Mongrel creator Zed Shaw has some not exactly kind words :-) I can’t comment on many things, specifically with regards to the ThoughtWorks-related stuff — but he has a nice list recommendations for people hiring consultants. These are Zed’s items (in italics), with innoQ’s policy and my own thoughts added:
- Make sure you have the right to see every resume and interview each consultant they place. Treat them like new hires and don’t let anyone who’s not worth the rate you’re paying on the team.
Standard practice for our customer engagements, although over time, clients usually start trusting us to choose appropriate people. Of course this only applies in T&M-type contracts, otherwise we reserve the right to staff as we see fit.
- Demand a variable rate based on the position of the person and their experience.
+1. Anything else would be absurd. In fact, we’d like to charge rates with a much wider span, but unfortunately many customers (or rather, their procurement people) can’t possibly fathom how one developer could be worth 2 or 3 times more than another.
- Demand that no employees can leave the project to work on another project. These placements have to be for the life of the project or until the employee quits.
-1. I understand where Zed is coming from, and I agree to a large degree — but mandating it in this way seems unreasonable. There should be reasonable fluctuation, but not to the customer’s disadvantage. Some projects simply take longer than people want to spend on them — if they want to leave, their only option should not be to quit the company.
- Require that you have the right to have someone replaced if they are not immediately capable.
+1. Any innoQ customer can send away a consultant within the first two weeks if not satisfied, at no cost. No one ever took that option.
- Seriously consider recruiting one full time employee as a team lead, another as a project manager, and then staff the rest of your team with independent consultants. You’ll find that you get more control and better quality at a lower price.
+1/-1. I agree that many, if not most times, the project lead should be one of the customer’s permanent employees. But while I have nothing at all against independent consultants in general, I’m convinced some companies — e.g. ours :-) — add significant value over a random freelancer team in terms of ability to take on responsibility, shared knowledge, background resources, established team culture, and core skills.