There’s a difference between signing an agreement and actually reaching an agreement. But once you reach an agreement, either as a customer or a supplier, it is important that the contract does not just get filed in the bottom drawer and forgotten about. Keeping your contract up-to-date and referring to it during the project will help you avoid some major, and costly, problems.
Hope for the best, prepare for the worst
IT projects can be large undertakings with costs running into the millions of dollars and timeframes that span years. While it is possible such a complex endeavour could go perfectly as planned, it wouldn’t be the way to bet. When issues do crop up, your agreement should be the first place to look for the best way to handle it. Part of reaching a useful agreement is outlining your rights and responsibilities in the event of a problem.
By being proactive in dealing with any problems, and keeping close to the terms of your contract, you not only get a head-start on solving the difficulty, you also ensure that in the longer term you will be covered legally.
Long-term projects require living agreements
In big projects, one thing you can guarantee is that there will be changes. Personnel changes occur for both supplier and customer. Technology is always progressing and the venture may need to change in order to keep up. Timings change as the project goes along, and so do deliverables.
Keeping track of these changes and making sure the agreement is amended and up-to-date – by means of change control and price change clauses, for instance – is vital. Otherwise the risk is that a contract fails to cover everything it needs to at the end of the job, because the job itself has changed beyond the scope of the agreement. If you end up with a contract that bears little resemblance to the realities of the project, you may also lose any chance of using it to protect yourself.
Let your agreement be the bad guy
As a supplier, your primary concern will be making sure the customer is satisfied with the product and your service. That often leads to taking requests for additions and changes which fall outside the scope of what was agreed on. It’s easy to do – the requests don’t usually take much extra time, and half a day here and there saves the awkwardness of saying no. But over a long-running project these extras snowball, leading to hundreds of extra hours worked on producing features or providing services which fall well outside the scope of what was agreed upon.
Saying no is tough, but if the deliverables are clearly spelled out in the contract and it is up to date, then you are able to point to the agreement to justify saying no or changing the scope (and often the price) of the job.
With IT Contract Templates, keeping your agreement alive and maintained is easy. Due to their modular structure, extra clauses can be inserted by agreement and existing ones changed and replaced by agreement without the need for extensive re-writing. And because the language is straightforward and comprehensible, they can be used by people without legal training. By using an ITC template, you can produce an agreement that is thorough, understandable, and useful for the duration of your project.
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