How to prevent freelancers from robbing you?

by areebb
27 replies
Ok I admit I made the title a little strong, but it was just to get eyeballs to this post

See I have a team of employees working in the Philippines. They're great workers, but I have a feeling they're charging me for more time than they're actually putting in.

So I'm looking for some kinda solution to this problem.

Even a secure simple software where they have to "clock in" and "clock out", and the times can't be tampered with easily would work I guess. But preferably I want something like oDesk which monitors their screen activity and you can see reports of it. But I don't want to use oDesk (they take a share of their earnings) just for this feature.

What are people using to manage their teams abroad?

Thanks!
#freelancers #prevent #robbing
  • Profile picture of the author TPFLegionaire
    why don't you try odesk?
    Outsource to Freelancers, IT Companies, Programmers, Web Designers from India, Russia, USA, and more

    They have excellent reporting facilities and a piece of software that the contractor install on their pc that monitor what they do, take screenshot of their activities

    Take a look at their presentation video:




    You could move your existing contractors to the platform and employ them there, Odesk do charge a commission on their payment (around 10% ) which you will need to factor in.




    The other alternative would be How To Live The 4 Hour Work Week Through Outsourcing | New Sales Page


    Hope this helps,

    Regards,
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    • Profile picture of the author areebb
      That's exactly why I don't want to use oDesk just for this one purpose: they charge 10%. These are full time employees that I plan on keeping for a long while, that 10% could get pretty expensive. Surely someone has discovered a cheaper way to go about this?

      And I was a member of replacemyself.com, they don't have any such features. Or did I miss something?
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      • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
        Originally Posted by areebb View Post

        These are full time employees that I plan on keeping for a long while, that 10% could get pretty expensive.
        If you can't trust them to bill honestly, why in the world would you want to keep them?
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        • Profile picture of the author areebb
          Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

          If you can't trust them to bill honestly, why in the world would you want to keep them?
          Because they do good work, and no matter how good of a person you are, it is way too tempting to squeeze in a few extra hours for free.

          And from my estimate, oDesk will cost me $300 per month to use just for that feature.
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          • Profile picture of the author CDarklock
            Originally Posted by areebb View Post

            no matter how good of a person you are, it is way too tempting to...
            ...lie for money?

            I don't think you have to be all that good of a person to have a problem with that.
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            "The Golden Town is the Golden Town no longer. They have sold their pillars for brass and their temples for money, they have made coins out of their golden doors. It is become a dark town full of trouble, there is no ease in its streets, beauty has left it and the old songs are gone." - Lord Dunsany, The Messengers
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          • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
            Banned
            Originally Posted by areebb View Post

            Because they do good work, and no matter how good of a person you are, it is way too tempting to squeeze in a few extra hours for free.

            And from my estimate, oDesk will cost me $300 per month to use just for that feature.
            So how much are they robbing you out of? Any idea? I can't for the life of me understand why someone would want to keep thieves in their employ. Personally, I've always been able to find enough honest people to get to do the work.

            I normally pay for performance. I set a price per job. Then if they want to take their sweet time, it's not on my dime.
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        • Profile picture of the author Damien Roche
          Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

          If you can't trust them to bill honestly, why in the world would you want to keep them?
          This is very good point. Another one that irks me is people who can't trust you with ftp details but they trust you to complete a project competently...doesn't make sense.

          If you can't trust the worker, you shouldn't trust the labor.

          To the OP: I'm sure there are ways they could 'cheat' the system. You say they are from the Philippines? So you're already paying them, what, $1-2-3-4/hour. I'd say even if they were slacking, you're getting your money's worth.

          If you want to better monitor the situation, hire local 'employees'.
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        • Profile picture of the author ChrisBa
          Originally Posted by CDarklock View Post

          If you can't trust them to bill honestly, why in the world would you want to keep them?
          This was my first thought as well, why not ask them about it? be nice but be honest .. or start paying them by project instead of hourly
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      • Profile picture of the author TPFLegionaire
        Originally Posted by areebb View Post

        That's exactly why I don't want to use oDesk just for this one purpose: they charge 10%. These are full time employees that I plan on keeping for a long while, that 10% could get pretty expensive. Surely someone has discovered a cheaper way to go about this?

