263 – Agreements / contracts and payments – Series 1 / Episode 4

‘WordPress Business Bootcamp’ with Nathan Wrigley and David Waumsley


Welcome to another in our Business Bootcamp series. It’s the series where we relearn everything we know about building WordPress sites, and running a web design business from start to finish.

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Presently, we are on Season 01 (where we look at what needs to happen) ‘Before the Build’ Episode 4.  Agreements / contract and payment.

We’re both (Nathan and David) taking different routes to get our invented businesses going and our client’s website up and running.

Nathan’s process: Going traditional with fixed pricing. In the last episode he was thinking about his proposal.

David’s process:  Going agile. Fixed fee for a sprint of work. His proposal is nothing formal; he is expecting the client to go with the idea of a minimal viable website (or even landing page). Low risk to the client with the plan to book further sprints to improve on it iteratively.

Episode 3.  Agreements / contracts and payments

Episode intro: The Problem

WP Builds Deals Page

Of course our client is going to accept our proposals for no other reason than to keep this series running! Nathan and David stack supermarket shelves is the series no one wants; like Schrodinger’s cat, she is simultaneously Nathan and David’s client!

  • Nathan’s traditional route needs to consider a contract and payment structure to follow the proposal. There is a fixed pre-agreed deliverable that needs setting out so everyone knows where they are.
  • David agile route does not have an end deliverable (in theory). Following one of the 4 values of the agile manifesto, he is supposed to favour “customer collaboration over contract negotiation”. But that does not mean no contracts… just and intention to not let this become the focus of the project.
  • We both need to find a way for the client to pay us.

Agreement and Contracts

  • These are really the same thing. The main difference is the agreement is typically informal and not (clearly) enforceable by law.
  • There are some off-the-shelf contracts for web designers. Andy Clarke’s open source contract killer https://stuffandnonsense.co.uk/projects/contract-killer.
    And there is https://monstercontracts.com/  (paid). It comes with a warning:
    “MonsterContracts™” is provided for educational purposes only without any warranty or guarantees. They should be analyzed by your local attorney to ensure compatibility with local laws, and the products and services offered by your business”. It has a lot of endorsements. It’s by Nathan Ingram who does coaching.
  • One of the most popular talks on the subject is Mike Monteiro’s F**k You, Pay Me from 2011 (over 1.2 M views across YouTube and Vimeo alone) https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jVkLVRt6c1U. His lawyer is part of the presentation. He argues you need a specific lawyer written contract for each project if you are a professional.
  • David is going to publish a video post on contracts on his Simple Revolutions in Web Design blog, looking at the topic from an agile perspective… But also to remind himself this is about risk mitigation and that needs to be appropriate to the circumstance.
  • Trust is the ‘essential’ of good relationships (literally baked into our DNA). Do we want to begin our relationship with the assumption of bad faith unless needed?  Do we want to waste the money on lawyers? Do we want to show that the process we are insisting on has flaws that require legal protection? Is it on brand for our business? How much of a straitjacket does it need to be? Do we trust our lawyer is smarter than theirs? When is it really in the interest of both parties?
  • Agile needs a contract too, but if done in the right spirit they will focus on how you will work together and not on what is delivered by who and when.
  • In David’s case, no contract… ‘sprints’ paid upfront with a simple tick box set of terms and conditions (which will soon say what happens if they are not happy with the sprint and what happens with delays). David wants to remove every block to starting and purchasing.

Payment methods and frequency

  • Invoices, direct debits, online payment/
  • How is payment split up? Does it depend on the project?
  • How much time is lost on chasing payment? Is it costed for and is it fair… the good payer pays more than the bad payer!

If you found anything useful (or objectionable) in this episode, please leave a comment below, or head over to our lovely Facebook group and leave a comment there! Search for episode 263.

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Transcript (if available)

These transcripts are created using software, so apologies if there are errors in them.

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[00:00:00] Nathan Wrigley: Welcome to the WP Builds podcast, bringing you the latest news from the WordPress community. Welcome your hosts, David Waumsley, and Nathan Wrigley.

Hello there and welcome once again to the WP Builds podcast, you've reached episode number 263 and titled agreements, contracts, and payments. It was published on Thursday, the 27th of January, 2022, my name's Nathan Wrigley. And in just a few moments, I will be joined by my good friend, David Waumsley, so that we can have our chats.

But before that, a little bit of housekeeping, if you enjoy the things that WP Builds do, I would really appreciate it. If you felt like sharing it somewhere, whatever social platform works for you, perhaps the easiest thing. It's to share the URL. WP Builds.com and tell people why you listen to the podcast and why you enjoy it.

We're hoping to grow it over the coming year and your help would be much appreciated. Another good way to share the podcast and expose it to your audience would be to go to your podcast. Player of choice, apple podcast reviews in particular seem to be very popular and a little five star review, and a comment would go down really well.

I would really appreciate that if you want to keep in touch with what we do at WP Builds, head over to our subscribe page. WP Builds.com forward slash subscribe. Join us there. Sign up to the newsletters. You can find us on YouTube. There's a. Twitter handle and all of those kinds of things as well. And if you fancy something a bit different, we've got our Mastodon install, which is a Twitter clone and open source Twitter clone.

And you can find [email protected], and it keeps saying yes, that is a URL WP Builds.social. Don't forget as well. We've got our [email protected] forward slash deals. It's like black Friday, but every single day of the week go and check it out and you may be able to. Discounts on some notable WordPress product.

