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Here's one that doesn't happen very often. I run a web development firm in a small country.
We have a finite number of possibilities as there is a finite number of clients, so turning down work is a bad idea.
My company is considered the best in the country.
So, now the dilemma. there are two political parties in this country. One has been a client fo 4 years (basically since just before the last election. they had no money, and got a decent site at a great rate - repeat business has been nearly non-existent.
They won the election.
Election time is upon our little nation once again, and the second party has approached us, with unlimited funds, to re-build their site under the guidnce of a PR agency they have employed.
They are waving checques in our face, signed and ready to be banked. They are fully aware we developed the site for the first party and hae no porblem with it. The other party is not aware of our current talks.
Is it unethical to take the second party on as a client.
I can make myself feel better about accepting the project with the following:
We are not promoting either party, merely providing them the tools to promote themselves - how they use them is their own business.
We are not politically affiliated with either party
Exclusivity was never requested by the original party, though they probably knew that somewhere along the line this would happen.
The new client would be the PR agency of the second party, not the party itself. (yeah, I'm reaching there!)
We do this in other sectors.. we have numerous real estate clients, numerous tourism clients, numerous private banks, etc....
Having said all of that, I have this nagging feeling its a bad thing!
What would you guys do!
Webdeisgn is non partisan, its merely manipulation of graphics and code to achieve the best that you can for a website. SEO is the same, its manipulation of code to achieve the highest ranking.
As long as you are totaly equal in doing your best for each party then who can complain?
I used to work for one of the big management consultancies, who often face the same dilemma: conducting consulting engagements for different clients who are competitors in the same market.
The consulting firm found the following solution: any member of the team working for client A will never EVER be placed in a team working for client B. Not now, not in the future. There will be no client information discussed internally between the teams, including no elevator talk or watercooler discussions.
Now, this works quite well, because there are heaps of confidentiality agreements involved, and, of course because the consulting firm has a wide range of resources (large number of consulting staff) to work with.
I am not sure how big your company is, but maybe this approach could work for you as well. If you have enough developers available, try to staff the team for the new client only with developers who have not worked on the first client's project and make sure that these principles are followed through in the future.
Try and draw up some confidentiality agreements that ensure that there will be no information exchange between project teams with regards to client specific information.
Hope that helps