Do you *really* want to avoid price and timeframe adjustments with your digital technology vendor before a project begins? 

ContractPlanningForDigitalTechnology

You’re about to get a new online application built for your digital marketing needs. You’ve found an excellent vendor who you know can build it well. The project’s scope had been outlined in broad strokes, and the vendor gave you a ballpark estimate of the price and time it would take to make your online vision a reality.

Working with the vendor, you prepare a thorough technical description for your online application, outlining the production process in detail. The new description lists all the elements of the application user interface and back-end functionality, and defines specific technical solutions that would give your business the edge in the never-ending battle against competitors.

It also becomes clear from the new description that the project will require a bit more work than you and the vendor initially thought necessary.

At this point, should you ask your vendor if there are any adjustments to the price and time frame?

At first, the question may appear absurd. Why would you want to offer your vendor the opportunity to deliver the project later, and at higher price?

However – isn’t it better to have this discussion with the vendor now, rather than in the middle of the project, or, worse, when the project is nearing the deadline – or, worse still, when the project is delayed due to vendor’s lack of commitment because the vendor feels the production team is being underpaid?

At the preliminary stage, before the project has started, you can analyze the vendor’s updated requirements, negotiate them, and include any extra cost into your business plan. Slightly adjusting your business strategy, and possibly the price offered to the end user, can make the resulting web application much more successful (and profitable). Later on, during the production process, should the vendor come back to you demanding more money or time, you can comfortably remind the vendor that you have already factored in adjustments to the price and schedule, and the vendor shouldn’t expect more.

If a vendor comes back to you with the demand for more money or time because you had not thoroughly analyzed the realistic cost during the preliminary stage, and the vendor feels the production team is not being paid for the work it’s doing – that could stall the project near completion, lead to lack of commitment from the vendor (the “underpaid” project will be regularly pushed to the back of the vendor’s pipeline, because the preference would be given to the projects the vendor perceives as more immediately profitable). This could even lead to losing your company’s reputation with the end user, and can cost your company the working relationship with the vendor.

Wouldn’t you be just “hiding your head in the sand” by not requesting the clear and final price / timeframe from the vendor early on, based on clarified project specifications? Being in denial about the very real possibility of a vendor coming back to you with price and timeframe adjustments in the future when your project is already underway is never a good idea.

Build more trust – and more leverage for refusing any future requests – by giving the vendor the fair opportunity to identify all issues related to cost and scope before the project is put in production.

Thinking in terms of Sun Tzu and military strategy, it may be better to give in early so that you can win later.

Did you find this article counter-intuitive? Please share your thoughts with us via email!

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2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ by the Numbers

10+ Billion – Brazilian government estimate on what they will spend hosting the World Cup
3.2 Billion – Estimated number of people worldwide that watched 2010 World Cup
700 Million – Estimated number of people who watched the 2010 World Cup Finals Match
200 Million – Population of Brazil, Latin America’s largest country
64 – Number of matches that will be played
32 – Number of teams competing
12 – Number of cities in Brazil hosting matches
5 – Number of times Brazil has won the World Cup (more than any country)

The most widely viewed sporting event is slated to begin Thursday June 12TH when the 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ kicks off in Brazil. 32 teams representing countries around the world gather every four years to battle it out in a tournament that spans 64 games over the course of 32 days. The 2014 FIFA World Cup Brazil™ is being held in Brazil (Latin America’s largest country), a team that has won the tournament on 5 occasions – more than any other country.

The days leading up to the tournament have not gone as smoothly as Brazil or FIFA might have liked, and a number of things have threatened to overshadow the mood of the tournament.
On May 31st, the New York Times published the first in a two part series about match fixing that raised concerns about the fairness teams placed on the field. Among other things, the article suggested that illegal gambling-syndicates may influence referees to help determine the outcome of matches.

Just days ago a subway strike by workers in Sao Paulo disrupted traffic across the most populous city. Reports of protests, fires and teargas were widely mentioned in the media causing some serious security concerns for those visiting to attend the tournament.

As if that weren’t enough, the announcement by FIFA to award the 2022 World Cup to the nation of Qatar almost immediately drew claims of corruption and bribery. Historical sponsors such as Adidas, Sony, Visa and Coca-Cola have all expressed concern to FIFA, which has vowed to look into the matter further. The New York Times also published an article on the 2022 World Cup decision.

Let’s hope the focus shifts back to the game this Thursday when Brazil takes on Croatia in group A on the first day of the tournament.

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Feet on the ground, Data in the clouds

Still backing up your important photos and files on a hard drive? Wrap your head around the cloud and check out these four options for individual cloud computing and storage options.

What does the ‘cloud’ even mean?
In a nutshell – the ‘cloud’ or ‘cloud computing’ typically refers to using/storing/accessing programs and files over the internet rather than on a physical device like a hard drive or USB stick. Programs or files stored on the ‘cloud’ can be accessed from anywhere with an internet connection and from just about any device. Both businesses and individuals are starting to use the cloud more and more and it stands to reason that the popularity will only continue to grow.

