Re: Frozen contracts

Subject: Re: Frozen contracts
From: Sarah Lee Bihlmayer <tecscrib -at- SIRIUS -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 21 Nov 1995 09:12:54 -0700

On Nov. 20, Peter Kent wrote:

> How do you handle frozen contracts. For instance, you take on a 3 month
>project, but after two months it becomes clear that it's going to take much
>longer; 6 or 8 months, perhaps more.

> I'm just interested to hear how writers:

> a: deal with this possibility in their contracts.
> b: deal with a freeze if it actually happens.

Well, in a decade of contract/consulting work I've come up against this
problem repeatedly, and here are the strategies I have developed for
forestalling/ dealing with it:

1. I make it clear in all contract negotiations that I must have precise
scheduling and duration information as far in advance as possible. I
explain that in order to keep food on my table, I line my projects and
clients up months ahead of time and need to be able to predict my
availability as accurately as I can.

2. When the contract is drafted, I make sure it specifies exact start and
end dates and minimum billable hours per month, and includes verbiage such
as, "significant changes in the project's duration or minimum billable
hours from that specified herein will render this contract null and void,
and renegotiation may be required for continuance of the work."

3. By putting this clause right in the contract, I can then gracefully
(and legally) get out of a contract that has either been put on hold or
slowed down to a mere trickle of billing hours per month. If this actually
comes to pass, I politely explain to the client that I cannot remain
available to the exclusion of making a living, and that I would be happy to
resume work on the project when they are ready if my schedule allows.

4. And yes, I do work for more than one client at a time...however I have
had situations where 3 or 4 projects all got frozen the same month! So
this is not an absolute fail-safe.

My $.02.

Sarah Lee Bihlmayer

"God is in the details." --Frank Lloyd Wright
Sarah Lee Bihlmayer
Print and Online Documentation Specialist
Technical Writing * Technical/Developmental/Copy/Production Editing
Technical Illustration * Electronic Prepress * Graphic Design
POB 27901-312, San Francisco CA 94127 * 415-207-4046 * tecscrib -at- sirius -dot- com

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