We’ve put together a list of the most frequently asked questions, by our clients, concerning policy, procedures, etc. to allow you the ability to answer any questions you may have about the process of hiring a developer, the types of information we need, things you can do to help us move faster and reasons why we do what we do.
** Why do you have so many policies - for small projects, some are not necessary and can be skipped, right?
First, we do have many policies and rules, and we are rather strict about adhering to them at all times. However, this is not because we want to make your life harder, force you to read, or just get our jollies by making rules and enforcing them – it is to protect both ourselves and our clients. Each and every one of our policies has come into existence because a situation arose in which either us or our clients encountered an issue due to the lack of that policy. Rest assured, we know for certain you’d rather us have them, than not, and we know that from true life experience.
That being said, we of course must further explain, that even the smallest of projects has to follow the same structure, procedures and policies as the largest. We are committed to helping ALL of our clients have a successful, friendly, safe and effective project life – not just those with “big” projects! After all, a policy isn’t a policy if it’s only enforced some of the time, because then it offers only a selected few protection – and we don’t treat our clients like that – we give all of you protection. 🙂
If you have any questions, concerns, or a lack of understanding about any of our policies – we are here to help. Please feel free to call us, (470) 306 – 2332 or to Contact Us through our form. We always return any web queries, phone calls or emails within 2 hours (at the most!), and we are more than happy to carefully explain any and every policy we have, until you are 100% comfortable with all of them. 🙂
** How do you determine your prices - what is your pricing model?
We consider many factors in determining our prices for projects, contractual agreements and hourly work. The top factors involved in our pricing model are the following:
Time – The time it will take us to complete your project.
Complexity – The complexity (difficulty) of the work involved in your project.
Cost – The market rate for your project.
We take extra care to create a competitive, reasonable and budget friendly price for you and your needs. =) We also always give you a detailed proposal explaining all cost factors along with our FREE estimates.
** If I need to speak with you about my project, how/when should I contact you?
So glad you asked! 🙂
It is extremely helpful for us, our work flow and your project’s prompt completion, when we are contacted with the following considerations:
Our work day hours (for the most part), are from 8:00 am to 7:00 pm. We are, of course, available 24/7 for Tech Support emergencies, but please, if it’s something that can wait until the next working day, we appreciate it (e.g. please don’t call us on our emergency line because you want to change the text color of your website’s copyright statement 😛 ).
Please DO NOT INSTANT MESSAGE our staff members, for any reason, other than an absolute emergency (e.g. fire, earthquake, hurricane, etc.).
If you would like to reach us, during work hours, please take advantage of our Contact Form, email us at Support@RockwareIT.net or call us at (470) 306-2332. During business hours, we will always respond to any of these inquiries as quickly as we possibly can.
If you would like to reach us, during non work hours, make sure to leave a message if we do not answer right away. During non business hours, we will always do our level best to respond as soon as we can, giving precedence to severity of issues. Please be patient if a response is delayed during non business hours, and by all means, if it is a serious enough issue, do make a second call if we have not responded within one hour.
** What is ‘ftp’ and why do you need it?
Here we will first borrow Wikipedia’s definition of ftp, to explain a bit about what it is:
File Transfer Protocol (FTP) is a standard network protocol used to transfer files from one host to another host over a TCP-based network, such as the Internet. It is often used to upload web pages and other documents from a private development machine to a public web-hosting server. FTP is built on a client-server architecture and uses separate control and data connections between the client and the server.
Basically, it is a connection from our development environment to the machine hosting your website. It is in a sense, the same type of access that would be granted through a normal website log in, such as an admin log in through the Word Press back end, however, it enables access to certain core/theme files not accessible through the WP back end, and makes transferring files back and forth from our machine to yours, much more efficient and secure. We can not do our job, without an ftp access. This is a fundamental basic we need to complete the tasks you have hired us for. 😀
** How can I get you an ftp, and what information does it include?
Usually, an ftp account already exists, was set up with a default account for you, having root access, along with the initial set up of your hosting account. Root access means, we need to access the “root” directory, basically, the directory where your website is installed. Normally, your Hosting provider (GoDaddy, HostGator, etc.), has a control panel log in, through which this information can easily be retrieved, If you find it cumbersome to locate, you can either provide us with a log in to your hosting control panel, in place of the ftp, and we will go and get the information ourselves, or you can call your hosting provider and they will either explain how to get it, or give it to you directly.
An ftp access will include three pieces of information:
An address ( such as ftp.example.com, or an IP address, such as 220.127.116.11 )
If for some reason, and this is not generally the case, ftp has not been set up on your machine, it may be necessary for us to install C panel (generally a telnet session, with root credentials will suffice – but certain situations can call for a C panel install), to retrieve certain information we need, make it accessible to us (and you) or create needed credentials. If this happens, we will need the root log in, and will normally add an additional one time fee of $50.00 for this service, as this is systems administration, and is an entirely different aspect of technical services from those we have contracted to provide. We will always discuss this with you before hand, along with any other options including how you may ask your hosting provider to complete this task for you, in place of Rockware IT.
