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Lesson Learned from Contracting, Revisited


Lesson Learned from Contracting, Revisited

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Tom Fischer
Tom Fischer
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Comments posted to this topic are about the item Lesson Learned from Contracting, Revisited
VincentRainardi
VincentRainardi
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Thank you Tom, it was insightful and useful.
Kind regards,
Vincent
Samuel Vella
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Nice article Tom, a little note about agents from a fellow contractor:

Many companies seem genuinely shocked when the newly arrived contractor fails to meet expectations. How could an agency possibly send an unqualified person to their office? Personal experience suggests that infamous catchall culprit – communications


Agencys operate on margins, they get in the cheapest contractor who they think can do the job whilst charging the client as much as possible for a "top notch" consultant. Its a cut throat sales job and agents live or die by how much they can inflate those margins.

Clients really need to work direct with contractors, rely on word of mouth recommendations from contacts and then both the client and the contractor can be financially better off (thats assuming that the client is a reliable payer!)
john-559790
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Speaking as a former freelance contractor now turned back to the ways of regular paychecks, I thought the article was very fair and reflects my own experience.

But you left one thing out. I recall a train ride to Reading a year or two back, when I was still freelancing. The chap in the seats across the carriage was half my age, dressed in a sharper suit, and was describing his first day on the job as a representative of what i will call a well known software house.

He cheerfully spoke over his mobile phone of the rate his employer was charging the end client (five times mine) and how he had just spent the afternoon recovering the mess after taking the live database down shortly before lunch, dumping all the people using the web service in front of it in a heap.

Yeah we all make mistakes from time to time, but some of us know they are not something to be proud of.
Samuel Vella
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john (4/15/2008)
Speaking as a former freelance contractor now turned back to the ways of regular paychecks, I thought the article was very fair and reflects my own experience.


What tempted you back to the dark side of permanent employment?
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Hi

Thanks to this government and partly to the sort of work I used to do, the costs of continuing to do business as a freelancer, and particularly the fees paid to people in sharp suits to keep the taxman off my back, rose to the point where I was paying others more than myself.

I took a permanent post at my final client. It makes be simultaneously smile and weep that (a) I was, without doubt, one of the poorest paid freelancers in the building (b) I am probably being paid more than others in other companies doing the same job, (c) If you add togetther my GROSS salary AND the Employers National Insurance, my employer is now paying out, per month, *MORE* than they were paying to my limited company and (d) I now get to keep MORE of that as taxed income than I was able to take as remuneration from my company after I had chucked backhanders to the guys in sharp suits and all the other scum.

Gordon Brown must be really pleased with himself.
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john (4/15/2008)
Hi

Thanks to this government and partly to the sort of work I used to do, the costs of continuing to do business as a freelancer, and particularly the fees paid to people in sharp suits to keep the taxman off my back, rose to the point where I was paying others more than myself.

I took a permanent post at my final client. It makes be simultaneously smile and weep that (a) I was, without doubt, one of the poorest paid freelancers in the building (b) I am probably being paid more than others in other companies doing the same job, (c) If you add togetther my GROSS salary AND the Employers National Insurance, my employer is now paying out, per month, *MORE* than they were paying to my limited company and (d) I now get to keep MORE of that as taxed income than I was able to take as remuneration from my company after I had chucked backhanders to the guys in sharp suits and all the other scum.

Gordon Brown must be really pleased with himself.


As soon as I saw the word "Government", I immediately knew I'd found a fellow UK'er who shared my pain! Hehe

I know guys that are still making it work well, though.

Nice read, thanks.

--------
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CartoonHead
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It's good to explain how to make the most of consultants, from the client's perspective, since I think a lot of companies just don't get it. But "they just don't get it" about a lot of things.

If companies were truly smart, they fire all the full-time staff and hire nothing but contractors, at fair hourly rates, making the contractors responsible for their own equipment, their own health insurance, their own facilities, their own utilities, etc., and simply measured by their performance and delivery of objectives. That would eliminate costs (including taxes) dramatically, reduce traffic everywhere, encourage the actual use of technology, and quickly weed out the people who are costing the company more money than they are bringing in.

Sadly, it's going to be another 20-25 years before this common sense solution becomes a regular way of doing business. Today's management is all about ego, with "managers" feeling good only when they can look over their cubicle serfdome, take the "buzz" in as a sign of performance, and thereby feel self-important.

Give me a staff of 10 independent experts working from their homes any day! Wink

If technology is supposed to give us more freedom and empower us to pursue the more important things in life, why do so many people allow themselves to become enslaved by it? Always remember, the truly important people cannot be reached... except when they want to reach you.
Someguy
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Good article. One that should be passed along.

Let me add a point or two:

Probably the best point that Tom made was 'Know thy Contractor'.
Many contractors are hardworking and competent. Many though are something less. I've heard more than one story of an incompetent consultant coming in, doing little (or creating damage) and spending significant time on the phone arranging his next job. Find people you can trust and do what it takes to keep them around.

Maybe we can add "Know thy Contracting Agency". This is particularly true with overseas consulting groups. I've worked at companies that were wowed with the line "we've got experienced, talented people who will work for a fraction of what it costs in your country". Once engaged, it was discovered that the agency was pulling people off the street and giving them a "learn (name the technology) in one weekend" book. My favorite (and real!) example was a field in a table created by an overseas consultant called "What is your date of birth". By the time anyone found out what was going on, hundreds of apps were pulling data from this field. Had I not been hired and asked to review the system, hundreds of horribly inefficient practices would eventually brought it to a standstill.

I'm tempted to go on, but I guess most of what I'd say relates to these points...

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“Politicians are like diapers. They both need changing regularly and for the same reason.”
Tom Fischer
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Good catch... "Know thy Contracting Agency" merited several words, too.
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