Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been approached by recruiters that wanted to chat with me about taking on some Information governance and information management work. Two of the opportunities are in Calgary, a little over 300kms from where I live, the other is local. One was for a credit union, one for a pipeline company, and the last for a provincial government ministry. All three organizations are looking for a senior resource that could deal across the enterprise to get programs in order, drive change, and be THE subject matter expert for all things related to governing and managing information. The proposed rates are as follows:
- Credit Union in Calgary , 3 days/wk onsite – $70-$75/hr, no travel expenses
- Pipeline company in Calgary, 5days/wk onsite – +/-$90/hr, no travel expenses
- Gov’t ministry in Edmonton (local) – $70/hr
Travel alone would cost me approximately $350/day, plus the mileage to drive between Calgary and my home (approx. 600km*$0.48/km = $288/trip). Add the expenses up, and over a 5-day week I’d need $51.25/hr just to cover my expenses. Obviously the travel thing isn’t an issue for local projects.
The travel thing is bad enough, but what really gets me is the total lack of value a recruiter or client places on my time or skill. These people have to understand that what I know and do is not a commodity skill set. I didn’t just learn this stuff in school last year. I, and my peers, spend a ton of time educating ourselves and getting better at what we do. We’ve got many, many years of experience that makes us the experts we are. We are not a bunch of generalists that are a dime a dozen. In every sense of the word we are professionals and deserve to be treated, respected, and compensated as such.
The other thing that really bugs me about this situation is that it’s indicative of many organizations not having a clue about the value of information. Information is an organization’s most or second most important asset. By going cheap on the resources that they’re trying to engage, they are going to get burned; it’s like hiring a barely qualified bookkeeper to manage financial assets. IT. WILL. END. BADLY.
You’re all familiar with ERP, right? Nobody complains when an SAP consultant comes in with a high hourly rate. They bring skills and experience that are hard to find, and they deserve to be compensated accordingly. As I told an executive at a Swiss bank several years ago, “This stuff’s (ECM) way harder than ERP.” He agreed. Prior to his role then, he’d spent 15+ years working on SAP projects, and we were about 3 months in on an ECM project. The way I figure it is if one is willing to pay premium rates for the skills needed to manage an organization’s financial assets, one should also be willing to pay premium rates for skills needed to manage information. After all, not everyone in an organization touches or is touched by ERP, but if it’s done right every soul in an organization and all their stakeholders ARE touched by information, whether they realize it or not.
My billing rates aren’t cheap, but they are reflective of my experience, skills, and the value I add. I’m nowhere near as expensive as the big consultancies, by the way. I understand the current situation with the Canadian economy and that our currency is taking a massive beating right now, but that does not mean I will be bent over just to win a project. It means that if there’s a good match between me and the potential client, I will be flexible, within reason.
If organizations are going to get serious about governing and managing information, and leveraging it as the asset it is, they are going to have to pay for the expertise they don’t have in-house. If they continue to try and cheap out, well, you get what you pay for. Good luck to ‘em, here’s a couple horseshoes.