Verba Volant, Scripta Manent


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“Verba volant, scripta manent” is a Latin proverb that means “spoken words fly away, written words remain” (hey, if nothing else you learned this reading the post…). I find this proverb to be one of the most valuable ones in business situations.

As you might remember I am working pretty much full time now with software and mobile applications development. A couple of weeks ago we landed a project with an organization. The project involves developing a logbook app where the employees and associates of the organization will input data, and that data will first be saved into a local database and later synchronized with a central server.

When we had a meeting to discuss the project details it didn’t seem that complex, so we gave the client a fast turnaround time (30 days) and charged a moderate price. Everyone was happy, and we started the development.

Ten days or so into the project the client started calling us and requesting new features. We said those extra features were not requested during the initial discussion of the project. The client said they were. As you can see, spoken words fly away, and they did in the case.

Obviously we had a contract for the project, but we weren’t careful enough to outline all the features of the application and other small details.

We managed to accommodate both sides eventually, but it took many hours of negotiation and some extra work from our side. If instead of handling the whole thing verbally we had a project description written down with all the features and expected deliverables this problem wouldn’t arise in the first place.

And this principle applies to pretty much every endeavor you can image. Buying things, selling things, hiring people, getting hired, lending money, borrowing money, you name it.

Writing every single detail down on paper will take 30 extra minutes of your time upfront, but it might save you hours and big headaches in the future.

Verba Volant, Scripta Manent.

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10 Responses to “Verba Volant, Scripta Manent”

  • Megan

    Thanks Daniel for sharing this.

  • Clare

    Thanks for this post.

    It just goes to show that when doing business, especially online – wires can get crossed.

    I agree completely with what you say. Before taking on any work – every detail should be written down and agreed to by both parties. Even if you send it in email via email.

    This way if there are any crossed wires later on you can always send them a copy of the initial agreement you made.

  • Richard Ng

    It definitely is, at times, we just need to learn the hard way! Thanks for sharing..


  • Andrew Richard

    I agree with you daniel,we will meet lots of new people,but we have to start any work or project after getting needed requirements in writing from clients,this will help us to maintain very good relationship.

  • Joe

    Actually not a lie or not, the main thing is the same goal we achieved with the same benefits, it is better than the word “lie” is too painful to say, hello blogging.

  • Casey Dennison

    Daniel, dude, you are exactly right. I’m a web designer/developer and this applies to my industry, as well.

    Clients will always request additional features that were never in the contract to begin with, so it’s always recommended that anyone offering a service get as much detail about the project in writing, up front!

    Great article man, I love the proverb.


  • jorge jacobo

    I got to keep this in mind.

    It’s easy to forget o as you said, get different interpretations of what’s being said.

    Thanks for sharing this one Daniel.

  • Daniel Scocco

    @Ehsan, it’s not about lying. Sometimes people will have different interpretations of what’s being said. It’s not bad faith, only different perspectives.

  • Ehsan Ullah

    That’s great words Daniel, It is must to write down all the features and other things when landing a project to avoid those type of problems, but not all organizations and clients are liar!

  • Carol Buchanan

    That happens all the time. The customer thinks of things later, and no they’re not written down because no one thought of them at the time. It’s called “scope creep.”


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