Collaborate for better results: Top tips for subcontracting success

Collaborate for better results

I’ve just returned from Orlando after attending the incredible OSMOSIS conference, where I heard well-known speakers and networked with hundreds of other investigators. At the Bits & Bytes networking event, I also had the opportunity to present a short table talk on Subcontracting Success: Top Tips for Making it Work.

I love this topic because, after starting my business nearly 20 years ago, it took me a while to move from working alone to collaborating with colleagues. Once I stepped out of my comfort zone (my introversion extends to my business), it made a huge difference.

It’s a win/win/win situation. I’m no longer limited in what I can offer my clients, and I’m not restricted by time, geography, or skill set. I also get to work with some brilliant professional researchers and investigators throughout the world. In my experience as a sub, I’ve appreciated the additional revenue, learning something new, and a chance to help a colleague. For the client, the advantage is that they receive a richer product and one-stop shopping.

Working with or as a subcontractor can be challenging, though. We all have our standards, and it’s difficult to change our routines. To help, I’ve posted a checklist for working with colleagues, and these are some of my top tips for subcontracting success:

Work with people you trust and you know your clients can trust. I always work with subs connected to me through an association like AIIP, PPIAC, ACFE, NCISS because, if someone maintains their membership in the same professional association, and if they follow the same code of ethics as I do, we’ve started on the road to trust. Subs and contractors, check each other out. What’s their reputation, and do others recommend their work?

Communicate early and often. Communicate with the ultimate client, so they know and approve. Communicate to the sub the client goals and pain points. Discuss budget, time frame and milestones, special issues. Make sure you understand the sub’s scheduling limitations, fees, and payment requirements. And don’t forget to talk about the best way to communicate during the project (Email, phone, or text? Time of day?) and whether or not the sub may contact the client directly.

Start with a trial project. Evaluate and refine the process, and answer any questions that have come up. It may not go as smoothly as you’d like, but that’s to be expected at first. It gets easier.

Subcontractors, treat the contractor as you would any other client. Never say, “I’ll get to it after my client work.” This is your client and, while you may have agreed to complete the work for a lower rate, give the project as much attention as it requires, regardless of fee.

Question all assumptions. You may think your explanations couldn’t be any clearer, but that doesn’t mean your message has been received as intended. Put as much in writing as possible, and, when in doubt, double check. Don’t hold back, either. Subs need as much context as possible to do a good job, so, once you have a nondisclosure agreement in place, don’t withhold information.

What would you add to the list?

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