We've got loads up there and they stick around for a long time. So next time you're buying something. Go check that out. Okay. Let's get on with the podcast. Then we are still doing our WordPress business boots. We're on series number one still. And this is episode number four. And the intention here is to relearn every single thing that we know about web design and creating a WordPress website business and running that business.

And today we're talking about agreements and contracts. There's a lot in this. David is taking a different position. He's working. Agile perspective, whereas I'm working much more from the let's do a contract, let's get a price fixed and deliver the job and get paid, which we might call the waterfall approach.

And today, obviously we're concentrating on the agreements, the contracts and the payments. Do we even need things like contracts and agreements as part of our business, many people think that you do some people just start their business and hope for the best. Perhaps they're working for their friends or relations.

The balance might be different depending on where you're at. But today we talk about agreements and contracts, why they might be important where you might find them and whether you should use them or not. I hope that you enjoy the podcast.

[00:03:25] David Waumsley: Welcome to another. In our business boot camp series, it's a series where we learn everything we know about building WordPress sites and running a web design business from start to finish presently, we are on season one where we're looking at everything that needs to happen before a build.

And we're on episode four of that, where we're talking about agreements, contract and payment, Nathan and I are taking different routes on that. Our invented business and trying to get. Client's website up. Nathan, shall we just quickly recap where

[00:03:58] Nathan Wrigley: we're up to so far? Yeah. So with the first three episodes, we established that we had a client we've never done website work before we might've dabbled in it, but we have for the first time ever, we've been recommended a client who we're just calling miss a, but we don't know really anything about her.

Other than that, she's a little. And so we're going through this podcast series trying to build the blocks of building a WordPress business. So in the first three episodes, we covered all sorts of things. But for the purposes of this introduction, essentially, I'm going down the fixed pricing route, which you might call waterfall.

And that really consists of me getting a proposal together, putting out some documentation, getting things signed off and hopefully getting the project and getting paid for it. That's the kind of route I'm doing and you're doing something different. I am on doing

[00:04:48] David Waumsley: agile, which is still quite new to me, but I started that, and this is really where we only fix a fee on a sprint of work.

So the idea is that I won't have a proposal. Really. I just suggest that we start with some kind of minimal viable websites, something that they might be interested in starting working with me on maybe even just a landing page. And so it's low risk to the client and then they can. Book further sprints and we'll improve the site iteratively.

So our approaches are going to be different to the app. The way that we go back to business, including what we're talking about today, which is agreements and contracts.

[00:05:23] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I guess the, in the end the need, or not for this be equal, that there's going to be no disagreement about that possibly.

But the content of it and when we deploy it and all of those kinds of things might come into. Yeah, Nathan, I want to

[00:05:40] David Waumsley: ask you some things. So when your proposal goes in, which is what we talked about last time, is the contract going along with it?

[00:05:47] Nathan Wrigley: Yes. Essentially it's one on the same thing, the system, the software that I've got at the moment, because I use software to send out proposals so that they can simply click a button.

The one thing leads to another, so the proposal has to be signed and then it takes the. To the contract and then the contract has to be signed. So it's actually, it's quite a lot of signatures going around here, electronic or otherwise, but there's two parts to it. And I explain that. And then in order to make those things operable, if you in other words that I should then react to those than that, then there's usually some sort of payment schedule, which requires some kind of deposit right.

At the very start, but we're getting away from ourselves there. Yes. What about you? Do you have them as separate or. The

[00:06:32] David Waumsley: thing is I've never used a contract. So that's why I asked you to do a question because I actually have no experience, which we'll get into in a moment because a lot of people are going what?

[00:06:43] Nathan Wrigley: Yes, I think you're about. Really good arguments in that sense, because we've talked about this a lot before we hit record, and I think there's a great deal of sense in your approach, especially in your situation. But yeah, it makes sense to me to put two documents in front of somebody at the same time, rather than get the proposal all agreed.

And then, just check that they've signed it and then send them another email. It just feels like a sensible approach to do everything at the same moment in. Yeah, it

[00:07:14] David Waumsley: does to me. And I think I'll probably know the answer to this, that I was going to ask you whether anyone's rejected one part not the

[00:07:22] Nathan Wrigley: other.

No, I've never really had any pushback. Oh, you mean the proposal is acceptable, but the contract isn't no. I've never had that. I think the only things that I've ever had where people who've come back and just questioned a specific word or, maybe I've literally got the name. Limited company wrong.

I haven't added limited on the end or something like that, but I've never had anybody come back and say wholesale, no, this is garbage item. I refuse to sign it. But yeah, w we'll get into that. No, not.

[00:07:54] David Waumsley: So really, when we come to contracts mostly for the traditional route, that's where the most associated and the probably needs to be at a stronger contract because your kind of promising with your proposal an end deliverable or necessary.

Time, probably, I guess you put in a date where it be delivered by, and then they're signing up to that effect there where I'm not doing that. So it's a little bit more open for me.

[00:08:20] Nathan Wrigley: Curious, I'm still undecided as to who the contract is really for in that, is it about protecting me. And making sure that I get everything, how I want it, or is it about protecting them and giving them things that they are therefore willing to sign.

So for example, a good example might be, when I put in the amount of time, I think it's going to take, am I doing that? They are assured that's the time, or am I doing that so that I know that I've got enough time to do it, where after some sort of happy medium there it's to protect me, but also.

Protect them and to reassure me and to reassure them, there's a bit of a dance. Should we talk about

[00:09:04] David Waumsley: the options. We're new, we're supposed to be pretending that we've never done this before. So looking about what there is out there, there's something an old favorite we've talked about before, which is Andy Clark's open source contract killer, which is freely available.

