Instead, I’ll let you be the judge

Yesterday, I was forwarded a post from Dwayne Wright who could not be more wrong about project management and value pricing. Please read his post before continuing.

I posted wrote a comment, he rejected it saying, “Well, just rejected the first comment for a blog that wasn’t clearly SPAM. It came from a value billing advocate and was equally harsh, combative and lacking of substance.”

“Harsh, combative,” HELL yes. “Lacking in substance,” I’ll let you be the judge.

My comment:

I am probably the original source of the comment about billing by the hour as being unethical. (It is clearly suboptimal and I believe immoral as well, but that is a whole other story.)

First, let me be clear, I do not accuse anyone personally of being unethical; it is the practice that is unethical because it promotes some very bad habits.

  1. It puts the consultant and the customer is an adversarial role. It is in the consultant’s financial interest to maximize hours; in the customer’ interest to minimize hours.
  2. You state, “It also says this (hourly billing) is often used when a precise statement of work cannot be quickly prescribed. Does that sound familiar to you and your consulting business?” Yes, it sure does and that is just plain wrong. Prescription before diagnosis is malpractice in any profession.
  3. While the PMBOK (and PMI, in general) have some good things to say about project management, they are overly obsessed with costs. After all most of this stuff comes from government (think defense contractors and NASA). In business, customers do not care about your costs, nor should they. They care about the results. They pay for results not efforts. This again is a misalignment.
  4. You are arguing that the risks should be borne by both the customer and the consultant. That is just wrong. You are the one with the knowledge not the customer. It is your job to spread diversify your risks across all your customers not put it back on each of them. Your customers hire you because of risk. If what you did was easy, you would not be hired in the first place. To put it back on them is ludicrous.

Lastly, it is not “vale billing” is it “value pricing” or better yet “pricing on purpose.” A price is set ahead of time a bill comes after the fact. You bill now, we at the VeraSage Institute, encourage you to set a price beforehand.

Ed Kless

Senior Fellow, VeraSage Institute


By the way, Dwayne Wright, you are free to post any comments here they will not be rejected. You can thank me later for giving you are larger audience then you ever thought possible.


  1. Don’t worry about Mr. Wright posting any comments on this blog. I don’t think he could stand the heat!

    Since Ed took the harsh, combative and lack of substance path, I decided to take a more Zen approach (as is my nature) and post this comment on Mr. Wright’s blog:

    “I thought one of the great advantages to having a blog was to allow opposing viewpoints in comments and then shoot them down in flames.

    I look forward to those opportunities since it’s a great way to prove your point and a great way to improve your ability to make those points.

    It also creates additional exposure to your blog since I would not have known about it if Ed had not commented. Now, there are folks all over the world that know about your blog.

    Very cool!”

    Well, my approached worked! Take that Ed and Ron!

    Or so I thought….

    Mr. Wright followed up my comment with:

    “I do welcome opposing comments but not to shoot them down in flames. I welcome them because it is the only way to truly know a topic. I do NOT really care about proving a point but sharing one.

    The persons comments that I didn’t post was attacking me and a position he thought I had against value billing. I used value billing on a project a few months ago and it was a raging success.

    The point of the post was to explain the other side of the coin and to introduce that a risk is involved in fixed price billing over time and materials.”

    So, I thought it was a prefect opportunity to have a logical, knowledge-building dialog and posted this:

    “I agree that fixed price projects are the way to go. We have been using them exclusively for almost 3 years now and our customers are very happy (as are we).

    I think that the risk for success/failure in a project should rest on the vendor and not on the customer. The vendor’s job is to be an accomplished project manager who mitigates risk at each step of the way.

    I don’t think Ed was attacking you personally. Rather, he was attacking a very deeply entrenched and dysfunctional practice of billing for time & materials.

    From a semantics perspective, I’d hesitate to use the term value billing since it implies that you’re using a hidden cost approach and my understanding is that could cause some legal issues.

    You are probably referring to value pricing (where the fixed price is given to the customer up front before any work is started). I’ve moved away from that term as well and prefer “pricing on purpose” and “open pricing”. Any term will work as long as the customer is getting that price before committing.”

    This comment was censored. I guess I just went too far.

  2. I posted a comment as well, but Dwayne never approved it. I wonder why he won’t engage?

  3. Lack of self-esteem, maybe?

  4. Matthew Tol says:

    None are so blind as those that will not see.

  5. At least I got the guys some comments on his blog. He had not had a comment previous to this post since September 2009.

  6. Matthew Tol says:

    Maybe now he understands the value of being open to other ways of thinking.

    Doubt it given his editing style…

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