10 ways to use Jira more efficiently with your team

jira efficiency

10 ways to use Jira more efficiently with your team

Jira is a highly adaptable and feature-rich platform, which promises to help all types of teams manage their work. There are several features and toolkits that are purpose-built for software, business, DevOps and any other iteration of IT team to plan, track and release world-class software.

For example, software developers, project managers and SCRUM masters all rely on Jira Software to track bugs, manage the projects, products, processes and tasks, as well as expedite their software development efforts.

Jira can also be integrated with a broad range of additional Atlassian tools, including Confluence, Bitbucket, Slack and Github, to help expedite your development processes.

However, optimising your Jira setup is a complex undertaking, with many businesses, rely on a Jira contractor to streamline their approach. If you just want to streamline your approach to Jira, here are our 10 top tips and tricks to get the best from this diverse set of tools for your business:

#1 Keyboard shortcuts

Jira comes with a lot of neat keyboard shortcuts. If your team can use these shortcuts in their day-to-day roles, this can make a huge difference to their productivity.

You can access the full list from the “Keyboard shortcuts” selection directly in Jira. It’s in the top navigation “Help” menu (if you’re accessing Jira from a server) or in the bottom left sidebar (if you’re using a cloud-based installation).  You can also reach the shortcut list by simply typing a question mark (“?”).

#2 Fast actions

We all know that the keyboard is faster than a mouse when it comes to navigating any online entity. By pressing (“.”) on the keyboard, you can complete Jira actions without clicking anything. For example, you can travel to different page, move issues, clone issues and fast transition issues by workflow.

#3 Profile settings

There are a number of minor tweaks you can make to your profile settings to boost your productivity.

Under the “Preferences” section of your Profile, click the pencil icon and change the following:

  • Remove email notifications for when you make a change in Jira.
  • In the “Email type” field, make sure you get emails in the HTML format. The test format only shows there’s a change, but not what has changed.
  • Also, enable the “Autowatch” field, so you can watch issues you create or comment on.

#4 Quick filters

You can create some quick filters from the “Board Settings” area of Jira, letting your quickly view your information in an easy-to-understand and personalised format.

If you use this feature, a quick filters dropdown will appear on your board, which you can use to streamline your view of your Jira dashboard. For example, you can filter by “label”, recently updated cards and remove blocked cards from your view.

#5 Add links

If you use Slack, Confluence or another online space to discuss your project, you can add a link to your Jira menu. It’s simple to do, on the project’s left sidebar, just click “Add link”.

Your administrator can also add links to other apps and web-based tools you may use, which will appear in the project menu. So, you can view all the information you need from one place.

#6 Time logging

Time logging is a useful tool to monitor your and your team’s day-to-day activities. In Jira, the Tempo time-tracking tool can help you get better visibility over your workload and can help your team leaders make sure you’re all strategically aligned within a project.

You can also add Tempo to your Google Calendar and Slack channels, helping you monitor all the events and meetings you have for a project too.

#7 Use in-line issue create

You can create new Jira issues on the board and the backlog, which is a feature that is available in its next-generation projects. If you create an in-line issue, it will inherit all the selected filters (labels, assignees, versions, etc.) and links, saving you a lot of time.

#8 Save searches

If you create any custom searches, make sure you save them so you can reuse them at a later date. You can also create custom boards from saved searches and add search results to your dashboards, if you create a particularly powerful search.

#9 Use issue keys

If you use the Git version control system, you can add your issue key to branch your commit messages and name.

When branch naming, a good convention is to use the format <prefix>/<issue-key>_<description. If your team uses Bitbucket, you can create your branch from the issue screen. This automatically creates a branch name.

#10 Don’t stress

If you are just getting started with Jira, don’t worry about Jira’s different issue types (including story, task, bug etc) and all of the different features that come with each issue. It takes time to understand any new system and Jira is no exception. As a first step, try creating your first issues as stories (you can always change the type later). If in doubt, here is a good discussion from the Jira community on the topic.

Conclusion

These tips skim the surface of the rich set of features and functionality Jira offers businesses around the world. If you want to boost your productivity and knowledge in this area, you may want to hire an expert Jira contractor to help your teams understand everything this powerful software can achieve.

