The module, Soluble's currency for charging and adding value


Pricing your work is a significant challenge for any service company. To do so in the fairest possible way, it is necessary to measure the value provided by a team of professionals, not only through specific deliverables but also through intangible elements such as trust or quality. Variables that, in turn, have a clear and direct impact on results.

Soluble was born as a natural evolution of the trajectory of two freelancers, our co-founders, Ismael Barros and Laurent Dietrich. In that first stage, they used a system that charged hours devoted to production time and the processes around that production (thinking and doing).

However, this approach, while comprehensive, proved to be imprecise and uncomfortable for Ismael. The operational challenges were compounded by the fact that we were a diverse team of professionals, each with our unique contributions.

The traditional methods of pricing strategy, activation, design, and development services did not convince us, and that is how modules, the currency we use to charge for our work, were born. We avoided selling time and focused on providing value to those who trust in what we do.

What are Soluble’s modules?

The module is a minimum functional unit, larger than the usual one in the sector (hour or day), which takes into account three main variables: impact, added value and cost of achieving the objectives—or producing the deliverables.

We understand that, at first glance, our approach may seem unconventional. However, our experience has shown that it brings numerous benefits. Clients find it easy to learn and use our 'modules' as if they were dealing in dollars or euros. They know the exchange rate at every moment in the relationship and the level of quantity and quality they can expect. The conversion from module to euro is straightforward, making the process easy and comfortable.

When a client has a budget X, we know that with that amount of money we can have Y modules to complete the project, so we will adjust scope and depth to ensure that the objectives of the relationship are met.

Solving existential pains

Let's go back to the beginning. The reason the module was implemented is that it solved a lot of headaches for the people we work with, as well as solving pains related to our brand and organizational culture.

The first thing is that charging by the hour implies a conflict of interest: the longer we take, the more we earn. I will want to take longer and you want it to take as little as possible. If we're not aligned on this, we're off to a bad start. It doesn't suit us.

Charging by the day posed a similar problem, and we have to consider that the cost of a graphic design person has always been different from that of a front-end programmer or a copywriter.

At the same time, thinking about projects is almost always impossible. We often don't know what we're going to end up doing with a client. We build from the inside to project outwards, and it is common that what was initially identified as a problem was really just a symptom caused by something more fundamental. The module allows us to redirect our efforts to what is really important. It may not be necessary to change the entire website, but rather an activation plan to reach more people.

There is also a matter of essence and culture: charging per person, as if we were selling by weight, distances us from the type of company we are and want to be. We don't sell people, and we refuse to sell their time.

Advantages for Soluble and our more than partners

The module system solves Soluble's very specific pains, which in turn provides a series of virtues that permeate all areas and day-to-day processes:

  • Agility. We seek continuous and lasting relationships that change over time. Thanks to the module, it takes very little time to estimate and price new project scopes.
  • Flexibility. The modules are redistributed among the different phases—strategy, identity, product, technology, activation...—as needed. In this way, they add more value to the reality of the organizations we work with.
  • Accessibility. We do not ask for an absurd percentage of the project upfront. We start with an opening module and get down to work.
  • Trust. We work with the door open. At any point in the relationship we can pause or interrupt it.
  • Visibility. At all times, the client knows what he is going to receive, how much money it is costing him and what he is getting for that invoice he is paying. The connection between deliverables and payments is very clear, keeping quality as a constant variable.

We use the module because it provides certainty and lays the foundation for a long-term relationship in which Soluble wins, but so do our customers. We use the module because it helps us fulfill our purpose: to make people happier at work.

In Soluble nothing happens because of a single person. To make this post possible, it was necessary the participation of Ismael Barros and Cristian R. Marín in the writing, and Janire Fontanal in the visual design. This post is an adaptation of a reflection by Ismael on his LinkedIn profile.