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Getting contractor engagement off on the right foot

Published 27th May 2016

As every manager and business leader knows, there are often times when contractors are a better option than employees. When undertaking new technology projects, for example, skilled IT contractors can be brought on board for a set amount of time, meaning there’s no need to jump through the complicated employment hurdles associated with hiring full- or part-time staff.

For those new to engaging contractors, however, there’s a real need to think seriously about how to manage these individuals to ensure their time with the company is put to use effectively and there’s no risk to the company.

Here are several ways of smoothing the contractor management process right from the outset.

1) Communication

As with an employee, communication from the get-go is critical. According to the Queensland Government, this means setting out roles and responsibilities early on and clearly communicating what needs to be done over the course of the project. Managing expectations also ties closely into communication, as it’s better to establish when contractors need to report in and communicate before starting a month-long project.

2) Develop a comprehensive agreement

As explained, businesses cannot control how an independent contractor carries out their work, but they can ensure the work is high quality. One of the best ways to do this is through the creation of an agreement before work even begins. In an IT project, such an agreement would set out deadlines for certain stages of the project, as well as the key deliverables.

Agreements can also be an opportune time to establish how the relationship will function over the long run.

3) Address issues early on

When an issue first crops up, ensure that it’s not left to fester. According to Gordon Training, tackling problems when they appear is the one of the better contractor engagement and management practices. Issues could be related to financial misunderstandings, problems with the project itself or contractors or employers.

Exactly how problems are dealt with could be integrated into the contractor agreement. For example, outlining situations when it’s appropriate to flag issues.

4) Build a strong relationship

According to the Harvard Business Review (HBR), building a relationship should rank as a priority when bringing contractors onboard.

Steve King, a partner at Emergent Research, explained to the HBR that, while businesses don’t have to invest as much in contractors as they do in employees, they shouldn’t fall into the trap of having the relationship be one that’s solely transactional. That is to say, it exists solely for the purposes of the actual business being carried out.

This point ties in closely to the three noted above, in that it’s something that can de developed right from the start of the relationship.

Handing off the difficult task of management

For many, the best option may be to consider working with professionals when bringing on contractors. At Oncore Services, for example, we’re able to take over time-consuming tasks including contractor payroll as well as numerous other back-office services. These could be timesheet tasks, expense processing or even the initial set up when contractors are first brought on board.

The aforementioned online timesheet system is one of the best options available, as it can help with invoicing and payroll accuracy, and detailed contractor reporting. Clients engaging contractors also benefit from significant risk mitigation through the use of comprehensive compliant processes at Oncore Services.

To avoid running into trouble during contractor engagements, it’s important to consider the right services from the get-go. Get in touch with Oncore Services today to learn more about the best solutions available.