At ClearHub, we can help you find the right Jira, contractor for your business, with built-in technical support and our guarantee that they have the skills to get the job done. Click here to find out more about our guarantee.

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The 3 types of contractors – and why you should hire them through ClearHub

team of contractors

The 3 types of contractors – and why you should hire them through ClearHub

Do you want to hire software contractors, but don’t know where to start? You’re not alone. Research reveals that most tech firms use contract workers to meet 40 to 50 percent of their staffing needs.

Whether you need to fill a skills gap or just need  short-term help for a specific project, a contractor can bring many benefits to your business. For starters, they are often a more cost-effective option, compared to permanent hire, as you don’t have to provide any workplace benefits and usually work with them in the short-term. Plus, they can bring in a level of expertise into your organization to boost your business processes and projects or train up your staff.

However, not all contractors are the same, and many businesses struggle to find quality candidates with the right IT skills and experience.

At ClearHub, we understand that you need to ensure that whoever fills your role can complete the tasks assigned to them as efficiently as possible, providing you with good value for money and a guaranteed level of expertise.

That’s why every contractor we work with is technically tested by an industry expert in the skills that are important to you, so you can be sure they can get the job done. If, for any reason, you’re not happy with a contractor, we’ll find a replacement quickly and at no additional cost to your business. Plus, we offer Platinum Partner level technical support to our contractors. We’re proud to offer this level of support to contractors and organisations alike – it’s what sets us apart from the competition, and is the core reason we’ve bene in business for 20+ years.

We work with a range of specialist IT contractors, focusing on the following areas and addressing the following business requirements:

Atlassian Contractors: If you need to improve communication at your organisation

Atlassian’s extensive suite of tools help teams work smarter, helping companies run their communications as smoothly and efficiently as possible. However, Atlassian is a complex platform, and its usage often grows beyond individual teams, spanning entire organisations thanks to the benefits it provides.

As such, many businesses need to find an expert or number of experts to provide support within managing Atlassian tools.

Most businesses need Atlassian contractors that can help in one of the following three areas: to set up a new platform, manage your existing platforms and train your staff to use these platforms.

At ClearHub, we hire certified contractors with a range of specialist Atlassian knowledge, including expert Jira and Confluence contractors.

Did you know that the average large organisation tracks 1.4 million issues through a single Jira instance? Our Jira contractors can help you:

  • Set up your Jira software, exploring your business needs and working with you to develop workflows to support your IT teams.
  • Manage your existing Jira deployment, helping you find a better way for your IT teams to manage incidents. For example, you could hire a software contractor to manage the maintenance of your workflows, permissions, issue types and so on.
  • Train your teams to understand how to use Jira in the most effective manner. Whether you need basic training or helping your staff understand a specific feature, your contractor will make sure everyone is making the most out of Jira.

Confluence is a collaboration wiki tool to help teams share knowledge efficiently. Our Confluence contractors can help you:

  • Set up your Confluence wiki and/or migrate your existing intranet portal to ensure it has the information and functionality you need.
  • Manage your existing Confluence wiki. They can, for example, restructure your architecture, index your documentation, manage user permissions and install plugins.
  • Train and mentor your stakeholders, instilling best practices so you can make the most of the functionality.Agile Contractors: If you need to streamline your projects to deliver on time and on budget

Agile principles can help you deliver your products quickly and efficiently. However, instilling an agile culture in your workplace can be difficult. So, many organisations decide to bring in external agile experts to spearhead this transformation. At ClearHub, we work with a range of Agile experts, including:

  • Agile coaches: to help you rethink and change the ways you go about your development process, addressing issues such as workflow practices and team collaboration.
  • Scrum masters: to help team members understand and use the values and principles of agile development.
  • Agile project managers: to plan, lead, organise and motivate agile teams, delivering projects on time and on budget.

DevOps Contractors: If you want to foster innovation and collaboration

A DevOps approach effectively assimilates your development and operations teams to improve collaboration. Research reveals that companies that adopt this way of working deliver software quickly, reliably and safely.

However, there is a massive skills shortage in this area, and many organisations are struggling to find the specialist skills required to fill their roles. At ClearHub, we can help you take your DevOps to the next level and work with experts including:

  • DevOps engineers: from infrastructure and automation to scripting, we have a broad range of skill sets in our network of contractors to help you bring momentum and expertise to your project.
  • DevOps managers: to help you develop a DevOps strategy that is aligned with resilience, cost and performance in mind.
  • Cloud engineers: our CloudOps engineers can setup, configure and integrate your systems so everything runs smoothly in the cloud.

