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Technology at it's most pointless

Back to work – Rules for Contractors

Back to Work Rules

I’ve been up to London today to see about some work with an old and valued client (that will make ‘em laugh, back in the trenches!) and left London with me fingers crossed…

Also had a couple of calls for other contracts in my line of work; one in Helsinki and the other in London. Both interesting roles, but carrying a significantly higher inconvenience factor (iFactor). You know the story…more time, cost and effort getting to and from the jobs.

I’m getting a bit long in the tooth now and these days, the iFactor has to be compensated properly, before I’ll jump on board. Of course, in a recession that’s not always the best approach to take, but I still believe enough in my own skills and expertise, to know I’ll find a way through…It’ll just take longer and be bumpier than it has to be. But hey – sometimes that’s more bloody interesting.

Oops. I digress…

In a recent e-mail I sent to an old pal of mine back in NZ, I quoted one of my “21 Rules for Contractors” which was:-

Contractor’s Rule #4: No deal is complete until the ink is dry on the paperwork.

After I sent him the e-mail, I got to thinking that somewhere, some trusty IT geek with too much time on his hands, must have made a list of rules for IT Contractors, but a Google Search didn’t return much. Sounds like I’m just the nerd for the job…

And so, as the rallying cries fade into the distance, I suck in my gut, stick out my chest, square my jaw and utter my most famous catchphrase…

Aw shit! not again!

Anyways…here’s my cardinal rules for IT contractors everywhere. All suggestions welcome – actually make that…most suggestions welcome. You know who you are rolleyes

Phil’s 21 Rules and Tips for Contractors

  • Rule #1: As a contractor, I am here to help where I can. You are paying me by the hour. Try and get the best value you can, wherever possible.
  • Rule #2: The Invoice is ALWAYS plus VAT. Please pay promptly.
  • Rule #3: As a contractor, I will do my best in an interview to address as many of the client’s concerns as possible. Knowing full well that it’s probably all about to change anyway.
  • Rule #4: No deal is final, until the ink is dry on the contract. But once the deal is struck, it should be honoured by all parties.
  • Rule #5: You can expect to be treated as politely and respectfully as you treat me.
  • Rule #6: Just try to be realistic in your self-assessment (and I’ll do the same).
  • Rule #7: I can give you fast, cheap or good. Pick any two.
  • Rule #8: TIP: Always be polite to the cleaning and security staff for they have the power to deny your re-entry on a whim.
  • Rule #9: TIP: If you have a bright idea, check the IPR clause in your contract, before you open your mouth.
  • Rule #10: TIP: Try not to swear too much at the red-tape dimwits, clueless lawmakers and other upper management weasels and remember how much more damaging they are when they are in the productive flow.
  • Rule #11: TIP: Get yourself a hobby that has as little as possible to do with technology. Seriously! We all need a break now and then. Music is good.
  • Rule #12: TIP: Go easy on the “jargon” whenever possible.
  • Rule #13: I believe in the motto: Share the knowledge and screw job security. If you want a secure life, forget contracting.
  • Rule #14: Oh and you permie staff – please stop mumbling about how good contractors have it! If it’s such a walk in the park, how come you aren’t doing it?
  • Rule #15: Please document properly. Please?
  • Rule #16: TIP: Coffee is always needed. And did you say free food?
  • Rule #17: No meetings longer than an hour. Please. I really mean this.
  • Rule #18: If a meeting must continue after one hour, it should be continued in a nearby pub wherever possible. It’s just more constructive. Honest.
  • Rule #19: Sometimes, shit happens. Especially where bloody computers are involved.
  • Rule #20: TIP: Remember to be creative where you can, but don’t be surprised to see your best ideas shot down in flames. Tomorrow’s another day and hell – you may get a better idea.
  • Rule #21: When your full set of relevant skills and expertise won’t fit into the three pages of your CV no matter how much you trim them, it is time to consider retirement.
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8 Comments for: Back to work – Rules for Contractors

  1. Member Comment # 1

    How about:-

    Procrastination is cool: The worktime is more stressful, but there is less of it.

  2. Author Comment # 2

    I always liked:-

    Lack of organisation on your part does not necessarily constitute an emergency on mine.

  3. Member Comment # 3

    Ha! you got that one from me!

  4. Author Comment # 4

    Yeah yeah!

  5. Visitor Comment # 5

    Cool list Phil. Mostly agree, with some personal opinions below. BTW – I didn’t realise you were considering London again. I keep brushing off recruiters that I could be sending your way!

    I fail rule #11, I just love technology too much. Still, I am trying to get back into my miniatures and reading (fictional physical books that is)

    I agree with the first part of rule #13, but not the second. If you have the talent and can plan ahead, security is a non-issue. The difference in security between a contractor and a permie is four weeks notice! (in Oz anyway)

    Rule #14 – because they lack talent or forward planning (see rule #13) or courage – there, I said it.

    Rule #16 – I’ve been off coffee now for 2 months. I would prefer quality food over free (though quality and free would be excellent)

    Rule #17, #18 and #20 – please refer to rule #1

    Rule #21 – or, if you are too young or poor to retire, there is always specialisation…

  6. Visitor Comment # 6

    Love Rule #20. I’ve always found being creative yields great things. In fact, sometimes the “creative” pieces I think people will shoot down are the ones they love the most. Everyone’s personal preferences are so different.


  7. Visitor Comment # 7

    I only have two rules: One, you do not write on the walls. Two, you obey all the rules.

    - Mr Mackay from “Porridge”

  8. Member Comment # 8

    Sorry Phil couldn’t resist another one …

    The first rule of IT contracting is that you do not talk about IT contracting.

    The second rule of IT contracting that you DO NOT talk about IT contracting.

    The third rule of IT contracting is if a client says “you’re fired” or goes bankrupt, doesn’t renew the contract is over.

    The fourth rule of IT contracting is a minimum of two parties per contract.

    The fifth rule of IT contracting is only as many contracts at a time as you can cope with.

    The sixth rule of IT contracting is that you will wear a shirt and shoes … and most probably a tie … dammit.

    The seventh rule of IT contracting is that contracts will go on as long as they have to … and as agreed by all parties.

    The eight rule of IT contracting is if this is your first contract you have to work.

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