        And I was a member of replacemyself.com, they don't have any such features. Or did I miss something?


        Wouldn't the savings you make by having more productive employees offset the extra charges that you would incur with odesk ?
        Think about it....if any of them are "cheating" they will think twice about doing it again while being monitored, also they will realise that they have potentially a lot of competition from other contractors so that would keep them on their toes (of course it works both way )

        I appreciate that the 300$ extra a month might be a challenge but it all come down to ROI and maybe in your case...What price peace of mind?

        Regards,

        Manuel


        EDIT: Ps: just realised sbuccariel made a similar point...
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  • Profile picture of the author sbucciarel
    Banned
    I don't really see how a "timeclock" application could help this. They can simply clock in and take a nap, unless the app also monitors screen activity. I'd go with Odesk, since it already has that feature.
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  • Profile picture of the author Audrey Harvey
    Don't have a solution for you, areebb, but Odesk don't take a share of the provider's earnings, they add their commission onto what you pay. Just last week I arranged to have a small job done for $10, and my credit card was charged $11.11.
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  • Profile picture of the author rovad
    I don't know what is the nature of the tasks your freelancers do for you, but try to make a fixed price for as much as anything you ask from them. For example, I used to pay hourly rates before for some SEO work, now I try to get people to do it for fixed price. It's a little bit harder, but it's manageable, and then you are not bound to oDesk that much.
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  • Profile picture of the author Mary Green
    In my experience you are going to get what you pay for with freelancers. If they are charging you a bit more and you want to track what they are doing, they may decrease the quality they are delivering. Not that I am suggesting they should, but you tend to get what you pay for. I understand trying to save money, but in an effort to not short change your business why not just approach them and ask what's going on?

    Just some advice...
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  • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle
    Don't hire freelancers...

    If you do, hire them at a flat rate as other have stated.

    The bottom line is there is a difference in mindset when you hire freelancers, they are hired guns, ready to take on the next shiny object project that hits their inbox.

    That's what they do, its the nature of the system.

    Simply look for contract workers, or people to place on your staff, for fixed fees.

    Are there going to be days you are paying more for your worker than the hours worked ? I am sure there are...

    I don't focus on pennies, I focus on tasks and completed jobs. Not to mention workers on your team can share project tasks.

    Even if one person on your team is a killer in their area, I think its a good idea that someone else is aware enough of what is going on in a project that they can either fill in or at least have enough knowledge to tell me exactly what needs done if I have to get a temp (shiny object worker) to assist.

    Mark Riddle
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    • Profile picture of the author Irnes Jakupovic
      The way I handle this is simple. I tell them exactly what I want done everyday and to give the said work to me at the end of the day. If I am asking them to build links for me I will tell them exactly how many I want done along with an excel spread sheet of all their work. I feel that when you give people an exact number they are a lot more obliged to get it all done. If they fall under my expectations frequently I let them go. After awhile I found a solid crew who consistently meets my expectations and for that I treat them well.
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    • Profile picture of the author grayambition
      Originally Posted by Mark Riddle View Post

      Don't hire freelancers...

      If you do, hire them at a flat rate as other have stated.

      The bottom line is there is a difference in mindset when you hire freelancers, they are hired guns, ready to take on the next shiny object project that hits their inbox.

      That's what they do, its the nature of the system.
      How insulting!

      I, along with most other freelancers I know, stake my reputation on meeting deadlines, providing quality work, and making sure my clients receive a product that exceeds their expectations.

      I don't know a single freelancer who would drop a project in favor of "the next shiny object that hits their inbox." Good grief!

      Please don't taint an entire group of people due to some possibly negative experiences you've had.
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      • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle
        Originally Posted by grayambition View Post

        How insulting!

        I don't know a single freelancer who would drop a project in favor of "the next shiny object that hits their inbox." Good grief!

        Please don't taint an entire group of people due to some possibly negative experiences you've had.
        No where in my comment did I say they would drop a project, and I have not had bad experiences with freelancers.

