Talent Development Centre

Tag Archives: independent contractors

All Talent Development Centre posts for Canadian IT Contractors relating to independent contractors.

4 Habits of Highly Successful IT Contractors


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+

What’s your definition of professional success? Is it having a high income? Working with the best clients? Or working enough so you can enjoy all other aspects of life? We’re not going to debate that in this post (because it’s Friday and nobody wants to have that discussion) but we do want to help you achieve your goal with the help of this video from Proactive Thinker.

The video reveals four habits that they say every successful person shares, and they can all be applied specifically to independent IT contractors. The video is just under 5 minutes and provides more details, but here’s a quick summary:

  1. Learn to Say No: You can’t work on every project and you can’t do other team members’ work while still expecting to serve your clients to the best of your ability.
  2. Accept the Reality: Things go wrong in IT projects and in your job search. Accept what you can control and work with it.
  3. Manage Your Energy: The healthier you are and better you eat, the more productive you’ll be.
  4. Take Ownership of Your Environment: You can’t control the people a client hires, but you can control your friends. Do everything you can to surround yourself with others who support your goals.

What else would you add to the list?

Bill 148: What Independent Contractors Need to Know


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+
David O'Brien By David O’Brien,
Vice President, East Region & Government Services at Eagle

The Ontario Government introduced a sweeping legislation last fall regarding work and the ESA (Employment Standards Act). Many of the changes came into effect on January 1, 2018 with additional pieces that took effect April 1, 2018 and more to come on January 1, 2019.

Bill 148 covers an array of components. In addition to the headline-grabbing dramatic increase of minimum wage, there are changes to vacation entitlement, personal emergency leave, equal pay and termination of assignment pay for temporary employees, union certification rules and many others. All of these components have very significant impacts to employers and employees alike.

However, another very significant impact of Bill 148 that directly impacts independent contractors is employee misclassification. The new bill introduced a reverse onus provision whereby employers must demonstrate that any independent contractors they have engaged are not in fact employees.  Bill 148 shifts a substantial new burden of risk to employers and employment staffing agencies and will potentially have several unintended consequences as a result. As is often the case with activist governments, it is the unintended consequences of legislation that can be the most impactful.

In Ontario, it is estimated that about 12.5% of the total workforce of 5.25 million identify as self-employed, which is about 630,000 contingent workers. It is further estimated that of this group about 55,000 are knowledge workers in the IT, Engineering, Finance and Healthcare sectors, who bring significant economic impact to many of Ontario’s private and public sector organizations. The majority of these knowledge workers are independent, incorporated contractors. As the nature and notion of work transforms to a more project or engagement-based ideation, these knowledge workers are critical. With the modernization of our economy and overall productivity and competitiveness, our governments should be looking for ways to adapt to this new reality.

With the new legislation, when there is a question about whether an individual is an employee or independent contractor, the reverse onus provision is triggered. This means the burden lands on the employer or agency to prove the individual engaged with them is an independent contractor, not an employee and as such would be excluded from ESA coverage. As experience indicates, work moves offshore when employers are faced with impediments like this. Employers losing access to these valuable resources on a contingent basis should be very concerned.

Employers and staffing agencies are now looking at ways of assessing individuals to understand the true nature of relationships early on in engagements to ensure this risk is mitigated. These early assessments will help determine whether such individuals are properly classified as independent contractors.

As an independent contractor, there are a number questions you can ask to help establish the nature of your relationship with your clients. Here are a few of them to keep in mind:

  1. Are you providing services through a corporation?
  2. Have you registered with CRA for GST/HST?
  3. Do you carry business insurance, such as commercial liability or errors and omissions insurance?
  4. Do you market your services as a business, for example with a website, business cards, etc.?
  5. Do you have a corporate bank account, use business invoices in the corporate name and maintain corporate books and records?
  6. Do you have a written contract engaging your business? Is it for a fixed term period or completion of a project?
  7. Do you have the ability to determine how the services are provided?
  8. Have you invested his or her own financial resources into their business?
  9. Is there risk of loss or financial loss if the services are not successfully completed?

The answers to these questions will also help employers and agencies assess an individual’s status. There are numerous others that will have to be asked to help ascertain answers for all parties and ensure against employee misclassification. And just as important, independent contractors will need to be prepared to self-assess. Those who wish to be independent incorporated contractors should seek advice. Govern yourself as a business would and avoid acting or being treated as an employee.

Epic: The Best Way for IT Contractors to be Competitive in the Health Industry


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+
Crystal Nicol By Crystal Nicol,
Delivery Manager, Eastern Canada at Eagle

Should you become Epic certified? Given the increased demand in Canada and limited number of Canadian IT contractors with the certification — absolutely!

