How to Reap the Benefits of Insourcing Contract Staff While Minimizing the Risks - Insourcing is new outsourcing. Here's how to do it right. - BioPharm International


How to Reap the Benefits of Insourcing Contract Staff While Minimizing the Risks
Insourcing is new outsourcing. Here's how to do it right.

BioPharm International Supplements

Key Questions to Ask

When choosing a supplier of contract staff, there are some basic questions that all hiring managers should ask about the supplier's corporate stability, pricing, track record, and ability to resource for the specific roles in question. Other important questions include:

  • How long is the average time to provide appropriate resumes once a job requisition has been received?
  • How quickly can candidate interviews be arranged?
  • When will the candidates be available to work? (Bear in mind that notice periods of up to three months may apply).

The customer also should ascertain how the contract staff will be supported by the supplying company. Key questions include:

  • Does an established and appropriate line management system exist?
  • Are there HR processes and procedures that support both the insourced employee and the sponsor company?
  • Is the customer involved in setting objectives for the insourced employee?
  • Is there a probationary period that protects the customer?
  • Are the company benefits offered to the insourced employee competitive enough to aid retention during the project?
  • How is good behavior encouraged and outstanding performance recognized?
  • Should there be a need, does an early release clause enable you to downsize in a short time without major financial penalties?

As companies get comfortable with working with contract staff, complacency can set in. Just as we see "project creep"' when running a study, so there has been "employment creep" over the past few years when working with contract staff, as companies often start including contract staff in non-project-related activities and begin to cross the employer–employee line. This can be avoided by ensuring you have a positive answer to the above questions. Another way to avoid employment creep is to contract an entire function to a trusted supplier, thus accomplishing all project goals while driving down fixed costs.


In summary, insourcing contract staff offers pharmaceutical companies an alternative to outsourcing work when volume demands exceed internal capacity, and allows the company to maintain greater control than if the work were outsourced. Insourcing also provides excellent flexibility to expand and contract staff quickly as needed.

A few risks are associated with insourcing, but they can be mitigated easily by ensuring the employer–employee line is not crossed, working closely with the supplier to manage staff performance and development, and ensuring the contract contains key clauses to protect the client. By following these guidelines, pharmaceutical companies can gain significant benefits from insourcing with minimal risk.

Iain Jessup is the vice president of i3 Pharma Resourcing, London, UK, +44 07812 148086,

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