Tips for managing and collaborating with outside contractors or freelancers

By Melanie Graham

Here at WriterGirl, we love that we have the opportunity to work with all kinds of healthcare organizations. Large, small, non-profit, academic – the variety of work keeps us engaged and excited.

For some of our clients, working with outside agencies is a new venture, which can lead to a lot of questions about process and procedure. We wanted to help by offering some advice for working with freelancers or contractors to get the best results. Here are some important tips for success based on our experience to keep in mind:

    1. Provide detailed direction. Whether it’s a large project or a simple, one-off assignment, it’s important to make sure your scope is clear and detailed. Explain to the contractor exactly what your expectations are for the final product, including important deadlines and overall budget. If your project scope is vague, you risk spending too much time on edits and re-writes while your contractor figures out what you’re looking for. Plus, setting budget expectations at the start can avoid costly adjustments down the line.
    2. Let the contractors show their expertise. While you want to be clear with your direction and expectations, don’t be afraid to leave a little wiggle room for feedback and ideas from your contractors. After all, you hired them for their expertise, right? In many cases, someone from outside your organization can offer unique insight on a project or problem.
    3. Stick to the project scope and avoid last-minute adjustments. Changes can happen mid-project – we all understand that! It’s okay to make a few adjustments to the scope after the project starts. But frequent or last-minute changes to a contractor’s assignment can muddy the goal and hurt your momentum  for the project. If you do need to make an adjustment, have a clear conversation and give your contractor some time to ask questions. Keep in mind that you may need to adjust deadlines and budgets if your changes shift greatly from the original project scope.
    4. Hit your deadlines. When you hire contractors or freelancers, you expect them to meet project deadlines. It makes sense to set the same expectations for your in-house team. Meeting deadlines can help contractors work efficiently and keep them on a project schedule. Missing a deadline to send information or feedback to your contractor can throw off other deadlines in the future, which may affect the final outcome of the project.
    5. Don’t forget to include contractors in your team communication. Communication is an important part to any successful project. While contractors may not be full-time or working in the office every day, you still want to keep them in the loop about important changes that could affect the project they’re working on. Plus, frequent communication can help the contractors feel more connected to your organization. Don’t be afraid to add them to your in-house chat channels, project management tools, or email lists (when appropriate).

What suggestions do you have for working with contractors or freelancers? Share your thoughts with us in the comments below or reach out to us on Facebook and Twitter.

 

 



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