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working with a statistical consultant
what a stat consult does
defining a project
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Defining a Project

I like being clear and "up front" in dealing with my clients. Before starting on a project, I will indicate in writing what I am going to do, and I will provide an estimate of how much time and money it should take. If I didn't understand and reflect your needs correctly in this estimate, we can change the nature of the work to be done. If the detail I provide is insufficient, I can give you more. If the estimated costs are too much, we can determine how much work I can do within your budget. Of course, we can use your statement of work just as well. When we agree and you sign off on the statement of work, I can begin. I do not charge for time spent in defining the project.

The statement of work is an estimate, not a straightjacket. I may exceed the estimated costs by a small percentage, or I may complete the project in less time. This should be considered normal. If I see that for some reason I cannot complete the project without far exceeding the estimate, I will let you know and we will decide together on a new course of action. Usually this occurs if the data is not in the form that we believed it to be (physically or conceptually), and it thus requires substantially more manipulation than originally expected. Or it looks like we should explore a few options before plunging in. We should try to anticipate such situations in advance and budget accordingly. Most of my clients appreciate the flexibility and the freedom from having to renegotiate the contract at every turn in the road. But if you must have an absolute maximum figure, I can work with that.

Sometimes, it would be cheaper for you to hire others to do specific tasks on a large project. I can work as part of a team or as an individual expert. You have to balance the cost savings with the cost of coordination (money, time, and convenience) in those cases, but it is your call. I maintain my proficiency in data handling and information technology in order to facilitate and to expedite my purely statistical services. It's more efficient in many cases for one consultant to do it all, if it is within their capability.

The number, nature, and timing of reports should also be spelled out in the beginning of a project. So should any deadlines. Changes in the project that affect the budget or the time to completion must be documented and confirmed in writing in advance before I begin the work.

Before we agree to undertake a project together, I will try to determine whether I can make a substantial contribution to it. If I cannot, I will decline the project. I don't need to take every project and it would not be in your interest for me to do that.


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