Miscommunication, misinterpretation, and assumptions commonly happen between clients and freelance facilitators.
There are so many small details to client and project management that it’s easy for a client or facilitator to assume things that can create conflict down the line. I’ve learned time and time again how important it is to set expectations with clients from the beginning. Especially through a written document like a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU).
So in this blog I’m going to explain:
- What an MOU is
- When to use an MOU
- Why use an MOU
- Two MOU templates you can download and use
What is a Memorandum of Understanding?
A Memorandum of Understanding is a non-legally binding agreement between two or more parties that states the goals, expectations, and actions each party intends to take to move forward with the agreement. MOU’s can be used in a variety of contexts, but they are commonly used between client and contract workers. The MOU tend’s to outlines these variables:
- Project Profile: Problem or Opportunity Statement, Mission, Goals, Strategies, Scope, Deliverables
- Project Budget
- Project Timeline and Key Milestones
- Terms of Confidentiality
- Terms of MOU Amendments
- Interparty Contact Information
I’m providing you a comprehensive MOU template that is designed for complex long-term facilitation projects. However, for short-term limited scope projects I’ve also included a simple MOU template that includes these variables:
- Description of the project, including services to be performed:
- A right to cancel clause and/or failure to complete the project.
When do you use an MOU?
The best time to use an MOU is after you’ve established the client wants to hire you.
I tell the client that I use MOU’s to help us have the most effective and efficient working partnership. I then draft the MOU and send it to the client to review and sign. Or I will create a draft MOU and invite the client to a session where we review and refine it together.
Sometimes coordinating a formal MOU process is not possible. The client reaches out to you two weeks before the conference. They need a facilitator NOW! In that case, I’ve just inputted a short MOU into an email format and asked for approval via email. There was no signing on any official document. This is not my preference, but flexibility is a must in the freelance world.
Why use an MOU?
Here are the most common things MOU’s help you with:
- MOU’s help set the standard for a professional relationship. Having an MOU template in your freelance toolkit is an essential.
- MOU’s clarify the expectations for the most common areas of miscommunication between freelancers and clients.
- MOU’s help manage conflict. Establishing an MOU is a proactive way to manage conflict and when conflict arises you can refer back to the MOU agreements.
- MOU’s help create clarity around the project scope and deliverables. Rarely do clients actually know the full picture of what they want. Creating an MOU with the client helps define the initial Project Scope and what to do as the scope changes.
Download the Free Templates!