A Happy Medium: Contracting Checklist for Smaller Projects

June 24, 2011
IT contracting is one of the most important and most difficult things we do as IT Leaders.  For most medium and all big projects, seek outside

IT contracting is one of the most important and most difficult things we do as IT Leaders. For most medium and all big projects, seek outside consultancy with a bona fide expert. Seriously.

While the water can be very deep when it comes to IT contracting, different projects require different degrees of contract detail. There is a continuum between setting out to require vendors adhere entirely to the standard IT contract developed with your legal team, and just going forward on faith that you and the salesperson are on the same page about deliverables. For smaller projects, a checklist is a happy medium.

A checklist helps you remember the baseline items you need addressed in every contract, allows you to add and remove items over time facilitating learning from project to project, lets the vendor know you have a standard other vendors live up to, and provides quick assurance for your boss that you have covered important risk/reward items before a commitment is made. A checklist also serves as a way of internally communicating the importance of good IT contracting. Not all of your customers will be familiar with the system purchasing process. Using a checklist is a tangible way to show you make the up-front investment in time and effort because you know a good contract is an extremely important foundational element to speedy and successful project completion. Using a checklist shows you walk the walk.

Creating an IT contracting checklist for smaller projects is an elegant tool for its simplicity and many uses. Here’s a quick example of a checklist:

Item

Y / N / NA

Comments

Scope of Work Satisfactorily Defined

Y

Travel Costs Addressed

Y

No travel costs

Project Start Date Commitment

Y

Project End Date Commitment

Y

Project Plan

N

Okay not having project plan prior to project initiation on this one. Project steps are well established and this vendor has Preferred status. Contracted to receive project plan within one week of signing (also have project end date commitment).

Interface Specification

NA

No interfaces

Performance-based payment

Y

Non-vendor h/w & s/w Maintenance Responsibility Addressed

Y

Internal maintenance of NICs per usual

Non-vendor h/w & s/w Affect on SLA if not purchased through Vendor

NA

Non-vendor h/w & s/w Price breaks if purchased through vendor

NA

Ongoing Maintenance (i.e. Smartnet for Cisco)

Y

Method for dissolving the partnership

N

Preferred partner vendor, short project

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