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What should I tell this client?

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  • User profile image
    selfdestrc

    I have a client who is suggesting creating an RSS reader as a marketing tool for his company. The RSS reader would have a traditional banner ad on top which would serve ads from the company and it's selected partners. The company's main product is home furnishings (custom doors, windows, panels...that sort of thing).

    Should I tell the client that my personal opinion is that this is a bad idea? Or let them do their own research? The idea is from a senior head of marketing at this company, but I just dont' think they understand RSS technology (and the number of available options out there). I don't want to offend them and drive away future contract work, but I also feel it is my duty to set their expectations in some way.

  • User profile image
    Michael Griffiths

    Tell them that it's a nice idea, but that there are already an insane number of RSS readers on the market, and the people likely to pick up an RSS reader already have one already - and are unlikely to change.


  • User profile image
    W3bbo

    selfdestrc wrote:
    I have a client who is suggesting creating an RSS reader as a marketing tool for his company. The RSS reader would have a traditional banner ad on top which would serve ads from the company and it's selected partners. The company's main product is home furnishings (custom doors, windows, panels...that sort of thing).

    Should I tell the client that my personal opinion is that this is a bad idea? Or let them do their own research? The idea is from a senior head of marketing at this company, but I just dont' think they understand RSS technology (and the number of available options out there). I don't want to offend them and drive away future contract work, but I also feel it is my duty to set their expectations in some way.


    Tell him it would just be cheaper to brand their own pens instead.

  • User profile image
    dahat

    Beer28 wrote:

    That's lost revenue. People want it their way, even if it's not the best way. Customizing a FOSS reader with a banner and hardcoded RSS urls would be a snap, and then you can collect.

    That is quite an irresponsible way of thinking, you are thinking about charging a client, not providing them with what they need.

    If I went into my doctor today and said “I want you to saw my leg off”... he’s not likely to do it, why? Because he knows it is not a good idea and will try to convince me of that.

    Consulting tends to be a bit different, generally made up of two groups. The first like you Beer is concerned with making money at any cost and will do anything their client asks of them. The other group, the more ethical one as selfdestrc is showing him to be part of, gives more feedback to their clients and tries to come up with solutions that they can be both be happy with and is not going to harm the client.

    At the end of the day, you are more likely to make more by being honest with your client and working with them, not trying to take them for everything they’ve got.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    Beer28 wrote:
    Get a free open source RSS client and put their banner on top and make an installer.
    30 minutes, happy non-programming exec with "spurts of genious"
    charge $2000



    Kind of like SiteSpaces in that regard then?


    ...

    You should not be TELLING the client anything, just ask for a good solid spec for the application, write an iron clad contract and then produce the software. If it doesn't work to sell thier products then that is someone else's * at that company and frankly serves them right; your job is to produce software and not to ask questions.

    If someone said I'll give you two thousand dollars to jump you can either ask why and complain that it is a waste of money or you can just jump and make your money. Smiley

  • User profile image
    Manip

    dahat wrote:
    Consulting tends to be a bit different, generally made up of two groups. The first like you Beer is concerned with making money at any cost and will do anything their client asks of them. The other group, the more ethical one as selfdestrc is showing him to be part of, gives more feedback to their clients and tries to come up with solutions that they can be both be happy with and is not going to harm the client.


    But we aren't talking about consultancy. It is the job of a consultant to give the best advice when asked. It is the job of a software house to produce software as per the specification.

    If a company asks a consultant - "Should we make our own RSS reader with a banner?" - it is the duty of the consultant to research the idea and give their professional opinion.

    If a company asks a software house to - "Develop me an RSS reader with custom banner, as to this specification" - it is NOT the job of the software house to question it, that is what a consultant is for... They should just fix a price and do the best job with what they're given (both information and time).

  • User profile image
    dahat

    I would suggest you do some reading on ethics in business, while there are few industries that have policies as rigid as the Hippocratic oath that doctors take, being honest and ethical is no less important in the others.

    Generally speaking, your job is not to do exactly what they ask, but to help them get to their end goal. If they ask you to build something for them that does X, and you tell them that you could do it, or they could go to the store and buy a copy of Y that does the same job and will cost them a lot less in the long run, you are going to gain their trust and be more likely to have their business in future.

    And if you go the route that Manip suggests, of having an iron clad contract for the work, including a not to uncommon requirement that they own all work and IP provided to them... then you will be in violation of the contract and liable for any damages.

    I’m sorry beer that honesty, trust and ethics are not things you understand too well, but then, I think we’ve all come to expect that from you here.

  • User profile image
    Manip

    dahat wrote:
    I would suggest you do some reading on ethics in business, while there are few industries that have policies as rigid as the Hippocratic oath that doctors take, being honest and ethical is no less important in the others.

    What the heck are you talking about? ... Someone asks me to write some software and is willing to pay me to do it, and you're suggesting it is unethical to do so?

    If I was a consultant and I told them to go ahead knowing it would fail then yes it would be unethical and they might have legal grounds to sue their consultant. But a software house doesn't exist to provide consultation on the cheap... They produce software, that is all they do...

    dahat wrote:
    Generally speaking, your job is not to do exactly what they ask, but to help them get to their end goal.


    No it isn't. It is to do what they ask. They give you a specification and you write some code that does what it tells you. Otherwise you would need to hire a team of marketing experts in order to figure out how they can achieve their goal and build it.

    dahat wrote:
    And if you go the route that Manip suggests, of having an iron clad contract for the work, including a not to uncommon requirement that they own all work and IP provided to them... then you will be in violation of the contract and liable for any damages.


    What?! ... What the heck are you going on about damages? ... Unless the RSS reader exploded and killed a few people I can't see there being much "damage" ...

    And you are not liable/responsible to make sure their software that you produced is a success... That is their responsibility and something they should have figured out before asking a software house to write it for them.

    dahat wrote:
    I’m sorry beer that honesty, trust and ethics are not things you understand too well, but then, I think we’ve all come to expect that from you here.


    He might not, but I do.. It isn't about ethics, you just seem to think a software house is a kind of consultant or that they do more than just write software... Like fact checking reasons for building software and how viable it is in the market place...

  • User profile image
    selfdestrc

    Thanks for all the opinions. I am the guy who started this thread, and would like to report that the issue is resolved - without going beer's route or the alternative. Turns out, my client meant an RSS feed, not a reader. doh. He got the jargon mixed up and there was some confusion between "Read" and "Feed". So it all makes sense now.

    Great comments, btw. I'm glad this isn't a moral dilemma any more. I somewhat agree with those of you who said it's not the software developer's job to do their market research...just build what they asked for and charge for it. Sure, if NASA came to me and said write us a function that will calculate the number of stars in the galaxy with so and so parameters, I would not question it. I would assume they know exactly what the heck they mean and want out of it, and I would not worry about charging them.

    However, when a furniture company comes to me and says create an RSS client with banner ads, I feel like I am more tech savvy then their MBA who might have seen the word "RSS" in yesterday's WSJ and decided to throw some money into it.  I felt like some questioning the purpose was needed if that is what they wanted. Afterall, if only 2 people had downloaded it 3 months after it was created, they might think the reason is poor quality and blame ME for it.

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