I'm suspicious of my contractor's activity logs.
He's real, responsive on email & skype, and generally says the right things. I chose him because he logged 2000+ hours of work and had a 5 star rating. However, when I look at his activity logs, I see constant screenshots of the same screen with 0-14 keystrokes per minute and mostly 0 mouse activity. His comments are the same "working on development" or such things. Productivity is very low.
During the first week, they did some real work - the activity logs were very different and had much more activity. Now it seems he's billing me for work, but the screenshots are barely changing. He'll send me a message with a tiny work update each day, but mostly its very little work.
Anyone have advice on how to map activity to actually doing work? It seems like odesk should be able to detect this via automation.
@Mike B wrote:
It seems like odesk should be able to detect this via automation.
A valid point for oDesk to consider and implement at the earliest.
I'd suggest to ask the contractor on why it happens to be like this. It is indeed suspicious.
I'd also recommend to hire more than one person for a project and let them document what's done when you assign them to work on a particular task. Depending only on a single person may not be a good business decision.
Not really-activity log is not necessarily a great indicator of productivity. There are certain types of jobs/tasks where work in progress cannot be measured accurately just through a number of keystrokes or mouse clicks (mostly every job that includes some analytical or creative component, which development is.)
Typically, you would have a high activity log for data entry jobs that don't include research but just transfer of data from one database to another.(And that also assuming that freelancer doesn't have to search for records or select/evaluate/check info.)
You can set fixed- price contracts with milestones, if hourly contracts don't work well for you.
My goodness, Mike, if you think productivity is low and you don't like what you see with the screenshots, then why are you persisting with this?
If it was me, I would temporarily hire three other people to do the same task, and then I would continue working with the most productive developer. By not trying out multiple different people for a brief time, you are losing a lot of money.
Unless there is something so magical and esoteric about what your current contractor is doing that it is unlikely anybody else will be able to do it, it sounds like he has had his turn and now it is really time to go a different direction.
I don't usually put a lot of stock in trying to analyze screenshots and work diaries. Yet what you describe seeing strkes me as pretty out of the ordinary and, coupled with your feeling that the contractor is not very productive, leads me to believe your suspicious are right. Nevertheless, if you try out other people you MIGHT find that your current contractor really is the best for the job. But you will never know unless you try others.