I’ve finally gotten around to generalizing our contract to share with our community. Please be advised that if you use this template, you are using it at your own risk and that we are not responsible for your use of our contract. Also please take it to your lawyer and have it reviewed before you use it (and feel free to let us know if you have any suggestions for improving ours)
How we use this contract
Basically, once we’ve had enough of a conversation with the client that we know how much the project is worth (roughly), when it’s due, and what is required, we use this template to write a proposal. Often because our proposals are formalized, we illicit more confidence than competitors who have less formal proposals.
After the proposal is accepted, we save it as a contract. The line between proposal and contract are really blurry in this case and in fact, I’ve often wondered if i should just call it a contract or a proposal and stick with that.
What’s in this contract
This is the place for an elevator pitch. This is where you put the summary that expresses the value of this project to the client. I also use this as the space the summarizes the project for me for later.
This section summarizes in laymen’s terms how the project will be executed.
This is a list of what the client is buying. This is NOT a list of what you are doing. If the client is buying a website, we might have deliverables for design, development, content, QA, and support. We would not write deliverables for things like set up SVN, or adjust color balance, or spell check content…. The client doesn’t need to see the trivia, only the mainline items.
Also, you should break out any items that could be optional so that the client can see a price tag on those items and decide to use or not use them.
Milestones & Schedule
Break down the project due dates. When is the client going to see what? This can be done in terms of generic weeks or by setting dates explicitly if there is a specific target date. If you set the dates explicitly, make sure to advise the client that you will only be able to hit those dates if you have a contract signed and a check in hand by XYZ date.
When will you be collecting money from the client? We usually do 50/50 or 34/33/33.
Will you need things from the client before you start the project? If not, then remove this section. Otherwise list the stuff that your client needs to get to you BEFORE the schedule is initiated.
We rarely use this section. It basically allows us to explicitly state to the client what assumptions we are running off of in this contract. For example, we assume that the client has a host, or we assume the client will provide comps. etc.
Though we don’t usually use this section it can be very important. This is the place to explicitly state what is not included in the contract. This is especially important if the client is vague with their requirements and you have a feeling they are asking for something that you are not including in your proposal. It is also useful to articulate things that will be included in future proposals or by other teams that you are working with.
Terms & Conditions
This is where my lawyer takes over. This is where yours should too.
Sign it. Get it signed.
What about you?
Do you have any suggestions? Additions? Alternate approaches? Does your lawyer have any objectios? We’re allways working on our legal docs.