When running a project with funds in excess of $100k with a lot of freelancers, how can I ensure they don't just run away with their fees never to be heard from again?

I have seen escrow services but I'm not sure if this is the norm.

  • 1
    Can you pay by milestone?
    – SmallChess
    Mar 6 '17 at 10:20
  • 1
    I see no reason why not. That's something I completely overlooked.
    – Terry
    Mar 6 '17 at 11:22

Sounds like this is your first big project, for what is (presumably) a sizeable budget for you. This is both a risky situation, and a great learning experience - perform well and you can start expecting to bill in this price range in the future.

Here are some hints:

1. Get contracts in place A contract is only as useful as your ability to enforce it, but at the very least a written contract indicates some agreement between all parties on what you agree to deliver, how, and by when. You need this in place with your client (if they are the source of funds), and with the freelancers.

2. Trust must be earnt If you can, try to find freelancers who you have worked with previously, or who come recommended by somebody you know. If you need to build a working relationship in the midst of a stressful project, it can be tough. At the very least, only allocate larger chunks of the budget to those who have performed well on smaller parts of the project.

3. Project management is a skill Recognize that running the project is a skill quite different to development / design / whatever you were doing previously. You need to plan ahead, pay attention to details, and communicate with everybody. If you prefer to just stay "heads down" in your laptop screen - I'd find somebody else to lead the project.

4. Communicate frequently Following on from the above, try to communicate much more than you feel necessary. Both in terms of frequency, and content. Resist the urge to rely only on email - use phone calls and meet in person regularly if possible. You would be amazed how many projects have problems due to some simple misunderstanding.

5. Use milestones Break up the project into smaller pieces, and aim to complete sections by certain dates. Always be adjusting as the project progresses - spend more time helping out the freelancers who are behind schedule.

6. Prepare for things to go wrong Even with all of the above, things will go wrong. A freelancer may not be able to complete his section and may need to be replaced. You may be running late on some milestone. Make sure you have built in enough buffer in your budget and your time schedule to account for this.

Good luck!

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