So, how can we evaluate the pros and cons of using freelancers based on more than just perfect pricing? Can you find a pattern that helps your company to grow organically without breaking the bank? What if a freelancer isn’t getting the job done? How about the intangible benefits you receive when hiring freelance help? How can you make hiring freelancers work for you?
Get the Scope Right
When you’re not used to having a full-time resource to handle certain tasks, scoping projects can be a challenge. Often, even once you’ve done the proper planning and scoping, there are still some client impacts you have to take into consideration. For example, a 20-week Web site redesign project may require only two weeks for usability testing, but your client’s review and response process could take up to a week or more. You might think that if you stretch the project out, your usability testing resource will be able to pause and restart at will. Most often, that’s just not the case.
As a matter of fact, you need to understand your freelancers to scope properly.
As soon as you begin your scoping effort, you should be on the phone with potential freelance resources who represent an array of opportunities.
Factors to Consider
A proper scoping effort might take the following factors pertaining to freelancers into consideration:
- your best use of internal resources (Can your full-time resources do it? Or, do you need a freelancer?)
- an awareness of your profit margin
- the need for maintenance or iterative follow-on work
- team chemistry
- client personality
- internal resources’ vacations, holidays, and other things that affect timing
- payment distribution
- the timing of client feedback
But wait, there’s more.
What if your client doesn’t know why you need to bring on specific talent? What if they fall in love with the temporary hire of their dreams? Worse yet, what if you know you can’t get the job done unless you get some help, and the client vehemently declines your adding any new team members, especially if it happens in the middle of a project? There are a few things you can do to defend against these situations.
- Get a freelancer’s resume and work samples in front of your client. Well before you need to introduce the subject of needing or hiring a freelancer, get his or her resume and work samples ready. This information helps illustrate why you’ve chosen a particular resource, as well as your plan for the project. It also shows you already have a good solution to the problem and are thinking about your client’s best interests.
- Show your client a high-level Gantt chart. The Gantt chart or project plan you’ve prepared can help you explain when and for how long you’ll need a resource. It shows your current plan—you can withhold dates for now—and which milestones are to be completed by both internal and external resources.
- Hire a hidden consultant. Let’s face it. You may need to hire a resource, even if that means you must use some of the hours you had set aside for an internal resource or eat the cost of a freelancer. Things happen, and sometimes it’s either sink or swim. You should always be sure to have a network of resources who are available to you when you need them.