5 Tips to Manage 1099 Contractors

5 Tips to Manage 1099 Contractors

 

More than 20 million people in the US are independent contractors. This means there’s plenty to choose from, and there’s some very good reason to use them instead of salaried employees. For example, you only need to pay independent contractors for a specific volume of work, and independent contractors will usually have all the tools they need to do a job. 

Project management involving 1099 contractors will usually take a degree of team management to get the desired results. Follow some simple steps, and you are already closer to getting the completed job you’re hoping for.

1. Set Clear Expectations

It’s a good idea to set expectations when working with anybody, especially 1099 contractors. You need to make it clear exactly what you need to be done and how it needs to be done. This should also include details on which materials are to be used and make them aware of limitations on working hours or other restrictions.

With expectations set, the contractor can then set about their task in full confidence that they’re doing what’s expected of them. If you don’t set expectations, the contractor could become confused and not fully understand the scope of the task. Such poor project management can result in a poorly done job.

Good team management also involves communicating clearly during the job as well as well as before. If there are any updates or changes to what you need, let the contractor know as soon as you know. And remember that if there are changes to the plan, you should pay the contractor according to what you agreed upon initially.

2. Use a Time Tracker

Time Tracker on the Web, Mobile

Time Tracker on the Web, Mobile

It’s usually a good idea to track how much time remote employees are working on tasks, especially if they are being paid by the hour. Let contractors know that they are being monitored, and it can help to prevent any temptations to take liberties with your time.

Using a time tracker like the  PK4 TimeTracker can also help with project management for other reasons. For example, a time tracker will help make it easier for you to keep accurate records of how long remote employees have worked for, which helps when it comes to invoicing and accounting. A time tracker can also help you see if time is being spent well, potentially helping you make changes that will help you make contractors more productive. And you can make it easy by giving your contractors access to a mobile or web app, so that the learning curve is smoother.

3. Create a Contract 

You should always create a contract before any work gets started. The contract should include details such as the scope of the work involved, the materials used, and the overall cost of doing the job. A contract should also help you provide guidelines that will help you measure the contractor’s performance and set limitations on what the contractor can or cannot do.

With the scope of the task and other details officially noted, the contractor can go ahead and start work with confidence. If, for whichever reason, the terms of the contract are not met, then you both have an option to take a legal approach if necessary.

4. Don’t Micromanage

Good team management often involves standing back and letting the professionals do what they’re good at. If you’ve recruited a professional with a solid track record, then you should have confidence that they can do what they’re skilled at without your supervision.

Micromanaging is only likely to lead to frustration, and the contractor’s productivity could take a hit. Micromanaging is also likely to be time-consuming and potentially frustrating for you, and it’s unlikely to provide any benefit.

And remember that in most cases, they’re the expert, and you are not. While you might have an idea of how a particular job should be done or how long it would take, the person with the skills and experience is far more likely to be correct.
If you want to know how your contractor is progressing, then it’s fine to request the occasional update. Depending on the nature of the job, daily or weekly updates may be ideal.

5. Pay Them Well

It can be tempting to choose a cheap contractor to save money, but it’s usually a bad idea. A skilled contractor will want to be paid what they’re worth, meaning somebody willing to do the job on the cheap is unlikely to have the required skills and experience.

While a cheaper contractor might cost you less, you’re running the risk of having to pay a lot more in the long term. In some cases, the job might need to be redone entirely, which, of course, means paying another subcontractor. Depending on the task, the wrong contractor might even cause damage that will cost even more to rectify.

While you should pay well, it’s also fine to make sure you don’t overpay. Ask around to see what the going rates are to get an idea of what it will cost.

Summary

Independent contractors are the ideal option for various tasks, and they’re best used when there’s a single job to be done. However, it makes a lot of sense to choose the right contractor and manage them effectively.

