Tracy Loetz has six consultants working for her company, but theyre hardly ever in her Reynoldsburg office. In addition, theyre hardly ever at a clients office.
Through telecommuting and a process they call remote development, these consultants access client computers from their home offices to do electronic commerce and electronic data interchange work.
We had an eight-month project in Milwaukee and the consultant was on site for a total of two weeks, says Loetz, president and CEO of REMEDI Consulting Co. That was in the very beginning, and she never went back.
Clients react favorably, most providing a toll-free phone number and the specific software necessary for consultants to hook into their systems. A password and user ID control the consultants access to alleviate security concerns.
Clients know theyll save on travel costs through this arrangement, but Loetz makes the option even more palatable.
What we try to do is price it so people will choose the remote option. We charge a little less an hour so theyre getting somewhat of a discount besides saving the travel costs, Loetz says, noting the option benefits her because its an attractive perk to offer consultants.
In addition, the client gets a full week of work from the consultant, since travel days, which typically absorb an entire Monday and Friday, are eliminated.
The remote development also helps if a consultant runs into a problem. They can simply go to the REMEDI office and work on the problem with Loetz.
If theyre at a client site, it makes it a little more difficult, because unless theyre here in town, Im not likely to go and help them where theyre at, she says.
To make clients more comfortable with remote development, REMEDI consultants often work on site for the first couple of weeks of a project so a client can understand what amount of work can be accomplished during that time frame. That helps eliminate any fears that consultants are slacking off when theyre working from home.
Remote development costs to REMEDI are limited. The software is generally provided by the client, and Loetz provides an extra home phone line and a laptop computer for consultants.
The remote option is also appealing to consultants. Loetz says shes had candidates tell her they accepted a job with REMEDI over other offers because of the travel factor.
We require our consultants to have the ability to travel up to 40 percent of the time, but most consultants in our field have to travel up to 100 percent, she says. It allows us to get people we might not otherwise be able to get. We attract people because of that, which obviously helps right now.
Joan Slattery Wall (firstname.lastname@example.org) is a reporter for SBN.