Upwork – A new way of finding resources for projects

upwork-logoThe proper management of resources is one of the most critical components for a project to be completed within budget and within schedule. When companies decide to start a project, one of the first things they consider is where to get the resources for the project. Depending on the nature of the project, hiring external consultants may be the best option.

Global Job Marketplace like Upwork.com

When hiring external consultants, project managers carefully select the candidates, so that the skills match the particular task required to be completed. Nowadays, more candidates are available, with some located in different countries or even different continents. This is possible with online job marketplace services that offer the hiring and managing of freelance consultants, either individuals or teams, working in remote locations but connected through the Internet.

Some of these online services include Toptal and Freelancer. These online staffing platforms have a global reach. They also have tools and features for communication, timekeeping, file sharing, and different modes of payment between employer and consultant. As of last year, Upwork is the largest and most dominant among these online staffing platforms. Project tasks that are usually outsourced deal with writing content, web programming, web design, drawing/drafting, documentation, transcribing, and marketing. This new way of finding project resources is helping many organizations.

Advantages of Outsourcing

    1. Reduced operational costs. By nature, projects are temporary. External consultants can be hired on a project basis, so they will not increase operational costs of the company unnecessarily.
    2. Flexible staffing. Some projects may be seasonal in nature. Companies can easily add or subtract resources depending on the number of projects being engaged, and still remain lean in-between projects. In a company where there is high turnover of employees, hiring external consultants also provide stability in the operations.
    3. Available expertise. Some companies may not have the required skill or expertise readily available within the organization or business area. Hiring external consultants is a quick way to find the matching skills needed to complete a critical project task.
    4. Staff development. Internal staff who may not yet have the level of expertise to complete a project task can learn from an external consultant. By letting employees study the consultant’s work, management can develop the staff in an inexpensive way and prepare them to handle similar tasks in the future.
    5. Core business concentration. For businesses with limited staff that need to undertake a project only once, hiring external consultants with matching expertise will allow them to remain concentrated on the nature of their business. A group of lawyers or doctors, for example, can remain focused on their practice, while an IT project manager with a team of outsourced web programmers can work on a computer system for them and their business.

Disadvantages of Outsourcing

    1. Minimal control. The project manager can track the progress only of the tasks assigned to the external consultant. If the external consultant accommodates other tasks from other employers, the project manager may not get the desired focus that he or she wants for the tasks.
    2. Confidential data exposure. The project might involve giving confidential data to external consultants. Of course, a confidentiality agreement or a non-disclosure agreement can be signed, but still, the possibility that the data will be exposed exists.
    3. Substandard quality. The completion of a task may be defined only by the output. However, the means of how the task is completed may not be up to the quality standards that the employer is expecting. For example, a task of developing a computer program is considered complete when it gives the correct output. The program may be giving the right output, but the way the code was written is inefficient.
    4. Higher risks. An important task assigned to an external consultant may be delayed or not done because of a problem specific to the consultant’s location. The external consultant may suddenly become unavailable and for a long time due to an unreliable Internet connection, a power outage, or a natural disaster.
    5. Misunderstanding and miscommunication. Sometimes, hiring external consultants give an impression to internal staff that they are not trusted or dependable enough. This can lower the morale of the project team. Cultural differences and time differences can also result in miscommunication.

Final Decision

Resources are a vital component in the success of a project. Having the right number of people, with the proper skills, at the required time can result in the fulfillment of all the defined goals, at the scheduled time without going beyond its budget. Online staffing platforms such as Upwork offer a great way to hire external resources. External consultants are available and practical options. They may not be applicable or advisable at all times, but they certainly can help make project goals more achievable most of the time. Visit their social sites on Google+, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Facebook.

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Jose Maria Delos Santos

Jose is a subject matter expert and member of the writing team for Project-Management.com and Bridge24. He has written hundreds of articles including project management software reviews, books reviews, training site reviews, and general articles related to the project management industry.