One of the key factors that will help you manage contractors is communicating clearly with them. Set expectations, clarify what you need to be done, and create a contract to confirm what you need in writing. It’s also best to avoid micromanaging contractors and instead ask for the occasional update on their progress. You can also use a time tracking app to monitor how long they’re working, including remote employees, which will help prevent disputes and make things easier when it comes to invoicing.

Perhaps one of the most important aspects is to pay a good rate. Paying well will help ensure you hire a contractor that knows what they’re doing and can get the job done properly at the first time of asking. Otherwise, you’re opening yourself up to the risk of more inconvenience and more financial cost.

Photo by Claire Nakkachi on Unsplash

How Johnson Controls Enabled Cost Accountability for its Sales CoE

How Johnson Controls Enabled Cost Accountability for its Sales CoE

 

Intro

As a Fortune Global 500 company, Johnson Controls is a worldwide leader in providing building technology solutions. With over 105,000 employees across 2,000 locations, Johnson Controls equips buildings across the world with automation systems, HVAC equipment, security and more, to keep their occupants safe, healthy, and secure.

Behind the company’s US$31.4 billion worth of sales sits the company’s Center of Excellence on Sales Operations – a network of engineers, contractors, and program managers which supports global sales teams with drafting project blueprints and designs. 

Challenges

While the Sales Operations Centre of Excellence (CoE) was previously embedded within separate business units, it was reformed into a separate business unit following a corporate reorganization in 2019. As an independent business unit servicing different regions and divisions across the company, the CoE was now an independent accounting entity. It maintains its own financial statements, accounting for (internal) revenue through billing other business units for services performed, and costs through careful tracking of employees’ time. In order to accurately charge these costs back to separate business units, time tracking was now an integral part of this accountability. 

Adding to this complexity was the fact that some sub-teams within the CoE already had established legacy solutions and practices for time tracking. While some employees were new to time tracking, others were using disparate time tracking systems. For instance, while one team in Costa Rica was already using a time tracking system, another in APAC was tracking their hours manually on spreadsheets.

In their search for a time tracking solution, the Sales Operations CoE team at Johnson Controls had two key requirements. Firstly, the solution had to provide a seamless user experience. Secondly, the time tracking system had to be integrated with Salesforce.

PK4 Tech’s Time Tracker stood out as a strong contender as its deep integrations with Salesforce meant that time tracking data could easily be integrated with other sales and operations data already on the CRM platform. This helped to minimize the implementation complexity and efforts. 

Solution

With the goal of unifying all teams under a standardized time tracking solution, Johnson Controls first started with a phased introduction of PK4 Tech’s Time Tracker. Within the first 2 years of implementation, 1,000 of over 4,000 employees in the global CoE organization were onboarded to the Time Tracker.

Results

Improved Time Tracking And Cost Accountability: With the Time Tracker, employees were now able to log their hours with a level of granularity that was not possible before. For instance, where previously, the CoE team only tracked hours on a general basis, they could now break these hours down into pre-sale vs post-sale support, coordination time, administrative time, etc.

This, in turn, has enabled the CoE to provide detailed statements of work and invoices when charging their services to other business units. The detailed breakdown of labor costs and services allows the CoE team to improve the accountability and accuracy of their cost chargeback.

Deepened Business Insights: With the custom Salesforce reports and dashboards, management could now get a comprehensive review of their business, and access granular data like labor and service cost breakdown by region, project type, or even task type. This provides Johnson Controls with more accurate data and information for resource planning and strategic decision-making. 

Reduced Overall Administrative Burden: The integration with Salesforce also helped to reduce the administrative work required from both end-users, as well as the management and finance teams. Employees within the CoE team were already familiar with using Salesforce and introducing a time tracking system within the CRM platform greatly eased their transition towards this new time tracking process. Furthermore, having the Time Tracker integrated into Salesforce also allowed for the synchronization of data on labor costs with established invoicing and finance processes, minimizing the administrative efforts for the finance teams.

