Subcontracting work (was: contractors question)

Subject: Subcontracting work (was: contractors question)
From: Jean Weber <100241 -dot- 2123 -at- COMPUSERVE -dot- COM>
Date: Sat, 18 Jan 1997 18:42:33 -0500

Several people have commented on my statement:
> Also I've now got a pretty good idea of which clients are habitually
late, so I simply double-book (or even triple-book) my time and juggle
things as they come in. Sometimes (but rarely) I've been caught out with
too much to do -- then I subcontract to a friend.<

David Demyan wrote:
>The client thinks they are buying service from contractor A, while
>contractor A has overbooked and shunted the work to contractor B,
>whom the client has never had the opportunity to consider.

My thanks to those of you who defended my practice. Matt Ion, for example,
pointed out that when you contract to someone for work in the construction
industry, the person you contract with isn't necessarily the one who does
the work. That person is responsible for the work being done (to the
required standard, on time, within budget, etc). The same applied to
printing and publishing, graphic arts, technical writing or any number of
things. If any of my subcontractors fails in this regard, then it reflects
on me (and rightly so).

I can certainly understand some people's unease at the practice of
subcontracting, as I have on occasion received poor quality work when
someone subcontracted something out and didn't exercise enough control over
the project to ensure that the results were acceptable. But I interpret
that as poor management, not deceit. The only time it is deceit is in the
case of a breach of a specific agreement not to subcontract.

I consider subcontracting to be a fact of business life. For example, when
I contract for freelance writing, I don't specify that I am going to be
using an editor to check my work, although I do build that cost into my
quote. But I would never allow my writing work to go back to a client
without someone else editing it! I consider that to be part of my quality
control. Similarly, if I'm doing a job that requires graphic or layout
skills beyond mine, I would get a suitably qualified person to do it. The
client benefits. I don't think I'm hiding anything from the client, and
that's not my intention.

If someone feels it is vitally important that work be done by a specific
individual's personal hands and brain (for example, due to industrial
security issues), they need to specify that in the contract. If I am asked
to sign a agreement that no one else is to see the materials, who hasn't
also been authorised to see them, then I would honor that agreement and not
subcontract without getting approval first.

Regards, Jean Weber
Sydney, Australia

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