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Hopefully, at this point we have established that software engineering is closer to art than it is to building a bridge.

Let’s take a look at the role of fixed contracts within the software development environment. Most of us have grown up with the idea that contracts are a necessary thing that binds two parties together in a way that is beneficial to both.

At illumisoft, I decided to create a better alternative to the fixed contract model and I’ll illustrate why such a change is helpful. I’m not alone in this arena. Many experts and CEOs of software engineering companies are doing the same thing. I decided to create a two-week “trial” period in place of fixed contracts. Why would I do this? Below you’ll find a brief exploration of the problems associated with software development contracts.

The Contract Becomes The Relationship

Contracts restrict the focus of the relationship to the narrow confines of the fixed contract. This restriction harms the flow of good, beneficial work because it doesn’t allow the project to transform organically into the best possible outcome. During healthy development projects, what happens is that as the software project progresses, details become known that couldn’t be know at the start of the project. That information gives the client a better vision of the final solution and as this happens, the software project must change to meet the changed needs of the client. However, in a contractual agreement, the client feels an obligation to both follow the contract’s directive and seek the optimal solution. So, the client ends up either with a subpar result based on the original contract or renegotiates for additional features. Renegotiating feels like starting over. The normal response is to pretend that the original contract implies things it did not imply on signing. The developer will push back on this and also point to the contract as proof of his stance. This is the problem. The contract becomes the central focal point for both parties which results in neither party being satisfied with the end product. The contract becomes the problem.

The Contract Can’t Transform

The contract is a fixed instrument and is a burden to the evolution of the optimal solution. Software development is such an organic process and because fixed contracts don’t embody this organic nature, they are actually incapable of producing optimal results. When you break it down, it’s simply that a contract is static and software development requires continual adaptation. They are not compatible at the most fundamental level.

Contracts Pose Risks

There is a significant amount of risk involved when investing time, money and resources into a new software solution. When you execute a contract it binds you in a way that is restrictive. Contracts do not allow for easy modifications to the agreement. There are plenty of things that can go wrong with a software project. However, most of those require a change and do not inhibit the result. However, problems that can kill a project usually stem from one of the parties using a contract sideways of its intent.

For these reasons and others, I decided to create a two-week reduced risk trial as an alternative to fixed contract agreements. The main reason I did this new model is to help reduce the risk for our clients. We decided to take on the risk instead of the client taking it on.

An Alternative To Contracts: The Two-Week Trial

So, how does the two-week trial period work at illumisoft?

We will work for you for two weeks. We’ll bring in our team to do an analysis of your business needs, gather the requirements and perform work during a two-week iteration. We will put our efforts toward the functionality of software as requested. At the end of the iteration, we will present the results for you to review. If you like our work, then you pay us for it. If you don’t, you don’t pay anything. We don’t want to take your money unless you are delighted with the quality of our work.

If you do like our work, we will continue with the project. Every two weeks we will meet with you and give you the opportunity to review our progress. In this way, you get to be a vital part of the development process. This method produces superior results and reduces risk.

My name is Dan Prince and I’m the founder of illumisoft. I’d be happy to answer any questions you may have about our free trial period. We also offer a free 30 minute consultation. Learn more here. You can reach me via email at dan.prince@illumisoft.com or my cell phone at 816.564.9595.