Tech Components 

  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • PK4 TimeTracker in Salesforce
  • PK4 TimeTracker Mobile App
  • PK4 TimeTracker Web App
  • Microsoft Azure AD integration for Single SignOn.
How MercuryGate Plugged Revenue Leakage from Support Cases

How MercuryGate Plugged Revenue Leakage from Support Cases

 

Intro

As one of the leading transportation management software providers, MercuryGate International simplifies and centralizes freight transportation for logistics companies across the world. Their platform supports all modes of transport including ocean, air, rail, truckload, last-mile, parcel, and intermodal. Based out of Cary, NC, Mercury Gate has been recognized as one of the Top 100 Logistics IT Providers by Inbound Logistics Magazine. MercuryGate also provides integrations, technology, and managed services partnerships.

Challenges

MercuryGate Support is billed separately to some of their customers. For those customers, it is not a part of their subscription fees. With a Services Implementation team, a Customer Support team, and a developer group all working on customer-facing issues, MercuryGate had a hard time keeping track of the actual time spent on specific customer cases.

Since Services Implementation was usually a timed project service, that team used a Professional Services Automation tool called OpenAir to track their time. And that worked very well for the Services implementation team. However, as the Tier 1 and Tier2 Customer Support teams grew, it became imperative for the Support team to track their time. In addition, the developer group needed to spend time on Customer Support cases too, which also needed to be tracked.

Disparate Platforms: The Services Implementation team used OpenAir to track their time and material-based projects. The Customer Support team worked on Cases within Salesforce but needed to additionally log into OpenAir just to track the time that they spent on customer cases. The developer group used Atlassian’s Jira to keep track of their work. But they too needed to log in to OpenAir to record their time.

Siloed Systems: None of the systems talked to each other. Each group worked in a separate silo. It was hard to convince the Customer Support and Developer teams to record their times in a separate system. Following that, the accounting team needed to run reports in OpenAir to get an extract of the time worked on Cases and then download those reports as Excel sheets to send over to their billing system.

Poor integration: Since the Support Team spent the maximum amount of time on Customer Cases and worked completely in Salesforce, MercuryGate needed a system that would work easily and accurately within Salesforce.

This prompted MercuryGate to look for an alternative solution that could meet its evolving needs for time tracking. 

Solution

In 2021, MercuryGate implemented PK4’s Time Tracker for Salesforce. PK4 added in a webhook module to automatically bring in developer work logs from Jira identified by Salesforce Case Number back into Salesforce.

Results

Jason Liner quote on Time Tracker

Intuitive, efficient time tracking for Support Team

MercuryGate implemented PK4 Time Tracker’s Salesforce Lightning component within their Case object. The support team now saves time and has a much more intuitive system, because they can now stay on the Case in Salesforce. They no longer need to access a separate system to track their time. And ALL hours spent on a Case are now accurately tracked.

Improved Time Tracking Convenience 

PK4 TimeTracker automatically brought the Jira work logs that were already being used by the Developer Group directly into Salesforce, tied to the specific customer case. Developers previously had to double-log their time in Jira and OpenAir. Now, they did not even need to click on a button to get their hours into Salesforce. The hours that the developers recorded in Jira are automatically brought into Salesforce through a webhook, provided by the PK4 TimeTracker.

Sometimes, the Professional Services Team that did the original implementation for the Customer needs to work on a customer case. Most of the PSA team does not have access to Salesforce. Those team members now use the PK4 Time Tracker web app to log the time that they spent on a specific Case. And that data too is automatically synced to Salesforce.

Decreased time and inaccuracies.

Before the PK4 TimeTracker was implemented, the Tier 1 and Tier 2 support teams needed to log into OpenAir to log their times. Because Accounting billed customers based on their Case numbers, the support team needed to create a task in OpenAir with the Salesforce Case number. Since the support team spent most of their time working on cases in Salesforce, they needed to spend additional time at the end of the day recording all the Cases worked during the day in OpenAir. This led to a lot of dropped hours and inaccuracies in the Case numbers. MercuryGate was reconciling time between Jira, Salesforce, and OpenAir making the whole process inefficient and inaccurate. With the PK4 TimeTracker in place, the whole operation now is streamlined and smooth.

