Payment Models in IT Sourcing: Hourly Rate vs. Fixed Price

Kamil Sobiszewski - Business Development Engineer at Sunscrapers

Kamil Sobiszewski

8 November 2023, 5 min read

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What's inside

  1. Understanding the Landscape
  2. Project Management Models and Their Billing Outcomes
  3. The Financial Implications
  4. Collaboration Challenges and Payment Models
  5. Conclusion
  6. Ready to Navigate the Complexities of IT Project Management?

Choosing a good process to handle your IT project can be a headache. Each model has its roots, advantages, and challenges and serves particular scenarios. However, the rapidly changing world of IT demands adaptability and transparency, leading many to reconsider traditional payment structures.

Understanding the Landscape

The IT landscape has evolved tremendously in the last decade. The days of simplistic, straightforward projects are dwindling, making way for dynamic, multifaceted undertakings. As software transforms into solutions and ecosystems rather than standalone tools, the management and billing techniques, too, need a re-evaluation.

Project Management Models and Their Billing Outcomes

First, both billing options directly result from two different project management models - Agile and Waterfall.

The Waterfall model is a sequential process. Planning, designing, coding, testing, and launching are consecutive phases you need to complete. This process doesn’t support changes very well – they often result in significant delays and going over the budget. In Waterfall methodology, a fixed bid is its ensuing characteristic.

With the Agile model, on the other hand, developers can optimize their workflow by dividing the project into smaller sprints. Thanks to that, they iteratively plan, design, and develop the project’s components, resulting in continuous delivery. Agile methodology allows the team to change the scope, fix bugs as soon as they arise, and deliver the product faster. That’s why the other name for the Agile contract is “time and material”, where an hourly rate is a basic billing form.

The Financial Implications

Even if the Agile approach seems like a great idea, an important question appears: “How much will it cost?”. At this point, not everyone is aware that IT projects evolved so much! We are no longer talking about building simple websites but building real Internet companies.

Most successful applications require constant attention and development support. We mean user feedback, scalability issues, and changes on the market- just look at Uber. That’s why it’s difficult to predict the exact final costs of the finished process when counting expenses.

This might be scary, but it is a new reality. You’re working on your business, not a small project with a definite ending. Fixed fee doesn’t have any support for this. You are reassured about your budget, but as a matter of fact, you must repeatedly renegotiate agreements. There is a very real danger of delays and low-quality products.

With billing per hour, the situation is entirely different. Progress is measured daily, so there is a possibility to react quickly when something goes wrong. It’s also easier to make sure you’re making the most of your budget by prioritizing the most important features and frequently testing them with the actual user. With simple and transparent billing, you pay only for the time spent on the project and the work that would have to be done anyway. Not the artificial buffers and premiums for vendor’s risk.

Collaboration Challenges and Payment Models

Another essential matter is the cooperation between the client and a software shop. It is easier for the team to understand the client’s needs with the Agile model. Frequent meetings give clients a more significant influence over a product and can constantly improve their assumptions. Regular insights into timesheets, project stats, and team performance data allow them to make the best project decisions.

In contrast, the fixed-price approach offers limited insight into project details, so clients remain in the dark. It's not that the Waterfall method is fundamentally flawed, but team morale and work atmosphere tend to be more positive with the time-and-material model.

It might not be immediately apparent, but there's an inherent conflict of interest in fixed bid billing. Issues arise when a team has exhausted the budget before completing the project. In many such instances, the contractor's morale takes a hit, leaving the client trying to retain essential features within the defined scope. Consequently, neither party is satisfied with the collaboration. Both parties aim to conclude swiftly without compromising product quality, which isn't conducive to nurturing a lasting relationship.

As we’ve mentioned already, a fixed fee is not totally bad and unacceptable. There are some situations where this approach will work. We are talking about small, predictable projects. Everything can be planned 100% before the start, like a corporate website.


Project management and billing models play a crucial role in determining the success of a project. While the Waterfall method and its associated fixed-price billing have their merits, especially for smaller, predictable projects, the dynamic nature of today's tech environment often demands the adaptability and flexibility that the Agile model offers.

Businesses must evaluate their unique needs, the scale and scope of their projects, and the level of collaboration they desire before settling on a particular approach. While hourly rates and the Agile model provide unparalleled flexibility and adaptability, fixed pricing can offer clarity and predictability in the right circumstances.

Ultimately, the most crucial factor is aligning your chosen method with your business objectives, ensuring open communication, and partnering with a skilled and understanding development team.

Ready to Navigate the Complexities of IT Project Management?

At Sunscrapers, we pride ourselves on our adaptability and expertise in Agile and Waterfall methodologies. We're here to guide you through the landscape of IT project management, ensuring you make the best decisions for your business. Our team is ready to assist whether you're looking for flexibility, predictability, or a mix of both.

Contact Sunscrapers today and let us help you find the best path forward for your next project.

Kamil Sobiszewski - Business Development Engineer at Sunscrapers

Kamil Sobiszewski

Business Development Engineer

Kamil is the Business Development Engineer at Teams by Sunscrapers. His most outstanding achievement was the transition from the electrotechnical industry to the IT industry. When studying at Warsaw University of Technology, Kamil was involved in plenty of student projects as he loves working with new technologies and was developing his business skills. At Teams, he is responsible for client acquisition, contact with clients, and the overall sales process. In his free time, Kamil likes playing the guitar. He’s also interested in electric vehicles, economics, and the psychology of sport.


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