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Software Development Contract Template (PDF)

As a freelance software developer, you may need a team to help you with a client’s project. Some projects need not more than one person. Others require the input of a huge team. That said, you cannot appoint a team to help you with the project if the client has not provided a budget for them. Discuss these issues with the client and have them all down on the software development agreement template. It is worth mentioning that it is easier to ask the client for a budget. The challenge lies in managing your team although the agreement can help.

By the time you’re drafting a software development contract template PDF, a lot has already taken place. Email communications, meetings, phone calls, and video calls could just be a few of the channels you’ve used to discuss the upcoming project. At this point, you’re basically crossing your fingers that everything runs smoothly until a valid software development agreement is sealed. It comes with a lot of excitement, especially if it’s your first big project. You can’t wait to sign the deal, for sure.

This is, however, the point where you must be very composed. If this is going to be the first software development contract template PDF or software development agreement template you’re developing, you might be unsure of the next step.

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Fortunately, you can download a free or paid software development contract template PDF and modify it to suit your needs. Some of these templates can be too complex for an average person, more so for a freelancer who’s not interested in diving so much into paperwork. Therefore, when selecting a software development agreement template, weigh it against two requirements - simplicity and detail.

The software development agreement contract ensures that you and your client are on the same page about the project. The contract agreement gives details on all the services you are offering, the milestones, timelines of the projects, and payments. As a freelancer, the agreement gives you legal protection that you need against any risk while working with your client.

Below are a few of the things you shouldn’t miss in your final draft.

1. The development specifications

Because it’s a bit too much inserting all the development schedule, payment terms, and details of the software development process, a good software development contract template PDF should have a clause that highlights the tasks to be performed and point the client to an attached document that contains comprehensive information about the entire project. The rule of thumb is to specify that any requests for alterations to the project specifications be done in writing for accountability purposes.

A good software development contract template will pen down the plan of the project from the onset to milestones and the completion. The smooth running of the project can only be guaranteed when everything has been put down in a plan from the beginning in a visually appealing manner. A good software development template will have details of the following in its plan:

  • Initiation
  • Planning
  • Analysis
  • Design
  • Actual development
  • Testing procedures
  • Implementation of the software
  • Maintenance and surveillance
  • Disposition

2. Development milestones, reporting, and testing

Watch out for the inclusion of the development milestones clause in your selected software development contract template PDF. Because software can be delivered in stages, all the milestones and their deliverables must be properly documented, including their respective deadlines, as well as testing. Milestones provide a systematic approach to work. They help the developer to focus on one thing at a time. They also regulate the flow of questions from the client, so that all attention is given to the current milestone.

If there are any payments related to these milestones, these too should be written in the software development contract template PDF.

  • Are there reports required?
  • How often are they to be provided?

The software development agreement template must answer any such questions where necessary.

The entire team needs to be aware of the milestones deadlines and how important each is to the achievement of the overall goal of the project. Follow these three main steps of creating successful milestones in your app development agreement:

2.1. Identification of the right milestones.

The tempo you set in your software development agreement template will drive how the whole project will run. Having the right milestones will give your client a broad picture of how smooth the operation will run or not. You don’t want to have ambiguous milestones that seem to have no clear goal. The milestones should be timed properly to give an overview of how long the entire project will run.

2.2. Communicate details of milestones with the team

Everyone in your team should have a clear picture of how you want things to run and the expected timelines. In line with this, everyone in the team should know their role in each milestone. You can choose to discuss with your team the milestones before writing them down in the software development agreement contract.

2.3. Managing the milestones

By keeping track of the set milestones, you can tell the progress of the project. The milestones in the app development agreement provide you with a success blueprint. The software development contract may be available with milestones that you can edit to suit the kind of software or app you are developing.

3. Confidentiality and Copyrights

Even though most software development contract template PDF variations posted online don’t have a Non-Disclosure Agreement, you should attach one and reference it accordingly. Not only is this clause and software development agreement important to you as a freelancer, but also to your potential client. In such software development agreement templates, it’s actually the client who’s likely to share a lot of information with you as part of the software development process. Because the confidentiality and copyrights matters live beyond the life of the project, every important detail must be addressed therein.

It is therefore important, as a freelancer, to assure your client in the software development contract template, that all the information they provide you with will remain confidential.

The client will need to have confidence that their information is safe with you. He/she may require that you legally bind yourself not to disclose their business to any third party. Except when requested by the client to do so, you will have to keep their information confidential.

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4. Warranty, support, and maintenance

If the software development contract template PDF you choose doesn’t have a clause that deals with a warranty, support, and maintenance, ensure that your draft includes it. As soon as the whole project is completed, accepted and approved by the client, every other work should be handled independently of the current software development agreement. If it’s something to be done under warranty, spell it out in the current software development agreement template. Make sure that the warranty isn’t open-ended.

The warranty works to your advantage at this stage as it gives confidence to the client on what you are offering them. The warranty will serve as a signal of quality and insurance against the performance of the software. Make sure that what you put down as a promise, is achievable and can manage to do when needed. You want to make it clear in the template if there are any terms to maintain qualification for warranty services.

