Advise on web site change response

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I have a PHP web application working with MySQL. It has around 500
records and it works great. Now my management wants to meet me about a
redesign on the page.   The management knows nothing about web
development and engineering.

In the past I noticed what a manager advises as a redesign can
sometimes be more involved and effect the data structure where I would
have to add fields, tables etc to the database or sometimes rebuild
the entire database. But they would not understand the impact because
they dont understand databases and that I have to make their current
database records work with their new requirement. I am looking for
advise on what to say to the customer about the impact to their
current database. If they add requirements it will probably require me
to change the database model. Any user friendly words I can tell them
or experiences anyone has had with this in the past?

Re: Advise on web site change response

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The magic words here I think are "hourly rate".

Even if its for an internal customer as part of your existing job, you
need to justify the time you're spending on it. If its not part of
your job, then all the more reason to ask - its going to cost them to
bring in a contractor - they are getting an obvious benefit from your
skills - its only fair that you should too (might be worth getting
their requirements documented first and putting together an estimate
of hours to spec, write and test the code).

If they're not willing to pay for it, then where is the value?


Re: Advise on web site change response wrote:
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It depends on what they want.  When they give you their requirements,
you should be able to come up with a realistic estimate as to how long
it will take, and present it to your management.

It's up to them as to whether or not they want you to spend your time on
the changes.

Remove the "x" from my email address
Jerry Stuckle
JDS Computer Training Corp.

Re: Advise on web site change response schreef:
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It can sometimes be very hard to explain to a nontech customer why some
'small changes' can have a huge effect, and you need a lot of time to
And sometimes the nontech customer is happily surprised if something
they consider very difficult can be done by you within the hour.

But that is reality. If they knew how to do it themselfs they probably
wouldn't ask you. ;-)
Simply tell them what it will cost (by your best estimate).

I try to avoid this kind of thing by involving the customer into the
(database)design process at the early stages of the project.
It often takes a few hour to get them going and understand relations in
a database, but I found it is worth the effort because the customer
understands what the programmer is doing a lot better.
Be prepared for questions like: "I don't understand why you use so many
tables, why not put all data in one table?"

Of course, some customers are incapable of understanding it, and for
them I just present the bill. ;-)

One thing that irritates me about this process is that some customers
think they can just 'buy' the new functionality everywhere, like they
buy gasoline at the cheapest gas station.
It simply doesn't work that way in programming.

I once build a complex health-related database and had it up-and-running
just fine when the client told me I was too expensive to implement the
new functionality.
They wanted some other cheaper party to do that. I knew they other party
would have a hell of a time to get into the application, mainly because
the customer never wanted to spend 1 cent on me documenting the thing.
What's more, that other party was into webdesign(!), not databases.
Of course they couldn't do it.

You cannot easily beat a programmer who designed and implemented an
application, simply because that programmer knows like no one else how
the database is designed and interacts with programs.
When an application is complex, the time needed to understand it dwarfs
the time needed to change small things.

What I want to say is: If they say the time you need to make changes is
too much, or you are too expensive by your hourly rate: just let them
try somebody else.
In most cases they will find out that the other party screws up big
time, or is more expensive than you in the end.
Then they will come back to you and you'll have a better relation
because they trust you now.

Erwin Moller

"There are two ways of constructing a software design: One way is to
make it so simple that there are obviously no deficiencies, and the
other way is to make it so complicated that there are no obvious
deficiencies. The first method is far more difficult."
-- C.A.R. Hoare

Re: Advise on web site change response

Remember, you are the expert, but you are also the "service provider".  Take
their suggestions, look for ways to do and prepare a cost estimate.  I
worked for a man for years that just hated to hear "The System Can't Do
Be the helper, not the road block or they will go somewhere else.  We were
always having to fight little "IT" groups getting staffed because the real
"IT" folks said No.
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