It seems a common challenge for smaller service industry software shops & agencies is scheduling. If you are spending too much of your resources attempting to get new work, you may be neglecting your current customers’. If you spend no resources on getting new work, you’ll have some down time with no money coming in. Obviously the ideal is to end one job on Friday and start the next on Monday.
This is even harder if you’re an independent. July this year was particularly dry for work, but August quickly made up for the dry spell and then, before I knew it, I was quadruple booked. Then, a wave of work came, and I basically had to say no to all of it because no one could schedule February of next year in advance. Two big projects and two smaller projects all at the same time. I’ve had two happen all the time; you typically over lap jobs because even when you’re done, you’ll have later support needed or perhaps just a few follow up phone calls post delivery. I’ve also had two happen on purpose when I’d full-time by day and do tincy freelance gigs on the weekend.
I’m at a loss on how to remedy the situation. The main cause for challenges is no show’s, aka job’s that sound good but never come through. You’ll get an opportunity, send an email response, and never hear anything back, even if you do a follow up email. You’ll have phone calls for weeks discussing the potential gig, but you never actually get a work order. You’ll get traditionally dependable people who offer bigger gigs make big promises even though no physical contract has been signed, putting you in the unfortunate position of possibly turning other lucrative, yet shorter term gigs, down. Later, when the big gig doesn’t come through, you feel like a moron asking the client if the job is still available.
There are other challenges, but they are minor, such as scheduling of resources, stakeholder is on a short vacation, requirements take longer than anticipated to get completed, main client that you’re employer is sub-contracting you out to help on takes longer to sign the massive contract, client has non-negotiable deadline, etc.
These no shows make it impossible to schedule with confidence leading to either a prolonged dry spell or situations where I’m at now and overbooked. I feel like I’ve gotten really good at detecting if a client is bad news. On the flip side, I still am a n00b at detecting no shows and not really sure how to get better.