I've been approached by a company and they told me that they have a application migration/porting project (i.e. building application source written for one operating system, for another operating system) and they found my profile is suitable for the position. They've asked me on email if I can take this up, to which I replied positively (without doing much research about it). The company wants me to sign-in a contract for some days to accomplish this project.

However, later on I Googled about this type of migration. I could not found definitive information about its complexity, but realized that it is challenging.

As per my info they are having few hundreds of shell-scripts & about 30 to 40 of applications which need to be migrated. And they are after me to sign the contract as quickly as possible (the reason they told is "Our team has failed to do this project and now we found that only you can do it"). I also must note here that there is not much technical discussion (interview) happened as such.

My questions is:

I haven't done contract based work so far till now. What is (if at all) there which shall I look for when signing-in this contract? Could there be any other potential risk involved in here?

Badly need advise to make decision. Thanking in anticipation.

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    This might be a better fit for Freelancing StackExchange rather than The Workplace. The answer "if it is doable" is not possible to be answered as no one here does know your skills or the exact task given. – GittingGud Jul 2 '19 at 8:11
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    Tell them you will only initially commit to a week-long contract to determine the scope of the work, with a business analyst hat on, and only then will you negotiate any long term contract for the work. – Moo Jul 2 '19 at 8:11
  • @prudent see the comment by Moo and act on it. – Solar Mike Jul 2 '19 at 8:22
  • @Moo That should be an answer as it is good advice for this situation, even if the question does get closed. – Solar Mike Jul 2 '19 at 8:22
  • @Moo Sure. Thank you for valuable suggestion. – prudent Jul 2 '19 at 8:22

Our team has failed to do this project and now we found that only you can do it

coupled with no formal interview process should be a big red flag. They have no idea at this point whether you're right for the job. It smells very much like they are desperate to pad out a failing team (which could be failing for any number of reasons, lack of expertise being a relatively unlikely one), and trying to bounce you into a quick decision before you have time to do any sort of due diligence on them.

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  • +1 for trying to bounce you into a quick decision, which as a contractor could be really expensive. The most likely outcomes are you signing for a fixed amount of time and them not paying, or you signing to complete the job and finding it takes 6 months, not 6 weeks. Do what @Moo said and only contract for a week's feasibility study. – Justin Jul 2 '19 at 8:59
  • Thanks. I was having little doubt that they might be looking someone to use as scapegoat. So was just wondering what precautions shall I take. My nightmare is I will wok for them ending up not getting paid. @Justin: They asked me per hour rate to which they agreed immediately. – prudent Jul 2 '19 at 9:17
  • @prudent Not getting paid is always a risk. The trick is to minimize your exposure to it. Start by following Moo's advice. Ask for 30% up front and the balance within e.g . 30 days of them getting your document (detailing likely costs and risks; be fuzzy. No hard numbers; estimates only). If they award you the actual work, get it split into much smaller parts with very clearly defined goals for which you can invoice. Keep working following an invoice, but make sure payment terms (days from invoice) are small enough that you won't be much out of pocket if they don't pay. – Justin Jul 2 '19 at 9:27
  • @prudent If they won't pay anything up front - walk away. If they will only accept 60-90 day payment terms, state that is unacceptable and either change them or walk away. If they won't split the project into smaller chunks (i.e. less risk for you) which you recommend in your feasibility study - walk away. Make sure you very carefully read any contract they put in front of you (or get a lawyer to do so). And for Deity's sake get professional indemnity insurance before you start anything. – Justin Jul 2 '19 at 9:31
  • @prudent - I just noticed this: They asked me per hour rate to which they agreed immediately. That's really good. Irrespective of project outcome, they're only paying for your time. – Justin Jul 2 '19 at 9:33

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