Difference between fixed price and time & material contracts

All the decisions have been made, so the rest in the team’s hands. Over the course of the development process, the software company is constantly in touch with Adam and discusses with him the next steps. This way he knows what the team will do in the following stage of the project, and how much time/money it takes. We develop complex solutions for large and medium-sized business — those are complex services for logistics, CRM systems, mobile applications, etc. During almost 8 years of practice we have seen that at the large project’s development start, customer very rarely has an accurate idea about all the required functionality. With the step by step project development, we together with the customer delve deeper into the project’s needs, this is how new ideas and improvements appear.

In this case, the customer provides the supplier compensation for costs in materials and pays for the amount of time spent working. The total amount of money that a customer is required to pay for a finished product can go up the longer it takes for the supplier to finish it. There’s no need to worry that the mobile app development will cost more than expected. With a fixed price contract, you can be sure that you will get the product with no additional expenses. Unless you decide to do something out of scope, of course.

Stephen Covey calls proactive people as those whose behavior is a function of their decisions, not their conditions. Clear product specs give software developers a good understanding of the work that needs to be done. This is a checklist that’s used to define what to consider a finished product.

With NetSuite, you go live in a predictable timeframe — smart, stepped implementations begin with sales and span the entire customer lifecycle, so there’s continuity from sales to services to support. Fixed-price contracts tend to be easier to administer and require less tracking of expenses because the project’s total cost is fixed at the outset. To avoid the Time and Material vs Fixed price situation, multiple combinations of these models are also used to build hybrid delivery models. Newer delivery models work on unique features, which provide you the benefits of both Time & Material and Fixed Price to some extent. At the beginning of a project, you need to decide in which areas you can be rigid with your requirements and the areas in which you can expect fluctuations.

Pros and cons of the fixed price agreement

You’re in business, so you want to make sure that every dime you spend brings in value, right? The time and materials contract will help you test things faster with users. You can then focus on features that bring in the highest returns to your business. With a fixed price contract, you have a fixed fixed price vs time and material scope, fixed budget and fixed time. Changes in project scope resulting in change management are likely to occur, even with strong and highly detailed scope definitions up front. Thus, having effective and efficient change management procedures is critical for both T&M and fixed-price contracts.

The time & material model allows you to start fast and move at an accelerated pace while working on details along the way. It’s not necessarily a con of a time and material agreement, but rather a thing to watch out for. Time and materials contract gives you flexibility and control, but only in a package with a good vendor. With a fixed price contract, you set aside a certain job and give instructions. You set a certain amount of time and money needed to perform a task.

First of all, paying for the actual job performed is a lot more economical. With the T&M method, as work progresses, the developer provides the client with reports and analyses to show how they are doing. If client requirements change, the contract will need to be amended or a change order will be required, either of which can delay the project. When your requirements are not clearly defined or they cannot be formulated instantly and will evolve as the software development goes ahead, you should go for a Time and Material Contract. Development ModelA standard waterfall development model gives a Fixed Price Contract the predictability it needs.


You want the flexibility to modify the scope or vary the workloads. These items allow the website to remember choices you make and provide enhanced, more personal features. For example, a website may provide you with local weather reports or traffic news by storing data about your current location.

fixed price vs time and material

The main difference is that the budget is defined as the value that “shouldn’t be exceeded.” When Using Agile it’s possible to verify whether this assumption was accurate right after the first sprint. So, if necessary, it’s easier to make changes in the project, modify the way of implementation, project complexity, priority, or even planned scope. A customer pays a supplier a fixed hourly rate that is billed monthly to perform software development within the scope. This type of contract focuses on the usage of a labor-based remuneration system that fits perfectly into long term contracts. With a fixed price you know exactly what budget you need to have. If you choose a time and materials agreement, it’s not so predictable – you get the estimation, so you know what to expect, but you don’t know the exact final figures.

‍How to Best Use a Time and Materials Contract

Later on, if you find the result of our work satisfying and you need to create a fully-fledged and feature-rich app, we can shift to a Time-and-Material type of billing. Since a fixed price contract shifts all risk to the vendor, after contingency premium, change management is the vendor’s primary tool for mitigating that risk. Typically, billing against this contract model is based on percentages of work completed. Often, fixed price contracts will include incentives for meeting specific milestones and potential bonuses for early completion.

