What are the goals of The Project Pool Ltd (TPPL)? Why have we worked so hard to build it?
Project Pool is both a business and a social proposition, to improve and professionalise the way we work as freelancers and to tackle both commercial and political issues such as poor contracts and IR35.
TPPL represents a full digital transformation of this industry, and a cultural and professional evolution. It harnesses the power of freelancers’ professional and social networks, and combines this with digital automation of processes to deliver a business that is better, faster and of greater value than all the competition. As a freelancer I want to be recognised as an independent professional, not as a ‘temp’.
What are we up against? As a good business analyst I always begin with my ‘as-is’ analysis:
Recruitment agents aim to match freelancers with vacancies. These agents convert clients’ requirements into marketable propositions to put before freelancers, then sift through freelancer applicants to determine which candidates best meet the client requirements and then put these names forward to the client. Should this process prove successful their final act is to try and minimise the amount the freelancer will accept for doing the role and maximise the difference that the client is prepared to pay. The wider they can make this difference the larger their margin. No one is sure how large this is because there is a lack of transparency. The agent will then act as a ‘trusted intermediary’ through whom the client and freelancer individually contract and then acts as the financial agent for invoicing between the two parties.
Conclusions? The word ‘agent’, defined as ‘a person who acts on behalf of another’, is a misnomer in this context. The agent is acting on his/her own behalf or at best on behalf of the client, not for the freelancer. The agent may be sympathetic s/he to issues like IR35, but in reality his/her contracts reflect the business terms between the client and themselves, rather than between the contractor and the client.
The agent is considered a necessary evil within the freelancing market. S/he delivers a degree of expertise for recruitment and provides a service in terms of payment. If we want to see a freelancing market led by freelancers and operated in the freelancers’ interest rather than that of agents, we need to take their good outcomes and leave their bad.
To do so we need to automate as much of what the agent delivers, capture the value of what s/he does and replicate it. Agencies can be seen as the unnecessarily heavy/expensive intermediate layer in a new digital society. The solution isn’t just about reducing agency costs nor is it about just digitising existing processes. Our future model is about transforming the processes.
The growth of social media (particularly Linked-In) shows the importance of information and networks. In the past these networks have either been owned by or simply mined by the agencies. TPPL will transform this for the freelance community. Freelancers need to have someone who acts in our best interests. Whether that is in contract-negotiation or finding work. Someone who helps develop freelancers’ businesses and realises the power of their professional networks.
If 300 of us get together and hire our own Business Development Director: BDD, within the framework of a Virtual Consultancy…with legal, financial, marketing and IT departments - that will be a force to be reckoned with. We pay the BDD, the BDD works for us. Then we could bring in the best contracts, with a guarantee of being outside IR35. To help me find work, use my network to place others and help us even do work together as a team. So far TTPL has shown the recommendation part of the system does work. The client gets good people, we get good contracts and are monetising our networks too. Suddenly, we are in business.
Welcome to the future, welcome to the Project Pool.
We are discussing the detail of this right now in our Virtual office. Come and join our Conference and help change the way we work. Join the relevant Group here: https://community.goprojectpool.com/groups
Philip Ross: Founding team: The Project Pool Ltd.
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