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BeerTruck plan.

 9:43 pm on Dec 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

So i was approached today from my contracted agent about a BeerTruck plan.... i.e. If you were hit by a beer truck today, would anyone know how to do your job?

So i have to come up with this binder of all the sites they have, contact info, description about the site, languages, logins, PW's....etc...etc....

Now because i know all of the technicalities of the websites, and such...its hard for me to explain it because i just "know" it...

Does anyone have an outline, or know where i can get an outline of something like this?

im lost and dont know where to begin...



 10:07 pm on Dec 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

You realize that that creating this document = less billable work for you, right?!

That said, I'm not even sure if you could really create this 'plan' in a useful way. If your sites are coded cleanly, somebody who knows web dev will know what to do.


 11:03 pm on Dec 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

I have mixed feelings about this. Yes, it's good to have, but it's also not good for HIM to have.

Since this is going to be a thorough documentation of all your work on the sites to be used in the event your meeting the beer truck results in death or terminal inebriation, you should not turn over the completed document until such time as your demise.

Otherwise, he could easily fire you and turn over everything to someone else.

As far as actually doing it...
It might be helpful to write down all the pieces of information someone would need during the course of several days of working on the sites and try and organize it logically.

You have a good start:
- passwords are critical
- contact info (hosting, domain names, etc.)
- directory structure, if there is a lofgical design
- database schemas
The rest is rather dependant on the sites themselves.

Fortune Hunter

 11:42 pm on Dec 11, 2007 (gmt 0)

you should not turn over the completed document until such time as your demise.

I completely agree with Asia on this. I would never do this for a client unless I was trying to fire myself. I did provide similar documentation for a client once, who asked me. I did it because they were a pain the a** client that reviewed my invoices with a fine tooth comb, questioned every dollar on there and still took 4 months to pay me. In other words I didn't mind at all if they used said document to remove me from the equation. I was too happy to give it to them.

I charged them for the time to develop the document and review it with the person they designated and asked for payment in advance.

However assuming this is a client you want to keep I agree with Asia, explain you have the documentation and assuming you are flattened by the beer truck someone will provide this binder to them. If you do otherwise I think you will live to regret it and probably need the beer from that truck to numb yourself :)


 4:11 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

geez...this sucks.

here is my first dillema...

Although i am an "independent contractor" i work at their site, and basically do an 8-5 work day....

the invoices are always the same, becuase we agreed on a year contract at a fixed amount, and i get bi-weekly draws from the total amount...

so its not like i have all the freedom of a real independent contractor...its basically so the owner doesnt have to pay taxes on me, and provide benefits....

now that im typing this, i dont care if they have the freaking documentation...i hope they get rid of me....this venture has not turned out to be as lucrative as it was once described, or "pitched" to me when i started....

right now id rather go back to being an employee and get my family benefits again....

this was my first try at being an independent contractor, so please go easy on me...


 4:37 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

it's also not good for HIM to have....

... you should not turn over the completed document until such time as your demise.

...Otherwise, he could easily fire you and turn over everything to someone else.

I disagree with this. It's a very unprofessional attitude.

The client most likely has a right to this information, unless you've signed an agreement specifically stating otherwise.

It's not a marriage. No contract for services extends forever in perpetuity.

The result of the most extreme of this attitude manifests itself periodically on the "Domain Names" forum here. Maybe once a month, some gullible individual wanders in saying that they contracted with somebody to develop a website for them, they are no longer working for them (quit, fired, project successfully completed, whatever) but the contractor registered the domain in their name.

Of course, we have to explain that the contractor most likely did this so that they could hold them over a barrel if they ever decided to stop using their services, and that there's not much they can do other than try to negotiate. And then warn others never to let anybody else register your domain names.

I should point-out that I myself have worked as either an independent contractor or temporary employee working through technical-services firms nearly all my life. So, I'm not coming at this from the standpoint of the website owner. I've just been at it long enough to know what is expected and conventional in this regard, and that professional behavior wins-out in the long run.


 4:44 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I disagree with this. It's a very unprofessional attitude.

It can be viewed that way, sure. But in the OP's case it sounds like the client wants him to provide a study course.


 4:46 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

Sorry, but although I usually agree with you jtara, I stand by my position. The client asked for the information in the event of his demise. There is no (valid) reason in an on-going relationship for him to be provided with that information until such demise.

IF the company's position was more along the lines of "We're going to end our relationship, so we need the information so we can continue without you." then the professional attitude would be to provide it.

But with the additional information from the OP, to me this sounds more and more like the company is planning to dump him as soon as they get the information, which I consider to be very unprofessional.