In Conclusion

At ClearHub, we have 20+ years of experience matching the right contractor to the right project. We’ve helped organisations find highly motivated and skilled contractors to meet the demands of their business requirements. As a result, those organisations have got products to market faster and improved their efficiency.

If you decide to hire an Atlassian, agile or DevOps contractor with us, our guarantee and expertise in the recruitment field take the risk out of this process. If you’d like to find out more about how we work, please contact one of the team today.

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Hiring for Atlassian skills? Here are 5 essential tips…

hiring for atlassian skills

Hiring for Atlassian skills? Here are 5 essential tips…

Any talent hunt is difficult. But when you are looking for Atlassian support, it can be hard to find the right candidate for the job.

You need to find someone with a specific cross-section of skills and experience to mitigate any risks and the impact of potential changes associated with migrating, configuring and updating your Atlassian network. So, here are our five top tips to get the right talent into your organisation:

#1 Which Atlassian tools are the right ones to use?

Millions of users rely on Atlassian products to improve their software development, project management, collaboration efforts and code quality. 

These tools bring many benefits to these users. Not only can they integrate with a range of plug-ins, but Atlassian tools are also widely regarded as the best in the industry thanks to the high level of compatibility and versatility they provide.

What’s more, Atlassian regularly updates and enhances its software, improving its tools and further expanding their plug-in potential.

Before you start your recruitment drive, however, you need to make sure you choose the best Atlassian tools to help you achieve your organisational goals.

To accomplish this and point your recruitment drive in the right direction, the key question to answer is: Which Atlassian tool (or combination of tools) is best suited to make your company more efficient?

#2 What Atlassian support do you need?

As we mentioned, Atlassian provides a wide range of tools. As such, you need to pinpoint which tools and services your organisation needs to ensure your team’s computing needs are implemented and maintained as efficiently as possible.

For example, you may need to find a Confluence expert or number of experts to optimise collaboration across your team or teams. Or you may need to find a Jira Administrator to help keep your project on time and budget. Alternatively, Atlassian’s Git management solution can help you manage, share and review your code.

#3 What questions should you ask?

Once you have pinpointed your required tools, you need to check your candidate has those skills to provide the correct level of Atlassian support.

For example, you may be migrating your company’s data over from an old system into Atlassian or consolidating your current systems with Atlassian ones. Both these examples require a very specific set of skills and experience to make sure you get the right person for the job.

When you are vetting potential candidates, ask for clear examples of their previous work and expertise – and test them on their claims in the interview process.

Technical questions are also important. While some of these questions will be specific to your project, there are some more general questions you can ask to test a candidate’s technical knowledge.

Atlassian support

For example, let’s assume you’re hiring a Jira expert. You may want to ask the following:

  • Why is Jira used?
  • Can you explain the Jira workflow?
  • What report types are generated by Jira?
  • How is an issue created in Jira?
  • How can an issue be shared in Jira?
  • What is the purpose of the Jira dashboard? 

Also, don’t forget to check your candidate’s soft skills to make sure they are a match for your business. For example, you may want to ask the candidate if they can provide evidence of a time they met a strict deadline? Or examples to demonstrate their aptitude for time management?

#4 How can you guarantee the candidate has those skills?

While the interview process should help you gauge a candidate’s level of expertise, it may not be feasible to fully test every candidate’s skill set.

However, while any recruitment process is expensive, it could prove more costly to hire someone who claims to have the right knowledge and experience and then to later find out that this is not the case.

So, you might want to follow up with a series of technical tests to mitigate these risks. However, this may not guarantee your candidate’s skill set if you don’t test them in a robust manner.

At ClearHub, we can take this often time-consuming process off your hands, as we test our contractors to ensure we deliver the right technical expert for each project. Each one is vetted for technical ability, cultural fit and work preferences by our market-leading Platinum Atlassian Solutions Partner, Clearvision.

Plus, regardless of what stage you’re at, if things aren’t working with your contractor, we’ll replace them at zero cost to your business under the terms of our 100% success guarantee.