And you can take and use for your own contracts. I think

[00:09:24] Nathan Wrigley: you use that. Yeah. My, my approach and we'll get into this is I don't go heavy with the lawyers. I'm not getting a lawyer each and every time to look at it. In fact, Really my interaction with lawyers is almost zero throughout my career.

And I did use, and still basically used a tweaked version of the contract killer, which are linked to in the show notes. It's basically an open source. Contract and it's written in very plain English. In fact, it goes to great pains to talk about the fact that it's in plain English and it just sets out some really simple things that I promise to do this.

You promise to do that. And if either of us fails to do this, then these types of things can happen. You can tweak it as you like, make it more stern the opposite. You could make it much more easy on both of you, but the principle really is. All that you've done really has put something in their way to say, okay, there's a certain degree of seriousness to this.

There's a contract here. I am signing something, but I have no idea whether any of that stuff would stand up in court. And the interesting

[00:10:33] David Waumsley: thing though, Andy Clark, he's been around, since it seems the birth of the internet and it is well respected. As a designer, he obviously gets high paid jobs.

It's endorsed by him that works in his circumstances. Maybe that's just part of his character. Even if it's good enough for him, why shouldn't it be good enough for us,

[00:10:57] Nathan Wrigley: yeah. Yeah. And I really would imagine that this. On the size of the project. If unlike me you're into hundreds of thousands of pound websites, then I think it would be really a bit silly not to get the lawyers involved and to nail things down because there's so much riding on it in my case.

And I'm sure that. We'll be true for whatever you are going to be doing a, whether or not you deploy a contract. I don't know, but I'm just after local clients who I speak to on an, on a personal basis, I'm on the phone. I've probably seen them in the real world, in their office.

And so on pre COVID. And so there's, hopefully there's more implied trust than that there might be. If I was just dealing with some sort of corporate entity where there's a churn on employees and you can't be guaranteed, that the person that you speak to today is the person that's going to be in charge with the project going forwards.

So I think I rely on trust more. So the contract really just is really a flag. It's just saying, okay, we've done what everybody expects us to do. There's a company. Yeah.

[00:12:08] David Waumsley: Yeah. We're both from those kind of places where I think, people are upset that they might have to close their doors or something.

They might have to actually lock their doors. Cause it's these societies where people just do trust each other's faith, Liberty crime. So yeah, it is a different environment altogether from the point that you made to me before. Now that if you were in New York, it might be entirely different.

[00:12:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah. The little parochial part of the world, which I live in. Yeah. You are really not going to survive too long in any industry. If you turn out to be a charlatan who rips people off. Yeah. So I've already perfect example here. The parallels are not immediately obvious, but it serves the purpose.

If you're a car mechanic and you continually rip people off you are going out of business really quickly because it won't take long for the word of mouth to go around and people to distrust you. And exactly the same would be true in the line of work that we both do. It won't take long for people.

Stop making the phone call because the recommendations don't come through. And a lot of the recommendations that I get are through, by the personal contact or people that have, the word of mouth thing, and that will all just dry up and so will my work. So in that sense, there's maybe a bit more wiggle room as to whether you need a contract or not.

And the truth is if you've gone through your whole career up until now without a contract, it is proof that it can be done. But we're not here to sell that model necessarily. Cause we'll probably just get shouted.

[00:13:43] David Waumsley: Yeah, I think so. It's such a fascinating conversation and that element you brought in about the kind of area you work with, the type of people you deal with and how they're confined as well.

I think it's something I had not even thought about until we started talking about it. There is another off the shelf solution, which is a paid for one, which I didn't know about until recently called monster contracts. Apparently a lot of people seem to use that. And it's quite good. From what they say, some people have taken it to lawyers to check over whether it's going to be appropriate for their circumstances.

And they say it is there is a little caveat though, if you go to that, there's a thing that really effectively says it's only for educational purposes, it comes without any warranty or guarantees as most of these kind of off the shelf, legal things. Do you know, they're not saying that gives you legal protection.

So there is that. And then we've got a, another big influence in my life because this is a really popular talk, which goes back to 2011 and on YouTube and Vimeo alone, I think it might be another places it's got more than 1.2 million views. And it's by Mike Monteiro, we'll have to keep trying to say his name correctly.

And it's called, I can't say it in full, but I'm going to say it. Pay me. And yeah, his talk is very much based on the idea. So contradicting these other two options, his art presentation really argues that you need a lawyer to specifically write a contract for the projects that you're dealing with.

And part of his talking introduces his own lawyer who writes up those countries.

[00:15:26] Nathan Wrigley: So his, so this is Mike Monteiro is his principle than that. Every time you begin a project, you should consult with a lawyer to get a bespoke contract for that project, as opposed to say, for example, using the contract killer or the monster contracts, one where obviously it's templated, there should be fresh clauses, put in things, removed, everything should be bespoke.

Is that what he's.

[00:15:55] David Waumsley: That's pretty much what he's saying. Yeah. You need a contract. You're in his view, you're he says it, you're the moment you turn professional, you need contract, but he's very much promoting about the fact that you need a lawyer to do those. And he brings a lot of the talk is his own lawyer and how he deals with Rachel, the contracts for each cases.

It's an interesting one because. When I watched that video and people do, I react to him because he seems a bullish through it, a kind of alpha male walks around a lot. And the, obviously the title of it quite aggressive. And, it's very much rejecting of people who, the clients who will say, take this on trust with this part.

