How To Make Effective Use Of Freelancers

I obviously have a vested interest in this blog, being a freelancer, but I honestly believe that using freelancers effectively has never been a more a more sensible way of running certain areas of an organisation. This begs the question why is this, and also how to make effective use of freelancers in times of constant change where flexibility is essential.

We live in times of great change, possibly the fastest rate of change that has ever been experienced. As such organisations require certain skills quickly and probably for short periods. Good freelancers (some might say consultants but be careful here) How To Ensure Your Consultant Is Effective will have spent time, effort and probably money acquiring those skills. Effective organisations can buy in those skills for as long as they need them. Really effective organisations will buy in those skills to enable them to get ahead of the competition whilst they train their in house staff. Good freelancers are also a great way of plugging gaps in essential teams.

It is, however, important to realise that freelancers or consultants are there to be used as you would a doctor or a dentist. They are to be used to identify issues and help lead to the ultimate cure. They should not be used to simply firefight or plug gaps. Good organisations realise that skills fall into two categories:

  1. Those skills that are very specialist and are required for a short period of time. Examples of these may well be the implementation of a new system, help and advice with change or specific improvements and coaching.
  2. Those skills that are required on a medium to long term basis such as leadership, manufacturing or administration. Coaching may also be included here.

In the first instance the freelancer will be required to come in, do their job and then leave, possibly having some ongoing involvement in new projects or in ensuring the project is on track. There is no need to train anyone within the organisation in these skills as they will only be required infrequently and it is best to have an external pair of eyes looking at the project from outside the organisation.

In the second category the organisation should be training their own staff and the freelancer will just be required for the initial stage, maybe being the trainer. Please note training is a special skill and unless you have your own skilled trainers please don’t try to save money by going down the “train the trainer” route. Good trainers will have many years of experience in the areas where they work and the benefits of using a freelancer here are huge. No matter what the job, if it is to be medium to long term then that is the area where an in house team will normally be best.

In summary, use freelancers where there is a requirement for short term, specialist skills that the organisation does not currently have. They are particularly useful in times of change.

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