For some projects, a marketing consultant may need outside expertise or just an extra hand to get the job done. For engagements like these, hiring a subcontracted marketing consultant to assist with the project can help you meet your deadlines without having to bring a full-time employee on board. But keep in mind, working with independent contractors does bring a new level of risk to your business.

Even if you’ve found an independent contractor that you know you can count on, there’s always the possibility that a misunderstanding will result in a misstep that could negatively affect your business reputation, liability, and relationship with your client. That’s why, when working with subcontractors, it’s important to put as much information about the project as you can in writing.

Before you commit to a working relationship with an independent contractor, it’s a good idea to have both a written subcontract management plan and an independent contractor agreement, signed by both parties. Documenting your expectations reduces the possibility of errors and omissions, lowering the risk for your company and client.

What’s In a Subcontract Management Plan?

A subcontract management plan spells out the relationship between you and the independent contractor you employ, as well as between the contractor and your client.

First, these plans commonly include a detailed discussion of the project, addressing any areas where you think conflict or concerns may arise. Commonly known as a “statement of work,” this section of the plan can clearly define the deliverables, tasks and services the subcontractor is expected to provide, as well as any financial or scheduling constraints related to the project. Often, the statement of work will also establish quality measurements for the subcontractor’s work.

Many marketing consultants include an organizational chart in their subcontract management plans, noting all participants who will be involved with the project and what roles they will play. This chart may encompass your own primary consultants, your subcontracted consultants, and your client’s own team members.

Your plan can also define processes to be used for risk management and issue resolution, and establish who will serve as:

• Primary contacts

• Major decision-makers

• Risk managers

It may also make sense to clearly lay out how you expect to communicate with the independent contractor during the project. For example, you can document:

• Your preferred method of communication: videoconference, phone, e-mail or in-person

• The frequency of progress updates, and in what form you want to receive them

• The frequency of client updates, and in what form the client should receive them

• The frequency of management status meetings

• Expected costs related to long-distance travel or communications

As most marketing consultants have discovered first-hand, not every project turns out as planned. Sometimes, due to factors beyond your control, a project will change course once work has already begun. For this reason, it makes sense for a subcontractor management plan to clearly establish:

• Processes for submitting proposed changes

• Who will make decisions about changing project requirements

• What process those decision-makers will use to evaluate proposed changes

It may also be a good idea to put in writing a definition of when the subcontractor’s work will be considered “done,” and to address the possibility of him or her providing ongoing assistance to the client once the project work is complete.

Subcontractor Agreements

With a management plan in hand, there’s still one more important thing you need: your subcontractor’s signature on a legally binding subcontractor agreement that protects your business interests and reduces your liability.

This type of agreement includes wording to:

• Prohibit your independent contractor from being hired by your client

• Establish ownership of your company’s intellectual property

• Define the project deliverables your subcontractor is responsible for

Both the subcontractor agreement and subcontract management plan should help your independent contractor understand what’s expected of him or her before they report to the job. Documenting as much as you can, in as much detail as possible, helps you steer clear of many common marketing consulting project mistakes; keeps your client happy; and ensures a successful, longstanding work relationship with your valued contractor.

Author's Bio: 

Jim Cochran has been providing insurance for subcontractors for over a decade. This experience allows him to understand how to manage risk as a small business when working with independent contractors. To obtain a small business insurance quote, visit BusinessInsuranceNow