Ensuring Your Data Science Freelancers Flourish

Posted 2019-02-19 Posted by Tom O'Connell

One of the first challenges a company faces when hiring a freelancer, is knowing the skillset to look for. There is a myriad of articles that speak about the data science unicorn, the person whom businesses can plug-and-play for instant success. However, the most successful projects utilise specialists, those whose skill set is somewhat narrower, but hyper-focused.

These specialists possess the ability to deliver powerful insightful results that can radically optimise or improve processes; a short-term investment with long-term rewards. We have facilitated this journey and learned many lessons along the way. Here, we present a guide of how to create the ideal environment for maximum potential to be achieved

Firstly, data scientists must sign a contract to begin work at a company. The easier you can make these contracts to understand, communicating the permissions and limitations they have concerning your data and legislation, the quicker a streamlined process can commence.

It’s vital that you onboard freelancers like you would permanent staff. Highlighting your business structure and vision allows a data scientists to align their methodology and goals with yours. If you have values or working styles that you promote, this is the best moment to present and explain them.

Data scientists are archetypically inquisitive, which is what makes them so capable of uncovering the insights they do. This isn’t limited to the work they do, and they are likely to have many questions surrounding your data, your processes, your gate-keepers, and your expectations. Having a written document addressing these types of questions can ensure they hit the ground running, maximising the potential of what can be achieved.

Communication is consistently listed as the top soft-skill data scientists should possess. Ensure that your freelancer has the correct personnel to contact in relation to anything they made need to inquire about and set up quick one-to-one meetings between your freelancer and permanent staff so that everyone is aware of the project taking place. This will also benefit your staff, who will know what they should contact your freelancer about, particularly if they have some information that is integral to an element of the project.

One of the biggest, yet easiest, hurdles to overcome, is supplying your data scientist with the correct data. By arranging a meeting between your freelancer and the gate-keeper of your company’s data, you can establish which data they need, which data they are allowed, and how it should be handled and processed. Removing this ambiguity allows the freelancer to work with confidence. These small steps can save valuable time at many stages of the project, and ensure freelancers enrich your team and support their duties.

Identify the relevant stakeholders, particularly if these are the people they will be communicating their findings with.

Once the broader elements of the business are established, be sure to explain the context of this project within it. A data scientist can sensibly and effectively prioritise if they are made aware of the priority of the project to other components of the business. These small steps ensure that your freelancer can be proactive in everything they undertake.

Data science is only possible because we are in an era where computational power has evolved to facilitate it. Therefore, it is important you equip your freelancer with the correct equipment to get the job done. This is essential if the project requires the cleaning of a large data set. A small amount of investment in tech ensures that the most valuable commodity, time, is not lost. As the old adage states, time is money.

Make your freelancers aware of any training available; this does not need to be tech related. Soft-skills are just as important as the technical experience, and if you can impart shared knowledge, you will reap the rewards.

Most industries have some form of internal messenger client. Set your freelancer up from day one with this, as it will allow them to have the autonomy to find resolutions in any situation that occurs. Arrange for them to speak with those who they will need to interact with during their time with you, even if that is to introduce themselves at this early stage.

Whilst finding the suitable and best talent for a data science project is critical to its success, so is the environment in which the data scientist works within. By following this guide, you not only prepare your freelancer for the best chance of maximum success, but you also give them the confidence to excel.

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