        Mark Riddle
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        • Profile picture of the author grayambition
          Originally Posted by Mark Riddle View Post

          No where in my comment did I say they would drop a project, and I have not had bad experiences with freelancers.

          Mark Riddle
          Uh, you did say "don't hire freelancers." I was trying to be kind by making the assumption that you may have had negative experiences. Otherwise, what in your vast experience with freelancers compelled you to tell us not to hire them?

          And before you say, "but, but, right after that I said..." Yes, you did qualify the statement. But before you qualified it with "but if you hire them...," you plainly said "don't hire freelancers" and then went on to talk about "their" mindset and how "they" operate.

          Seriously, why do you make such a harsh statement? I agree with the others who say paying per project is better than by the hour, but that's the way most freelancers work anyway. "Don't hire freelancers." Your words. I stand by my earlier statement. How insulting!

          Perhaps you weren't implying that freelancers would drop projects, but you did say:

          The bottom line is there is a difference in mindset when you hire freelancers, they are hired guns, ready to take on the next shiny object project that hits their inbox.

          That's what they do, its the nature of the system.
          "They" That's what "they" do... No comment on that language.

          I took the above quote to mean that a freelancer would be dedicated to your project only until something better came along. If I misunderstood, I apologize.

          Please elucidate.

          Thank you, kind sir.
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          Substitute "damn" every time you're inclined to write "very"; your editor will delete it and the writing will be just as it should be. ~Mark Twain

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          • Profile picture of the author Mark Riddle
            The answer was given in context with the opening question.

            If the perceived problem is with freelancers "Robbing" The quickest solution is to find a different method of getting tasks accomplished.

            I apologize that I didn't make it more clear that I was addressing the specific question asked, not a general broad reaching statement.

            I can perfectly see why it was read with that meaning.

            My intention wasn't to be obfuscatory.

            Mark Riddle





            Originally Posted by grayambition View Post

            Uh, you did say "don't hire freelancers." I was trying to be kind by making the assumption that you may have had negative experiences. Otherwise, what in your vast experience with freelancers compelled you to tell us not to hire them?

            And before you say, "but, but, right after that I said..." Yes, you did qualify the statement. But before you qualified it with "but if you hire them...," you plainly said "don't hire freelancers" and then went on to talk about "their" mindset and how "they" operate.

            Seriously, why do you make such a harsh statement? I agree with the others who say paying per project is better than by the hour, but that's the way most freelancers work anyway. "Don't hire freelancers." Your words. I stand by my earlier statement. How insulting!

            Perhaps you weren't implying that freelancers would drop projects, but you did say:



            "They" That's what "they" do... No comment on that language.

            I took the above quote to mean that a freelancer would be dedicated to your project only until something better came along. If I misunderstood, I apologize.

            Please elucidate.

            Thank you, kind sir.
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  • Profile picture of the author Jute
    Hi,

    I now John Jonas who has the replace yourself site says that he wants them to send him an email once a day telling him what they have done and he always says that he gives them enough work for several days so that they will never run out of things to do.

    I do not have a full time employee so I do not know but just like "Irnes Jakupovic" I tell my people what I expect them to do everyday and if the after a while do not meet that requirement I go looking for someone else. When you tell the "slackers" that it's not working out they normally just say "ok" and you get the feeling that they already know why.

    Another solution would be to hire people from the same area and also hire an office and hire a manager to look after them. It all depends on how many employees that you have.

    Good luck!

    Jute
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  • Profile picture of the author Sarah Harvey
    My opinion...never bill by the hour. Pay for what you need in one lump sum or partial payment upfront and the rest on completion. State what you need in a contract and if they do things outside of normal hours they would have to explain it really well in a detailed report to justify any extra money needed from yourself.

    It's always best to agree to specific terms upfront or else they can bill you for anything. The more rocksolid your agreement/contract, the better it will be for you.
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  • Profile picture of the author Kenwrites
    Originally Posted by areebb View Post

    Ok I admit I made the title a little strong, but it was just to get eyeballs to this post

    See I have a team of employees working in the Philippines. They're great workers, but I have a feeling they're charging me for more time than they're actually putting in.

