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M4 Electronics Ltd

Electronics and software solutions
Real-time embedded systems

Getting Started

Where do we start?

The best place to start is with a phone call or email to outline what the project is about and what services you need. You may know exactly what you want, or you may just have an idea for product and need some initial guidance on how to go about it. If you are looking for an introduction to embedded systems, try our primer.

From there we would normally meet up to discuss the project in more detail, perhaps to see drawings and samples of previous models, and to discuss ideas. This will give us a good sense of how we can work together, whether other resources will be needed, how long the project is likely to take and what your delivery deadlines are. We can also talk about costs and what we might do to reduce them.

Some designs are very simple but in general it is a good idea to prepare a specification for what you want. Usually this is an iterative process as we come up with questions on the spec, and look at all the awkward 'what if ...' scenarios that must be addressed to ensure product reliability.

From there we can prepare a detailed quotation listing the tasks involved and indicating a cost for the work.

How much will it cost?

The first thing to note is that the initial discussion phase will not cost you anything, although if it involves a lot of travelling then we may want to negotiate reasonable expenses.

Some people prefer to see a fixed cost for a job and some prefer pay-as-you-go. If you choose to pay on a daily rate then you pay only for the time taken. However it requires a degree of trust that we are working the hours we claim.

It is always difficult to estimate an exact cost because inevitably some unforseen problem will arise at some point. A fixed cost project therefore calculates the expected cost using the daily rate, then adds a further margin as contingency for such events. If everything goes to plan then that contingency will not be required and you will have paid more than you needed to. If there are too many unknowns then a fixed price may simply not be viable.

We will work either way, although we find the pay-as-you-go system works better for most of our clients. We rely on repeat business and recommendations, so overcharging clients is really not in our interest and we always aim to provide customer satisfaction and value for money. We also endeavour to provide you with regular updates so you know how the project is progressing and do not receive any nasty surprises as the deadline approaches.

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