Just Say “No” to NDAs (Usually)

There is a fantastic article in ITWorld.com and a complimentary blog post by JPL Consulting that discusses NDAs and why you shouldn’t ask a developer to sign one.

I found the article insightful and the blog post spot-on in that it mirrors my own thinking and some of the thoughts I shared in my book, Information Age Management.

The JPL Consulting post mentions that your idea is probably not so unique that it requires an NDA – and that by signing this NDA, a developer is agreeing not to work on a wide range of types-of-projects that are his bread and butter. It also points out that starting a conversation this way gets your relationship with your developer off on the wrong foot.

I couldn’t agree more. In Information Age Management, I explain how to find a good developer and outsource a project to him or her. I also say that you should not ask the developer to sign an NDA. If your idea is so unique, get a patent. That’s what patents are for. Otherwise, you risk losing the best developers and looking more than a little amateurish.

There’s also an excellent section of the JPL Consulting post that says “NDAs Have Their Place.” Indeed they do! As the post points out, NDAs are great for very specific projects. They are also important – critical, even – when your developer will be dealing with private customer data. But oddly, entrepreneurs seem to ask for NDAs when they have what they consider to be unique and fascinating ideas but forget to ask for one when their customer data is on the line.

You can read the article in ITWorld.com here: http://www.itworld.com/software/268152/will-write-code-wont-sign-nda

and the blog post by JPL Consulting is here: http://blog.jpl-consulting.com/2012/04/why-i-wont-sign-your-nda/.

They’re each worth a read.