#5 Would a contractor be a better solution? 
 

It can be difficult to find the right people to provide the right level of Atlassian support to fix the issues your company is experiencing.

Most contractors have years of experience in their chosen field, providing you with the specialist skills you need. They also have the confidence to enter your organisation and jump straight into a task without any training, while providing fast, quality results. Plus, there are none of the long term commitments or costs of a permanent hire. For example, you don’t need to pay an annual salary or factor in work-based benefits such as holiday and sick pay.

 In conclusion

There are many factors to consider to get the Atlassian support that your company needs. Your top priority must be finding a candidate with the right skill set for your specific project and ensuring this candidate is as good in real life as they are on paper.

A contractor could be the solution you’re looking for. They can plug your skills gap and hit the ground running, providing you with the expertise you need.

At ClearHub, we can help you find the expert Jira, Confluence and Atlassian contractors your organisation needs, with integrated technical support and our guarantee that they have the skills to get the job done. Click here to find out more about our guarantee.
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Rise & Grind, 5 Gig Economy Facts

Rise and Grind

Rise & Grind, 5 Gig Economy Facts

Remote workers have been able to work over the internet since the dawn of the digital age. It’s likely they had a massive impact on the rise of gig workers, opening the minds of employers to the concept of flexible working practises.

It looks as though temporary work is headed in the same direction, with more employers seeking help from freelance workers.

  1. 40% of organisations expect gig economy workers to join their workforce in the near future

With the gig economy on the rise, more businesses seem to be embracing the idea of freelance workers with corporations of all sectors now rapidly expanding their teams.

One of the reasons behind this is the money employers are saving not hiring full-time employees to fulfil business needs.

  1. 30% increase in gig-work platforms
    The rise in platforms advertising gig work comes as no surprise considering the increase in freelance workers. Business-minded individuals are seizing the opportunity to set up hubs for freelancers who want to advertise their talents to businesses seeking temporary workers. Of course such platforms existed prior to the increase but more are emerging, with some dedicated to niche sectors e.g. software contractors. We are a perfect example of this.
  2. 20% of freelancers say they’d prefer full-time employment
    Obviously gig work isn’t for everyone, but even with this in mind, a whopping 80% of gig workers wouldn’t return or opt for full-time opportunities; 45% of them state they’d seek to acquire new clients in order to meet financial goals if it came to it.

Freelancers tend to work longer hours for less. This doesn’t sound appealing to some, but for many the pros outweigh the cons, with flexibility being one of the main reasons why temporary work is preferred. This includes working from home, spending more quality time with family, having time to take online courses, voluntary work and so on. This has seen a shift in the working mindset, as the saying goes, you don’t live to work, you work to live.

  1. All industries have freelancers

Traditionally gig work has been associated with freelance writing, web development and information based jobs. However, with the benefits of the gig economy, people from all backgrounds are now entering the new era. Workers from all of these sectors and more can now be seen working on a freelance basis:

  • Graphic Design
  • Finance
  • Agriculture and Forestry
  • Transportation
  • Education
  • IT
  • Marketing
  • Admin
  • Sales
  • Healthcare
  • Construction
  1. Limitations in skill sets are no longer an issue when it comes to gig work

Prior to the rise of freelancers in the gig economy, many first time workers were put off by their own lack of expertise to even attempt to pursue freelance work, thinking employers would show no interest in them if they had no prior in-house experience.

With the increase in employers now seeking freelancers, this has widened opportunities and provided a boost in confidence for first time workers. I think it’s fair to say that the younger generation are more inclined to “be their own boss”, which is down to a change in attitude, and the emergence of the digital age. With freelancers having better access to resources, they can now work from anywhere in the world from any number of devices. This change in attitude is slowly passing on to open-minded members of the older generation.

Although skill-level is still important to many employers seeking temporary workers, they are becoming more open-minded with the change in attitude.

Is there a downside?

Gig workers are charging more for their services and businesses are paying what they’re asking because they know hiring a permanent employee actually costs them more in the long-run.

As a result of higher fees for highly-skilled freelancers, individuals starting out are charging less for their work. Although this can be seen as a positive in that it increases their chances of success in finding temporary work, the danger sits in the fact that they are also vulnerable to exploitation, with some employers paying far less than what they should be.