** Can I (or other developers working for me) make changes to my site during development?
Rockware understands that you and/or other developers working for you, may also need to work and make changes to the site during our development. However, it is absolutely prohibited for any other developers, site owner included, to be allowed in the back end of the site while Rockware IT staff is logged in. This is a very strict rule, and Rockware’s policy is to have the site completely locked off to anyone else during our development periods. In circumstances where other developers need to work on the site in conjunction with Rockware, we have a very strict policy on handling this situation;
Rockware will set up blocks of time for our staff, during which we will be the sole developer allowed into the site and all other logins will be blocked.
Before Rockware begins a particular block of time, the state of the site will be documented, and agreed upon by site owner.
After we have made any/all edits for that block of time, the changes will be submitted for approval/acceptance by site owner.
Once approval/acceptance of all changes made by Rockware has been granted by site owner, site back end will be unlocked and opened for development/log in by anyone other than Rockware.
This policy is necessary, in order to isolate and control which developer is responsible for which changes, which changes are responsible for which outcomes, and which developers are in control of which solutions. This policy is in place for both your protection and ours, and can not be compromised, as doing so could lengthen project development and significantly increase your expenses.
** Why do you need admin privileges? Can I be sure no changes will be made to my system/website that I have not explicitly approved and discussed before hand?
We understand your log in credentials are a source of concern for you, as they should very well be. However, in order for us to perform the tasks you need us to, it is essential that we obtain this information. We operate with a high level of promise to our clients, we can not promise total satisfaction, without total control of the environment in which we work. We do, on the other hand, reassure you, that we have a long history of performing this type of work, therefore we have extensive experience in working with others websites/data/etc., which is extremely critical and important, We will always operate with utmost care and concern for your system, we will never make any changes at all, without your complete approval and full understanding of those changes, and in 99% of cases, we create a development system, as a mirror of your existing system, make changes there first, then once you have approved those, we set up a time to transfer the changes to your system. Before any changes or transfers are ever made, before we touch the system at all, we make a complete back up of the entire file system (including the database), test that back up and store it safely. It is mainly our need to safely back up your entire system, which makes it necessary for us to have total control of the system – our control of the system is for your protection. In short, your credentials, your data/information and your systems are 100% safe in our hands, and we take great measures to ensure this every step of the way. We have a lot of experience in this area, therefore our safety practices are tried, trusted and guaranteed.
** What are Requirements and what should they contain and detail about my project?
In most cases, it is us, or the Developer(s), who will prepare a set of Requirements for the project, asking for your sign off or approval before beginning work. However, some of the time clients will come to us with Requirements in hand, especially if the project is one that has been planned for in an in-depth manner. Either way, there are a few things that the Requirements need to entail to ensure a successful project.
Let’s take a quick look at what NOT to do, and yes this a real set of “Requirements” we have received. We certainly aren’t making fun of anyone, or knocking anyone’s efforts here, we just want to stress the importance of the Requirements, especially in light of the fact that most people approach them with absolute disregard for their importance; you can clearly see in the given example, there is no earthly way imaginable, we could possibly have created a quality website based on that document. This is the bottom line, the Requirements are the instruction manual for your website (or other project); if the instruction manual is flawed, the end product will be as well, ‘Garbage In, Garbage Out”.
In general, here is a list of the specifications we need the Requirements to entail before we can begin work:
Background & Purpose/Description: This section should state the background details of your project, if applicable, such as previous work done in preparation, reasons for the necessity of the project, etc. In general, this section needs to state a clear purpose and overall goal for the project.
Proposal/Summary: This section should entail a generalized overall summary of the entire project, starting with the proposal we initially gave as a price and time estimate, your acceptance of such, our proposed plan for completion, the general rules, or agreed upon commitments and the expected end result. This should be a summary of the entire document.
Specification: This is an outline of detailed individual tasks, needed deliverables and implementation techniques. This section should include platform information, such as WordPress and the version to be used, browsers to be designed for and operating systems to be developed for.
Scope of Services: This is the real bulk of the document. This section should describe in very great detail, exactly what is to be performed by us. From installation of applications, to creation of each and every page within the website, to the fields and functions of each form to be built, to the design specifications (which can be explained with an attached mock-up which is preferable for clarity) all the way down to the exact menu items in the website’s navigation system and where they should link to. The purpose and importance of the section can not be over-stated. This is what decides what our responsibilities are and are not, within the project. Being vague, or over generalized here, is asking for a huge problem later on. If any other section of the Requirements are glossed over or rushed through – this is the one section that must not be.
Payment Schedule: This section should state all milestones, corresponding payments and any specific payment terms.
Project Life: This section states the planned completion schedule. It is important that provision is made here for unexpected delays, how they will be handled and an estimated completion schedule in the event of such delays.
Revisions: This section should keep track of any and all corrections. Once we deliver a set of Requirements to you for approval, it’s quite normal for there to be several iterations back and forth where changes are made and then the document is re-submitted for approval. Each of these changes, exactly what they entailed and the current version of the document should be listed here – this is important in establishing which version of the document is the agreed governing version, in the event that a disagreement comes up during the project.
