Communication: Contractor checklist

As a contractor, I’ve found that, when I go to work for a new company, there are a few simple things that the hiring company can do to make life easier for both of us. I’ve put together this quick checklist – see below or click here for a PDF version – which either the hirer or the contractor can use as a reference guide.

This list certainly requires a little pre-planning by the hirer, but it’s a worthy investment of time in the long run. Apart from any project-specific pieces, which the Project Manager should have to hand in any case, most of the information is easily replicated for each new contractor.

Hiring a contractor is a costly business, so a checklist of essentials helps ensure the hirer gets the maximum benefit from the contractor’s time. I’ve constantly been surprised by  tales of contractor time wasted waiting for busy employees to be free to find key documents, answer what turns out to be a pretty basic question, sort out some vital computer tool that had been overlooked and so on.

The checklist can also be scaled up or down, as required. So, whilst every contractor should be told how to get out of the building in an emergency, even if they’re only on site for a day or two, longer-term contractors might also need to be considered in terms of an overall Business Continuity Plan (BCP). In that case, the checklist could be expanded to include BCP awareness as part of the General processes section.

This checklist assumes that the contractor is working on site. If the contractor works from home, a different set of criteria need to be considered as there are additional security and practical implications. These might include special arrangements for remote access to the company’s network, specific software the contractor needs to install on their local computer, or policies about data handling and disposal.

One checklist can’t hope to cover the requirements of every eventuality or specific work environment, but here’s a basic all-round starter kit, which might help act as the building blocks for creating your own more specific and tailored requirements:

Equipment:

  • ID Badge (if required) with correct access permissions set up
  • Workstation, desk phone and chair
  • Working computer with all correct software tools installed, Internet & email access
  • Correct computer user access permissions for all relevant tools/software
  • Access to printer/s of correct type
  • Internal phone directory
  • Contract agreed & signed by both parties, if not previously done
  • Contractor-specific policies, including portfolio use of work samples

Orientation essentials:

  • A named contact to answer general queries
  • A preliminary guided tour (including any relevant site visits)
  • Personal introductions to key people
  • Floor plans marking stationery store, printers, water/kitchen points, WCs, etc.
  • Fire exits and fire muster points – just in case
  • Key company information sources – e.g Intranet, Handbook, Noticeboards, etc.
  • Other relevant formal/informal rules & working practices
  • Company or industry essentials – standards, jargon, acronyms, etc.

General processes:

  • File naming conventions
  • File structure for projects–templates, project files, graphics
  • File archive/storage process
  • Review cycle intervals
  • Review and approval process
  • Location of graphics, brand logos etc. & how to use
  • Style guide – glossary/acronyms/voice etc.

Project-specific:

  • Project information  – deliverables, timelines, acronyms, glossary, current status report
  • Project personnel – SMEs, reviewers, approvers, roles, locations & contact details
  • Project documentation – source & legacy documents, product & marketing materials
  • Location of – and access to – current core project documentation
  • Documentation plan (including latest due dates)
  • Cost centre details for arranging copying, mail, stationery, etc.
  • Invitations to all relevant project-related meetings
  • Detailed contractor task breakdown
  • Contractor reporting line

Why not share your own top tips on how hiring companies can help contractors settle in quickly?

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