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Podcasts Galore

Podcasts Galore

Podcasts Galore

We bring you… all podcasts related to ClearHub below!

In October 2018, we brought Chief Innovation Officer Simon Wood from ClearHub, and Senior Technical Trainer Paul Christie from Clearvision together, to discuss all things training, consultancy and ClearHub. Using real life examples to demonstrate how both businesses provide transformations and more, Paul and Simon reveal everything one needs to know to better their software.

In March 2019, ClearHub’s Chief Innovation Officer Simon Wood and Chief Revenue Officer Paul Renshaw, got together to discuss the emergence of the gig economy in all its forms. With more millennial’s seeking contract work, Clearvision’s sister company ClearHub is only expected to grow with the times. Using both personal and professional examples, Simon and Paul take a deep dive into the matter, leaving little to the imagination in this part 1 debate. For anyone interested in taking up contract work now or in the future, this podcast is a must!

And now, as of May 2019, listeners can enjoy Chief Innovation Officer Simon Wood and Chief Revenue Officer Paul Renshaw, as they continue their discussion on the emergence of the gig economy in all its forms. With more people seeking contract work, Clearvision’s sister company ClearHub (responsible for connecting businesses with the best Atlassian contractors out there) is only expected to grow. Using both personal and professional examples, Simon and Paul take a deep dive into the matter, leaving little to the imagination in this part 2 debate. For anyone interested in taking up contract work now or in the future, this podcast is a must hear!

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Flexible Working in 2019; What you need to know

Flexible Working in 2019

Flexible Working in 2019; What you need to know

It’s already common knowledge that the traditional, 9-5, sitting behind a desk working day is on the decline.

In fact, many employers have already introduced a new level of flexibility that allows their workers to adapt their hours, work from home, and possibly even work remotely. There’s also been a huge rise in the number of companies employing the skills of freelancers and contractors.

And with this trend of flexible working set to grow in 2019, it’s certainly something you’ll want to keep an eye on.

We’ve highlighted what’s already happening in the world of flexible working and what’s predicted to come for the rest of the year.

The right to flexible working

Although many employees don’t realise it, they do have a right to request flexible work after they have been in a job for 6 months. Although these requests don’t have to be accepted, as an employer, it is your obligation to consider them in a reasonable manner.

As more employees seek a shift in their work life balance and become aware of their rights surrounding flexible working, you may encounter more enquiries about various types of flexible working in the coming months and years.

With benefits on both sides, it’s likely that both you and your employees could profit from a new approach, so take the time to consider any requests you receive carefully.

Government Support

A partnership across government departments, business groups, trade unions and charities called The Flexible Working Task Force launched a new campaign earlier this year to help increase the uptake of flexible working.

As well as encouraging employers to use the strapline “Happy to talk flexible working” in their job advertisements, they have also published guidance on championing flexible working and have been highlighting the business benefits of flexible working.

Becoming a champion of flexible work can drastically improve your employee satisfaction and help to attract the best talent to your company.

Working Smarter

Thanks to advances in technology, there are many ways that your employees can work smarter, and this often feeds into flexible working.

As well as making it a reasonable request for an employee to work from home or work remotely, working smarter may also means that you can adapt the schedules people work too.

An extreme example of this may come if an employee needs to drop down the hours they work. Rather than losing a talented employee altogether, new technology or methods of doing things that can help them work smarter and in a way that convenient, so they can stay with your company and still find the balance they need.

The four day week

The idea of a four day week has been gaining traction on social networking sites after a handful of companies have adopted the new initiatives.

With reports suggesting that those who worked longer hours were actually less productive, some firms believe it well help to improve the way their employees work, as well as increasing their job satisfaction and giving a better work life balance.

While this is a drastic action that’s impractical for many companies, the logic behind it can be implied in more manageable way. An early finish on a friday, for example, or cutting back on overtime, could be ways you try and offer more flexibility to your employees.

Have you seen any major changes to the way your employees want to work recently? Have you got any plans to incorporate a more flexible policy in 2019? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments below!

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Tackling the Skills Gap: How to recruit IT talent

Tackling the Skills Gap

Tackling the Skills Gap: How to recruit IT talent

Innovation is critical to the technology industry. But over the past few years, the advancement of technology has faced one major roadblock – the availability of skilled workers. And it’s only set to get more difficult to find the talent you need.

