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Apr 2, 2013 by Patrick Icasas in Project Management 101 & Tools

When Is Hiring a Contractor a Good Idea?

Project managers sometimes have to hire contractors to fill out the gaps in a project team’s roster. This can happen even after an extensive recruitment campaign, because not all projects have the same requirements. Some projects will need more manpower or expertise that your previous hiring campaign did not foresee or could not afford.

In certain cases, hiring a contractor is more expedient and efficient than recruiting an additional employee:

Low on Resources

Project teams can sometimes be left understaffed despite the best of planning. Unexpected problems, emergency tasks, or even sick leaves are just a few of the unexpected hurdles a project manager has to face. And that doesn’t even count teams that are understaffed right from the start. In this case, bringing in a contractor is a great, quick way to bring in another pair of shoulders to lighten everyone else’s load. This way, you’ll have a better chance of meeting your deadlines.

Lacking Expertise

No team, no matter how well rounded, can be good at everything. So when you encounter a problem that is beyond your team’s expertise, you’re better off finding someone who knows what they’re doing rather than stumbling around in the dark yourself. Find yourself a contractor with the kind of experience and skill that you need, so that your team members can focus on what they’re good at and not waste time scratching their heads.

Other Teams are Committed

Both of the above points could actually be solved by recruiting someone from another project team. But if they’re anything like yours, then they don’t have the manpower to spare. In fact, you’re probably going to be competing for more resources and fighting to keep the ones you already have. As a result, you’re better of going outside for help, because it sure isn’t going to come from internally.

The Need is Temporary

Contractors are a great way to quickly plug holes in your lineup, but at the end of the day they’re really just that: band-aid solutions that give you just enough time to finish a project. You might use a contractor more than once—especially if you’ve got a great cloud-based system for coordinating and sharing information—but you’re not likely to hire them on a full-time basis.

Most contractors are perfectly happy where they are anyway—independent entrepreneurs who help out, get paid, and go. If you really did need services like theirs on a consistent basis, then you would’ve hired a full-timer. Unless you can’t afford to. In which case it’s a good thing you have great contractors to fall back on, right?

Image credit, My Blue Van, Flickr

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Patrick Icasas

Patrick Icasas is a former marketing project manager with 7 years of marketing and PR agency experience, managing creative projects for brands such as Nokia, Verizon Wireless, and Adobe. He now spends his time helping people make the most out of their project management software and entertaining his 5 year old daughter.

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