And no, no walk away. Straightway is very much adamant on this kind of thing, but I do take his point in in the side that. It wins me over to the fact that if you are going to write this contract, because you'll go in which he must be the traditional route where you are. Say it upfront, what you're going to deliver at the end.

You probably do need a good contract. Certainly if it's over a certain budget that actually specifies what those expectations are for that. And I think if you use maybe an off the shelf, one, it's not going to be a, it's not going to really clearly lay out what's expected.

[00:17:11] Nathan Wrigley: That's a really good point.

I'm guessing. I don't know anything about this Mike Montero guy, but I'm guessing that well, a couple of things I'm guessing the first one is that he's succeeding. So he's probably got a lot of high-paid clients. And the second one is that he's been burned in the past.

[00:17:29] David Waumsley: Yeah, exactly. And that's the thing, it kinda seems bullish, but you almost think I puts me in the shoes of a lot of creatives who will, they're not taken seriously by people and it's very easy for them to get ripped off by bad players, I think.

And you only need that to happen a few times and then you start. Adopt this. I need to talk gangster, talk to as a defense mechanism, I think. And I felt that with this talk, but yeah, we were talking a lot before and my issues, I'm in fact, I'm going to write a post on this, so I'll probably just all of it will be here, but I like your take on it for my simple revolutions in design blog, which I'm doing.

Cause I want to at the tackle that because for me what gets lost or what we can easily get lost. Is the fact that this is really just about risk mitigation all the time. Isn't it? And it needs to be appropriate to the circumstances. So watching some things like his video, if you're like you and I, where mostly we can trust people or in my case where I'm taking upfront payment and I can't see any other reason.

To have to nail anything down. The site that they get is fully GPL. So there's no issues about ownership. There's no reason for contract. It would just be a thing that I'd be doing because that's what I'm supposed to do as a professional.

[00:18:49] Nathan Wrigley: So literally it would be a sort of tick box exercise.

You're just doing it because you've been told by a variety of people that you need to do it, but you're not, you're not ready to go inspect it and do it correctly, properly.

[00:19:03] David Waumsley: Yeah. And I think there's, a whole bunch of issues with putting a contract before people, because trust is essential to good relationships.

So he would say, you can't take on trust, walk away. And I think that's okay in a big business situation where it's never, ever felt to be personal. But I think, most of the case we are trying to work quite closely and build relationships. And it's in our DNA because of the fact that we are born useless, relying on caregivers, that we rely on trust for everything.

So to put in front of someone, this kind of document that assumes bad faith. Is quite tricky. And I made that point before, wasn't it's like turning up on your wedding day and then handed over a prenup, just as you're about to walk down the aisle, it's, it's, it could be a shock for many people to receive

[00:19:54] Nathan Wrigley: it.

Yeah. That's really interesting. And the word that you use there, which resonates, I think across this whole conversation today is trust and really in the absence of trust. You probably do need some kind of documentation, some kind of contract, but maybe there's an, there's a, an area where if you really do trust somebody and you've got a good feeling about the relationship, or maybe you've had a previous relationship, you built a website for them before, and they've turned out to be really decent, honorable people who pay on time.

Maybe putting a contract in front of them, actually. Is it is demonstrative of the fact that you've maybe lost a bit of trust in them. Yeah I understand what you mean. I wonder has anybody in your process ever said to you, I need a contract.

[00:20:45] David Waumsley: N I had a service. Somebody wanted a service level agreement to be signed on my part.

Okay. They sent it over and I looked at it, but it's a kind of different thing that was for it. Wasn't for the building of the site. It was for the maintaining of the site. And what they asked was something where I said, I think you need to go somewhere else. So really,

[00:21:04] Nathan Wrigley: so at the point where they said, can we have some sort of written declaration of how much the website is going to be online or whatever.

They you push them away as a client. You decided

[00:21:17] David Waumsley: it's a slightly different thing because it was about the, so basically if their site was down, then I would be responsible under their agreement. They wanted me to sign for, and there was all sorts of things. So I say, no one can actually sign this because you can't guarantee uptime, whatever you're on.

And certainly I can't. So I said, I can't sign this at night. Don't sign these kinds of things. You take the service as it is and that's it. But it was actually, it wasn't a situation gone wrong effectively. It was like having a new client because it was somebody with my old colleague.

And I actually didn't want the job because I thought the organization might be problematic, but it went through. Mostly working with my colleague, then they left and someone else took over who was a bit more jobs worth and they came in with this and actually I was quite happy for them to go, okay.

Yeah. Entirely different situation, but yeah. And so no nobody's ever questioned. I, so I should explain my system. So if I'm booking. Time. I really, after my conversation, I say, go and book online, this end date for our sprint, and I'll pop the, give him some indication about how far. Upfront that end date is.

And as part of our, I say, there's no refunds. If they're not available over that time to help me, I can only do what I can do, but most of the time I could work on my own if they're not working with me. So it's taken care of, never needed to use that there's little agreements there, which is just saying.

Those kinds of things what's expected there, whether they've read them or not. I don't know because they go through a WooCommerce checkout process. So they probably not even bothered reading the document and that's all there is.

[00:22:56] Nathan Wrigley: So you have in that scenario then, do you have a contract if you like buried in terms and conditions, do you have a, yes, exactly.

Got to tick in order to get through that cart. And the contract is buried in there, even though they're not signing it, they're paying their way into that common. Yeah,

[00:23:16] David Waumsley: exactly. This is just the terms and conditions so effectively. They are there. I don't know where this, the difference between an agreement and a contract is the effectively the same thing, but one of them is well, tends to be informal in the case of agreements and not clearly enforceable by law.

