[TW] Freelance contracts (w

Subject: [TW] Freelance contracts (w
From: Tom Neuburger <Tom_Neuburger -at- LTX-TR -dot- COM>
Date: Tue, 17 Sep 1996 12:02:26 U

Reply to: [TW] Freelance contracts (was Until It's Time . . .)

Hello again,

This "Until it's time for me to go" thread is interesting. It certainly
has a poignant subject line.

MOSHE, I don't know how to resolve for you the multiple aspects
of this problem. I'm sorry about your personal loss and the
struggle you seem to be undergoing. I couldn't begin to
unpackage your mix of feelings without knowing you better.

BUT TO THE LIST regarding contracts, I would advise
the following:

First protect your payments--

o Write a contract that specifies stepped payments, with a
final payment a few months after the estimated last delivery.
Specify that you will complete -all- contracted work, but that if
the project slips due to engineering or marketing changes (i.e.,
them--not you) the final check is still due on a given date.

If the laws of the unverse haven't been revoked, the earth
will continue to move around the sun, the project will slip, your
last check will come due, you will collect it, and you will continue
working to meet your end of the agreement. If you expect this, it
won't surprise you.

(Your verbal defense of this clause is that projects sometimes
slip drastically, and often 95% of your work can be done, and you still
don't get paid, waiting for the 5%. This argument has always worked
for me. I've never written a large contract without this clause, never
had it refused after it was explained, and it has -always- come about
as predicted. The last check always came due before the real project
ended. HINT--When it does come due, you'll have to ask for the money.
Go to the purchasing people first, and refer to the contract--gently and
politely, of course.)

Second, protect your work--

o In the same contract, specify a schedule that lists the number
and time of drafts andreviews. Then say that if added drafts are
necessary due to engineering or marketing changes (again,
them--not you), the charge will be XX, either an hourly figure
or a set amount.

(This will also most likely happen, and will lead to many happy
returns for the time spent. Label each draft as Draft 1, etc. Let
the inhouse person who runs your work know when the last draft
approacheth, especially if you think the project is not done, so
there's no problem when they ask for more drafts, and you send bills.
Keep them informed, and help them avoid the extra charges. But if
they work you, bill them. This is the way the sheet-metal shop works,
and they know the drill.)

Finally, protect the project size--

o The contract should also "size" the job. If its a new maintenance
manual, for example, list the approximate number of procedures
the cost is based on. Also list number of drawings, whether an IPB
(illustrated parts breakdown/list) is included, etc. (Protect your
artist also. Don't let him/her get shafted by poor project planning.)
Then say that if the project grows beyond XX size, the fee for the job
will be resized accordingly.

(Lots of projects change size as people figure out midstream what
they want to do. This is especially true when marketing has a hand
in deciding the scope, shape, look of manuals.)

Finally, the obvious--

o Define deliverables. You give XX for YY money. If that changes
drastically, you negotiate from strength.

I can say I do all of this, and it works. But handle clients
in the spirit of generosity--and carry through on all work
promised, regardless of how stretched out things get. That's
your part of this deal--that's what the client is buying.

NOTE--Overall, the effect of this should be gentle, to protect you in
reasonable ways from situations that get out of hand --and it should
be explained that way. It's not a license to add small charges--and it
should be explained that way. And you should carry through, do
everything asked, and do extra things for free (it's their money,
and you're the seeker, after all). You might want to work for
them again, and it certainly is nice when they want you back.

For example, if you contract for 20 procedures on a new printer
maintenance manual, and the number goes to 23, it's probably too
soon to kick in the charges. The real problem is when the number goes
to 30 (half again as much), or if one of the added procedures is a killer.
Of course, if it is, you're probably over the number-of-drafts limit
anyway, and you can get paid that way.

If you're greedy, be patient. Many projects seem to run amok (including
almost all new projects, like the brand new printer, or rev 1.0 of software).

You will have lots of opportunity for additional charges when things
get -way- out of hand. And if you're seen as a team player (because you've
been generous early), people will be glad you're still with them late and
may not even mind paying you. (Well, a guy can dream...)

The bottom line--none of this is unreasonable, and should be reasonably
handled and reasonably enforced.

This works best, obviously on larger projects, with fixed fees. The
smaller hourly projects are another class of problem, with other issues
and strategies.

Good luck,

Tom Neuburger

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