Increased billing

Within the first month of implementation, MercuryGate noticed that the billed time for the development group and the PSA group had gone up. Because of the double logging issue, developers were reluctant to log into a second system and record their time. Now with the Jira work logs being brought automatically into Salesforce, all work hours spent on billable cases are being accurately recorded. This has turned into real dollars for MercuryGate since the developers were doing billable work for customers that were not actually being billed.

Tech Components

  • Salesforce Sales Cloud
  • PK4 TimeTracker in Salesforce
  • PK4 TimeTracker Web
  • PK4 TimeTracker Jira Integration

 

Plugging Gaps in Customer Support Revenues

Plugging Gaps in Customer Support Revenues

Interview with Mr. Jason Liner, VP FP&A MercuryGate International, Cary NC

MercuryGate is the only full power, feature-rich transportation management system (TMS) that is singularly focused on strategic freight transportation management automation and has been for over two decades. The result is the best-of-breed transportation management platform that enables logistics experts to execute efficiencies previously unattainable and empowers relative newcomers to perform at expert levels they could not otherwise achieve.

The MercuryGate TMS simplifies and centralizes the management of freight transportation within a single software platform to save time and money for shippers, 3PLs, brokers and carriers around the world. The platform supports all modes of transport including ocean, air, rail, truckload, LTL, last mile, parcel and intermodal to give you visibility to every shipment, automate manual processes, and make smarter decisions based on delivery performance.

Mr. Jason Liner is the Vice President of Financial Planning and Analysis at MercuryGate International.

1. What is your primary role in the company?

My primary role is in Financial Planning and Analysis. As a part of my role, I work across Finance, Operations, Product Development, and Product Strategy. I help drive strategic decisions throughout the business, isolating issues and articulating appropriate business solutions.

2. What was the main challenge that you wanted to solve?

Some of our customers pay separately for Customer Support. For those customers, support is not a part of their subscription fees. We also do a fair amount of implementation services for our customers. We have three different teams working on customer-facing issues. There are Tier-1 and Tier-2 Support teams, the implementation team, and sometimes the development team. All these teams primarily work in different siloed software systems – the Customer support team in Salesforce, the implementation team in OpenAir, and the dev team in Jira. Our billing to customers is done based on the Case Number in Salesforce on yet another system. Reconciling hours spent on customer Cases across these systems was a nightmare. Some of the time details would have missing Case numbers. In addition, since some of our teams needed to log their hours in duplicate, they would often forget to do that. We recognized that we were losing out on our support revenues with all these issues. We desperately needed a single system-of-record for the hours that the different teams worked on Customer Cases. One that we could easily integrate with our billing system.

3. What is your number 1 challenge to tracking employee performance? 

Disparate and siloed systems for different teams

4. What is your team size?

About 120 people in Customer Service and Implementation teams. Plus, another 50 people in the development team who also work on customer-facing issues.

5. What are you currently doing to make your customer service team more efficient?

We have implemented the PK4 TimeTracker for all our teams in different ways. For the Customer Service team, which works in Salesforce, we have implemented the Time Tracker lightning component that tracks time right inside the Case. The process is highly efficient, and we are now tracking every minute that the team spends on a Case. For the development team, we have integrated their Jira worklogs to be brought into Salesforce directly via the TimeTracker. So their time is recorded automatically into the Time Tracker, without their having even to click a button. Our Implementation team uses the Time Tracker web app to track their hours whenever they need to work on a Case. So all hours worked are now directly tied to Cases, and it all happens seamlessly.

6. What has been the significant impact for you?

Within the first month of implementing the Time Tracker, we’ve seen our Support revenues go up because all the hours are now accurately tracked. The time that we spent reconciling and billing customers has also drastically reduced.