And I'm not sure if my terms and conditions are clear. Enforceable by law. So I think of it as just a basic agreement, but there's nothing there effectively that I haven't already told them about the way that I work. Yeah.

[00:23:45] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I definitely have this contract period and I feel it's quite a nice way.

To put a, an end to the, are you going to have a website built and moving directly into the yes, we're going to have a website built now, please. Will you begin phase? It's a real moment in time. You've signed the contract. You basically committed to it from that moment on you've gone from being wavering at any point prior to that you could walk away.

And now you've signed on the dotted line. W what have you like I say it's an, it's a SAS app it's online and nobody's actually signing a physical piece of paper. Although I used to do that, definitely have done that in the past, sent things through the mail. And so from that point of view, I think it's useful.

It just psychologically gets everybody in the game. And an all that I do is I go through, I have the template, which I've tweaked from the contract. And I've made it personal and those bits in, not that I didn't wish to keep in this bits that I wished to add. I honestly can't tell you off the top of my head, which bits I took out and which bits of changed.

Obviously I've changed the name of the the company and all of that kind of stuff, but there were things which two. Sit well with me and I'll just go through and add things that I think might need to be added. So there's bullet pointed list of deliverables. And obviously in each project, that's going to be different depending on what they wanted.

If it's a five page brochure website, that's relatively straightforward, but if they want additional functionality, I make mention of that. I also will tweak the sort of timescale. And depending on what we've talked about I'm quite flexible with payment terms. Some people want to do, 50% deposit and 50% on completion.

Other people might want to do 40, 30, 30, something like that. And so I just adapt it like that click.

[00:25:36] David Waumsley: Yeah. And it makes sense when you say that in your circumstances, it doesn't have to be that legal, but it's almost like they're committing to an agreement and you could at least go back to that.

It's that moment in time where you say, yes, we're going for this. So I liked that. I think what concerns me, about the whole, you need to get a lawyer in is that if you need a lawyer to really nail down the specifics of all, what. Intended to deliver. It's quite a lot for the other person to take on.

And of course, everything is assumed bad faith on it. So you're spending a lot of the budget on those lawyers, assuming bad faith, which is, difficult for the relationship. If they're not used to that kind of thing. And then. There's an element of the fact that you are suggesting a process, but within that, you also share with them where that process goes wrong.

Yeah. And that's one of the issues for me with the traditional model, because in a way you're, you need to. Put legal terms in there to protect yourself for this way where I just think can I not just skip that by saying we'll start with this work and if we're happy, then we'll go onto the next work and it will improve everything.

And everybody should be happy along the way. Why did I have to nail all of this down with legalees to get us there? That's the process that I've insisted on and I'm revealing at the same time. Where it's likely to go wrong. Yeah, I guess

[00:27:02] Nathan Wrigley: The counter argument for that would be that everybody realizes that everything can go wrong.

And if we've got some clear boundaries as an example, if I don't deliver on this particular date, because you didn't provide me with the materials that I requested in a timely way, My little, my contract, the wording of it says, that's fine for me. You've signed this.

And you've committed to sending me these things by this particular date. And if you fail to do that, then there's not a lot I can do to move the project forward. So that's on you. And it's just spelling out those little things. And I suppose to some extent, Making everybody aware who's responsible for what?

Because I'm sure you've had clients in the past that just were terrible at delivering things. And it really ground things to a halt. And yet they still want the deadline to be met. Even if they only supply you with the, all the assets that you needed six weeks ago, one week before it's supposed to launch.

And it's just setting those expectations. I think in mine, I'm more than happy for people to mess that kind of stuff up so long as it's obviously moving forwards. And it seems so it's just spelling out those things. Who's got the responsibility for what, and I know, and a kind of nod to what will happen to the projects.

And on most of my stuff is just about the, that the project will stall. Not about we're gonna, we're gonna withdraw from the project it's just about, okay. That'll just make things happen. Yeah. Do you have an

[00:28:29] David Waumsley: issue? One of the things I think from that talk is the he mentioned the fact that if someone changes the requirement that they want, that means ripping up the contract and starting again, that's one of the key things.

And I guess that happens a lot. Is it something that you found that you're halfway through it and the, what they expected now has increased?

[00:28:48] Nathan Wrigley: You know what I'm pretty certain that the contract killer has that provision in it right towards the end. Something along the lines. If you, if we've begun the project and then you ask for something which is out of the scope of this project, we'll have to.

We'll have to deal with that as another new proposal and contract. So that's not quite what you were asking. But no, I've never had the problem of me just having to tear the whole thing up because they changed their mind. Usually what we've agreed is been gone back and forth on so many times and often in person that hopefully everybody's pretty clear on what they're getting themselves into.

[00:29:28] David Waumsley: Yeah. I think the agile manifesto is obviously dealing with some of those elements where this can go wrong. So they go from. Customer collaboration over the contract negotiation, because if your working on something where you don't know, because outside factors may change what needs to be delivered, particularly with a big project, if you were building the next Facebook you're not going to do that overnight.

You're going to have to do it in phases and. What happens with the actual Facebook, might impact on that, how you're going to go and move it and you're going to have to change and lots of that's expected in it. So they've needed to change that approach. Otherwise you spend all of your time pulling in the lawyers, ripping up contracts and rethinking them because the projects themselves are just very likely to change in the expectations.

And that's why the agile approach is there to get round that.

