IT2015 EKT instructions

Stefania Passera & Helena Haapio

How to create business-friendly instructions for using the IT2015 EKT terms in agile software development projects?

The problem

Finland Chamber of Commerce (formerly the Central Chamber of Commerce of Finland) and Technology Industries of Finland, together with partners, publish standard terms and conditions for the sale and purchase of products and services in the IT industry, the IT2015 terms and conditions. The terms aim at simplifying contract creation for suppliers and buyers alike, especially for SMEs. However, the instructions on how to use the terms (and how to choose the right terms for the type of business) do not resonate with engineers and managers in SMEs negotiating and creating contracts. This is especially true regarding the instructions on how to use IT2015 EKT terms, Special terms and conditions for deliveries of software using agile methods. The instructions are not agile.

The process

In order to get buy-in for the rewrite and redesign of the instructions for the entire set of IT2015 terms, we were asked to design and test a prototype for IT2015 EKT terms (agile projects). Rather than explaining the terms clause by clause, we modelled the instructions based on two main principles: overview and drill-down to details, and presenting the information in a chronological order that resonates with users.

The first-page overview explains when to use and when not to use the IT2015 EKT terms and how to structure the agreement (the contract form + these and other terms and appendices).
The step-by-step timeline guides readers to
1) start by thinking of their business model and chosen agile method, which have an impact on contractual decisions,
2) choose the right mix of IT2015 terms,
3) modify key EKT provisions to suit their case, if needed,
4-5) make appropriate reference to and attach required documents,
6) secure opportunity for the parties to read the IT2015 terms that apply, and
7) pay attention to the order of precedence of the contract documents
The table guides readers to choose the right combination of IT2015 terms by asking questions such as: is maintenance included? Is the delivery about a mix of ready made software and bespoke agile developed software? Are open source components used?
Show, don’t tell 1! We provided examples of the recommended language to be used to refer to the IT2015 terms that apply and how to spell out their order of precedence (green boxes)
The used icons and mini-diagrams to explain the recommended contract structure and order or precedence based on using the freely available IT2015 contract form
The outcome

The prototype was well received and it helped to obtain approval for the redesign of the entire set of instructions. Piloting and prototyping are key activities in legal design and redesign. They help to show what the future could look like, engage users and make their voice heard.