5. Final approval and submission

As a freelancer, as soon as you’re through with the development of the software, what usually comes to mind is closing the chapter and moving on to the next project. Ideally, that’s how it’s supposed to happen. However, in some cases, you may have to offer training to the client’s staff. If this is already contained in the software development contract template PDF you’re using as your guide, just edit it so that it speaks directly to your current project. Also indicate the scope of the testing, the duration of the training, and the modifications you can handle for the client without extra charges and the ones that would call for separate payment.

As a freelancer looking to convert your prospective client, it is a good idea to mention in detail in the app development agreement some of the software maintenance services you will be offering. If you can, mention that in addition to corrective services, you will provide functionality enhancements to the software. Include the necessary fees that you would charge for such services or let them know if it would be free.

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6. A team needed for a technical project

How technical is the software development project you are handling? The more technical it is, the higher the likelihood that you need a team around you to take it all the way to completion. However, you would require a diverse set of skills to manage such a team. Each member of the team comes with a unique set of skills and temperament. In some cases, you may end up with a multicultural team, which is quite challenging to manage. Nevertheless, get the team members to go through the software development agreement to see what you expect of them.

Once your team is on board, with what you expect of them, have a meeting to discuss their view on what they think of your client’s project. Statistics show that the main reason projects fail, can be attributed to a lack of confidence by the team on the success of the project. You would not want to work with a team that feels the project is bound to fail from the start. Before embarking on the project, emphasize the importance of teamwork and the need for building a team spirit.

When coming up with your freelance team, ensure you don’t settle for second best. Depending on the technicality of what you are working on, you may need to outsource. In summary, for effective development, make sure you get the right people, provide the right resources, celebrate little victories, provide ideal space, make everyone’s role clear, and have fun working on the project.

7. Defines what to do about resource management

It is also worth stating that the software development agreement should mention 1-2 things about resource management. In software development, you will mostly find yourself dealing with an agile or waterfall project. The short sprints and multiple delays that define agile projects may affect the milestones. Waterfall projects are full of surprises that tend to consume additional time too. Because of these, the software development agreement must specify each member’s role within the freelance team. Otherwise, moving from one project to the next would cause confusion.

In your app development agreement, be sure to specify how resources are allocated for the activities and milestones in the project. Failure to have a clear picture, may lead to under-funding from the client or an overestimate that may cause the client to develop cold feet. Failing to do this may force your team to work overtime to cover the shortages.

8. How to tackle quick turnover

Anyone who has been in software development for long will have noticed the high turnover in this industry. There is nothing much you can do to prevent this problem. The high turnover is just the nature of the beast. Nevertheless, you can do something about it where your software development team is concerned. Typically, the members of your team would remain in place for two years. For this reason, the software development agreement should indicate how long the project will last. This way, you get enough time to plan for any likely departure.

However, if the project you are working on will require that your team stick around a little longer, here are a few things you can do to minimize the turnover rate:

  1. Get the right people with the right skills for your team.
  2. Provide competitive pay to the team.
  3. Ensure that your team gets the opportunity to learn, build their portfolio and career as they work.
  4. Provide flexible working hours for the freelance development team.
  5. Provide a pay rise and incentives whenever possible.

In your software development agreement contract, you can have details of these job incentives to your workforce. Working with a motivated team ensures that the work gets done well and promptly.

9. Identify your technical background

Normally, the head of the software development team requires a technical background to appreciate the nuances of the industry. However, many have still excelled despite their non-technical background. Nevertheless, you need such background to manage your team better. Without such background, what would you do about the feedback or complaints from your team members? Alternatively, identify those within the team with the requisite technical background and let them help you to lead the rest to victory.

As a freelance manager leading a software development team, you need to acknowledge the need to compensate for technical achievements. The mistake many do is to compensate for managerial duties more than the technical team that makes things happen. In app development agreement, make room for great compensation for technical achievements and abilities.

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10. Avoid ambiguous requirements

In this industry, you will come across many clients who expect you to work with ambiguous requirements or instructions. Unless you possess extra-psychic skills, you would be better off turning such clients away if they fail to offer you more information. Otherwise, you would only succeed in leading a team that is not only highly frustrated but also feeling bored at your leadership skills, or lack thereof! Without specific and clear instructions, your software development team would not create practical applications from vague business requirements.

Before embarking on any software development task, you want to ensure that as the freelance developer, you understand your client's need. As you talk to the client, let them know the importance of effective communication - because the success of the project will be determined by how well you communicate with the client. The goals and the objectives and how to go about them should be clear from the word go.

Therefore, take great care of the software development agreement. Without it, you would have a torrid time trying to manage a team of highly intelligent and motivated individuals. The agreement is your most potent tool for managing such a team. It provides all the mechanisms for solving disputes within the group. Moreover, it also provides the solutions needed for getting all the members of the team to focus on one goal. Lastly, the agreement ensures that the entire team delivers what the client ordered accurately, effectively and on time!

Your freelancing life should be smooth and things should work seamlessly. This is only possible if you do your job well and draft your software development contract template PDFs right.

11. Resolution of disputes and termination of the contract

There is no way to guarantee 100% that you and your development team will be able to meet the deadlines as stipulated in the app development agreement, bearing in mind the complex nature of software development. In the case where you are not able to beat deadlines or not able to deliver on your promise, you need mediation strategies indicated clearly in the software development contract.

The mediation strategies should work for both disputes arising from your team or the client. In case the client fails to deliver on their end, the software development contract should provide means to solve the disputes before they get out of control.

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