[00:30:20] Nathan Wrigley: So do you know, you may not know the answer to this, but. I'll ask it anyway. If agile is broken down into a selection of little sprints or smaller sprints than just my waterfall approach, where here's the project, we'll start on this day and we'll finish the whole thing on this day.

Yours is more, okay. We'll do this a little bit. See what you think. We'll do another little bit. See what you think do another little bit until finally we're approaching what you want, even though we might never arrive at the perfect destination. Yeah. All the sprint. In agile, not bound up in contract. So do you sign a contract for the sprint PO portion, the next week or the next two weeks?

Or is there some agile contract that you might sign at the beginning to explain? Okay. You're signing on for these sprints and so long as you keep paying for them, we'll keep honoring what we've got in this document that we've both signed it.

[00:31:15] David Waumsley: Yeah, it's interesting. I watched a couple of conversations with a guy who's a bit of an expert on agile contracts because it becomes a mind field.

So there are some situations where effectively in, in the philosophy of it, they're not agile at all, but big businesses want to have some sort of guarantees about how long this project might take in terms of number of sprints. So effectively, they're not going agile. They're having. The wanting their cake and eating it with it.

So there are these situations where, what this guy says is a fixed price. Sprint is the best in his view method of doing it. And those contracts themselves won't be concentrated on what you're agreeing as the deliver. But we'll be concentrating on how you are going to work together over these particular times.

So it'll just be how you're working and the timeframe and the payment will be attached to that. The end deliverable won't be. But of course, some people are saying, upfront, there will be some really knotty contracts, whether you're trying to deliver. Agile because they liked the idea of that kind of flexibility, but they're still trying to commit to this idea that there might be a certain number of sprints before you're finished.

And then you get into all sorts of other sorts of negotiations, where if you complete earlier than the sprints that are expected, you split the difference half between you and those kinds of strange arrangements are going on, but. In my case, I don't need to worry about any of those kinds of things.


[00:32:46] Nathan Wrigley: Do you know though that say for example, it may not crop up in your work because you're going to be doing website projects, which don't have enormous Facebook, like scope, but if you were to. If you were to have a project that's broken up and say, I don't know, 10, 10 weekly sprints or something like that.

And one of those weeks is particularly, you're trying to tackle something in this particular sprint, which is really thorny. And it may have, I don't know, it may be that something needs to be proven at the end of that, to prove that it's going to be GDPR compliant or something like that. Do you know.

If they do get into that, if they do have a particular clause added into this sprint stock lamentation contract, sorry. Do you know if that kind of thing happens? In other words, you can't always rely on the same sprint contract to be signed each and every time.

[00:33:37] David Waumsley: Yeah I'm no expert on this and I'm pretty sure it does happen.

And that's why there's a lot of conversation about agile being dead because big businesses are being sold. If you like the consultation to use it because it's seen as efficient, but ultimately they can't change the nature of their organization and they try and fix down. Things which are not meant to be fixed, that's the whole idea of agile.

So you do get these things, but I think if you're going with the spirit of it, you're just entering into the realism. The fact is that we don't know what really needs to be delivered, and we can only know it through working and, A bit like so many other things in creative fields, when you're working together, you have to like bands need to jam and something greater will come out of the collaboration of it, but you couldn't have planned it ahead of time.

And it's taking that kind of a PR I look at it that way on, on the small creative side of things, that kind of mentality for it.

[00:34:33] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. I'm really curious as to whether there's like a certain. Size of business where a contract literally essential. I wondering if an organization of over, let's say three people or four people will never be able to say yes to you without a contract.

Whereas if you are dealing with. I don't know, Mrs. A Ms. A in our case, who's a lawyer. It's ironic that she's a lawyer in our heel. You were very clever slipping that in right at the beginning. The are they, if they're, let's say that miss a owns a shoe shop and she just wants local web designer, David Wamsley to build her our website.

And she knows you, and she's spoken to friends, who've had stuff built by you in the past. And she learns that you're a nice and honorable person. I wonder if. Never going to expect a contract and just oh yeah, get on with it. But as the organization grows in size, there must come a point where there's so many cogs and wheels that it has to be put into a contract simply because there's gotta be some, gotta be some paper chain, which can link to what's going to be delivered because the staff members might not be around to talk to you in a few weeks time because churn and employ.

[00:35:47] David Waumsley: Yeah, I guess you assume, I don't know how give.uk managed it. I think it's pretty much internal staff doing it so they can generate that budget, knowing that this is always going to need to be ongoing. This website is going to constantly need to change to, to be updated all the time that's built in from the beginning.

There's a long-term deliverable. There never is a deliverable. There never is an end to a project like that. So I think that. I don't think that was difficult for them to go an agile route with it. But yeah, I do see the interesting thing about picking a lawyer for this one. I thought about this in my.

So if I go there and I say, I do know contracts with a lawyer, are they going to get funny about it? But effectively, if I went to see them as a client of them, do you think they would say before my consultation with you, I need you to sign this documentation about the expectations you're going to get at the end of this meeting with me.

They're not, they're just going to bill me after it.

[00:36:44] Nathan Wrigley: try to do anything to get you to pay them, frankly. I don't know. I'm not sure. There are so many instances in my life where I get people to do things for me. And some of them can be quite expensive, as an example repairing the car or having an extension built, we've got a builder who we use and over the years, it's, having some brick structure added onto the side of your house, isn't cheap, but I have absolutely no contract.