We’re going to be looking at what the skills gap really means, how it may be affecting you and what you can do to protect your teams.

What do we mean when we talk about the ‘Skills Gap’?

Although some form of skills gap has been identified in many sectors, technology is the one area it seems to have had the most impact. This may be down to the fact that its an area that changes rapidly, requires specialist knowledge and hasn’t previously received enough attention in the education system.

Reports from 2017 show that an estimated 1.4 million computing/ engineering jobs would need to be filled by 2020 in the UK, with only 400,000 computer science graduates expected to emerge during that time.

In the US, the Bureau of labour statistics has estimated a need for 100,000 new IT workers every year for the next decade. There are currently only 60,000 entering the workforce every year.

Put simply, the level of skills, experience and expertise of jobseekers does not match the requirements of employers. In fact, job ads have been found to list an average of 16.7 hard skills, with resumes listing only an average of only 9.8.

Skills such as cybersecurity, web development, programming and coding are in short supply. But what has caused these areas to experience such a gap?

What has caused this shortage?

Education

Surveys have shown that 60% of companies are looking for coding skills when hiring entry level graduates for IT positions. And while these skills are now being taught in schools to children as young as 5, this is a fairly new introduction in most UK and US syllabuses.

Training

Due to the speed at which technology develops, skills barely stay current for even a few years. With employers reluctant to invest in training, it can become impossible for workers to maintain the level of expertise they need.

Salaries

Salaries for highly sought after skilled roles are increasing, with the best talent commanding a salary that is out of reach for most small companies. This makes the challenge of finding and retaining talent even greater for SME’s.

Brexit

For the UK, Brexit has already begun to have an impact on the skills gap. Applications for tech positions dropped around 10% in the first quarter of 2017 alone. With negotiations dragging out and the future uncertain, skilled workers from the EU are reluctant to take the risk.

What is the effect of this skill shortage?

On a team level, a skills gap can have a significant impact on your business, from a drop in productivity and innovation, poor customer service or even a full roadblock on a projects completion.

You may also notice that a skills gap will increase the stress on the rest of the team, as they are forced to work harder to cover the missing skills. This could have a knock on effect on your staff retention, workplace environment and overall employee well being.

Finding Talent

So what should employers be doing? The first thing employers must do is to look back at their own approach to recruiting technical talent.

As specialists in technical recruitment, we see a trend in the way that employers search for skilled workers. Typically, a hiring manager or HR department will put together a job description, listing skills and the tools they will require the new recruit to use.

However, the huge number of tools and systems available means that finding a highly skilled worker with exactly the right combination of tools and experience becomes incredibly unlikely.

Further to this, for highly specialised roles where the work may be intense but infrequent, many companies create a dual role, making it even more difficult to find an individual with the right mix of skills.

The reality is that a worker with good technology experience and the right attitude will quickly be able to pick up any tools that they haven’t used before, as they’ve likely used something very similar.

A key issue is that HR teams or recruitment firms may not have the depth of knowledge to recognise these similarities, and so may overlook potential candidates due to a missing skill on their CV.

It’s understandable that when employing highly paid tech talent, taking any risks with their skills can be daunting. But a flexible approach to recruitment can pay off in the long run.

As well as providing training for new staff in areas that are essential to you, you can also look at external support solutions to provide a safety net. At ClearHub, this is already built into our offering.

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The Skills Gap Strategy: Checklist and Guide

Business priorities in constant flux? Does this cause a lack of team productivity?

Our checklist includes five key takeaways you can use to optimise team performance and crush the competition by getting your products to market first.

It always seems impossible until it’s done, by a ClearHub contractor

Contractor-blog

It always seems impossible until it’s done, by a ClearHub contractor

“It always seems impossible until it’s done.” – Nelson Mandela

Finding the right contractor can seem impossible…

Have you been let down by an agency?

Unfortunately it’s not uncommon for agencies to over-promise and underdeliver. If you’ve ever hired a tech professional, you’ll know the average recruiter doesn’t understand their docker from their DevOps.

ClearHub on the other-hand, is responsible for connecting talented individuals to businesses on a global scale.

At ClearHub we specialise in what we know — helping software development teams achieve more

Your mission-critical Atlassian tools matter!

