Utilizing and Managing a Contract Labor Force

A lot of small firms function with some level of occasional IRS Form 1099 labor assistance, used on an as-needed basis. They have a pool of these types of people (each have a variety of different skill sets) that can be called on for help if a project specific need arises, and/or when existing staff is too busy with their current workload to undertake some or all of the new tasks.

In some cases this assistance can come from individuals (independent contractors), in other cases it comes from companies (sub consultants). It doesnt matter which form the labor takes, in order to manage these contract resources it is helpful to utilize several tools. These tools help to provide organizational assistance and a method for evaluating, contracting and working with potential resources.

One type of tool is a spreadsheet / database to track everyones skills in a variety of fields, as well as providing an indication within which discipline(s) their services are provided. Within each field the various resources may also have different specializations, strengths, and weaknesses. Other helpful information includes name / email / phone / address contact information, and a place for referencing any notes (like how and when introductions were initially made, how things worked out on previous jobs, recommendations for the next project, etc.). All of this information should be in a sortable format to allow quick searches for relevant data by any of the listed fields.

A second type of tool is a set of template folders set up when someone is added as a potential resource. These folders provide a place to electronically store any information (resumes, references, sample work imagery, etc.) submitted by the candidate for evaluation. This allows for easier retrieval of this data without having so sort through email attachments or links to websites, online data storage sites, etc.

A third type of tool is a contract agreement. A combination of master and project specific agreements can be utilized. The master version should contain contact (name / address / email / phone) information, start date and duration, contract terms and conditions, signature blocks, and any exhibits necessary to outline specific provisions (insurance requirements, rate tables, etc.). The project specific version should also contain contact information, project name and number, project scope, responsibilities, assumptions and exclusions, signature blocks, and any necessary scope exhibits. Separating the terms and conditions out from the project specific to the master agreement can streamline the process, particularly if multiple project contracts are involved.

The use of a contract labor force by a small firm is one way to leverage relationships with individuals and companies who possess skills similar to those of the contracting company to supplement their employed workforce. It can allow them to scale their operations without going through extensive hiring (and potential firing) processes as workload fluctuates. Overhead can remain low as the contract resources are responsible for their own benefits, equipment and often workspace. The firm can remain small and hopefully agile, but still able to go after a variety of project types and sizes by building their team in the most advantageous manner.

Hopefully the use of the tools outlined above can help provide a way to help manage the use of a contract labor force both effectively and efficiently.

About the Author

Mick Cunningham, RA

Mick Cunningham, RA... is a California licensed architect with 30 years of work experience in existing conditions documentation, building code analysis, construction document preparation, specification editing, interdisciplinary document coordination, quality assurance review, plan check agency processing, construction contract administration and project closeout on a variety of project types including healthcare, educational, hospitality, commercial, institutional, industrial and residential. Since 2005 he has been with Irvine, California based, Architectural Resource Consultants (ARC), www.arc-corporate.com , a firm that specializes in documenting existing building conditions. In 2012 he joined the U.S. Institute of Building Documentation (USIBD), www.usibd.org . The USIBD is a non-profit membership organization dedicated to all stakeholders with an interest in building documentation.
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