from Al Macintyre I need an education in the differences in what is involved - responsibilities, relationships, finances, gotchas - between being an employee or being a subcontractor, probably both part time & telecommuting. Perhaps someone point me at some web site that spells this out in terms that are meaningful to a computer professional, who for most of my life has worked for people who are not technical managers, so it seems to me that the biggest difference one job to the next is the degree to which my manager comprehends the details of what I am doing for the company, and the degree to which the manager imposes upon me constraints based on that understanding, or lack of understanding. For example, I have had managers, and end users, insist on some standards that I felt were not in the best interests of corporate computer security, or efficient use of resources, or accuracy in output, because of their experience, training, background & so forth. They are the boss, so after an arguement, I comply. As some of you know, I work at Global Wire Technologies in Evansville, which did a name change last year from Central Industries of Indiana, then due to the recession's impact on Wiring Harness Manufacturing laid off some office staff and in my case cut my hours and pay in half. There is the expectation, not promise, that as the economy & business turn around, there may be a future increase in my hours, but since I am in a computer support role I tend to think that other office positions will get the growth long before they need more hours from me. So I became available for part time work, where there is no obvious conflict of interest with my "day job" where I still work swing shift late afternoon hours, early evening. I have been asked the question - do I want to work as an employee or as a sub contractor? My answer has been that I have no idea, what are the differences? Well, I feel like I have a grasp of some of them but not a good picture. As I do get a better understanding, then I will be asking people who know me quite well to advise whether I would be happy in this or that relationship or head in this or that direction. I also plan to write up something like http://radio.weblogs.com/0001011/2002/03/28.html#a1164 except where Robert Scoble is only describing what kind of a company he wants to work for & what he expects from them, I need to describe what I like & want to do for any company, I need to describe what often comes with the territory that I am NOT eager to be doing much of, and out of lists of what I have seen in my career, both what I desire & do not desire from the work environment. I have heard several examples of the differences between employee & subcontractor in which it becomes extremely murky ... how is this different from my professional career? There is the question of degree to which my boss directs what I do. Well, for most of my career as am employee, it has been to keep the computer and applications running smoothly & doing such modifications as the end users might desire, to help them do their work more productively. Technical details have been up to me for 95% of my bosses, their only input being relative priority of which of many possible things I might work on, and often it left up to me to determine priorities. The users, for who I do modifications, don't direct me either ... it is team projects. They try to communicate their needs, I try to understand what they really need in computer terms, often with the help of other users, I suggest things that I think are doable that would help them, we let our respective bosses know what is going down unless they object, primarily because bosses have veto power over what we work on, but the most important reason for me is because of the other users who will be impacted by whatever we are up to & we need the managers to help with consensus building, and if they ask for estimates I warn that this is never an exact science & there will always be surprises, but if they expecting something done in X weeks, I periodically revise when I expect it will be done, before the X weeks are actually up. In all modifications I try to break it into parts that can be implemented independently & consult with the users as to which are most critical to them, so that if the effort gets interrupted by some other priority & this whole effort is never completed, the odds are that they will always get some of what they desire in any project. I also leave documentation inside of the programs so that if a fellow professional picks up pieces after I disappear, they do not have to go back to scratch. Usually that fellow professional is me, many months later, after I have forgotten about that project due to others in the interim. I have primarily worked in enterprises where the company hired such people as were needed to run sales, accounting, and so forth & they hired me to run their computer, and I was the only person in that area of technical knowledge and responsibility. When a situation came up that I felt I lacked what it took to get the job done, I would speak up & suggest that we ask this of IBM or IBM Partner. There is the question of when I am there. Well, except when there is a major project when they want the max hours that I am able to deliver, they basically expect that I put in a minimum X hours a week, on the average with my time sufficiently overlapping the users times so that they can communicate their needs to me. There is the question of the tools that I would use. Well, when I am on site, there are the corporate resources & whatever I bring in with me to help my own productivity. Global nee Central in the past had been very liberal about giving new professional employees whatever they asked for on their desk top that they said they needed like Word Perfect or Microsoft Word or something else, but as the company is getting more integrated network oriented they are becoming more that everyone is using the same sets of tools. I am interested in doing new work by telecommuting from my home computer, which might not be up to that task, since its acquisition & upgrades were sufficient to support past history home computer needs, but part time telecommuting probably needs something more. It is Win 98 on Pentium III with about 3 Gig disk space unused (50% utilization), 320 Meg Memory, recently added a CD-Rom/Write drive (to experiment with backup that way), on the low end of display quality resolution (because I not like to futz with PC settings when switching to DOS games), bottom of browser & e-mail barrel, "high speed" Internet connection, protected by Norton Firewall. I have several flaky challenges & not really want to move forwards to the next Microsoft flaky solution to some earlier Microsoft flaky problem. I am told that Client Access to connect to some company's 400 is licensed so that the place I working for would pay IBM license based on number of users (sessions?) connecting ... i.e. "free" to the end user, but somehow I have to figure out how to get this to my PC & learn what the impact is going to be on my PC resources. MacWheel99@aol.com (Alister Wm Macintyre) (Al Mac)
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