So there you have it, the anatomy of a set of Requirements. You’ll probably find that the names, order and detail of each of the above sections can vary enormously from developer to developer; so long as the attention to detail is maintained, you should be fine. Remember, great detail within this document can be the difference between an amazing experience or a horrible experience during the development of your project. 😀
** What happens if I need you to do something not originally within the scope of the project?
Rockware IT has a wide range of expertise and is happy to provide any needed services that may arise within the life of the project. However, any services not in the original scope of the agreed upon services, will need to be billed accordingly. In addition, a change order will be filled out, new prices/invoices applied if necessary and the overall project completion time will need to be adjusted, as any added services will lengthen the time needed to complete the project efficiently. We will always speak to you before hand and let you know if something falls outside the scope before proceeding. Depending on what we agree upon, there are several ways in which we may choose to handle this:
Charging any extra time spent on additional services by our usual hourly rate ($40.oo). In this case, any additional hours will be recorded in detail within our time sheet and invoiced every Monday, due upon receipt.
We do have a list of services for which we charge a flat rate fee, if we decide your added services fall within this category, we will charge according to the fee schedule laid out there.
Creating a Phase 2 of the project. Meaning we will make note of all additional services needed, create a second phase of the current project and enter into a second agreement, for a separate overall project price, once the initial project is completed, invoiced, paid for and approved.
If no additional charges are approved by you, we will complete the initial project and at completion we will submit a small report, in writing, outlining everything we noticed that will need to be addressed by you. At this point, you are free to make any decision you deem necessary concerning our recommendations.
** What if I don’t like a design, layout, etc. and need you to make changes, edits or redesigns throughout the project?
Rockware IT is extremely careful during the project to maintain 100% customer satisfaction, not just at completion, but along the way as well. In order to ensure your satisfaction with the project, we take many steps including:
Initiating a Discovery Phase at the beginning of the project. This is the phase in which investigation is made into the nature of the project, the needs of the project, the desired outcome of the project, the pricing plan of the project, the requirements of the project, the expectations of the project and the plan for completion of the project. We make absolute sure, that we are both on the same page as far as what is expected out of the project. You will receive a set of Technical Requirements, outlining all of these details, before work is begun, for you to approve or request modifications to before approval. This process gives you an opportunity to express exactly what your needs, wants and expectations are. Once approved, these Requirements govern the scope of the project. For any aspect within the Requirements, we will continually seek your approval and feedback throughout the entire project.
For any aspect within the Requirements, we will continually seek your approval and feedback throughout the entire project.
We allow, at project completion, any where from 3 days to 1 week (depending on size/scope of project) for you to review, navigate through and thoroughly check the entire range of completed work. Within this time frame, we will make any needed edits to the copy, images, content, context and functionality of the site – so long as these edit requests do not add additional services to the scope of the project agreed upon in the Requirements.
For design/layout/style changes requested, we handle that within our Design Phase. During this phase, we develop a design based on the Technical Requirements, and submit mock ups for your approval. The design will be approved by you, with a chance for feedback and suggestions, before the Development Phase is even begun.
It may help to take a look at our Work Flow specifications here, within our stated policies, to better help you visualize our development procedure and how it is designed to make sure you are (and stay) satisfied throughout the project.
** What if I need support for the work after project completion?
Rockware IT allows any where from 1 – 2 weeks of technical support for the completed work (depending on the size of the project), for small questions, edits (as outlined in above question) and general small support issues. We also provide 2 – 4 hours of training sessions for you and/or your team, before we make the hand off of the completed work to you. We will have several sessions, involving screen sharing, phone conference and video conference, during which we will carefully walk you through the back end of your website, explain all details of daily administration, discuss any issues/questions you may have, train you/your team on how to perform needed tasks, such as adding products, content, pictures, posts, updating existing products, content, pictures, posts, deleting/adding pages to the site, maintaining menus/themes/plug ins and any other tasks you feel you/your team will need training on. We will take great care to make sure these training sessions cover any and all needed skills for daily maintenance, administration and general care of the site. After the allowed 2 – 4 hours of training and the review period have ended, if any further support/issues come up in the future, Rockware IT is always more than happy to provide technical support for any of your needs. We are also flexible and willing to discuss both long and short term fee agreements, finding a solution that meets everyone’s needs and still gets you the support you need.
** Why do I need to make milestone payments during the project?
Milestones serve a very important function in business relationships: they help to keep expectations met, to set and maintain goals, to keep time frames strictly adhered to and to begin the project with the necessary structure and procedures to make it a successful one for both parties involved. It is for these reasons, that our policy is to require between 25 – 50% (dependent upon the size of the project) of the overall agreed upon project price to be paid following our contract agreement and before work begins. Subsequent payments will be made as scheduled for each milestone, per the payment schedule set in the contract. If for any reason a project is cancelled before completion, Rockware IT will review all work completed to that point and decide if there is any refund due the client or payment due us. Please see our Terms & Conditions for a more detailed explanation of our policies regarding cancellations and payments.