The 7 R’s of Contracting

I’ve spent many years doing contract work for a ton of different companies, both large and small. Over time, I’ve come to realize that contracting isn’t the best way for me to earn a living, not because the money isn’t there (it is… in spades…!) but because it just doesn’t jive with me as a lifestyle.

Essentially, I don’t like being at the beck and call of organizations and I don’t like having to bank on those types of relationships to earn an income.

What I do enjoy is taking contracts here and there because I want to provide some sort of incredible value to people that I believe I can help at a very large level. I’m hyper-specific and super-picky about who I work with and, again, I like not having to literally bank on this type of income solely.

Over the years I’ve refined my approach and have codified a lot of what I’ve learned over the years into some of my many notebooks. I happened across this gem of an overview the other day and thought I’d share it publicly.

(These are top-level considerations that can help you navigate a new and/or existing contractual relationship and create context for obligations and/or expectations. Very helpful stuff, even as a seasoned contractor!)

The Seven R’s of Contracting

One. Results – What we expect to accomplish

  • What are the objectives, success criteria, and what will be considered a job well done/
  • What is the scope of the effort?

Two. Roadmap – The basic plan we will follow

  • What are the key milestones of the plan?
  • Identify who will do what by when.

Three. Roles – The basic parts each will play

  • What roles will you play? Advisor, data analyst, content expert, contract resource manager, trainer…
  • Are you the key role or a minor role?
  • What roles will the organization play? Decision maker, resource allocator, communicator, tester, leader?

Four. Responsibilities – The expectations of each role

  • What specific tasks will each role accomplish?

Five. Resources – Time, budget, people, information, outside help, etc… needed to complete the effort

Six. Reporting – How progress will be reported and reviewed

  • Will reporting be via phone, face to face, voicemails, email…
  • Will a periodic written progress report be prepared?

Seven. Relationships – How we will handle decisions, feedback, and problems

  • How will difficult issues be addressed?

For some bonus material, here are some top-level considerations as you move forward with any new client. The are part of the “Contracting Discussion” as you mature an opportunity toward close.

I have used these many, many times to help create context and confidence with a potential contract engagement.

The Contracting Discussion

  1. My understanding of this effort is…
  2. What do you expect from the project and me?
  3. What I believe I can do effectively is…
  4. What I feel I need from you for this to be successful is…
  5. What I feel I need from your team is…
  6. My biggest concern is…
  7. What is your biggest concern…?
  8. To recap, your expectations are…

Good luck… I’ve made a great living on contracting in the past and I’ve done it full-time and part-time as well. And, there have been many years where I’ve done very little. I think that’s the greatest thing about this lifestyle: You can turn it on and off at will and scale it whenever and however you want.