We all want to get the best value out of our Contractors but often a Contractor can be more of a re-active solution rather than a proactive one by organisations.
However, with a little bit of effort and planning, businesses can get a better outcome and productivity if they maximise the expertise and strengths of the contractor effectively from the outset. A little time invested initially can save a whole lot of time and money down the line.
Here are my tips for employers looking to get the best value and outcomes from your IT Contractors:
Know what you want to achieve
First of all, know what the role is. What EXACTLY do you need to be delivered? And in what time frame?
Once you know the scope of the project, the core skills required and the length of the contract, you can effectively market the opportunity with either your recruitment partner or internal resources. Remember, a longer-term opportunity is going to attract better quality Contractors and they will often discount their rate for longer-term security and increase it for shorter stints! So, if you are going to need them for six months or longer, don’t start out on a three-month contract, start out on six.
Have a clear set of deliverables and timelines
Ambiguity does not work. Have a set of deliverables ready, then sit down with the Contractor and agree to this and make sure he/she is aware of the desired outcome. They may have suggestions that could add even more value to the solution. This way their working hours are focused and clear- and you are effectively utilising billable hours on productive work.
Conduct an induction
Once you’ve appointed a Contractor, it’s important to make them feel like part of the family and set the tone right from the start.
Be ready for them, introduce them to the team, include them in all activities (where appropriate), remember they are new to the environment. Show them where the lunch room is, let them know what/when you expect them to take a break and for how long, what time would you like them to be in the office? Leave? Is there flexibility? This will make a significant difference to how quickly and well your Contractor settles into the role and builds relationships with stakeholders.
Conduct regular WIP meetings
Conduct weekly or fortnightly meetings (no less). Don’t miss them and don’t be late (remember, you’re paying for their time). I cannot stress this enough. Get a clear update as to where your Contractor is at. Are they on track? What roadblocks are they facing where they may need your assistance navigating the environment? Are their deliverables up to your expectations? Is documentation being completed correctly? If not, tell them. Trust me, they want to know. My contractors are always asking me for feedback on their work. Better communication means better quality and efficiency.
Contractors are Senior SME’s, specialists in their fields. Make sure they have all the correct tools, have regular catch ups and communicate, but don’t micromanage. It’s counterproductive and an ineffective use of your Contractor’s and your time. If you are clear about your expectations and deliverables, have consistent catch ups and communicate clearly you shouldn’t need to micromanage anyway!
Be a human being
We all enjoy working with great people and it has been proven time and time again, that people work better with people they like and respect. Your Contractor, like anyone, should be treated with respect and professionalism. Make sure they leave knowing what a great organisation and leader they have been working with.
Sounds pretty logical, doesn’t it?
Sonya Oberstar is a Principal Consultant – Strategic Partnerships at Davidson Technology