This process is broken down into the following stages:

  1. Prospecting / Lead Generation

  2. Qualifying Leads

  3. Scoping & Estimating

  4. Closing

At each stage, we have a set of rules which absolutely should be followed, and some general tips

Prospecting / Lead Generation


  • Always be honest about the best technology choices for a client, even if it’s less business for us.


  • We cannot create demand where there is none, don’t try.

  • Cultivate a reputation for being nice people who know their field.

  • Go to events and make friends with people, not just the people you think will give you work.

  • Ensure that people you meet have a way to reach us (business card, connect on LinkedIn, Twitter, etc.).

  • Schedule reminders to check in with former contacts from time to time.

Qualifying Leads


  • When someone contacts us with a potential project, schedule a call or meeting to assess the scope.
  • Add a potential deal to our CRM, and schedule follow up reminders.
  • Think about out what the customers really want, not just what they say they want. Try to reflect that back to them.
  • Make a judgement about whether we can realistically meet their expectations for their likely budget, if not, politely end the discussion ASAP.


  • If you want to end a conversation, the best way is to say that we’re busy. It does not imply anything negative about the customer, and helps our reputation to be seen as busy.
  • If you think a lead is a waste of time but aren’t sure, ask the client the show commitment by investing their own time. E.g. Ask for a 1-2 page brief document, ask them to come to our office, or ask them to pay for some consultancy time.
  • Pre-VC funded startups do not make good clients. They have very little money, they are often chaotic and lack clear processes, they often have a lot of technical debt, and they often believe that industry established best practices or conventions don’t apply to them.
  • Being asked to sign an NDA just to discuss a potential project is a bad sign, we just don’t do that.

Scoping & Estimating


  • Write down a list of user stories that the software will fulfil. E.g. “As a manager I want to view staff members’ remaining holiday entitlement”. These will form the basis of the project scope and the contractual arrangement. Send these to the customer for approval.
  • From the list of user stories, identify the nouns/entities and the list of screens that will be needed. Typically each entity has a list page, a single entity view page and a single entity create/edit page. Reports and dashboards are additional screens.
  • Using our estimation framework spreadsheet, list the entities, screens, external interfaces (e.g. Facebook login, MailChimp integration) and additional features (e.g. search, multi-file uploaded, image processing). Choose a T-shirt size for each one (e.g. XL, L, M, S, XS). The estimation framework will estimate the number of days of development required.
  • Identify other parties that will be involved. E.g. external graphic designer, other departments who will have sign off on designs etc. Add time for interfacing with these people.
  • Identify tools, technologies and existing systems that we will need to learn. Add time for learning these.


  • Having estimated a project, it is often useful to informally tell the client what it looks like over the phone, before formally telling them. This saves time on preparing the proposal document if it’s clear it’s a non-starter, and also allows both us and the customer to change direction more easily if there are multiple options.



  • Send the proposal document containing the list user stories, the cost estimate and some proposed payment milestones.
  • Follow up. Use our CRM to schedule follow up reminders.
  • If a positive response is received, draft a contract and send it to the client for a signature.
  • Do not be tempted to start work before the contract is signed. Regardless of whether the client has set expectations around deadlines.


  • Be wary of customers moving the goalposts at this stage, go back to Scoping & Estimating if necessary.
  • Be wary of customers using the promise of a project to extract free advice - recap “90% of the problem and 10% of the solution” to them.

Next Steps

Once a contract is signed, issue the commencement invoice (if there is one) and move on to the Project Management and Account Management processes.