If your software development projects are getting bigger and more complex it’s time to make sure you guarantee you next pay day. We’ve heard and experienced some horror stories of developers going above and beyond for their clients, only to get paid ridiculously late, or not get paid at all. So we’re going to help you build the perfect contract for your next software project.

Try our software development contract template free in MilestonePay Contracts

If creating a contract for your next project still sounds overwhelming or time consuming, try MilestonePay Contracts, it’s free and includes all the details above in a clean, perfectly formatted digital template!

Our software development contract template is a great way to get ideas for your next software development project and will have you building contracts in minutes!

The more contracts you build, the more time you can save. Using our unique online contracts platform you can create your own contract templates for projects you complete regularly or you can save specific milestones which you can add to new contracts as you need them.

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There are five undeniable elements every bulletproof freelance software development contract must include

From our experience there are some must-haves that all well written contracts share:

  1. Include a terms and conditions section: This could include things such as professional expectations, who owns the project’s Intellectual Property and at which point is this control given, disclaimers over use of open source software and misuse of the product. You might only grant your client permission to use your work for a limited period of time or in limited markets. Whatever you decide, you’ll need to spell out these permissions in your terms and conditions section.
  2. Split your project into milestones: As any freelance pro will tell you, you should always write out a detailed scoping document, once you’ve done this, splitting your project up will be a breeze. Milestones are tasks that are made up of smaller tasks called deliverables and should be paid out as they’re completed to improve your cash flow and reduce any risk of non-payment. Each deliverable should also have a set of acceptance criteria that you and your client can use to develop a true definition of done.
  3. List any exclusions for your milestones: If there are still any grey areas after adding acceptance criteria you can also include a section on explicit exclusions to remove any chance of confusion. For example, if you’re building a website for a client, you might explicitly list that your price does not include hosting fees.
  4. Include early termination options: Prepare for the unexpected. It can be useful for you and your clients to include a 7-14 day cooling off and early termination clause if a significant change of mind happens or if a previous solution is unable to be implemented. If the client terminates early, ensure you get some financial compensation for the loss of planned income.
  5. Clearly list your costs: Be upfront, whether you’re billing using an hourly rate or billing on completion of each milestone. If you’re billing hourly, estimate your total. If you’re billing for each milestone, itemise your costs and provide a project timeline. It is also good practice to include any late fees or penalties your client might incur if they miss a payment deadline in this section. If you need help working out your rate our project cost, try our free rate calculator.

Your contract should also include:

  • The date the contract takes effect
  • Who is managing the project
  • Who the client contact is
  • A brief description of the purpose of the project
  • The project scope, including major milestones and any acceptance criteria
  • The deliverables which your client is paying you to do/deliver
  • Cost estimates
  • Schedule overview, including an estimated completion date and dates for major milestones
  • Impact of late delivery for any milestones, including tasks you and your client are responsible for
  • Your terms and conditions section or any legal agreements
  • Payment terms
  • Contract termination conditions
  • Contract agreement