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Book review: Talent on Tap


Talent on Tap cover

FIMC Chartered Management Consultant John Pope finds this book “provides excellent guidance” but fails to deal with “the client’s often vague views of a business problem”.

Title: Talent on Tap
Author: Emma Brierly
Publisher: CIPD 2006
ISBN: 1 84398 140 8
Price: £24.99
Reviewer: John Pope

This excellent book aims to help line management to get the best from freelancers, interim managers and consultants. It sets out the reasons for, and benefits of, using such temporary help, the reasons why people with such skill choose to become independent, and the growth of independent employment very clearly. It points out that freelancing is likely to grow and organisations must get used to this new scheme.

It covers successively the business case and the risks of using freelancers, how and when to use them, how to find suitable freelancers, and how to manage them. It is particularly strong on the process of setting up contracts and the contractual terms. It provides excellent guidance on contractual implications and gives valuable model contracts. It helps the user avoid becoming treated by HMRC as an employer or becoming accidentally liable for providing employee benefits such as holiday and maternity pay.

"It does not cover the important aspect of consultancy in which the consultant and client work together to transform the client’s often vague views of a business problem"

It is good on the management of the freelance in working on well defined projects with clear deliverables, when the ‘user’ has identified the need and deliverables clearly.

Consultants generally work in one of three roles, with some overlap; that of the expert is concerned with providing knowledge and skills which the client organisation lacks; that of the ‘pair of hands’ supplements the shortage of people in the organisation who could do the job but are too busy; that of the facilitator is concerned with mobilising existing resources, skills and people. The book concentrates on the first two of these roles.

While its scope includes consultants it does not cover the important aspect of consultancy in which the consultant and client work together to transform the client’s often vague views of a business problem into a brief in which consultant and client work together. It is likewise light on the subject of developing and maintaining productive client-consultant relationships.

Many management consultants would not be happy with the ideas as to how they should be managed and the very detailed contracts which are suggested. Interim managers, especially at senior levels, would also find them too restrictive. Even so, this book has much to offer any organisation thinking of using freelance help.

Review ratings:

  • Overall 4

  • Helpfulness 4

  • Layout 5

  • Value for money Price was not shown on the book

  • Suitability for professional level Managers

  • Would you recommend it? Recommended for managers responsible for selecting and setting up contracts for freelance contractors and specialists.


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