As the world’s only Atlassian contractor network, we understand that even the most seasoned contractor can hit a roadblock when using advanced development tools. We provide our contractors with 24/7 access to the ClearHub help desk, where they can speak to our Atlassian certified support team.

Did you know? Every contractor we place is tested by an industry expert in the areas most important to you. Vetted for technical ability, cultural fit, and work preferences — our clients get exactly what they ask for in terms of skills and attitude.

Mandela Quote

A good contractor and a good support network are always a formidable combination.”

ClearHub are the experts in the Atlassian world, for everything from working with ITSM teams who deliver improvement activities to Jira Service Desk (JSD), to migrations, installations, upgrades and integrations.

What if it doesn’t work out?

While we do our best to ensure our contractors are a right fit for you, as Mandela suggests, anything is possible.

That’s why we provide a risk free guarantee. If at any stage you decide, for any reason, that it’s not working out for you, we’ll replace your contractor free of charge.

Make the impossible possible, with ClearHub

Using Confluence and Jira?

Hire top Confluence & Jira contractors to fill your skills gap.

For the best of the best, head over to the ClearHub website now!

Attending Atlassian Summit? Come over to stand 719, our experts would love to talk to you in more detail about our ClearHub services.

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Managing Your Contractors

Managing Your Contractors

Managing Your Contractors

The beginning of a new year typically brings an influx of resolutions, self-improvement drives and diets as we use the annual milestone to break old habits and form better ones.

YouGov estimates 63% of Brits plan to take out new year’s resolutions. But perhaps rather soberingly, according to a BusinessInsider, a whopping 80% of these are likely to fail by February.

Forbes Magazine reports that only about 8% of New Year resolutions are successful. Deeper analysis shows the two things that typically create success are:

  1. Keep it Simple
  2. Make it Tangible.

With this in mind, and as the new year begins, it’s the perfect time to take a look again at what can be improved in your team or workplace. As with any lasting improvement or change, it typically starts with self-reflection. With this in mind, a few simple questions.

  • Are you getting the most out of your contractors?
  • What are the common pitfalls managers make when working with contractors and freelancers (as well as a few universal ones!)?
  • How can you avoid these mistakes and embrace a more healthy, productive and symbiotic relationship with non-employed staff?
  • How important is managing contractors anyway, can’t they just manage themselves?

You may well think that with all the things you have to do this year, spending time on staff who may only be with you for a few months is not a good use of your energy.  

This couldn’t be further from the truth.

Your contract staff often handle highly specialised work. Research suggests, making sure they feel happy and supported in their job will mean higher productivity, higher standards, and a better outcome overall (Forbes found that happy employees are 20% more productive than unhappy employees).

By their nature, many contractors possess hard to resource skills. A positive impression and a good relationship will mean that you can reach out to them again in the future, as and when you need them.

Finally, learning how to create a positive environment for your temporary staff will have a knock-on effect for permanent staff too.

Employees will care for the company they are working for if they know that they are being looked after. Employees are the best asset of every organisation, and putting effort into employee wellness can encourage better teamwork, increased productivity and reduce sick leave and workplace accidents.” 6Q Blog

So when your staff see you treating contractors fairly, they will have more respect for you, feel more secure in their own jobs, and work better as a team.

The Pitfalls

First, identify your current approach to contractor management. There are many identified management styles, and we’ve identified 4 styles we often see when it comes to managing contractors.

Chances are your style will be a combination of these, with your own unique nuances. But, categorization can be a useful way of identifying ways you can improve.

The “micro” Manager

You likely spend a lot of extra time with your temporary staff. They don’t know the company, have the experience with the project, or have connections with the rest of the team, so they need a helping hand, right?

On the plus side, your contractors will fully understand the brief, know what you expect from them, and feel like they can come to you for advice. However, if you spend too much time micromanaging, they’ll feel as though you underestimate and dont trust them.

Having you breathing down their neck every 5 minutes will make it impossible for them to get the job done, and bringing in an expert is pointless if you’re going to redo all the work yourself.

The “arms length” manager

Contractors are there to do a job and you’re inclined to view them as a commodity. Chances are you don’t spend too much time with them, don’t want to deal with any problems from them, and generally don’t want to be bothered by them in any way.