[edited by: LifeinAsia at 4:47 pm (utc) on Dec. 12, 2007]


 6:19 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

If i was sad, or concerned about being dumpped from this lame ass place, i would care....

unfortunately i dont. their methods to running this firm are something i have never seen before...to much "buddy buddy" going on, and crap like that.

Since i started last Feb, all of the Agents that werent in the "buddy buddy" group, have come and gone....none with good feelings about this place....

the owner "sells" you on why this is the place to be, and when you dont fit the mold, poof....gotta let you go.

I see several views....

Sure, they can ask for whatever they want, becuase the domains, sites, etc....are registered in the owners name....

I think this "beertruck plan" stems from our receptionist leaving and no one knows how to do her job....so i was approached becuase they sure as hell dont know how to do my job....

I guess that says how valuable i really am, but someone how knows my job will be able to just slide right in and take over....

im gonna dump this contract in Feb anyway, so whats the difference....


 6:44 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

'kay, this is a little bit off the topic, but the situation you've described does not meet the legal definition of an independent contractor.

A quick google search on independent contractor will bring up several articles that explain the difference.


 7:25 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

IMO, the kind of information that is being asked for should have been provided on an ongoing basis. The company shouldn't have to ask for it - it's a given in this type of relationship.

When you are hired or contracted to do a specific task, you are normally expected to document your work, such that somebody else who is expert in the field could pick it up, understand it, and carry on.

It sounds like the poster is unhappy with the situation, and wants to terminate the relationship in any case. So, provide them with what is needed for somebody else to carry on, and if things don't improve, leave.

You will be leaving on a friendly, professional basis, and may even have them as a good reference and source of referrals.

So, let's turn this back to the original question: what needs to be documented, and how to go about it.

And I have another question to throw out to everyone. What kind of information about a site do you typically just "know" and don't bother to document? Is it because it is difficult to document, or is it out of laziness or a wish to be efficient and not spend time on "unnecessary" tasks.

We all do it, to some degree. How can we document better?

I agree the company's presentation of this requirement leaves something to be desired...


 7:41 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

I think that certain things should be documented and freely shared -- logins, passwords, locations of files and resources, and such. But I still don't think it is his responsibility to 'document' his work and/or responsibilities in great detail unless that was/is part of the contract agreement.


 8:10 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

One clarification to my postings, by the OP's "demise" I am also including his leaving of the position (voluntarily or involuntarily). In other words, if he can not (or will not) perform his services, for whatever reason.

If providing that information was part of the contract, then yes, it should be provided on an ongoing basis (i.e., updated whenever passwords are changed).

If not stipulated, then the OP should have that information available anyway. I agree that is part of professionalism. But whether that information should be turned over before beig needed, I'm still against it (assuming there IS a procedure in plan to turn over the documentation if/when needed).

And yes, I can see how that can be viewed as coming across as unprofessional, and am waffling some from my earlier position. And in this situation, it may be best to provide it, with the expectation of an ax falling soon. So prepare accordingly.


 8:58 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

But I still don't think it is his responsibility to 'document' his work and/or responsibilities in great detail unless that was/is part of the contract agreement.

I agree. I've been burned by giving too much information before. The client hired a low wage person for less than they spent on me every month as a consultant. It burned the relationship badly, especially when their rankings tanked. They blamed it on my method instead of it's implementation by the low wage guy. That was a good enough lesson for me to protect my processes.

It takes a long time to develop your proprietary process and if you give it away, you're giving away all the hours of study / research you spent getting the knowledge.

I never give out any process info anymore. To assuage questions, I give very well written and comprehensive executive summaries. Clients are generally very happy. If they are informed enough about performance, they generally don't worry about the details of why it works. When they start sniffing around for the process that is making them perform so well they are looking to reduce their overhead for performance. Basically getting greedy and taking me for granted.

Generally big clients will make you sign a non-compete if you're a serious contender in the SEO world. How is making them sign something protecting your PROCESS any different? I haven't had much pushback on agreements that let me withhold proprietary information.


 9:14 pm on Dec 12, 2007 (gmt 0)

tell him you will leave it to him in your will.

that way, if you do get hit by a beer truck he will be certain to get it. that should put his mind at rest


 4:28 am on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

londrum....classic...that is freakn awesome....

I have begun my documentation process if anyone is concerned.

I am documenting all sites that i have developed during my contracted term....