Four Cloud Options for Individual Use

1.OneDrive
Microsoft offers a cloud storage service called OneDrive that gives users 7GB of data for free. 7GB is a pretty good amount of storage space considering it doesn’t cost anything and if you need more space than that you can upgrade from 50-200GB for $25-$100. The website https://onedrive.live.com/about/en-us/ also mentions something about a service called Camera Roll that backs photos and videos up to the cloud and offers a 3GB space increase when you sign up

2. Dropbox
This cloud solution seems to have the most name recognition and might be the most popular. The basic free plan offer 2GB of storage and upgrades are also available for $9.99-$49.99 for 100-500GB. According to the website Dropbox has been around since 2007 which might help to explain the popularity of it today.

3.Google Drive
Naturally Google offers a service called Google Drive with 15GB of free storage. There might be some advantages to this service if you are already using Gmail. The site also mentioned upgrades of 100GB starting at just $1.99 – a price which seemed like it might be the most reasonable outside of the basic services

4. Apple iCloud
Of course there is an Apple cloud solution out there for iOS users, and it sounds like it might be a good option if you have multiple devices on this platform. App store items and devices backups are possible along with files, photos etc.

Why do I need the Cloud?
This is probably one of the more common questions that comes along when considering whether to go cloud or not. On one hand, there is some serious convenience to having all of your info and files on the cloud. Accessing things from home, the office or on the road is no problem.

The bigger advantage is also peace of mind in knowing that your data is backed up and can be recovered at any time. If you have ever had a hard drive fail, cell phone die or USB stick get lost – you know the immediate sense of panic that can set in on losing your pictures or important files. Having your info in the cloud means you can rest assured knowing that if your phone or computer die, you don’t loose everything. It also means upgrading to a new phone or computer is easy and there is no need to physically copy data or re-install apps etc.

On the downside, privacy is probably the biggest concern. Accessing info online means that information is always available to anybody. Cloud services have protection in place to prevent unauthorized people from accessing data, but there is always the potential for hackers or a breech. Another privacy related concern is that companies might access your info and data in order to market other goods and services or learn more about your behavior as a consumer.

ROP

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Sometimes the Best Business Idea is Someone Else’s

Could copying successful business models and launching in emerging markets be the next big thing? So many technology giants and Silicon Valley legends are known for creating something out of nothing and carving ideas into companies. A new generation of startups in emerging markets seems perfectly content to copy, at least in part, the business models of existing companies and launch them in new parts of the world where they might succeed. After all, if it ain’t broke, don’t re-invent it?

A recent article in the New York Times offered a really interesting glimpse in to the idea of copycat business models. The general idea has always been around, but the article points to some interesting ways in which it is getting a bit more large scale. One company the article focused on, Rocket Internet, seems to be taking this to another level and works to assemble team financial people, tech people and funding specifically to create businesses that mimic existing successful business models.

rocket internet

Rocket Internet has created over 100 companies in 50+ countries, including some of the ventures in this screenshot from their website.

From what we gathered the company seemed to be really good at moving really fast with smart people and lots of money in new parts of the world. Think this: get an MBA guy, a Wall Street guy, give them a few million dollars and send them to Denmark to make the next Fresh Direct, or send them to Berlin to create the next Airbnb. If the company can show some profitability and signs of life within 6 months or so, then keep growing. If they don’t, maybe re-evaluate all together or just give up on that one and try again. The companies that do make it keep growing into money making ventures, potential acquisition targets or even future IPO candidates.

Our New York Web Design team at Van West Media thought it might be interesting to take a look at some of the websites mentioned in the NYT article and see exactly how similar they appeared to the companies they were emulating. Most of the websites we looked at were from Rocket Internet, the company mentioned in the New York Times article.

First Impressions:
WOW there is a lot of companies. Judging from the logos alone listed on the ventures page there are more than 50 different companies. After looking at a few of the websites it became clear that really comparing them side by side to the companies they were emulating would take a little time – particularly since Van West Media is a New York marketing agency. Most of the websites were native to countries outside the U.S. and in a different language. While many had similar design elements, there weren’t any that immediately appeared to be a straight up duplicate design or total rip-off. For the most part we were comparing home page to home page and a lot of the websites might have different internal pages once accounts are created. In short, there were similarities in some aspects of design, but for the most part it seemed like the focus was more on a business model being deployed in a new part of the world that had proven to already work somewhere else, perhaps with a few local twists or tweaks.

Conclusions:
It’s hard to tell what to think about this concept of mimicking existing successful business models and launching them in new places. On the one hand, the core idea of many e-commerce websites is to provide goods and services to a certain population and has more to do with providing than innovating. If a player like Rocket Internet can get somewhere faster and setup quicker than competitors that might be a kind of skill on its own merits. On the other hand, there are companies that have invested a lot of time and energy to create a business that gets copied and monetized by others without compensation. Maybe they can leverage their existing reputation when they do grow to new locations or simply acquire other companies rather than grow them.

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