In starting my own business people always ask how I write contracts that don’t have a fixed price or a well defined scope. I’d love to talk about my wizardry of speaking or how amazing I am with my words, but you’ve read my blog. I only tell the truth as I know it and am confident in what I say. So there is no big secret to leaving out scope and getting contracts that aren’t based on a fixed bid. It isn’t your place to set their budget, and fixed bid contracts rarely leave either side happy. So I thought I would share this contract with you, or at least a portion of it. This is actually an amendment to a contract that changed from a feasibility study into a full blown project.
The purpose of this amendment is to create a working agreement that is beneficial to both sides and allows the delivery of the best product to fit the needs of THE COMPANY.
Working Agreement The CONSULTANT will provide software development services and expertise to THE COMPANY under the direction of X with a backup decision maker of Y. The CONSULTANT will work hand in hand with X in order to provide the most value to the product.
After each unit of work the CONSULTANT will demo and deliver all software that has been completed to that point. After the demo there will be a small planning meeting in which all interested parties are able to attend. The purpose of the planning meeting is to further refine the requirements and set the next priorities. At each demo THE COMPANY and the CONSULTANT will have the option to continue working together in order to further development or to take delivery of the product as is. At each milestone THE COMPANY is free to use the software as long as they are engaged with the contractor and all payments have been made on time. Upon final payment THE COMPANY will be given all source code produced by the CONSULTANT.
If you have any comments on the wording please don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. I am not a lawyer and am not giving legal advice. I am merely trying to say that if you don’t try to give them a non-fixed bid contract then of course it is hard to do. Most people understand when you explain to them the life cycle of software and our changing world. The most important part is to be honest with yourself and your customer.