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Articles and Papers
Jan 1, 1996
Software Development - A Marriage of Convenience?
by Gary Dunn
Source: G. Dunn, "Custom Software Development - A Marriage of Convenience," January 1996, Computer Player.
"Any intelligent woman who reads the marriage contract and then goes into it, deserves all the consequences."
Isadora Duncan (1878-1927) U.S. dancer. My Life, ch. 19 (1927).
We will never know if Ms. Duncan was referring to the institution of marriage in general, or just the terms of it. Your relationship with the developer of your custom software application may not last for life, either. But there are things you can do to make sure the relationship is a happy and productive one for both of you - and not just a marriage of convenience.
Business people often look at a contract as a necessary evil - an insurance policy to be relied on in the event of a dispute. The increasing, and often painful, length of modern contracts has not helped to change this view. You can use your agreement to accomplish much more than this.
A carefully thought out contract can provide the structure for the entire process - and contribute to improving the quality of the finished product. How? By addressing in one place the business, software engineering, and legal issues of the project. In other words, by clearly recording (1) the desired outcome, (2) the promises made to get there, (3) how completion of the promises will be measured, and (4) how the inevitable breakdowns will be fixed.
Starting with mutual responsibility. Like the bride at her second marriage who does not wear a veil in order to see what she is getting, the client also has a responsibility. The more clearly the client has thought out and articulated her needs, the more likely they are to be satisfied. When hiring a developer, it is all too tempting to let them take the responsibility for defining both the need and the solution - with the risk that you will not be satisfied.
The foregoing is not intended to constitute legal
advice. You should contact your legal advisor about your specific legal problem. You may
make copies of this provided that the copy is for non-commercial purposes and repeats this
disclaimer and the following notice of copyright.
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Copyright © 2001 Gary Dunn. All rights reserved.
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