If there’s one area of business and business development which is subject to growth, change, and rapid seismic development more than any other, it’s IT engineering, design, and implementation. As your business grows and develops, so your pool of talent needs to develop too.
For most businesses, retaining a roster of in-house specialists is simply not an option. This is particularly pertinent to emerging and new entrant companies but even larger, well-established firms can sometimes find that certain projects require a short-term injection of expertise and intellectual capital.
This is where judicious use of freelance staff can be the “difference that makes the difference” in successful project planning and management. Using freelancers needn’t necessarily be seen as a replacement for your in-house staff. Indeed, in the best and most cost-effective scenario, the freelancer can be seen as augmenting and working with your existing skillset providing a level of expertise that complements what’s already there.
Two into one doesn’t go
Let’s look at a particular example relating to IT project design. As a general rule of thumb, it’s well accepted as a good idea in any field of human endeavor to hire a specialist to do a specialist’s job. While a generalist might be able to complete a project to a satisfactory conclusion, a leavening of specialist input can transform an otherwise sub-optimal outcome, ultimately saving your business time, money and customer reputation.
The temptation in IT planning and infrastructure design, as in many other spheres of business activity, is to use staff resources to perform specialist tasks to which they’re simply not suited, either by training, experience or expertise. IT is a notoriously problematic area in this regard, partly because of the rapidly changing nature of the discipline, but also because its multi-faceted nature means that a large number of individual branches requires a depth of knowledge which invariably can’t be carried out by a single specialist.
The difference in the roles of a top User Experience (UX) designer and a User Interface (UI) design specialist is a case in point. Even within the closeted world of IT, the distinction is sometimes blurred and misinterpreted. An excellent and detailed summary of the differences and distinctions between the roles of a UX designer and a UI specialist can be found in Toptal’s Guide to Hiring Designers. Toptal is an organization of elite tech contractors, custom-matching its freelancers with top-tier employers from around the world.
By careful use of targeted elite, independent freelance talent, it’s simple and cost-effective to add the required expertise which can literally transform the outcome of an IT design or engineering program. It’s impossible to emphasize enough the importance of choosing the right tool for the job. Freelance hire allows you to do so in a truly flexible and cost effective way.
The benefits of hiring freelance staff
In summary, the principal benefits of the IT freelancer can be characterized as cost and flexibility.
- In terms of cost, at a purely practical level, it would be impossible for all but the largest corporations to countenance hiring, training and retaining the pool of elite talent required to cover all eventualities. Sooner or later, it becomes imperative to add the level of specialism to your regular staff which is only affordable through carefully selected freelancing.
- Furthermore, Freelancers are generally available to work remotely, cutting down on infrastructure costs and reducing overheads compared with directly employed staffers.
- There’s also an accounting benefit in avoiding the fixed cost of keeping staff on the payroll by converting these to the variable cost involved in hiring freelance. It’s worth bearing in mind, however, that employment law in different jurisdictions treats the distinction between freelance, temporary and “on the books” staff quite differently. In the UK, for example, it’s worth familiarizing yourself with the UK government’s page covering these issues on Freelancers, Consultants and Contractors.
- There’s greater scope to keep costs under control. With employed staff, holidays, sickness, bonuses and pensions are all, to some extent, unknown and unquantified. Because you know what the costs of employing a freelancer for a set period of time will be at the outset, it’s easier to keep a project within budget.
- Many IT projects requiring a specialist will be eligible for Research and Development Tax Relief, giving you significant reductions on Corporation Tax. This is well worth looking into.
- In terms of flexibility, quite simply you hire the right person for the job. Because you’re employing a niche IT specialist, there are no issues in coming up to speed with the requirements of the task, particularly where you work with an agency which is capable of matching your exact requirements with an existing roster of proven specialists. The very best freelancing agencies are so confident in their freelance staff that they’ll even offer a no satisfaction, no fee deal for specialists matched to your requirements.
- Location is no barrier. Since freelance staff are capable of fulfilling their role remotely, thanks to the range of communication and technology platforms which are available, your available talent pool is, potentially, almost literally world-wide.
- Freelance staff can be available as and when you need them. Changes in workload due to seasonal variations or changes in the economic cycle are easily and seamlessly accommodated.
- Because freelancers are, almost by definition, in business themselves, they often have greater intuitive empathy with core business values.
While there are clearly a great many benefits in cost and flexibility, there are some issues to be aware of in employing freelance staff.
For example, it’s important to avoid using freelance staff as a direct long-term substitute for your core in-house talent. This is tempting, and possibly even has some merits as a short-term solution, but can get expensive if you’re using a highly experienced specialist as regular cover for employed staff.
It’s also worth bearing in mind that, coming from the outside, the freelancer may lack the level of contextual vision which you take for granted with your in-house staff. To some extent, this is a double-edged sword; the uncluttered perspective of a “fresh pair of eyes” being balanced by the possibility of sometimes missing the “corporate vision”.
In general terms, however, freelancers can give any project the benefit of an injection of pure specialism which can be the difference between a highly successful outcome and something less than satisfactory. Using a top specialist in IT freelance matching and recruitment, thereby ensuring the right talent for the job, helps keep the project on time and in budget as well as significantly increasing the chances of successful delivery.