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What is an independent contractor?
There is some confusion between outsourcing and casual employment. Here is our take on the differences. Outsourcing means you give us a job (not we give you a job) and we decide how to do it and you get the results without saying how we achieve them. This is totally different from an employee
where you can dictate exactly how we do it. Outsourcing is very flexible and gives us an edge over just employing someone. We have experience and can use that to do a better
job than a basic employee can.
There is a very common attitude amongst bigger companies that a contractor is the same as an employee except that the contractor pays the superannuation and Workers compensation. In other words, they get a dedicated employee they can fire at will and not have to pay any of his overheads. We are against this attitude or misconception. Why should we take all the risk and make the bigger guy richer with no benefit to our business? It is unjust but very common. We have built up our own inhouse infrastructure and development techniques to protect us from the downward effects of power. I believe we are gradually clawing back the impact of bigger companies on us. We are getting
stronger each time we are pushed down and get up again and are becoming more flexible, agile, resilient and tough to outrun devastation and prosper in spite of bad attitudes or ignorance from bigger companies to our little business who have tried to exploit or destroy us for their own advantage. Not all big business are this bad, but we seem to have had a high proportion of bad big customers so have grown wary.
See also Independent Contractors Australia.
We offer service at two levels:
- short-term one off jobs
- long-term jobs
- no on-call jobs - every job has an end-date
- totally discrete and not partnered or involved at all with customers' assets or business to reduce risk
- we generate monthly small invoices to keep on top of feature creep and cost blowouts and reduce debt and losses, chronic problems with small business customers with no capital or business expertise
- We include project management on larger jobs though progressively on all jobs as the benefits are so high.
- Our maximum job size at present is 6 months though some have gone for 3 years due to feature creep.
- Customers must bear costs of setup and have a formal business plan before starting and a strong
commitment to finishing the job
- We can handle cost blowouts and stuffups due to internal software we have developed to stop the rorting.
- Cloud computing will remove 80% of the network and planning headaches for small business.
- annual rates for regular maintenance
- hourly rates and weekly rates for one off jobs or support
- on a pay-as-you-go basis
- based on signoffs
- onsite for limited periods (in Australia) if economically feasible
- offsite via the Internet
- via mobile / wifi laptop
We outsource and advise on:
- We only offer several services as follows to keep bookkeeping and management simple:
- Web portal development,
- network support,
- writing, editing, indexing and publishing
- Occasionally we bundle these if it makes sense.
- On our own, we limit ourselves to smaller projects in short bursts via the Internet.
- We integrate a range of suppliers with our own services to create a top-rate solution for the customer.
- We are a niche player who can be very flexible and get things done quickly.
- We use basic infrastructure to develop Websites and write technical articles but can migrate to more intensive resources to handle portal development.
Mix of onsite and offsite:
- We aim at doing nearly 100% of our work online or remotely to be cost competitive but acknowledge there are times when a visit is essential to keep the wheels turning or to get any serious amounts of money so we compromised in 2008 and gave up trying to work entirely remotely and work onsite on the customer's site or within the same city to manage and work for them directly.
- For offsite work to succeed, it meant a steep learning curve for the customer over time but the benefits would be huge for both of us in flexibility and leverage power which few customers had time or money to do. Hence we gave up on this idea and do our own work the entire time on the customer's site so the job is done on time otherwise the customer stuffs around because they are not up to speed with technology and everyone suffers.
- Not being bound to a location but using the Internet heavily gives us the edge on our fixed-address competitors. However sometimes we have to be bound if we are to make any serious money and this can mean hit and miss attempts at marketing on the ground to gain marketshare.
We do not outsource to or let ourselves be leveraged off by:
How we work with you
Current Contracting Efforts
From 2011 onwards, we are working at connecting to large companies or government departments again to do tenders over the Internet or onsite.
From 2014 onwards, we work as third party mobile developer on large open data transport and scientific projects for government departments.
Tools we are training on include:
- ebook publishing
- supply chain
We also get tender updates on government tenders Australia wide direct from the government tender Websites in each state, territory and the Commonwealth. We are working on building up our expertise at tendering and acquiring adequate resources to win tenders.