    So I'm looking for some kinda solution to this problem.

    Even a secure simple software where they have to "clock in" and "clock out", and the times can't be tampered with easily would work I guess. But preferably I want something like oDesk which monitors their screen activity and you can see reports of it. But I don't want to use oDesk (they take a share of their earnings) just for this feature.

    What are people using to manage their teams abroad?

    Thanks!
    Hire and pay flat rate per project. Hourly people, no matter what line of work, always look to pad the clock. It doesn't matter if it's a brick and mortar job or online work, and it's not just not-so-credible freelancers. It is unfortunately, human nature.

    I bill or contract with all clients on a flat rate basis. I had one client that wanted me to do hourly rate, but frankly there is no way to accurately account for all the variables involved. One of us loses money.

    This way, instead of questioning are you getting billed an accurate number of hours, it falls on the freelancer to make the project profitable for them. The freelancer has an obligation to propose a fee for what it is really going to take them to perform the task. You can either accept the fee or look for a different freelancer. For an example, if someone wants me to write articles on home improvement, writing or fishing they will get a flat fee of x because I know the stuff like the back of my hand. If the client wants something on psychology or dog health, I charge a little more due to the research time that may be involved. But the client know what the cost is up-front. No surprises.

    Charging a flat fee or paying a flat fee, eliminates any question about how much a project is going to cost you in the end. As far as outsourcing overseas, though I understand the cost factor, in the end you get what you pay for. Sometimes it's a win/win situation for the short term. But what is the long term value?
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    • Profile picture of the author Tina Golden
      They're great workers, but I have a feeling they're charging me for more time than they're actually putting in.
      If the first part is true, what is your problem? As long as they are working well, are you really going to start nitpicking them and have them account for every minute? Should they clock out when they go to lunch? Take a break to stretch? How much time are they allowed for a pee break?:rolleyes:

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  • Profile picture of the author domainarama
    Areebb,

    I assume you are the Areebb of SENuke fame. Working on that assumption I base the following remarks on the idea that you are part of an enterprise that takes in a lot of money (as opposed to someone who is barely scraping by).

    If you are trying to eliminate fraud among your workers, I'd say (I've taught Psych at grad and undergrad levels, if that means anything to this discussion) you can only do so much. No system I am aware of eliminates fraud 100%. There will always be good apples and bad apples. And sometimes good apples (Tiger Woods, anyone) turn out to be bad apples. And vice versa.

    If I were you, I'd do a cost-benefit analysis. How much $$$ are you losing via fraud? Include the time you take away from other parts of your work to try to solve this problem.

    Let me give you an example. At most retail businesses it is assumed customers with light fingers steal a certain amount of your products. Well, there's a word for the amount stolen by your own employees and workers. It's called "shrinkage." It's assumed to be an amount greater than the loss to light fingered customers. Shrinkage is assumed to be 5% more or less.

    Basically, it is unlikely that you will reduce loss due to fraud by your workers to less than 5%.

    Then the question becomes: how much time and resources should I devote to this problem that will keep shrinkage to ONLY 5%.

    If the $300 per month you pay to oDesk keeps your shrinkage to a 5% level and no more, it's worth it. If your total labor costs for your outsource workers is less than $6k per month, oDesk is not the way to go (plus additional time costs to run the system, including your time to look at their desks). Get my point?

    Now, about that SENuke thing. If you're THAT Areebb, I'm very POed at you. SENuke's too damned complex for me, an amateur at this game. Make the damned thing easier, will ya? I waaaaay overpaid for the use I get.

    If you're not THAT Areebb, nevermind.
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  • Profile picture of the author webdelux
    What we do is agree to a "billable hour agreement". Basically I will ask my developer how long it would take to finish the project. We draw out a detailed map of what needs to be done. Then we come to a final agreement. If the developer takes longer thats his/her dime. If the developer finishes quickly, then thats a plus for the developer. That is just how most AD Agency's roll. Whatsamajig is prob. the biggest software for this type of business model. You need 15 employees to even purchase it though. There may be a more less expensive software, but you can handle your freelancers by coming to an agreement ahead of time.
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