Ever started a project with a handshake and complete trust only to end in fist and curses. Well not many of my client projects actually went down that way but if it wasn’t for the Contract signed in the beginning of the project, it might of!
Contracts are like doing your homework. No one wants to do it but everyone knows they should, its to the benefit of both parties. Contracts are meant to be used to protect all the parties involved. The wording is very important because the same word can mean different things to each party, therefore a contract should define all words but it should also have the following pieces:
SCOPE The scope is an overall summary of the project. It gives both parties an overall understanding of the goals and steps necessary to accomplish the project.
DELIVERABLES Here you start to get into the nitty gritty. What exactly are you getting or creating? Is it a one page site or track or is it a social network shopping cart or album. Both examples pretty much can be summed as a “website” or “song” in the scope but when outline in the deliverables, the full picture changes drastically.
TiMELINE Time IS money so doing a project in a rush or taking your time should be agreed on before the project begins and the price should of course reflect the timeline.
PAYMENT One of those things creative people hate to deal with, we just want to create. But once all you do is create and no bills are paid, you bet payment becomes a very very important factor to discuss and agree to on paper. Not only is the price of course important but when the payments happen. We all wish the transaction of a service/product with payment Online Pokies can be seamless as possible but to avoid misunderstandings, total payment and payment dates should be clearly outlined before a project starts.
RISK Risk is something that takes years of experience to understand when engaging in a project. Each industry is different and even within the industry each project has different levels of risk. But to make risk transparent in a project in the beginning will not only save you a lot of trouble when that risk does occur but your client will appreciate the willingness of you wanting to accomplish the project with wanting to iron out possible risk beforehand.
USAGE RIGHTS Intellectual property is such a tricky subject because truly, what is creating? We can go back and forth but at the end of the day, I create something and you will utilize it. What is the value of that? Even if you agreed on a flat fee, the usage of that item should relate to the fee. In valuing what you create, not only will your client respect your work but appreciate its use.
TERMS Here is where the small print comes in. Again depending on your industry and depending on your experience, having a set of terms for all your projects will protect you and the client. Best to figure out terms with lawyers and accountants that can tell you what you need for your field.
For me, creating a contract and having the client sign and understand it is the most important part of the project. The contract makes the client feel “safe” that they are getting what they paid for and you will find yourself utilizing it thru the life of the project to keep you on track with what you agreed to do, timelines and payments … avoiding all those fist and curses =)