software or app development

8 legal keys when commissioning software or app development

In the office, you often come across enquiries from entrepreneurs or startups encountering problems with the company or supplier they have selected the software or app development. This is not a minor question because there is often simply no project or business without software or an app, and, initially, with great desire and little budget, whatever is placed in front of you is normally signed or you simply forget certain key points that can make your business run aground without having even started.

In this post, I will explain what are, for me, the 8 keys when commissioning software or app development from a third party. Watch out if the contract they propose, if this is the case, contains these points.

If they do not ask you to sign anything, be careful because good intentions can be blown away and the provider sometimes proposes or commits to things that are difficult to fulfil (and to enforce) if they are not signed.

  1. Always ask for a written contract for the service they will provide: I am not referring to a budget, to an email where they tell you that they will do this or that; I mean a contract, with its clauses and where the company or developer commits to a result.
  1. Mark the development deadlines correctly and make it clear when you can move on to the next phase and when the software or app will be considered complete: any software or app development goes through certain phases or stages. Think carefully about what they are in your case, and make it very clear what will have to happen on your part (how you will accept each delivery) so that the milestone for each phase is considered met. It is very clear that, without your express acceptance, the vendor or developer will not be able to proceed to the next phase of development.
  1. They must properly clarify what they need from you: it is more than likely that the company or development provider needs content for your software or app that only you have (images, texts, catalogues, etc.). Make it very clear what they will need, when, and even in what format. Failure to deliver content that the client should have provided is usually one of the great excuses when a developer fails to meet delivery deadlines.
  1. Be careful with the legal texts (especially in Apps): To upload your app in the Apple Store or Google Play, it must include its legal texts. Think carefully about which texts you will need before commissioning the work, as the developer is not going to do it (at most he will copy a model he already has) and will pass this responsibility on to you.
  1. Be careful with intellectual property: on many occasions, software or app developers refuse to give the client the source code for what they have developed. Be very careful with this because, in event of dispute, if you want the work to be continued by another developer, this can be a serious problem. They should explain correctly the environment in which the developer programs, and if you want a transfer of all rights over what is developed, include this in the contract; otherwise, they may tell you that this was not planned when you ask for it.

Although it is not mandatory, consider registering the intellectual property of the software or App. The most common ways are:

a) Registration of the intellectual property.

b) Notarial deposit

These two options, in my opinion, are not highly recommended for the digital environment, especially if regular updates of the software or app are planned.

c) Digital record of the work. I recommend this one for its agility and ease of updates. A well-known and reliable provider is Safe Creative.

  1. They should record the work done: it is very important, apart from developing the software or the app, for the company or supplier to record how it worked, with which language it was programmed, etc. You should consider that the supplier or developer may disappear but your business continues, so if you want someone else to continue with the development or maintenance of the software or app, in many cases they must have the “instructions” from the initial developer.
  1. Have a proper understanding of which additional services (if any) they offer: updates, maintenance or hosting are just some of the additional services that your developer may or may not offer. Make sure which services they offer in addition to the development of your software or app, or if the developer’s job ends with delivery.
  1. Be careful with the GDPR: in case of offering additional services, it is likely that the developer may have access to your software or app and this could imply that they access the data or personal information of your clients, leads, workers, etc. Your security obligations are clearly stated in writing and in the contract, and aspects such as whether you will subcontract a service to third parties, what you will do with the data if the contractual relationship ends, etc. should also be very clear.

Software or app development is sometimes a very important milestone for an entrepreneur or technology startup. Being clear about these points can avoid disappointments, ensuring this your business starts in the most fluid way possible and that you focus your efforts on selling or promoting your project and not on aspects that could slow down its development.

If you have any doubts about this or any other issue, please contact us!


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