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By the time you’re drafting a software development contract, 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 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 contract 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 template, weigh it against two requirements - simplicity and detail.

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.

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 contract. Are there reports required? How often are they to be provided? The contract must answer any such questions where necessary.  

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 agreement important to you as a freelancer, but also to your potential client. In such contracts, 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.

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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 agreement. If it’s something to be done under warranty, spell it out in the current contract. Make sure that the warranty isn’t open-ended.

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.

Your freelancing life should be smooth and things should work seamlessly. This is only possible if you do your job well and draft your contracts right.

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