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Project Management or control documents

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Andre GomesProject Management or control documents
by on Apr 10, 2009 at 10:28:54 am

Hi everyone,

In video production I've heard it is good to have in writing what is being delivered and when etc.
I am looking for some project management templates to use as a control document. I realize there will be differences depending on what your company offers, but if it can give me some idea of where to start it would be of great help.
If anyone can point me to or provide templates and sample documents it would be greatly appreciated.

Kind Regards

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Brendan CootsRe: Project Management or control documents
by on Apr 10, 2009 at 4:10:55 pm

The deliverables agreement is usually a section of your overall contract, not necessarily a separate document unto itself. You DO use contracts, right? If not, you will after the first time you get burned and find you have zero legal recourse. And it WILL happen. Failing to use a contract is a giant red flag to clients that you're not a professional, and you will attract the more unscrupulous grinders like a giant honey pot.

If you don't currently use a contract, search Google for "sample service contract" or something along those lines to find a starting point document that can be modified to suit your specific needs. The language for covering deliverables doesn't need to be fancy or formatted in some standardized way, you can have a section as simple as:

Delivery Date: 01/01/2001
Delivery Formats: Authored Blu-Ray Disc, web-ready h.264 Quicktime, web-ready Flash video file
Estimated Video Running Time: 8 minutes
Deliver To: John Smith - 123 4th street, Anytown USA 12345

Any delivery item not listed here is not covered under this agreement. Invoice must be paid in full before any items will be delivered.

You can put together something more involved depending on your needs, this is just a potential starting point. The important thing is to note how the language above covers the more obvious scenarios under which a client may complain, try to wring more work out of you, fail to pay or even sue over. And this is where having a proper contract really comes into play. If the language above is a standalone document with no contract, it's completely open to interpretation because there is nothing stating what is expected of the client in return for these deliverables. Sure, the text above says they must pay the invoice in full before delivery, but it doesn't say what the amount of the invoice is and therefore has a bit of a legal hole for the client to worm through.

In a well constructed contract you will list exactly what the cost and payment terms are going to be, and state clearly that the price includes only the items listed in the contract - anything else will be added for an additional fee and as an addendum to the contract. You would also state that no changes to the contract are valid without a signature from both parties. Sounds stupid to jump through all these legal hoops, but should it come down to a court case any ambiguity or obvious holes in your contract will frustrate a judge, give the client room to legally screw you, and greatly increase the odds that they will win.

Brendan Coots

Splitvision Digital

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Chris BlairRe: Project Management or control documents
by on Apr 11, 2009 at 2:50:09 am

Another good practice is to follow up every meeting, phone call and even casual meetings and conversations with simple, concise emails that detail everything that was discussed, and ask the client if that covers everything. If the client responds that it does, these documents can also be invaluable should a dispute arise later.

Of course, you want to also make sure your email files get backed up in your office in case you have a drive crash or other computer issue down the road.

Simple email confirmations and correspondence have on many occasions resolved disputes over various requests and agreements with clients. I'm not sure about their place in a court of law, but you'll rarely ever get to a court of law in most disputes, as they're usually settled out of court. If it's a small claims type issue, I'm sure having emails (along with contracts) would be of help.

Chris Blair
Magnetic Image, Inc.
Evansville, IN

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