Project management

Working on a project with others? We can help you with professional contracts.
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Work on a new project FAQs

Are you a freelancer or contract worker starting a new project? Perhaps your first project with a new client? It will help if you understand a few project terms and how best to make sure you get paid for your work.

What project management terms do I need to know?

You do not have to be a project manager to work on a project, but you may be working with one. You should know a few basic project terms, so you understand terms that may be communicated to you about a project.

Milestone

When a certain goal is met mid-project.

Stakeholder

Like the word sounds, it's someone who has a stake in the project. It could be the business owner, the project lead, the client or investor.

Baseline

A term of measurement used to rate the project performance. Often it is the schedule and/or the budget.

Change management

How changes to the project are managed. Often there will be a procedure for how changes may be made to the project.

Risk

Risks are things that could go wrong or change the project. Risks could be budget issues or scheduling challenges that need to be managed.

Issue

An issue is a challenge to the project. Often a challenge that makes it difficult or impossible for a team member to meet a goal.

Project scope

Scope is the parameters of the project. Scope is used to keep the team focused, but also to clearly show stakeholders how the project will be managed.

Dependency

A project dependency is simply a task that relies on another. For example, content and design projects have to be completed before the developer can implement them into their website.

Deliverable

The product or service to be delivered to the client (internal or external). There can be more than one per project.

Sprint

A sprint or an iteration is an incremental part of the project. If you hear something like, "we'd like to get this in the next sprint" that simply means they'd like to get it in the next work cycle of the project.

What can I do if a client doesn't pay for a completed project?

After you've done the obvious such as sending them a demand for payment letter, reaching out by email and phone, you'll need to decide if the amount is worth spending money to pursue. If you are not being paid because the client is in bad financial shape, you may never get paid even if you win your court case. If you think it is worth pursuing using the courts. You'll need to hire a lawyer. Your lawyer will send a formal demand letter and can help you file with the courts. Another option is to hire a collection agency to pursue the balance for you.

How do I make sure I get paid for a project?

The first step towards ensuring payment is making a contract. The contract should outline payment terms including how out-of-pocket expenses will be managed. You should also,

  • Research the client before signing
  • Ask for a deposit to cover your costs
  • Ask for mid-project payments
  • Use professional invoices
  • Make it simple for them to pay you (online, by credit card)
  • Keep meticulous expense records
  • Avoid Net 30 or 60 payment due dates
  • Include a late, rush and cancellation fee in the contract terms

If they provide their own contract, have your lawyer review the terms if it is a high-priced contract. They may also require that you carry your own liability insurance. You may also be asked to sign a Confidentiality Agreement.