Working on multiple projects for the same client under a single contract Working on multiple projects for the same client under a single contract
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  1. #1

    Nervous Newbie


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    Question Working on multiple projects for the same client under a single contract

    I'm currently working for a client under a contract that defines the project scope as:

    * Acme Ltd Projects

    where Acme is my one of my clients end-clients (my client is a software house providing services to numerous end-clients).

    Now, this end-client has a number of projects and I have been working on one of these, let's call it 'Acme Edge', dealing with the end-clients support tickets and a bundled piece of work for the next major release, say version 4.5.3.

    I am the only active support/development resource on the 'Acme Edge' project - although my client employs a number of developers, some of which have experience with this system.

    Version 4.5.3 has now been put on hold and the support tickets are sporadic at best - so my take is that the project is essentially ending. However, my client is saying that I can move onto 'Acme Blue' and work on that for the rest of the contract. At the end of the day the contract says 'Acme Projects' so that's fine ...... or is it? I smell MOO here!

    The client has previously signed a 'Working Conditions Questionnaire' (from QDOS) where in response to the question "Is your end client obliged to provide your company with continuous work throughout the period of contract?" I selected "No" and stated "In the event that the project is completed early or prematurely terminated, our services would no longer be required and the contract would also be terminated.".

    The questions I have are:
    1. Should that project scope have been more specific, e.g. Development of Acme Edge v 4.5.3
    2. Should I be doing the support tickets AND the development - isn't the former more 'task based'
    3. If the project scope is fine then moving to 'Acme Blue' still smells like Mutuality of Obligation to me and something I'm not comfortable with. Maybe I should just ask for a new contract for this work (as per the MOO response above).

    Any insight appreciate?

  2. #2

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    Ask for a fresh schedule for the new work under your exisitng contract. That removes the Control element. If they don't agree then you are leaving them...

    Support for the current work I don't see as an issue, if it hasn't actually gone live: essentially you are still doing development work on the product, surely? (Back in the days of Digital Inc, the dev teams had to provide support for any new software release until the call rate had dropped below a given threshold, so there is precedent)
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  3. #3

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    Quote Originally Posted by malvolio View Post
    Support for the current work I don't see as an issue, if it hasn't actually gone live
    The support in question is for the currently live system, say 4.5.2 while I'm working on 4.5.3.

  4. #4

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    IMO the root of the problem is scope of work is the end client name. That means your client can put you in any task so D&C could be an issue. You should really have a defined piece of work that you are carrying for you client for their client. If you had that then it would be clear when the work ends. At that point you can provide (or be provided with) another schedule detailing the next piece of work.

    You need to stay away from generic statements of work, particularly job titles and client names which come with potential D&C issues.

    It does sound like that ship has sailed though and your client doesn't understand this.
    Last edited by northernladuk; 11th February 2019 at 17:30.
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  5. #5

    Contractor Among Contractors


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    The contract is for work on projects that your client is doing for Acme Limited, right?

    So put together a schedule of Acme Ltd Projects listing them.

    A. Build Acme Edge 4.5.3.
    B. In the interim, support and maintain Acme Edge 4.5.2.
    C. Build Acme Blue.

    Ask the appropriate person to sign off on it.

    It's not an ideal situation but that's actually describing the reality of the situation.

    It's not really MOO because the contract does not require the client to off you work on Acme Blue, nor does it require you to accept that work. It's more a problem (as NLUK said) with Direction & Control. It would be better if they issued you a new contract that specifically mentioned Acme Blue. Then, you'd be on the right side of the key question, can they move you to a different project without a new contract? The answer as it stands is, it appears, 'Yes, if you agree.' That's not the end of the world (the end of the world for IR35 is 'Yes, whether you agree or not') but it isn't ideal. The best answer is, 'No, they can't. And we proved it by having a new contract when they DID want me to move to another project.'

    But the client probably doesn't get that, and probably doesn't care enough to want the hassle of a new contract. So patch as best you can with a schedule.

  6. #6

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    Thumbs up

    Thanks for the rapid and valuable feedback - much appreciated.

    I've worked for this client a few times in the past few years and looking back at the schedules of work they are normally a bit more specific - and singular, something like;

    * Development of Acme Edge 4.2.1

    The fact that they now want me to work on a totally separate project, albeit for the same end-client, rang alarm bells.

    I have raised it with them and have a meeting this week to discuss it further. I think that a new schedule could cover it but I'm wondering what will happen when the end-client says that development can continue on 'Edge' again. If the client can say "work on Blue" and then "oh, stop that and work on Edge again" where does that leave me? Am I being directed and controlled (rhetorical).

    Most (if not all) of my previous contracts have been "work on this project until the end of the contract or until we release it, whichever is sooner". Simple!

    I think that the best way forward is for them to end the current contract and start a fresh one with more specific scope - that way I can at least demonstrate that I was able to decline the work offered under the original contract when it could be deemed to fall outside it's scope.

    Thanks again for the input
    Last edited by DavidSC; 11th February 2019 at 19:08.

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