In the case of T&M, the client only pays for the functions they need right here and now – functions which may have been different when the contract was signed. It is often the case that while a project is in progress, the business model or the client’s expectations change, new ideas emerge and priorities switch. Building an IT project is not about going step by step according to a predetermined plan. This is why Time & Material works a lot better than FP in the case of the Agile method.

  • This comparison is made in the context of the software delivery services industry.
  • Surely, a software development company will be willing to advise you what kind of hybrid method is possible to implement.
  • For some companies, this formula is pretty black and white.
  • As the scope of work is subject to change, it’s impossible to predict the exact release date.
  • With extra olives on one half and maybe some pepperoni on the other one.

Time-and-materials involves the vendor billing the client for the cost of materials, as well as an hourly rate for the different types of labor involved on the project. CPFF is when the client pays the cost of the materials and time, plus a flat-fee on top of those costs. Neither is ‘better’ than the other, but there are costs and benefits to each.


If you as a client want to develop a digital product you need to be prepared to work and devote your time. Again, in every case we had, the involved and engaged client meant a better product. That is why, time and material are good for agile projects, which get the client used to working together, meetings, and getting involved. Close cooperation with the development team allows you to check if your requirements and needs are fulfilled, and that is something you surely want to achieve. Are you looking for an innovative software development company? Baytech Consulting is the go-to, premier software development company that uses time and material pricing to benefit both parties – clients and their development team.

fixed price vs time and material

We work closely with our clients, meeting with them weekly to discuss the status of the project. Part of that weekly discussion involves reviewing the financial health of the project. We are upfront on the amount of budget that we have consumed and the progress we have made towards completion of the project.

For over three decades, we have provided best-in-class capital project management services to Energy and Chemical industries through our proven EPC approach. We are dedicated to providing trust, experience, and efficiency through all stages of engineering, procurement, and construction–on budget and on time. So, the development firm has to follow them since it is required by the contract. An agile approach with a T&M contract seems a better candidate. Well, the biggest issue, which I have witnessed all too often, is to do with the mentality behind a fixed price approach. And while this might be true for when you order a pizza, this is never the case when you order custom-made software.

The fixed hourly rates are the only costs set in stone for this mode, and potentially some material costs. A clear advantage of the approach is that you know the total cost of the project in advance, – on the condition that you are clear and consistent regarding the requirements. The software house takes the responsibility for the scope and the deadline, limiting the flexibility in the case of any changes cropping up. It does not mean, however, that modifications cannot be made to the Fixed Price project. They can be introduced via a Change Request, which will be priced separately and implemented outside of the original schedule and budget. A fixed-price contract is a type of contract not impacted by the resources and time spent on the project.

In this strategy we work with our client at the beginning of the project to get a good understanding of the project. Using this information and our knowledge about building software, we then create a responsible budget. We do not fix the scope of the entire project upfront, we only fix the budget and time. You can verify the time logged by the developer so that you’re not overcharged. And as you keep testing and optimizing useful features, you may end up spending less money than a developer would have quoted for a fixed price agreement.

Time and material vs fixed-price: which is better for software development

Less accountability can be referred to as both pros and cons, depending upon each particular case. Such an approach doesn’t comprise regular reports and interactions https://globalcloudteam.com/ between the customer and team. All the management is mainly carried out by the team member, so you don’t have to allocate timeslots for deep project involvement.

Time and material contract – management tips

Of a project cannot be determined in advance if you go with time and materials. With the time and material contract, programmers don’t need to have detailed written specifications beforehand, so they can start coding right away. Is beneficial neither for a client nor for a development team. That’s why fixed-price projects are not very popular today. Part of that budget will also be spent on change management overhead, as opposed to delivering additional business value through software. There will be some additional overhead on both sides to manage the changing features and ongoing project spend.

What is the Fixed-Price model?

To start working, it’s enough to define just the basic functions of the project. With every consecutive stage of creation, the concepts and specifications can be refined. Work dynamics are also greatly influenced by effective communication with the client. By discussing reports on a regular basis, the developer can better address any new needs. Consecutive iterations are short and the conclusions are utilised in further stages of the project.

What to consider before going for a time and material contract

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