We are seeing a growing number of Epic implementations pop-up across healthcare facilities and academic medical centers with an increased demand for Epic consultants, especially ones that are Epic certified. But what exactly is Epic and why has it quickly become one of the largest providers of health information technology?

Epic Systems has a reputation as a technological leader allowing hospitals and health systems to access, organize, store, and share electronic medical records. The support functions of Epic’s applications are related to patient care, including registration and scheduling, clinical systems for doctors, nurses, emergency personnel, and other care providers, systems for lab technologists, pharmacists, and radiologists, and billing systems for insurers.

TechTarget says Epic Systems’ products and services integrate across a variety of settings and functions. Here are some of the company’s prominent products and services:

  • EpicCare, the core EHR product, is tailored for physicians and organizations and focuses on clinical care, decision support and streamlined processes.
  • MyChartprovides patient engagement features, including family health information.
  • Healthy Planetuses data interoperability to boost population health management efforts.
  • Revenue cycle managementsoftware helps handle patient claims and billing.
  • Tapestryaddresses managed care activities.
  • Mobile interfaces – including Haiku for smartphones, Canto for tablets and Limerick for the Apple Watch – aid patient care via mobile devices.

Epic states that 190 million people across the world use its technology. Meanwhile, Forbes has estimated that at least 40% of the U.S. population has medical data stored on an Epic electronic health record (EHR), and Epic’s clients include some of the biggest names in healthcare.

KLAS Research concluded in 2017 that Epic had the largest EHR market share in acute care hospitals at 25.8%. Epic’s top competitor, Cerner Corp., took 24.6% of the market, revealing the close tug of war between the two companies for customers.

There has been a lot of interest lately in the IT consulting industry around becoming an Epic consultant. The demand for these consultants is at an all-time high and Epic Systems’ success has proven that the demand will only increase.

One thing that all Epic consultants should consider is becoming Epic certified.

Epic certifications are highly valued by many organizations and can be the key to a successful career in the healthcare IT field. Epic Certified consultants are currently in high demand.

It is very difficult to become Epic certified, but extremely valuable once you receive it. A certification is awarded when Epic Systems has deemed you proficient within a given module.  If you are not directly employed by Epic then you will need sponsorship from a hospital going through an Epic implementation. Epic does not allow individuals to apply for ad hoc certification. The only other method of receiving Epic certification is to be hired directly by Epic Systems.

There are numerous different modules in which one can become certified, such as:

  • ASAP – Emergency Room
  • Beacon – Medical Oncology
  • Cadence – Scheduling and Tracking Patient Appointments
  • EpicCare Ambulatory/Inpatient: Clinical Documentation, Order Entry, E-Prescribing
  • Kaleidoscope – Ophthalmology
  • Cupid – Cardiology
  • OpTime/Anesthesia – Scheduling and Documentation for Surgical Procedures
  • Stork – Obstetrics
  • Prelude/ADT – Patient Registration System
  • Radiant – Radiology
  • Willow (Inpatient and/or Outpatient) – Pharmacy

Epic requires those who are working on an implementation to be certified. If sponsorship through the system you currently work for is not an option, you can try to get hired by an outside health system to become Epic certified. After completion of the training and a hands on mock implementation process you must pass a proficiency test in order to receive the certification. Note that the only location in which one can receive Epic certification is at Epic Systems headquarters in Madison, Wisconsin.

One thing to keep in mind when looking to get certified is that the process takes varying amounts of time, depending on which module you are receiving certification for. As a result, certification timelines can be somewhat unpredictable.

We are now seeing implementation in Canada and a strong demand for Epic consultants in Ontario. In July 2017, Epic rolled out its first end-to-end implementation in Canada at Mackenzie Health, an Ontario-based health care provider that serves over 500,000 patients. Other Canadian facilities use parts of Epic’s family of software. For example, the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario uses Epic for its patient portal. However, Mackenzie represents the first time a Canadian health care provider has installed the full gamut of Epic tools, covering everything from lab work to cardiology to scheduling.

If you’ve been looking for the “next big thing” to learn in order to remain competitive, Epic is it. It may take some extra work, but it will lead you to be one of the first and few to earn this certification in Canada, immediately making you more marketable to recruiters nation-wide.

6 Ways Independent Contractors Can Use Microsoft Excel (and some better alternatives)


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+

6 Ways Independent Contractors Can Use Microsoft Excel (and some better alternatives)Microsoft Excel is an extremely powerful tool and we’ve shared a few posts about Excel to help open your mind to its potential. The reason we love this versatile program is because it’s readily available to everyone at no additional cost. Almost all new computer set-ups include the basic version of Microsoft Office, including its spreadsheet software, meaning there’s no need to pay for additional tools.

