Here are answers to the most common questions Surefoot clients ask about ownership of the final product:
Clients have the right to receive a master password for the custom solution created by Surefoot for their business. Some developers never share a master password to their custom software and, therefore, lock their clients permanently and exclusively to themselves. We don’t think that’s the way to do custom software. It’s like buying a car only to find out that it can be serviced at one and only one auto mechanic for the life of the vehicle.
Clients have the right to select a different developer to support their solution. We think you’ll like working with Surefoot, but should you ever want to have an in-house developer or another consultant carry the baton forward, we want to support you and your business with a successful transition, whatever that looks like.
Clients are not required to pay monthly or annual “maintenance fees” for their custom software. Surefoot only bills Clients when work is performed. Maintenance agreements are rarely needed and, therefore, rarely set up. Surefoot will enact them only by client request when it makes sense based on a client’s business needs.
Clients have the right to unlimited, onsite usage of the custom database solution with no per-user license fees. If your business grows from 5 to 500 users we’ll be there with champagne to celebrate – not an invoice. If you plan to deploy multiple copies of your solution to different business sites, Surefoot will need to know ahead before a project commences. • Please note that this right (no per-user license fees) extends only to use of the database solution created by Surefoot and specifically excludes any and all other software licensing fees. This may include but is not limited to software purchased by FileMaker, Inc., and any other third party hardware or software vendors.
Clients do NOT have the right to sell, give, or in any other way distribute software created by Surefoot. However, should a client desire to distribute a database solution via resale, for example, there are many (many) considerations that must be addressed for a successful implementation in the marketplace. Surefoot requests early notice of client desires to create a distributable solution so that all licensing and technical considerations can be properly addressed. Early notice ensures that we can write the code with that in mind from the start, rather than having to revisit and possibly rewrite it later.
Surefoot Rights and Responsibilities
Surefoot retains the right to reuse and/or re-purpose code and techniques we’ve used in your solution to build other systems in the future. Every developer uses snippets of previously written code and techniques learned in previous systems when building new solutions. Surefoot is no different. Restricting a developer from ever writing code in the same way he did on your solution is virtually impossible – it’s like telling a carpenter that he can never build a wall the same way he did when he built your house. We cannot “unlearn” great ways to write code and design solutions. In fact, every client benefits from the years of previous development from the clients that came before them.
That said, Surefoot takes seriously the responsibility to fiercely protect your proprietary technology, processes, and data. Your data is sacred, of course, but what some clients have initially thought was proprietary is stuff we may have seen hundreds of times over. Anything that truly is a trade secret or truly proprietary in other ways will, of course, be kept confidential. Please let us know if you have any specific concerns.
Surefoot will request permission to use client solutions in demonstrations and for teaching purposes. NOTE: All actual data from client solutions will, of course, be scrubbed and replaced with fictitious data.
One of our first orders of business with new clients includes signing a Non-Disclosure Agreement that protects your business information.
Surefoot has worked in many medical institutions with patient information, educational institutions with student data, manufacturers with proprietary products and processes, and hundreds of “regular” business clients whose solutions often include sensitive employee and financial information. We see a lot of private data in our work and we faithfully keep mum about it all – just the way it should be.
With regard to security of the actual database solution, Surefoot follows all recommended data security practices and takes advantage of all the security features built into the FileMaker platform. In addition to securing access to the database, Surefoot will make recommendations about physical security of the server, backup procedures, etc.
If there are any technical requirements that Surefoot cannot independently perform or if your project timeline doesn’t match with our currently staff availability, Surefoot has a solid bench of outside resources to pull from. Don’t worry. We don’t “ship you off” to someone and say our goodbyes! You will still be our client and the responsibility for the success of your project still resides with us.
The resources we use are talented developers whom we have worked with before and you can find them on our “About” page – they are that important to us. Most are long-time friends and we trust them completely. They are all U.S. citizens living and working in the United States.
Note that some technical services command a higher billing rate than Surefoot’s standard rate. That’s one of the reasons that we will only pull in the right resources at the right time, keeping what are often the highest ticket services to a focused, budget-minded, involvement with the project.
Deposits required for New Clients with New Projects
Surefoot requires a 20% deposit for Projects for new clients with new projects. Since the first phase of most projects is the Estimate/Scope phase, this will be a maximum of 30 hours and works out to be less than $1000.
Standard Billing Schedule for Work Performed
After prompt payment of invoices has been demonstrated, Surefoot may choose to move clients a more standard billing schedule where clients are invoiced every 2-4 weeks for actual hours worked. These terms normally apply to all future projects unless prompt payment of invoices becomes an issue. In such a case, Surefoot reserves the right to require prepayment using the Service Agreement payment model (see below).
Depending on the nature of the work and client history, Surefoot may opt to employ Prepayment structure. With this structure clients prepay for a “bucket” of hours that are incremented in 5, 10, or 20-hour blocks. Surefoot will perform work and bill against the bucket of hours until it is depleted. Clients can purchase additional hour blocks as needed. Unused hours are, of course, refunded to the client.
The prepayment structure is most often used with Service Agreements which are employed for small jobs where clients simply need hourly work performed.