I just totally. Get him to start the work and pay him at the end. And it's a simple procedure. There's do you know what it's interesting. Cause we never got into it and I have no idea what the law on this is, but I'm sure there must be some implied law just on talking about things. If I get the bill.

To come round and he gives me a quote and I tell him to get started on my house extension and then refuse to pay him. I'm imagining that in just every jurisdiction on earth, there must be some consumer law protecting you, even if it's not written yet. Yeah, exactly.

[00:37:51] David Waumsley: One of the things, if you start with just the first basis of the law, it doesn't have to be written down to be legal, any kind of agreement, even if it was verbal, it's just the difficulty of proving it.

Yeah. Yeah.

[00:38:05] Nathan Wrigley: It comes back to that trust thing again. Anyway, sorry. So I was making the point. Loads of things in my life, I will happily commit and people will do work on my behalf and there's no expectation of a contract. And I suppose the easiest one for us to understand they would be like the car mechanic, that can sometimes run into thousands of pounds if it's a serious problem.

But I don't sign anything to say. Yeah, got on with it. I'd just say yeah, get on with it and then pay the bill at the end. I wonder how many people. Renee gone that and just, just refuse to pay their car. But I suppose he's car mechanic in that case has got a fairly decent asset of that them from, not paying, whereas we can only hold their website hostage.

[00:38:52] David Waumsley: Yeah but that is some leverage. That's true. I think, yeah, I think for miss a, the way that you go about it will be acceptable as well as I imagine my route would be acceptable because of the way that you're slightly, there is a difference between us in effect, you are delivering a product of a website where I'm delivering a service to build a website.

Yeah. And I think that kind of makes us different. So I think they would probably accept they have to do else. Otherwise we've got no series and the series on Nathan and David stacking shelves is not,

[00:39:33] Nathan Wrigley: oh, that's great. Do you know what? I cannot summon up an argument as to why. You should never have a contract. There just seems to be no no sensible position where you could say, no, you must not have a contract. That it always seems to me that if you have a contract, there's no problem with that.

Assuming that it protects you in the way that you wish for it to be protected. So my position would be, if you can get one, Don, why not have one laying around? If it fits in the budget and it fits in your business, why not have one lying around, but equally. I think if you're listening to the series, because you want some sort of guidance.

Goodness help you if you're listening to this area because a guidance, but there you go. The David is proof that you can quite happily start a website business without the need to get a contract in front of people. You've just got to figure it out for yourself and work out what works and which customers to deal with and which to leave her arms.

I'm going

[00:40:33] David Waumsley: to argue with you on that first point though, about there's no reason why you couldn't. And I think there is, and I think it's the sales process, the whole stuff that we talked about with the watertight marketing in the fact that anything that could give reason for them to hold back from going forward.

And that a contract could often be that if it's not well

[00:40:51] Nathan Wrigley: done. Yes. Okay. I'll accept that. Yeah. That's fair enough. You mean, if you hit them with the 40 page legal document, which is imperative. And therefore a massive red flag. Yeah. It has to be any

[00:41:06] David Waumsley: of those. So I think, most of us, when we accept terms and conditions, we just do it on trust because it's online and we don't know what we are committed to at all.

And we don't go and look because if we start reading that stuff, it gives us all the reasons for why we might not want to do it. Yes. And I think that's one of the. That why I want to get rid of the contract. I want it to be, let's just start in this relationship together. The legalees can stay out of it.

So for my reason of, my thinking, particularly with the type of service, that's why I liked to keep the contract out of it, but we need to talk about something else before we sign off, which is just really the payments.

[00:41:44] Nathan Wrigley: Oh, okay. Yeah. Payments indeed. First of all, do you want to tell us how.

[00:41:49] David Waumsley: Mine simple. Cause it's online. They just book their time and then they get receipt online. So that's really straightforward and they get the automatic invoice. So there's N yeah, that's as simple as that. It's got, I'll tell you something, cause I want to share this actually, because I do it that way and it's always upfront and I've always had this justification if ever asked, which I've never been asked before.

I asked him to pay up front. No one's ever questioned that

[00:42:15] Nathan Wrigley: percent upfront. The whole. Yeah, but no,

[00:42:18] David Waumsley: The sprint, so it's always broken down into, they pay for the hosting and then they pay for this one sprint. So it's a small smallish amount, but it could still add up to a, a thousand dollars anyway for the first payment.

But nobody's ever questioned it, but I always had this justification because I don't know if it's true for you the amount of time that when I used to have to go in, because of just some people who. I always got paid every time, but some organizations, cause they went through other people, not the person I was dealing with.

They were so slow on getting that. And I was chasing these up and that time. I have to then charge the people who are really good at paying. For that time, because I don't know who's who, so I just thought, no, that's my justification for paying up front. I thought I'm always going to do

[00:43:05] Nathan Wrigley: it that way.

Yes, it's interesting. I use a very similar process. The it's all done automatically online. Goodness. If people are building websites, can't do online payments, then we need to question the internet. So yeah the payment schedule is organized upfront. The portion of the payment schedule that is essentially the contract signing fee.

That gets paid and the whole thing starts. And they'll just be, when we get to milestone number one, then there's another 20% or milestone number two or whatever it is, I'm the 30% or whatever. That's just how it works. So there's always something up front before I actually do it. Any real work I'm not in, I haven't really done the whole paid for exploration of what the website build is going to be like.

And I know that was a big thing for a long time. I don't know if people are still touting that as a thing to do, paid discovery. I've never really done that. So I can't really speak because that sort of falls out in a different category. You would, you need a contract for the discovery phase?

