Many experienced contractors find themselves working for more than one client or on multiple projects. Whilst this brings with it a range of benefits including more money, more experience and more contacts managing the different workloads, relationships and projects becomes a job in itself.
Bad management is likely to lead to further problems, an unhappy client and not delivering the project to the standard expected is not what you or either client would want.
Here we look at tips and ideas to help manage both successfully.
Stay in control
Remember the reasons you first got into contracting was to be your own boss so don’t let taking more then one contract overwhelm you and allow your clients to rule your life. Splitting your time and priorities with multiple assignments is likely to throw up a whole new set of challenges. With each one take your time and do what is right for you, don’t be dictated at by your client where it is likely to adversely affect you.
You may for example find yourself with a deadline brought forward by a client unexpectedly, leaving no time for the other client. Remember communication is the key here, only agree to what you can achieve otherwise you will be worse off, letting the other client down is not a good idea.
Lastly remember you can say no, with the bills stacking up and or your eye on that expensive new car it is easy to say yes to every piece of work offered to you. However, if you cannot achieve the work you will only do yourself more harm in the long term. Know your limits and what you want to achieve, as hard as it may be sometimes saying no is actually the right thing to do.
Organise and prioritise
Planning and structuring is always important but more so then usual when you have multiple priorities. The simple things like having a calendar, organising your emails, scheduling meetings allows you to manage both clients more effectively.
Also, having set times to work on each project is a good idea to ensure you are doing justice to the work and are not distracted. Having pre-set times also allows you to balance both client’s needs, where a deadline is approaching you may need to focus more on one client. Keeping a record of time spent on each client may also be important for billing purposes where you are charging at a specific rate as well as at the end of the assignment you can review time spent versus amount billed to monitor profitability, this can be a great learning exercise for when you look to secure your next contract.
Consider subcontracting or outsourcing
Where it is impossible to complete both sets of work to the required standard alone consider bringing in some help. Depending on the circumstances you can employ someone or use the services of another contractor like yourself or even outsource. Before taking the leap carefully consider the person and if they have the required skills, after all it is your reputation on the line. Other important considerations include ensuring by using another person you are not in breach of the terms of your contract and making sure the contract is still profitable after paying for that helping hand.
It is also very important to look at both contracts carefully to ensure you are not in breach of any terms by working for more than one client, most contracts these days have a clause allowing you to offer your services to other third parties however occasionally a restriction may apply re working with certain competitors for a specified time period.