I'm a web application developer in the UK and am looking to start out in freelancing. I'm in the progress of writing up a Terms of Engagement (ToE) and am making some decisions about how best to structure project payments.
I plan to request a Requirements Analysis from clients, either writing it with them or asking them to produce one and then reviewing it together. My intention is that this will form the part of a written agreement, together with a pro-forma contract for the protection of both parties.
As part of the ToE I'd like to set out a payment approach and I am finding conflicting advice about the fairest way to do this. I like the idea of milestone payments since I imagine it will develop increasing trust as milestones are completed. Also, in the unlikely event something goes wrong in the relationship, the client will have taken X fraction of a project for X fraction of the cost, which seems fair. However, other folks suggest 30 day terms are common, which would put an unnecessary and lengthy delay in project progress.
Does anyone have experience with balancing these things? I should imagine smaller clients will just get on and pay so that a deliverable can be handed over, but is this a problem with larger clients? Is it wise for freelancers to insist on milestone payments, even if larger clients have a Finance Department policy of paying 30 days after invoice?