In Orange in November 2011, I started to look into exporting software services to South Korea via Austrade.
In December 2011 in Orange, we also are looking at tendering to medium corporations in Sydney or Canberra who tender for embedded systems with the NSW State or ACT Government.
In this is included working with UNSPSC tendering classification for NSW, Queensland and WA Government tenders. We are librarians so can easily navigate this classification system to find relevant contracts for our capabilities.
From 2014 onwards, we attended Moreton Bay Region ICT & Digital Meetup run by RDA Moreton Bay at North Lakes QLD to increase networking and cross-pollinization.
From 2013, we attended Queensland DSITI Partners in Technology briefings to network and learn about government procurement system updates.
Transaction Cost: Early Outsourcing Efforts
We have not had any happy experiences contracting to large companies in Sydney in 2007.
The ugly side of dealing with a large company is its bureaucracy and they can ignore you if they think you should go through the bureaucracy to get paid.
If a customer wants to play hardball then we suffer so in that case we walk away and find other customers who are more friendly towards us.
If the customer plays around when we are trying to get a specification out of them, we are not keen to do business with them as they may not pay us. So we just avoid them like the plague.
We tried to work away from our base in Sydney in June 2007 to perform a contract for a large company but we had to wait a month to get paid and pay all our own expenses which put a lot of stress on cashflow so we have given up doing that for now till we re-establish a base in Sydney in the future and will only deal directly with the large company not through an agent.
We need to estimate transaction cost of doing business with them and pick companies who have a lower transaction cost to enable us to make a profit on one-off transactions.
Supply Chain: Managing customers
- Technical knowledge helps us survive financial attacks
- (see Finance Management for our approach to controlling bad customers)
- We build mirror systems at our office in case the customer cuts us off without notice - this has happened twice to us and can make doing software development remotely risky as the customer can abscond without paying for the software and we have to travel to the customer's site to get the money which is expensive and time consuming stopping us being left in the lurch till we recover from the damage done.
- Legal action is drawn out and rarely recovers much at all leaving the customer the power to screw us around with impunity till we have money to chase them and collect the debts so having backups helps us to bounce back and approach our business from a different angle from which the bad customer cannot attack us as they are usually incompetent technically and easy to avoid from that angle even if financially they are much quicker than us and able to destroy us quite quickly by not paying or stuffing us around and wasting precious time.
Distribution Centre: Virtualization, Mirroring and Cloud Computing
- In 2012, we started using cloud computing to setup a test server very quickly in Linux to create a portal on it then migrate this to the customer's hosting once they paid for it, thus stopping the customer exploiting cashflow to their advantage by taking hosting inhouse till the customer was ready.
- In 2008, we started using virtualization to improve outsourcing as we can replicate test environments without having access to the right equipment wherever that server is.
- We also build inhouse mirror sites for testing to combat poor internet access due to the customer skimping on infrastructure.
- We have used virtual FreeBSD on Windows XP under VMWare and setup Debian Linux mirror sites to test and deploy systems.
Transaction Cost: Complexities and Costs of Outsourcing
- We have a policy of no free technical support especially for free software.
- We do selective open source development as long as the overall benefit is in our favour.
- It is not possible for Web designers to outsource to us unless it is cost effective to maintain source code they require on a shoestring or we just install open source code for them and tune it for them or point them in the right direction to find the open source software themselves.
- Open source software has no support implied and Web designers need to learn to read it and work it out themselves or pay us to do the technical support, but we do not allow free support of open source software but they must test it themselves.
- We won't be messed around in the cheap end of the market with testing or choosing products only worth a few dollars and with no commitment from quite wealthy clients so they can save a dollar trying to emulate some great site for a bargain basement price.
- We are professionals. Let the amateurs mess around with cheap software.
- We develop software and give quite competitive rates to mid-sized scale.
Created: 19 Nov 2000 9:29
Last Updated: 11 May 2016 13:48
WWWalker Web Development Introduction