January 18, 2006
Contractors on PeopleSoft Projects
As an independent contractor working on PeopleSoft projects,
I've been thinking lately about contracting in general.
I have enjoyed working this way for several years
and hope that I've provided great service to my clients, but
there are some obvious problems with both the process of finding jobs and
finding other people to staff temporary positions.
I routinely receive
inquiries about my availability and/or
requests to provide people or referrals. Some of these are
labelled "desperate." Some requests come from my own
clients. It would be nice to be able to help out with
these requests, but in many cases it's very difficult.
First, the chances of a good fit are small. There are scheduling
differences—the need and the availability often don't match.
Since PeopleSoft technical support involves a large number of
different skills, there are problems finding people with the right
skill set for the project. There can be issues of geography; although many
independent contractors are willing to travel, expenses and lost
time may be too high when the job is thousands of miles away. There
are huge variations in hourly rate expectations. And both the
contractor and the client can be unknown quantities to each other.
Of course, there are hundreds (thousands?) of placement firms
whose business is to mitigate some of these problems. Unfortunately,
they range from highly professional full-service firms down to
boiler room operations who have no idea who their contractors are.
Many of them take a huge (and usually undisclosed) "cut" from the rate, such
that the client thinks the contractor is too expensive and the contractor
thinks the client is too "cheap." In one recent case I was approached
by one firm that was working through another firm to find a
candidate for the client. Both of these staffing firms had factored
in their own large hourly fees, and it turned out that the grand
total was too high for the client. No surprise!
There must be a better way to match clients and contractors without
always requiring an entirely separate staffing industry to do so.
If independent contractors could form a network to refer each other,
there could be numerous advantages for both the contractors and the
clients. Besides the obvious cost savings for everyone, it might be easier to
evaluate the other factors that make for a good fit. After all,
contractors already working on a project will know exactly what
types of skills are needed and could also tell prospective contractors
about the overall project environment.
Yes, I know about traditional networking and about social networking
web sites. But to be truly effective, I'd think this referral network would
need to have some modest financial incentives built in. There are a few creative
staffing sites, but they are mostly geared toward full-time permanent
employment. Are there any solutions to this problem in existence, or
do we need to create one? If you're an independent (or even just
thinking about it), I'd like to hear from you.
Until next time...