What language each site is developed around, what the "Control Panel" does for each site, which dbases serve what purpose...etc...logins, PW's, acronyms....etc...

id rather just get it done and see what the outcome is...

if they dump me, then i can see what the agency is really about and make sure everyone knows...

***question about my so called "independent contractor" status...***

I have heard people say from my description about how i work with my hours, my paychecks...etc...that they can get busted for claiming that im not an employee, even though i work basically like i am one....

again, i know its becuase they dont want to pay taxes or benefits...

But, can i get in trouble for this?


 3:29 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

No, I don't think you can get "in trouble" for this. If you're not paying your taxes or similar, that could be an issue.

The company, though, could face major problems. IRS, in particular, tends not to be too friendly to businesses that are merely trying not to pay taxes.


 3:35 pm on Dec 13, 2007 (gmt 0)

You mentioned "agency". FYI, it's pretty-much impossible to work as an independent contractor for an agency in California, unless you are incorporated. Most agencies won't do it otherwise. Ditto for the larger corporations.

So, most contract work through agencies in CA are now W-2.

If you are working for an agency, there's a 99.99% chance that your agreement states that you are producing a "work for hire". In that case, there's no question that the company is entitled to the information they have asked for. You could even be terminated for cause if you didn't cooperate.

Sounds like you've gotten a good start!

One suggestion that hasn't been mentioned yet:

- Contact information at hosts, software vendors, etc. Who do you call when something goes wrong, and who has been most helpful?

Fortune Hunter

 7:55 pm on Dec 16, 2007 (gmt 0)

What kind of information about a site do you typically just "know" and don't bother to document?

Personally I believe it is anything beyond the standard passwords, logins, and any comments I may have inserted into my code. Presumably another professional developer should be able to download the site and with their skills should be able to make changes and do work on the site.

Is it because it is difficult to document, or is it out of laziness or a wish to be efficient and not spend time on "unnecessary" tasks.

I am not sure I agree with your laziness comment. I don't feel it is laziness on my part or my responsibility [unless it was in the contract] to document step by step how I did something or how you do SEO work or anything else that falls into the actual "doing" of something. I spent years studying, trial and error, spending time in forums like this, etc. I am not going to distill that information down to a series of step 1, do this and step 2 do this for anyone, especially if I feel they want it to simply replace me or give the binder to someone that doesn't know this or is as experienced, but works cheaper.


 12:57 am on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

When you are hired or contracted to do a specific task, you are normally expected to document your work, such that somebody else who is expert in the field could pick it up, understand it, and carry on.

Maybe if you are an employee and your boss asks you to. But as a consultant, no way.

Last time I checked, the builder who puts an addition on your home doesn't hand you a binder with step by step breakout of everything he did and how to do it. Neither does the lawyer you hired to represent you in a legal matter, nor the accountant who does your taxes. And it's not expected from any of them, either.

Not trying to attack you here -- but attitudes like yours are part of the reason clients often don't recognize the field as a specialized skill worth paying good money for.


 4:41 pm on Dec 17, 2007 (gmt 0)

thats the whole issue with this place...they are so small, that everyone acts like an employee although they arent...

its a freakn scam....

there is no real structure on how i do my tasks, we dont have deadlines, i dont give them a timeline, its just not a real contracted type of work place....

i sit in their "office" they gave me which is about 8x6 AKA "closet" and slap my keyboard all day....

i know what my paycheck is going to be every 2 weeks....

im not lazy, although they may think i dont get enough done...but thats becuase they work on the weekends, and i refuse...so they think i work less....screw that...

i have 3 kids id rather spend time with...

Fortune Hunter

 4:35 am on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

i know what my paycheck is going to be every 2 weeks....

You have answered your own question many times over in your own answers. You are not a contractor, you are an employee. Unfortunately you are an employee that is also helping your boss dodge taxes, which might put you in some danger down the road.

I would be looking for a new job or finding real clients as fast as humanly possible.


 9:03 pm on Dec 18, 2007 (gmt 0)

i am.

i am not looking forward to filing my taxes with my CPA this year...

Just because im an LLC, doesnt necessarily mean im safe...

Id rather go back to being an employee.

Know anyone in Boise looking for a webmaster? :)

Fortune Hunter

 5:39 pm on Dec 22, 2007 (gmt 0)

Just because im an LLC, doesnt necessarily mean im safe

If you are referring to safe in terms of the IRS, you are absolutely correct, there is no structure on the planet that the IRS can't go through to get you personally and your personal assets to pay back taxes it feels you owe. Somewhat tongue and cheek I would say if the U.S. military can't find Osama Bin Laden just tell the IRS he owes some back taxes...they will find him :)

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