Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Dealing with Far-Flung Contractors

This interesting article from eWeek deals with the complexities of managing a host of contractors in a large corporate setting, but the issues it raises are pertinent whether you're dealing with a small number of contractors or hundreds.

The company in the case study found that they had so many vendors providing so many contractors that everyone was becoming confused -- a recipe for spending too much. There was a mix of newcomers and established contractors, and no clear idea of who was really the better provider for services. After some analysis, they ultimately came down in the middle, using predominantly established vendors, as these presented the lower risk for the company, but also tapping new vendors where the bids for services were competitive. Oh, and there's some software that they use to track all these people and interface with their ERP product. But that's beyond my scope here.

How does this translate into the telecommuting world? Well, if you're a company weighing options on hiring anew or retaining existing people even though they're far away, this article suggests that going with known entities who know your business is ultimately more cost-effective and lower-risk.

It also highlights the fact that when dealing with contractors, remote workers, or even Real Office workers, you must actively manage not only the project but the logistics of dealing with those people. It would be nice if all we had to deal with was the nuts and bolts of our actual work, but the reality is that paying attention to the meta-issues of staffing is key.

It's not so much the heat as the humanity.

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