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#450: Good Things Come From a Well Written Consulting Contract

Posted By Mark Haas CMC FIMC, Friday, December 03, 2010
Updated: Friday, December 03, 2010
What are the key components that I should include in my contracts with clients?

We obviously cannot provide you with specific legal advice and always recommend utilizing an attorney in compiling or reviewing your formal contracts. Some obvious ingredients of an effective contract are:
  • A thorough description of the work to be performed, including a clear specification of the scope and boundaries of the project.
  • A clear description of the main objectives and associated deliverables of the project or engagement
  • A timetable including all important dates including those associated with the project’s started and expected end, as well as the expected date of accomplishment for the specified objectives and deliverables
  • A list specifying your requirements including key information and the specific level of support you will need from the client in order for you to successfully complete the assignment
  • In order to help set clear expectations upfront with your client, it might also a good idea to address those specific areas outside of your control (e.g., external critical path dependencies, implied outcomes such as specific increase in market share, client’s failure to deliver specified requirements in a timely manner, etc.)
  • Specific terms and conditions (e.g., compensation and payment terms, additional services, consultant liability protection, confidentiality, non-compete clauses, cancellation, disputes/remedies, any special provisions, etc.)
Tip: A consulting contract exists to:
  • Ensure mutual understanding of the assignment
  • Summarize what is agreed to and expected from each party
  • Specify satisfactory results (consultant compensation and client deliverables)
  • Avoid disputes
Unnecessarily complex contracts, unless mandatory (i.e., government contracts), can potentially overwhelm a prospective client and could result in lost business. Focus on keeping the contract as brief, clear, simple, and direct as possible.

© 2010 Institute of Management Consultants USA

Tags:  contract  legal 

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