Rules for working with freelancers - developers

    During the course of doing business and creating startups of various subjects, I had to hire freelance programmers to implement a particular project. In total, about forty (40) people were accepted and fired in 3 years. Each of them in any way violated the rules of work and the clauses of the contract: they did not meet the deadlines, the functions of the sites were not correctly implemented (although the terms of reference and design were provided in detail), the quality of the order, problems with communication with the employee (they do not pick up the phone and do not respond to messages) and many others. That is why we drafted and improved for ourselves the terms of the contract with freelancers, which I will discuss below.


    I want to note that I myself do not have a “powerful baggage of knowledge” for implementing quite complex functions on the site, but, nevertheless, I can create a project of medium complexity. In other words, I have an idea of ​​how long it will take to complete the work and develop the functions. I concluded an individual contract with each of the freelancers after agreeing on the details of the project. Here are a few points that are mandatory:

    1) Non-disclosure agreement. Signed before any other contract with the employee. It shows him and your data, a brief description of the project and the responsibility of the parties. It doesn’t matter whether you start working with him or not, legally your idea will be protected.

    2) Dates. I advise breaking the entire project into several parts with a detailed description of each part of the project. Then negotiate the terms with the contractor. Often, employees greatly overestimate the deadlines by 3-4 weeks or even more so that they have time to complete other orders that they have collected for themselves to fulfill. I advise you to consult with competent people how much this can actually take. Depending on the answers received, you either reduce the time or reduce the payment for the project. If the employee refuses, look for a new one.

    The dates for the implementation of each part of the project are also specified in the contract. You can give the freelancer a couple of days (1-2) after the deadline for the completion of part of the project to “fix errors”. With a confidence of 95%, I can say that there will be flaws that they “forgot” to do or did “after the sleeves”.

    If the deadlines are violated, I highly recommend prescribing fines: a percentage of the final payment or a specific amount. It may not be a great motivator for meeting deadlines, but it will help you reduce costs.

    It is very important not to be “intelligent” in such a situation and to allow you to be late for a few days, as this will soon become a habit for workers, and they will simply “sit on your neck”.

    3) Website rights and intellectual property. Everything is short and clear here: all rights should pass to you after the implementation of the project. Programmers can argue about this, but in the future it can “slow down” the development of the project when making deals with investors or partners.

    4) Link to the developer on your site. Personally, I am opposed to such links on my sites, so I prohibit this clause in the contract. You can add your employee to the “Partners” section on your website (if there is one) or allow him to display your project in his portfolio.

    5) Communication with a freelancer. I used to control the progress of work. In each contract, I indicate that the developer must always answer the phone for an hour. If there is no answer from him within 24 hours at all - the staff is imposed. In the modern world, everywhere and always there is the opportunity to make a call or send a message, so do not accept any excuses. Moreover, I recommend that you write in the contract that every two days you should be sent a written report on the work done.

    6) Clause on non-competition. If your idea is innovative or contains elements of intellectual property, I advise you to specify a clause on non-competition. You can oblige the employee not to transfer project information to third parties and not create similar or competing projects for any period (say, two years from the date of signing the contract). This item is rarely used because of its complexity of interpretation. However, if you try to clarify the details, then it may well help you in the future.

    I want to note that before starting the project, you need to clearly understand what you want to get in the end. Without this, endless amendments and adjustments will be made to the project, which will delay the execution of tasks for a decent period. And the developer’s guilt will not be there.

    In addition to the standard clauses in the contract described above, I highly recommend it. Thus, you will save both yourself and the developer a lot of time and nerves.

    I will be glad to any comments, additions and objections.

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