5 Tips to Stay Focused at Work During a Personal Crisis

5 Tips to Stay Focused at Work During a Personal Crisis

 A personal crisis could strike any person at any time, and it doesn’t matter how stable or happy your life might otherwise be – the effects can be devastating. A personal crisis will be on your mind almost constantly, no matter how much you might want a break from it. You are also likely to take the problem to work with you no matter how hard you try to put on a brave face.

No matter how hard you might try to get your work done, it can be all but impossible to prevent other thoughts from creeping in and harming your productivity. Your performance at work can begin to suffer as you lose focus, potentially causing harm to your professional life. It’s a fairly common issue, and around 47% of employees say their performance at work is sometimes affected by their personal commitments.

If your professional life also takes a hit, then things will only get worse for you, making it essential for you to remain focused at work as much as possible. You can take steps to help you maintain your productivity at work as much as possible. 

Create a Schedule

 If you’re working without a specific goal in mind, it can be easy for your thoughts to distract you. Creating a schedule will help you keep focused on your work, helping you to work towards a goal rather than just working through the motions. 

To help keep your productivity on target, consider using time tracking software like the one from PK4 Tech to monitor your time. Time tracking software will help make it easier to tell when you are being productive and help you avoid wasting time. Knowing that you’re monitoring yourself can also help you focus on your work. 

Speak With Other People

Anybody going through a personal crisis should speak with other people. Meet up with somebody close to you and explain the situation and how it affects you. Also, listen for their feedback and advice and be prepared to hear some things you may not like.

However, this doesn’t mean you should speak with everybody about your problems. When at work, it’s best to limit what you say to other people. For one thing, telling colleagues about your situation keeps your head in the issue instead of giving you a chance to focus on something else.

Treat Going to Work as an Escape

When things are difficult in your personal life, going to work can be the ideal escape. Even the journey to and from work can help give your mind a break from what is upsetting you, and your mind will become even more occupied when you have a job to do.

There is also a social aspect to working with other people, making your job a convenient getaway. You can get involved with discussions not related to your personal commitments, whether they’re work-related or not. It can also be great to arrange a social outing with work colleagues although you should be careful not to overdo it, especially if you must work the following day.

Don’t Push Yourself Hard

You’re only human, so don’t put too much work pressure on yourself if you struggle sometimes. Instead, give yourself some space occasionally and don’t be hard on yourself if your productivity does take a hit.

It may take you a bit longer than usual to perform tasks, and things won’t improve for you overnight. However, beating yourself up about it won’t improve the situation and can make matters worse. Things will likely improve after a while, but you just have to let them through your system naturally. 

Limit Personal Contact

With a personal crisis going on, some people will likely want to call you regularly to get updates. Instead, it’s a good idea to set some limits and let people know that you’re at work and need to focus on your job.

Having people call you regularly to talk about your problem will cause you to keep thinking about it and perhaps even remind you about it when your mind has taken a break for a while. Unfortunately, it will also distract you from your work, potentially upsetting management and colleagues and increasing work pressure.

Try to limit calls to urgent matters only and, if needed, limit who has access to your number. You might need to turn your mobile phone off if the calls you’re receiving is harming your productivity.

Summary

Although most people will recover in time, there is no way to take away the pain and anguish of a personal crisis. In the meantime, it is essential to look after yourself, including looking after your professional prospects.

When going through a personal crisis, it’s important to focus on your work so your job is not adversely affected to the point where work pressure also becomes difficult to cope with. But, on the other hand, you will also need to acknowledge that you’re going through a difficult time and that you should not expect yourself to be firing on all cylinders.

Give yourself breathing space and time, use time tracking software, create a schedule, and set limitations on disturbances to help keep you focused. By focusing on your work, you’re helping to ensure you’re still in great condition when your crisis finally subsides.

Photo by Ethan Sykes on Unsplash