If you’re recruiting consultants, or hiring a consultant, chances are you’ve heard that getting a binding contract in place is a good idea.
However, just the word contract conjures up scary thoughts of lawyers, notaries, and other such legal hassles. It doesn’t have to be that way though. Your contract can be limited to the basics, as long as it includes the following:
The Names of the Parties
The parties, your company and the consultant or consultancy you’re hiring, should be mentioned by name. This should be on the first page of your contract, ideally with registration or identity numbers, and should clearly indicate the roles: employer and consultant.
The Project Scope
Very important to avoid future hassles, before you begin working with consultants is to agree what is included in the project. Be as specific as possible, to avoid any future queries or disputes.
Timeframe and Cost
Always include the timeframe in any consulting agreement, and remember to note when that timeframe is measured from – for example, from the date of signing, or from the date of commencement. Leaving out information like this opens the door for interpretation, which may not always be in your favor!
Likewise, when it comes to the cost of hiring the consultant, be specific. Get a lump sum price for the work stipulated, as well as hourly rates for any extra work – that limits the possibility of nasty surprises later on!
Specific Inclusions and Exclusions
Working with consultants can vary greatly from company to company, and consultant to consultant. Make sure you stipulate what resources, if any, you are willing to provide as a part of the contract, and what you expect to be included from the consultant’s side.
Many an agreement has been thrown out of court when it was disputed due to technicalities. Here are a few basics that you will want to bear in mind when drawing up a contract for the consultant you have hired:
- Names, signatures and dates. It’s usually preferable to have a witness (or two) sign the document at the same time, and eliminates any questions relating to the signing of the document.
- Be careful to get dates right! An incorrect date on a contract can cause a huge amount of problems!
- If you make an error, never ever just cross it out, or worse, use correction fluid. In most cases, that automatically invalidates an agreement. If you need to make a correction, cross it out, and make sure you both initial the correction.
- If your contract requires specific signatures in specific places, make sure you get them in the right place. Having signatures in the wrong places can invalidate an agreement.
Despite all of this, consulting contracts need not be complex. They can be short, concise and to the point. But before you even start finding a consultant; just make sure you have one!