Subcontracting success: My #1 tip for making it work

Here at Phelps Research, I collaborate with a team of associates who help gather intelligence for our investigative profiles. Without their specialized skills or local, boots-on-the-ground research, we can’t provide the depth of due diligence our clients need .

At the recent annual conference of the Association of Independent Information Professionals (AIIP), I did a presentation on Subcontracting Success, in which I covered benefits to clients, contractors, and subcontractors; concerns about subcontracting; and tips for growing your business through subcontracting.

I included a long list of tips in the presentation, and, if I had to narrow it to just one top tip for subcontracting success, it would be this:

Communicate early and often

It’s as simple as that. Just about any of the subcontracting horror stories we’ve heard from contractors and subs alike can be avoided or resolved with honest, open, two-way conversation – before, during, and after the project. And here’s what we should be talking about:

  • Goals – Contractors, don’t keep your subs in the dark. You expect your clients to share reasons and desired outcomes for their projects, and subs should receive the same treatment.
  • Expectations – Before agreeing to collaborate and before starting any project, make sure everyone is clear about project scope, time frame, formats, budget, etc.
  • Changes to project – My client’s priorities can change at any time, and my teammates immediately receive an update. No delays or surprises.
  • Time frame / budget issues – Don’t wait until the project due date or sending your invoice. Ignoring the issues don’t make them go away.
  • Quality issues – Learn how to give and accept honest and open feedback
  • Process evaluation / refinement – Invest the time after each project, and every project will run more smoothly.

You can view or download the rest of my presentation on SlideShare. And let me know what your #1 tip would be for subcontracting success.


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