What is a software maintenance agreement?
A software maintenance agreement is the contract signed between a software maintenance developer and their client before a project can commence. It discusses the work to be carried out — whether it’s to improve software, fix any issues, or apply upgrades — and ensures both parties are on the same page in terms of responsibilities, project timeline, and payment terms.
Just like software must adapt to market demands thanks to ever-changing technology, you need to adapt a software maintenance agreement for every client you have. A template can help new freelancers to put together this document quickly and effortlessly and guarantee that it includes the necessary information.
Failing to send out a professional software maintenance agreement can affect your credibility as a business and cause delays to the project start date.
Note: Sign up now to get your free software maintenance agreement template that will walk you through the contracting process so that you can successfully onboard your client and get to work faster.
What to include in the software maintenance agreement
Each contract that you create for your freelancing business will differ based on the responsibilities required for a particular collaboration. Even so, there are some items that any software maintenance agreement must have to cover the essential details.
A software maintenance agreement will begin with a statement that names the parties involved and how they will be referred to throughout the document.
For instance, this could be something as simple as:
“This contract is between [client’s name] (the “Client”) and [your name] (the “Developer”).”
Any service provider may like to include contact details of both parties in this section, such as organization mailing addresses and phone numbers. That said, by law, just names are sufficient for any type of contract.
The introduction will also state the date from which the agreement will be effective.
The section underneath the introduction usually discusses the software to be maintained by the developer. For example, you may write something along the lines of: “inspecting, troubleshooting, and diagnostics of [program] on site until the software is functioning properly again.”
You can be as detailed or vague as you want here. However, consider that the more detail you provide, the clearer the expectations will be between you and your client.
If it’s a large project and there’s a lot of work to be done, avoid having a large chunk of text in this section by using bullet points to list each project milestone.
Timeline or schedule
This part of a software maintenance agreement will outline how long the project will last. If you have a start and end date or certain milestones in mind, state these here.
If the project is ongoing, it’s absolutely fine to say this. Just be sure to include a clause which explains that either party can initiate termination of the contract at any time. This can be in the event of force majeure situations, or any other reason.
Software maintenance agreements must have a section on the subject of project payment. These details should have already been discussed with your client during your initial emails or kickoff call.
Do the parties agree on an hourly payment for X amount of hours or on a monthly retainer until the work is complete? State it in this section. Alternatively, list your fixed rate fee for the whole project or each milestone. Do you require a payment upfront to secure the project? Write this down here too.
You may also want to mention briefly what your rates include. Do they purely cover the scope of work or encompass email support throughout the project? Will you be charging extra for weekly meetings or are phone calls included?
Using a software maintenance agreement to flesh out these details can save you and your client a headache later on, and ensure the project goes as smoothly as possible.
Once you have filled out payment details in your software maintenance agreement, move on to invoicing terms.
Note down how you’ll be paid and on what kind of schedule, whether it’s through PayPal every two weeks or NET30 via bank transfer. And don’t forget to include late payment fees in the case of non payment.
Keep in mind that none of the information in this section should come as a surprise to your client. Alongside your payment rates and preferred method, it should have been previously talked about before sending out the contract. (This is just good business practice!)
Ownership of rights
This section handles the ownership of any intellectual property created and developed during the project, i.e., the computer software. It reassures your client that they have all rights to the work product once you deliver it and they can use it however they see fit.
A service provider tends to talk about confidentiality in this section since you and your client may exchange sensitive information that they wouldn’t want to become public. Your client may even request that this be included in the software maintenance agreement if it isn’t already.
On the other hand, your client may require you to sign a non-disclosure agreement (NDA) to protect themselves.
At the end of any software maintenance agreement will be a section where you declare that all the information in the document is true and correct. You and your client will then proceed with signing the contract to confirm the agreement so that you can get to work.
How to write a software maintenance agreement
Writing a software maintenance agreement may seem like one of the most daunting tasks if you’ve never done it before. But there are some things you can do to not just get the job done, but do it well — and become a pro in the process.
Find out exactly what the client wants
During an initial email or phone conversation, confirm with the company the required services and project deliverables. Ask the following questions:
- Which stage of the software development life cycle are they at and where do they want to be? What will you be responsible for?
- Which of the four types of software maintenance do they want you to provide support for? Corrective software maintenance? Adaptive software maintenance? What is the main goal of the project?
- Do they have a deadline? Do they want you to work a specific number of hours per week or achieve a particular milestone in three weeks?
- Are you going to access their resources on site or remotely?
Gather as much information as you can to be able to write an accurate and comprehensive contract that will impress your client.
Agree on the terms and conditions
Next, you need to finalize the finer details such as how you’re getting paid and when.
Don’t leave your client scratching their head when they come to read the software maintenance agreement. All expected project terms should be discussed prior to producing the contract. This saves unwarranted back-and-forth between you and your client and builds trust, which is the secret to a happy and thriving business relationship.
Input all of the information
The only thing that’s left to do is fill out the software maintenance agreement based on the information you’ve collected from your client. Take care not to leave anything out and proofread it more than once before sending it through to your contact.
Creating a software maintenance agreement is simple with Bonsai
Putting together a software maintenance agreement takes time, and time is money as a freelancer. The most straightforward way to do this is by using Bonsai’s software maintenance agreement template.
All you have to do is fill out the sections that apply to your specific project and client, download it, and then you can send it in a matter of minutes.
Plus, once you’ve filled out this template on one occasion, you can use the same document to form your next agreement. After all, many of the sections are standard for a software maintenance agreement.
Software maintenance agreement FAQs
How many pages does a software maintenance agreement need to be?
Simply put, your software maintenance agreement should be as long as it needs to be. Keep it as clear and concise as possible but make sure it covers the vital sections.
As a service provider, do I need to get my software maintenance agreement legally reviewed?
Whether you’re making any variety of personal or business agreement, it’s always a good idea to get it legally reviewed. It should follow the correct formatting and incorporate the required details so you can avoid legal problems at a later date.
As a service provider, you wouldn’t have to worry about this though if you use a legally-vetted software maintenance agreement, such as the one on the Bonsai app.