Overdue Project: 4 Types of Contractors


It’s not a secret that any project may last longer than it was planned. And everything is quite simple if this is entirely your project: it is only you who should be blamed. But what will happen if it is your contractor who fails to deliver the project on time?

The question becomes crucial when you outsource your software development to another country. IT projects are expensive and unpredictable, and you would surely prefer to know what your remote contractor will do when the time is up but the project isn’t done. It depends.

Different companies will act in various ways.

Type 0: Mister Excellence

The contractor who hasn’t got a single overdue project.  Just a theoretical type. Not found in nature.


If someone tells you all their projects were done in time – run away from that sort of a contractor. This is either not true or they simply haven’t got any projects at all.

Software development is so difficult and risky – nobody could impeccably estimate and plan 100% of the time. So, the question is really about how many of their projects were underestimated and to what extent as well as what they did in that case.

Type 1: The Knight of Honor

Faces troubles with strength. Ready to incur the deserved penalty. Looking for any possibilities to mitigate the problem. You are a lucky guy if you can find such a contractor.

 knightDefinitely, the best type of a contractor you can find. That is why it’s so hard to do! In case of trouble or even before, when the possibility of a problem occurs, the knight will immediately:

1. Inform you

2. Apologize

3. Provide you several possible solutions with all pros and cons

4. Ask if anything could be done to make amends

All that means if something goes wrong, you will likely have a message from your contractor similar to the following:

Dear Mr. Client,

I am really sorry to inform you that it is quite unlikely the project will be delivered next week as it was arranged before.  We have faced some unpredictable problems during the implementation and realized the project was underestimated.

Unfortunately, I have to ask you if there is any possibility to change the project’s due date by two weeks? Otherwise, we could discuss other options personally.

If there is anything I could do because of the occurred inconvenience, I would be happy to hear about it from you.

Best regards,

The Knight of Honour.

Type 2: The Shy Conscientious Guy

Understands all the troubles. Worries about it a lot. Hopes everything will normalize itself somehow. Quite common in nature.

conscientious cat

This contractor will be silent till you call them several days after the project’s due date. You will likely find out that there were a lot of problems with the project they tried to manage over the previous several weeks and that they need just more time to complete the work.

Here is how an email could look like:

Dear Mr. Client,

I am afraid the project isn’t done yet. We have faced some unpredictable problems during the implementation and realized the project was underestimated.

We’ll do our best to make a release ASAP – all the team is working overtime.

We are really sorry.

Best regards,

Shy Conscientious Guy

Type 3: The Do-not-care Cool Fish

Believes it is normal to exceed the project’s time limit due to its complexity. Convinced the client has to wait as much as needed. Has no remorse. Quite common in nature.

cool fish img

A lot of developers are sure they have the right to overdue projects just because the task is tough and they try to do their best using all the priceless knowledge they have. The client should treat this with understanding and the project will be done when it’s done.

They will unlikely notify you about any problems and after you ask them why the project isn’t done yet, you could receive something like this:

Dear Mr. Client,

I am afraid the project isn’t done yet.  It appeared to be much more complex than we discussed before, so we need more time to finish it.

By the way, it was necessary to implement some new features we hadn’t planned before. I will add this extra charge to an invoice when the project is done.

Best regards,

Do-not-care Cool Fish.

Type 4: The Invisible Man

Disappears slightly before the due date or just after it. Professionally avoids phone calls, skype calls and e-mails. Widely distributed, especially in difficult-to-reach countries.


The simplest way to solve the problem is to avoid it. Some contractors use this rule a lot. And this is possibly the worst scenario for the client when the time (hopefully not money) was spent, but the result is unreachable.

The possibility of finding such a contractor is considerable. Obviously, it increases in cases of no-name small companies far away from you.

Of course, life is much more complex. Your contractor will likely be some mixture of these types and will show features of each from time to time. The best you can do is to find out them as soon as possible. That’s one of the many reasons you should plan very frequent deliveries:  the smaller your release, the lesser the risk is and the more opportunities there are to define and to test the contractor you have.

*This guest post was submitted by Gene Tashkinov.

Dave Hecker

Co-Founder at SourceSeek at SourceSeek
Dave is a seasoned technology executive focused software delivery, quality, process, and helping clients succeed at international software outsourcing.