Have you ever had a project grind to a halt because the client didn’t provide the deliverables you needed to complete it?
It might be out of your hands and feel like you’re not at fault, yet we’ve watched these situations develop into full-blown claims.
One of our customers—a web developer building a website for a client—experienced this problem recently. The client was dragging their heels providing deliverables to move the project along.
The developer completed as much of the work as she could without the rest of the assets, but the project lost momentum.
The client decided to terminate the project because it was taking too long to complete. Instead of acknowledging they hadn’t provided the deliverables to finish the project, they pointed the finger at the developer.
Because they placed the blame on the developer, their logic was that they didn't have to pay for the work she’d already completed. The client also threatened to take further action if the developer didn’t turn over the work she'd done so far.
How Insurance Helped In This Situation
With the threat from the client the developer's professional indemnity policy was triggered.
Firstly, the insurer provided legal experts to negotiate with the client in trying to get the developer's invoice paid for the work she'd completed.
When that wasn't successful, the policy's mitigation costs clause meant the developer wouldn't be out of pocket. If your client is dissatisfied with your professional services rendered, refuses to pay for any or all of your fees and threatens to bring a claim against you, the insurer will pay you the amount owed to you by your client.
The invoice was settled by the insurer on the agreement the developer would give the client the work she'd completed so far.
How To Avoid This happening To You
Whilst the stalled project wasn't the fault of the freelancer, there are still measures you can take to try to avoid this.
Dave also suggests setting up project payments so clients pay according to time as opposed to deliverables. For example, 50% upfront, 40% after 30 days and 10% on completion. This helps to keep deliverables a priorty for the client.
Lastly, implement a pause clause in your contract (h/t Derek Long).
"If a client deliverable — such as input, approvals, or payment — is late more than 10 business days the project will be considered “on hold.” Once the deliverable is received and the project is re-activated it will be rescheduled based on nGen Works’ current workload and availability. Just to say it loud and clear, it could be weeks to get you back in the system if the project is put on hold."
Another freelancer we spoke to employs a similar approach. He says, "I try and relate any dependencies to a client deliverable. I can do wireframes any time, but I can't start visual design until they provide their brand guidelines. If I was wireframing and we had all of our feedback sorted but they were dragging their heels on brand guidelines, I'd give them a few days out of courtesy. If they were stalling for longer they'd get invoiced for the wireframe work, and the project would go on hold".
As always, it helps to be insured just in case. Projects get derailed and not all clients act fairly. In this case, the freelancer's £3000 invoice was covered by paying £14 a month for professional indemnity insurance, even though the project never went ahead. That's a protective measure every freelancer should take, so get insured today.