’re leaving the development team to its own devices.

Fixed-Price contract disadvantages

Development team without additional involvement from the customer. The total cost of the project is written into the contract and remains fixed. That means that in an average situation with FP, not only will you pay more than you have to, but you will also have your requirements frozen. The downside of the Time & Materials model is that the final cost of the software project is not defined and fixed but rather narrowed down to some decent range. The biggest advantage of the hybrid approach is that you can freely combine billing models, depending on the stage, type and specificity of your project. As a customer, you don’t need to worry about deadlines or extra fees.

They can track and manage the service they pay for according to their needs instead of paying a flat fee that may or may not exceed their actual needs. First of all, paying for the actual job performed is a lot more economical. With the T&M method, as work progresses, the developer provides the client with reports and analyses to show how they are doing. When it comes to payment plans for IT projects, there are two prevalent methods.

Fixed Price Model Vs Time And Material Approach

You’re always kept in the loop and can have a real impact on the project. The development team regularly presents you with the results of their work and together you discuss the next steps. Yes, for a product owner this means more engagement, but the effort pays off. Close cooperation with the company helps you make decisions that result in a better product. In this pricing model, the whole plan for the development is set up ahead. You know when the deadlines are coming, and at what stage the process should be at a given time.

Timelines according to the stages in which the product will be developed. You want the flexibility to modify the scope or vary the workloads. When you visit websites, they may store or retrieve data in your browser. This storage is often necessary for the basic functionality of the website.

The development process length is not so predetermined and the whole project planning is not so strict and immutable. We at Orangesoft have the experience working with both fixed price and time and materials contract models. That’s why we consider ourselves competent enough to compare the two pricing models to provide you with our expert option on which is the right model for your project’s unique requirements. Another difference between time and materials vs fixed price models is in the degree of customer involvement in the development process. For an example from a general contractor’s perspective, let’s say a new construction project uses a fixed price model. The entire project scope will need to be thoroughly outlined and estimated.

Fixed Price vs. Hourly Price Project

According to a T&M contract, you pay the vendor for work hours, materials, and equipment used while developing your software project. In addition, time and materials contracts are highly flexible, allowing for changes and additional features. In a time and materials (T&M) contract, you pay for actual hours spent on development and for the completed amount of work.

  • The combination of these deliverables can be used for the budget estimation.
  • The contract needs to specify it in detail, and developers need to know the scope of work thoroughly.
  • That’s why it’s easier to fix any errors, make changes to the project, modify the way of implementation, project complexity, priorities, or even planned scope.
  • Both pricing formulas have their benefits and drawbacks.
  • They have committed to completing the project for a specific price.

Also, here the initial functionality priorities are set. The result of this stage is the formulation of a minimum viable product. If you realize the current team or developer is not up to the task, you can always replace them in the process of product development.

How to rock your next software demo

A Fixed-Price model allows you to leave all of the work to the developers until the product is ready. Initially, along with a vendor you determine fixed price vs time and material a specific rate for the entire project. To do that, you need to put a lot of work to create a plan and thoroughly document the scope of work.

We set up clear deadlines for every milestone and delivered results on time and on budget. As a result, the client received a precise cost estimation with a technically-backed vision and scope of the project and the exact deadline. We also know how essential it is for large product enterprises to retain key specialists in a project due to knowledge domain specifics. For that, Belitsoft assigned an account manager who was 100% free for our client. His task was to retain key professionals in the team by timely forecasting and preventing any issue within the team or with the client. By following this best practice, we’ve retained 85% of the team for over 2 years up to now.

Fixed Price Model Vs Time And Material Approach

One of the biggest disadvantages of the time and materials pricing model is the necessity to motivate the developer’s team to do their best work. You have to keep an eye on the team constantly to make sure that they are working toward delivering the approved scope within the agreed amount of hours. However, you can minimize it by hiring a project manager.

Knowing the result before starting the job comes with a steep price. In the case of Fixed Price contracts, this price is an almost complete lack of ability to make modifications during the project. Furthermore, such detailed initial arrangements take a lot of time, postponing project commencement. With Fixed Price, the price remains the same no matter how much time and effort the project consumes. For both parties, this can mean value as well as problems. The client will be content if they do not need to pay additional costs, e.g. for exceeding the estimated working hours.

No additional costs

Yes, it needs a plan and requirements but they are more values the product has to provide. It’s about bringing value, developing a product that adjusts to its growth. The idea and vision must be set, the business value also, but rest – demands and requirements change the way the product changes. With a fixed-price you know the cost, time, and material, which in turn, doesn’t give you a fixed-price. However, it does give you flexibility and better control over the money spent – you know exactly what a software company does.

It really makes a deal when you don’t know the whole vision of your product and if you want to cooperate with developers to provide the best possible product. Yes, the time and material model allows you to change and make your requirements better suitable to the evolving vision of your product. There is no absolute answer, but there are some markers that can help you make the right decision. For instance, the larger the scale of the project, the better the chance that the time and materials pricing model is the best move. The fixed price model is more suitable for small projects with a development time of up t three months. Keep in mind that a considerable part of the FP budget is spent on management.

Since this pricing model doesn’t require your participation or control at every stage of development, you save a lot of time, which you can use instead to concentrate on growing your business. All the while, your project will be proceeding according to the direction you’ve set for it. However, this also means that there’s no one around to control the quality of the delivered work. The https://globalcloudteam.com/ model requires careful estimation of the time, scope, and budget – but these values are still flexible and can be agreed upon on a regular basis during the development process. If you choose this contract, you’ll be settling payments within the previous-agreed intervals – for instance, on a monthly basis. In our experience, clients choose between these two models most of the time.

Whether you do decide to take it up or not, having all the options at your disposal can only be a good thing. Time and material contracts can require a little more research before you should get started. In fact, the right research can allow you to save even more money than you might have done in the first place. Let’s take a look at some of the things that might get in your way should you choose to go for a fixed-price plan on your next software development endeavours.

What are the biggest advantages of a time and material contract?

❌ Your in-house staff may oppose hiring a dedicated team. Some managers and in-house developers turn out to be not able or not ready to accept and communicate with an offshore team. Partly, this happens due to the lack of such experience. However, for others, it’s a job security issue, when employees may feel competition and doubt their skills and further employment. ❌ You may not know what specialists are behind your project. T&M is a result-centered model when you expect a certain result till deadline.

What is the Time & Material model?

They could add the text to the original cake, but that will also cost you extra. Finally, ending up with a better product reduces the business risk of your enterprise. Changing requirements may be caused by a competitive environment when competitors often release new features. Deadlines may change as the roadmap is updated so it harder to predict when exactly the product will be completely ready. There is no overpay because your expenses include only actual cost of work performed.

Fixed Price vs. Time & Materials vs. FBSC (Fixed-Budget, Scope-Controlled)

Besides, you should provide constant workload for such a team, otherwise, you pay for downtime. You get freedom in changing project requirements and scope of work alongside the development. Before you buy a new chair you want to know everything about it. What materials it is made of, who constructed it, where it was produced, will it last long?

Final thoughts

However, there are many risks behind this model, so don’t hurry to make a final choice. If to talk business, the fixed price model is the pricing strategy based on rigid planning. To have a deal both parties should agree on the predetermined price of a project and explicitly define each other’s responsibilities before the work begins. The well-though Discovery phase is a must for a fixed price model. Otherwise, your requirements might cause a bunch of issues . So, you and your vendor require extra human resources, time, and money for the preparatory phase instead of starting the development right away.


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