Drawing the line with your client

If you are a programmer, you probably have encountered this question. Where do I draw the line with respect to extra client requests? You have delivered your software, your client has payed you well for it, and the job is done… Or so you thought! Within a few weeks, your client starts using his system, and finds that he didn´t think long and hard enough about his requirements. And you are about to pay for it!

“Could you add a little button over here?” or “I would like an extra sortable column over there” are small and simple requests that are difficult to refuse. You don´t want to sound like a complete asshole to your client that might provide you with new future assigments, so you accept to do a few small additions here and there. Before you know it, you are working extra hours or even days for free.

So where to draw the line? Good question, if you find the one-size-fits-all-answer, please let me know. For me, the answer depends on a few things, like for example:

  • Is it a one-time client or a big client that provides you with assignments regularly?
  • Are the requests reasonable?
  • Do the requests make sense?
  • Is it just something that could have been overlooked easily, or were they just plain careless and lazy when defining the requirements. In the latter case, you end up paying for their lazyness with your time.

When you encounter these kind of problems, ask yourself the above questions, but before you start an assignment, be sure to think about the requirements. Think about what your client wants, and if you encounter something that doesn´t make sense in the requirements, mention it to your client. He or she might change the requirements beforehand, saving you a lot of work afterwards, and making your client more satisfied in the long run.


Living in Europe as a freelance programmer. Interested in programming in general, web development and machine learning in particular. Currently most used language is PHP, also experienced in JAVA.

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