[00:44:07] David Waumsley: Gosh, yeah, that's a good point. Never done that yet. Yeah. I think these kinds of, when I've heard that these kinds of things where you do some jobs up front, they would be along the lines of my model. I think the fixed fee to do something, because I guess they don't know what, cause they leave that to you.

Don't let that process on a discovery. I think

[00:44:26] Nathan Wrigley: it's that way. Yeah. In terms of getting paid I've never had a problem. There's only one client who her, it's a funny. Story rarely. It's not really a story, but I have this one client who I still have actually, who never pays, but reliably never paid.

Does that make sense? And I can phone them up. And I now know it's just because they're rubbish. It's not because they don't wish to pay it or that they're being awkward. It's just that they're rubbish. And at the beginning it took me a few payments missed to figure out that they were rubbish.

And I thought, do you know, what is this? Is this gonna be. A thorn in my side, should I ditch this client? And actually it really wasn't that it's just, they're not very organized in life. So my invoice arrives in the email, it just gets missed and it gets. Every time. So I just make the phone call and then it'll probably get lost again.

And then I'll make another phone call and eventually it gets paid. And I actually, I don't really mind that because I can understand what their life is like.

[00:45:32] David Waumsley: Yeah no. I'm trying to avoid that on I, with my method, that was what used to annoy me. you already gave away the fact that you are loose on the.

Agreement. How do you find out from the client, how they're going to break up the payments or you decided that on the basis of how much you're charging?

[00:45:49] Nathan Wrigley: Yeah. Yeah, it really it's. It is exactly that if it's a big project, that's going to take months and it's got a big, bigger fee attached to it. I tend to break that up into.

Parts, but if it's more of a simple brochure site, then it just tends to be two parts, just cause just, there's not really a lot of risk to me in there. And also it breaks up the money aspect for them. There's no clever psychology there. I just do that because it felt like the right thing to do the first time I did it.

And I've just kept.

[00:46:19] David Waumsley: Yeah, it's interesting. Cause a lot of people, people like processes, we all do, tell us what to do and we'll do it. Cause we don't want to think, you hear lots of people have formulas and I just think, gosh, they must surely vary for the client. And it sounds like you already built that in.

Have you had any pushback? Somebody saying that I wanted to do. Payment

[00:46:38] Nathan Wrigley: frequency? No, I don't think I have an I'm in my template. I've got two or three different payment options. And the system that I use, you can just delete like blocks. It's a bit like Gutenberg in the sense, there's blocks dragged into the template.

And I just remove the ones that I don't want to use for this project. And no, in answer to your question, nobody's ever said. No, that's weird. Can we do it differently?

[00:47:01] David Waumsley: No. No. And would you do it if they, if it's the same pigment, would you split it up

[00:47:05] Nathan Wrigley: differently? I don't see the problem because to me it's it, in the end, it will be the same amount of money nobody's ever asked it.

And I wonder if something in the back of my mind would maybe an alarm would go off at that point thinking why do they want to do it differently? But I've never had it. And I can't see why I would have. If they could explain that they had high cashflow thing, they had to do certain things by April being taxed year end in the UK.

Maybe there's something around I could accommodate. I don't know. We'll have to see when that happens. I'm going to have to build you a website, David, and you can be the awkward client.

[00:47:40] David Waumsley: No, I will do that. I'll sell this big chunk here, but for these months, I want to pay you a penny per minute.

And you want to hand it over to you?

[00:47:48] Nathan Wrigley: Oh oh no, nothing like that. No. I not going to get on this flight. I was working partners. I'll tell you what. I really didn't think that we were. A lot to say about this and we're on to like basically 45 minutes. And so it's proven to be, we've managed to as always say almost nothing in a great long period of time.

Do you think we've done this one

[00:48:12] David Waumsley: contracts die? I think we're absolutely. We're going to, yeah, we've got the last one of our, this kind of section, which we're just going to talk about. Have we set the right expectations before we actually get onto

[00:48:24] Nathan Wrigley: building? Okay. So that's going to be in a couple of weeks time.


[00:48:28] David Waumsley: I enjoyed that.

[00:48:30] Nathan Wrigley: Okie-dokie I hope you enjoyed that podcast. Lovely to chatter through these things with David Waumsley always brings up a lot of interesting and perhaps information that you didn't know before. If you've got any commentary about it, maybe you agree with what we said, or perhaps you object to what we said.

Head over to WP Builds.com and search for episode number two six. Three and leave a comment there. Or alternatively, go to WP Builds.com forward slash Facebook and leave us a comment there. We produce the podcast each and every Thursday we rotate one week. It's a conversation between David Waumsley and I, and the next week it's an interview.

So you've had the David conversation. This one. Next week it'll be an interview, but that's Thursday comes out at 1:00 PM UK time, and don't forget. We also do our weekly this week in WordPress show, you can find that WP Builds.com forward slash live every week, 2:00 PM, UK time on a Monday, and I'll be joined by some notable WordPress guests.

And we chat over the WordPress news for this week. It's quite lighthearted and a bit jolly. And hopefully if you come along and make a comment, we'll get you on the screen. And that would be really. Okay. I hope that you have a lovely week, stay safe. I'm going to fade in some cheesy music. Bye-bye for now.

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Nathan Wrigley
Nathan Wrigley

Nathan writes posts and creates audio about WordPress on WP Builds and WP Tavern. He can also be found in the WP Builds Facebook group, and on Mastodon at wpbuilds.social. Feel free to donate to WP Builds to keep the lights on as well!

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