Although this leaves the contractor with a lot of space to get their work done, it’s unlikely to lead to a good relationship with them, and they may even come out of the contract feeling under appreciated.

It may also take the contractor longer to grasp what’s expected of them, which can lead to mistakes and delays further down the line.

The “all the same” manager

You handle contractors as you would any other member of staff. You’re the manager, they work for you and you set the rules.

By not treating contractors differently, they may find it easier to blend in to the rest of the team, however you must recognise that your relationship with them is different. In most cases, you need the contractor as much as they need you, and if they aren’t happy they can leave and find another contract without a second thought.

They also have different concerns and desires than an ordinary employee. They have to juggle different demands, such as managing their own taxes and benefits, as well as planning for their next contract.

The “laid back” manager

You take the approach that when a contractor comes in, they’re the expert and will make the right choices for your team. You’re unlikely to question their decisions or double check what they’re doing, and you may find yourself relying on them to direct the project.

While this approach can help you get the most benefit from your contractors knowledge and expertise, you may find yourself losing touch with the project and the rest of your team.

While the majority of contractors are incredibly professional, they are still people and mistakes can happen. It’s important to keep an eye on what they’re doing and maintain authority over the project, so that you’re sure the project gets completed to the highest standard.

Make a Change

Once you’ve recognised your management style (or possibly just identified some of your behaviours) you can begin to make small changes. Our top tips can help you improve your relationship with your contractors.

Understand their Motivators

As you’ll already know from managing regular staff, everybody has different motivators that drive them to do well. Contractors are no different, but their motivators often take on a different form.

They are unlikely to be incentivised by traditional motivators such as stability, corporate perks or office atmosphere/ environment. A contractor will find more value in experience, training and financial remuneration.

That’s not to say that other factors aren’t important, but taking the time to get to know your contractor and discover what they care about will make it much easier to motivate them down the line.

Communicate Clearly

A contractor wants to provide a good service, as this is how they build their reputation. Communicating clearly will not only help them deliver what you need, but can also help prevent future frustration and a breakdown in the relationship.

Make sure you have a clear brief ready for when a new contractor starts, and set aside the time to discuss it in detail with them. After that, you should try and schedule in regular time to check in with them. This can be as formal or informal as you like, but it should be regular enough to allow you to pick up any miscommunications early.

Build a relationship

Although you don’t need to invest the same level of time into a contractor as you would a permanent employee, you should still try and get to know them on a personal level, as this can make it easier to reach out to them in the future.

As well as your own relationship, you should invest some time into making sure they build a relationship with the team. Try to avoid singling them out from the rest of the team. This can be as simple as sitting them with everyone else, inviting them to important meetings and allowing them access to the same onsite perks (free breakfast, gym membership etc).

Don’t micromanage, but do give feedback

Finding the right balance here can be tricky, but try thinking back to what you know about a contractor’s motivators. Their choice to be a contractor means they likely crave autonomy, however, they will also be constantly looking to improve themselves to increase their value.

Give them the space they need to do their work, but be direct and honest with them. If the work is taking too long or isn’t up to standard, let them know in a constructive way, and give them the chance to fix it before jumping in.

Pay fairly

While this is most likely arranged long before you get the contractor in the office, the way you pay your contractors can have a big impact on how you manage them.

As we know, remuneration is important for contractors. You get what you pay for, and if you aren’t willing to offer market rates you’ll struggle to find people with the right level of knowledge. You may also find that you get a bad reputation amongst contractors as a stingy employer.

If you value the work someone does for you, make sure their paycheck reflects that.

Track the Impact

There’s no point putting the work into making a change if you can see its benefit.

Remember the two key requirements for any successful change.

  1. Keep it simple
  2. Make it tangible

In order for something to be tangible, it should have a clear end goal. This will differ depending on your own personal or business goals. It may be that you want to increase contractor retention rates, see an increase in productivity, or improve employee satisfaction.

Try and decide on a way to measure progress towards your goal early. It may be as simple as monitoring your average contract length, or it may be more in-depth.

For example, a weekly NPS score for those involved in the project. This simple measurement (skewed 1-10) will give a great litmus test to how people rate the contractor’s progress.

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I’d love to hear how you go about managing contractors within your team, and if you want anymore advice about managing your teams, you can download our free ebook, How to Increase the Value of Any Contractor: Get More for Less.