The only bad thing about IT contracting – See If You Agree

Bad Thing about IT Contracting
Bad Thing about IT Contracting

Bad Thing About IT Contracting

There’s only one bad thing about IT Contracting.

This article about the bad things about IT Contracting was sent to us by an IT Contractor.

One Issue About IT Contracting

I have been IT contracting (software) for a long time. For me, there is really only one issue about contracting. Everything about contracting is easy except this one issue.

It is that I am almost always get contracts at a time when the client‘s project is in a state of extreme distress. In my experience clients only seem to recruit contractors when they are desperate. More than anything else this has huge implications for my employment experience.

Contracting Nightmare
Contracting Nightmare – no work, no money and bills to pay

Clients don‘t seem to recruit contractors for any reason other that they think that they absolutely have to if they are going to have any chance of saving their projects.

Generally speaking, their projects are not saveable. Often they are aware of that at the outset but they are in denial of it.

Extreme Pressure

When I arrive at a client – whatever I‘m told at interview – I find that the team is always under extreme pressure, that relationships within the team are very strained and often that the project manager is on the verge of a nervous breakdown. This does vary a little bit.

Sometimes it‘s not immediately obvious and sometimes from the outset it‘s its like working for Basil Fawlty.

One occasion when I got a contract everything seemed fine. Interviews were all quite pleasant, everything seemed positive and nobody had said anything to me that made me at all suspicious.

I joined the team and they introduced me – the project manager came into address us all and began a ten minute rant about how crap the team was, why the team had to ‘buck its ideas up’ and what terrible consequences there would be if it didn‘t.

IT Contracting nightmare
An IT Contracting Nightmare

He was obviously way out of his depth. The only thing he didn‘t do was run out into the car park and start beating his car with a stick.

Unpleasant Project Manager

The project manager was really unpleasant about things, although the permies didn‘t seem all that bothered. They didn‘t seem to care much about his project – even the terrible consequences he‘d threatened – and this was obviously because of his attitude. Anyway, as you can imagine, that project failed.

In general I find that being a contractor on a project is to be a symbol of that project‘s difficulties. Every time managers look at you they are looking at an expensive consequence of their problems.

My presence as a contractor on a project has never been welcomed, only tolerated because it has to be.

And then, after all that, agents ask me for references.

One bad thing about IT Contracting is that agents don‘t really understand the business at all!

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    1. I’ve had a few contracts where I’ve been brought in at/near the start of development but I’ve also had experiences similar to those you describe.

      Some clients seem to think that parachuting in a few contractors will fix all their problems and get things back on track; obviously the problem is that more code is needed and more developers = more code right? Well (obviously) no, that’s like saying ‘I need a baby in a month, bring my nine women’.

      Normally I find that when projects are failing its because they are ill conceived, have been badly planned from the outset and have unrealistic milestones set by people with little or no understanding of the Software Development process.
      I had one PM address the team saying ‘I know it’s impossible but is has to be done’ (just before he jetted off on holiday for 2 weeks) – guess how that panned out!


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