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A day in the life of a software contractor - Forming good relationships

I wanted to share a few findings with you about my recent forays into the world of software contracting.

Contracting differs from employee work in a number of key ways:

- In contract work, the deliverables are typically ambitious
- Contract deadlines are often measured in weeks not months
- Contractors are generally paid more than permanent staff
- Contractors can be hired and fired with great flexibility
- The use of agile methods is compatible with contract work

The mixture of skills inside a team of contractors is often quite impressive. Used

properly, this skill base can accelerate the delivery of results. However, the trick

is identifying the skills - many developers are a little reticent about their skills!

The same is true for permanent staff. So, how can you figure out who has what skills?

I think there's no substitute for having good relationships within teams - permanent

or contract. This is a decidedly soft skill and good relationships can't be built

without some level of trust. The hard part about this in a contract setup is the

delivery pressure.

So, you have opposing forces:

  • Pressure to deliver
  • Lack of familiarlty with individual skill sets
  • The potential problem of assigning people work for which they have little aptitude

Managing these forces is the key to successful contract delivery.