Thinking Outside of Traditional Job Models

The emergence of online labour exchanges such as oDesk, Elance and Freelancer have given businesses the opportunity to tap into highly skilled, low cost resources. Many SMEs have begun to rapidly realise the benefits that these resourcing options present, whilst larger organisations have been slower in adoption
I believe this is due to many organisations still operating in the paradigm of one job for one person – the business identifies a need for certain skills to deliver a business need, a job is defined and then a person is identified to fill the job, perhaps as a permanent employee, perhaps as contractor.
Harnessing the benefits of resources available via online labour exchanges requires thinking outside this traditional job model.

So how do you do this? Simply put: break any job or project down into tasks or components.

It’s essentially the development project approach – look at discrete and defined parcels of work, and determine whether these are best achieved by a permanent employee, a contractor or by specialist freelancers with skills and expertise relating to a particular task or component.

Test Case: Creating a simple website

Many organisations would give this task to a single person, however there are distinct areas of specialization in this process – branding, UX, design, platform, content and SEO, implementation, and analytics.
In theory, one person could deliver all of these components all the way through – but the likelihood that you could find all of that talent in one person is low, and their depth of knowledge on each area of subject matter expertise will be far shallower than that of a specialist.
You could, instead, pass out specialist tasks to freelancers via an online labour exchange – the advantage being that frequently the cost of engaging freelancers on a project basis is far more efficient than retaining the skills as part of the team, and that the level of specialisation bought to bear on the project is far more comprehensive.
As long as the organisation manages the outcomes,
deliverables and management, the output will
be of similar or higher quality
If the organisation manages the outcome and maintains a clear view of deliverables and active management of freelance contributors, the output will be of similar or higher quality than could be produced by dedicated resources, potentially at a much lower cost.

Points to consider

However, there are multiple factors to consider before embarking on such a project.

  • Identifying what work could be split out, and the dependent factors: risk, ontime delivery, quality, existing underutilised skillsets, potential efficiencies, workflow impact
  • Identifying where the work can be done – Do I need to have this person in my office in order for the work to be done? If not, can I manage and monitor them remotely?
  • Specify the work – properly! If it’s not briefed correctly, it will not be delivered correctly. Define exactly what the objectives, outcomes and expectations are before you go to market.
  • Identify how you will source workers and who will be the best fit for the work you need completed. There are a multitude of sites and marketplaces, and there is some interesting development around verticals which are popping up for specialist skills. NB: At this point you do need to be careful – screen the freelancers, establish their credentials – most will have references, ratings and feedback from other projects. Ensure you know what you’re getting!
  • When the project is started – carefully manage outputs, review processes, review output, measure against specification, and provide active feedback.

Following these steps as a simple guide will give you a good grounding, and hopefully allow you to make an informed decision about whether online labour exchanges are going to drive opportunity for you – and your business.
Tara Knobel will be presenting two sessions at #CWF2014 on ‘Whats the Right Model for Your Contingent Workforce’ and “Gaining Buy-in For Your Contingent Workforce Model’. You can find out more about the conference here.
Other Related #CWF2014 Conference Sessions
11.15AM – 12.00PM | General Session: Nichola Parker, Regional Director, North America & Oceania, – The On-Demand Virtual Workforce. You can see the full agenda here.

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