I work full time as a software developer. A friend of mine runs his own software development company (in a completely different sector to the one I work in). My friend needed some help getting a project delivered by a deadline and asked me if I could do some work for him. With my own manager's permission, I did so.

We agreed an hourly rate, I did the work, and he was happy. All is good.

However, he is a friend who has a small company, and I was not desperate for the money, so I neglected to invoice him. We both knew there was an invoice due, and he indeed asked me several times to send him it, but I waited quite a long time.

Here's where my mistake became apparent. I at no point made any log of specific time I had spent working. It is now 9 months later and he asked me again to invoice him, so I decided finally to get on with it and work out how many hours I have worked for him.

Since I did not keep any time sheets (yes, I am aware this is a major mistake, lesson very much learned!!) I had to use what evidence I could find in order to calculate hours done.

I could calculate with some degree of accuracy the time I spent coding, because I am of the "commit little and often" camp, and so his version control system had logs of all of my commits, which I could query. I calculated my hours based on these logs and came up with a figure. However, there was also a lot of other time spent planning, having meetings / discussions etc. which are not so easily quantified due to my poor record keeping.

I sent him an email yesterday detailing the hours I calculated from the version control logs and followed it up with a phone call in which I explained that this was not the total, because there was a lot of extra time spent, but I could not quantify it.

He is a very reasonable person and a good friend and he said (exact words) "How much extra would you like, is 10% okay?" I told him I would have a think about that and get back to him very soon and he seemed happy. He then said "If you think it is more then just say what you think, but don't go crazy"

I actually feel that the extra time spent was a lot more than 10%, but without evidence I feel like I would be cheeky if I asked more than the 10% he offered.

My question is this: How can I maximise my invoice to him, without alienating him? Given that we are on good terms and I expect to get more work from him in the future. Should I just accept payment for the time I can provide evidence for plus the 10% he offered for planning/meetings. Or if I was to push for more, how would I go about it?

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    I'm voting to close this question as off-topic because this is not about navigating the workplace as described in the help center. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 14 '17 at 19:06
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    In a more direct but less polite way: I screwed up and didnt keep timesheets, how do I fudge the numbers in the best way possible for me is off topic. – IDrinkandIKnowThings Sep 14 '17 at 19:07
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    Ballpark it. Nothing you write will be extremely accurate. – Isaiah3015 Sep 14 '17 at 19:16
  • The help centre specifically notes negotiations to be on-topic – Darren H Sep 14 '17 at 20:12
  • I don't understand how could you not need the money for 9 month and than want to maximize the amount. In my mind that time was spend long ago so what ever you got now should be ok – Rémi Sep 14 '17 at 20:17

Don't be greedy

Bill him for the hours you documented plus the 10% you agreed on.

If you attempt to maximize your invoice you run the risk of both losing a friend AND not getting repeat business from him.

Next time, keep better records.

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  • I was thinking calculated +10% before I even got to that part. OP's self punishment is eating the time. – Johns-305 Sep 14 '17 at 19:56
  • After reading this and some of the other points made, I concede that you are right. I should just mark this one up as an experience to be learned from and accept the 10% – Darren H Sep 14 '17 at 20:09
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    I agree, take the 10% and do the guy a favour since he's your friend and that's what friends do, next time do it properly from the start. – Kilisi Sep 14 '17 at 22:34
  • +1: Calculated hours + 10% is generous given the circumstances... eat the loss and learn your lesson so that next time this doesn't happen. – Maybe_Factor Sep 15 '17 at 1:28

Generally, If you are paid by the hour you should have a time-sheet. Failing to provide that, you are somewhat on the mercy of your client. Now, results delivered alone should give some indication of the work done, but it´s hard to quantify this exactly.

As you have a friendly client, I would just try it with your honest best estimate and given that it was your fault, round it down to err on your side. As you want to do future business with him, take this as a learning-expense. Make sure he knows how much you think you did, and for how much you actually want to get paid, though. Not only will this show that you are willing to stand up for your errors, it will also tell him what kind of hours he can expect for the next gig.

Especially in a mixed friend/business situation I recommend to be extra transparent. If you get future work from him on a bigger scale, I would recommend you send him weekly updates on the hours you worked so there are no surprises at the end.

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If you feel more is accurate, then invoice for more, clearing it with him verbally, first. Keep in mind, though your friend/customer suggested 10%, he also indicated that more is acceptable, if that's accurate. That means he also agreed upon more than 10%, though in an undefined way. He's already stated that he's fine with it, as long as it doesn't seem incredibly out of line.

Chances are he's building that into what he's invoicing his client (as sub-contracted work), and wants to see you get paid for your help, but doesn't want to have to try and defend an extravagant claim.

Give your best and most accurate estimate, erring on the side of slightly under-counting, since it was your error to not document, and to not try and recall for so long.

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