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Issue 9.4

COLUMN

A Handshake Just Isn't Good Enough

Why a Contract is Necessary

Issue: 9.4 (May/June 2011)
Author Bio: Bob is the owner of BKeeney Software. In addition to providing REAL Studio consulting, he provides REAL Studio training videos (currently over 30 hours worth), and sells software to consumers and developers alike. He is the founder of the Association of REALbasic Professionals and serves as its Treasurer.
Article Description: No description available.
Article Length (in bytes): 5,003
Starting Page Number: 80
Article Number: 9410
Related Link(s): None

Excerpt of article text...

I recently had a dispute with a client over money. I lost and it's a lesson that I won't hopefully ever repeat again. The reason? I was being stupid and did work when I didn't have a contract with the client.

I didn't have a contract in place for all the wrong reasons. This client was a referral from another Real Studio developer that I've known for a long time and trusted. This client has deep ties with Real Software. He said all the right things about his history with developers. He could be trusted, right? Wrong!

Now, I've ridden this rodeo a few times so I keep copies of all my emails and iChat texts because it's a handy reference. This way I know what I've agreed to and what the client instructed me to do. This client, however, really likes video conferencing, which, unfortunately, isn't an automatic recording. Without proof of conversations it's all a matter of my word against his.

Without a contract you have no leverage. Unless you have something in writing you have few options to get what's owed you. There's always legal action but that can be expensive and there's no guarantee that you'll get your money.

Contracts are where you set the boundaries in your relationship and set the expectations for both parties. Sadly, a handshake isn't good enough. Memories fade over time and recollections of conversations morph into what you wished them to be and are not necessarily a reflection of reality.

What I should have done with the client was send him an email with a quick summary of what we agreed upon. In my case, it would have been my hourly rate as a contractor. At least that way I would have had an electronic trail of what went on (or at least what I thought I agreed to). Then, the burden of proof is on him to prove he didn't agree to that.

...End of Excerpt. Please purchase the magazine to read the full article.