Here’s a look at some ways your IT contracting business can be managed with a simple spreadsheet. Of course, as we’ll note throughout the list, there are situations in your business when an extra investment is worth it.

  1. Planning and Budgeting. Creating templates with calculations to play out different scenarios makes decision-making a breeze. Taking it a step further, why not plan and manage your entire budget in Excel? Check out this infographic from Quid Corner for step-by-step tips in creating a customised budget.
  2. Accounting. From basic bookkeeping to complete accounting, it’s not uncommon for small businesses to manage their finances all through an Excel workbook. A quick Google Search will reveal countless templates that will suit your business and help you get set-up.
    Alternatively: Managing your books is a crucial function in your independent contracting business and we believe that investing in the right software is a smart move. As always, we strongly recommend consulting with your accountant on your best options.
  3. Calculate Time Across Multiple Clients. In the same way you should budget your finances, knowing how you spend your time is also important. When you work for a single client, you usually use their time entry tools, but when juggling multiple clients, it’s a good idea to keep what you’ve done for each in a single spot. This gives quick insight into where you spend most of your time in a given period.
  4. Managing Your Job Search. As this article from Glassdoor points out, when you’re actively searching for new work, you can find yourself bombarded with resumes, responses and interviews and remaining oraganized is crucial. The article features seven different tips for staying organized, including these tips for managing your job search through a spreadsheet.
  5. Managing Contacts. An extension to just managing your job search, you can use Excel to manage all of your contacts. When you return from a networking conference, enter all of the business cards you received. Every time you answer an email, add their information and notes into Excel. The more columns and information you include, the more helpful it will be to sort your database in the future.
    Alternatively: There are a number of other contact management tools available and many are free. For example, your email tool (Gmail or Outlook) also includes a contact management tool.
  6. Project Management. Some Project Managers may be cringing at this thought, but in a number of cases, Microsoft Excel is helpful in managing complete projects. From creating Gantt charts to status reports to issue tracking, there are project management templates for Excel across the internet.
    Alternatively: Excel has its Project Management limits; for example, it’s difficult to collaborate and managing multiple projects can be a hassle. There are elaborate project management tools available and always worth investigating.

What absolutely did not make the list? Password management. Regardless of your ability to password protect your spreadsheet, managing passwords this way is no longer considered an option by security experts. Given a hack can destroy your finances and identity, we strongly recommend investing in a password management tool.

Microsoft Excel has been around for years and people have used it creatively to take on many tasks. Microsoft even provides templates to get you started. How are you using spreadsheets to manage your business?

Contractor Quick Poll: Are you really an independent contractor?


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+

For nearly 10 years now, the CRA has been paying close attention to independent contractors’ employment statuses and performing audits to determine if they should be deemed Personal Services Businesses (PSBs). Independent contractors across Canada quickly learned the importance of taking steps to protect their independent business status, or else suffer the tax consequences. Recently, the Ontario Government passed Bill 148 that, among many things, will also put a spotlight on independent contractors’ business habits.

This makes today a good time to assess how well you’re doing at ensuring that your independent contracting business is in fact considered a business. This month’s contractor quick poll helps with just that as it includes some basic actions you can take to separate yourself from your clients’ employees. As usual, we strongly recommend you seek legal advice to ensure you’re taking all the proper steps.

Quick Poll Results: Leadership is Important for Independent Contractors


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+

Last month’s contractor quick poll dove into the subject of leadership, specifically its relevance to IT contractors. We asked our readers how often they require these skills while working on client projects and the results are clear: independent contractors need leadership skills!

More than 3/4 of respondents stated that they always or almost always require leadership skills during their contracts, while the remainder of respondents said sometimes. Not a single person answered that they rarely or never require leadership skills.

What does this mean for you? If you’re not confident in your leadership abilities, it’s time to brush up on them to continue your success as an independent contractor. Do you want to see more posts with leadership advice in the Talent Development Centre? If so, are there any specific areas? Add your requests to the comments below!

Quick Poll Results - Do independent contractors need leadership skills?

Contractor Quick Poll: Leadership Skills for Contractors


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+

Leadership is a widely studied topic and a scroll through your LinkedIn feed will prove that it’s discussed by nearly everyone. While some would argue it’s over-talked about, others would argue it can’t be spoken of enough.

While this post isn’t going to argue whether or not we need more leadership articles, we are curious to know how relevant they are to IT contractors. Specifically, does it play a part in your everyday work? This month’s contractor quick poll asks independent contractors how often they require leadership skills to succeed.

Business Owner? Invest in YOU!


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+
Kevin Dee By Kevin Dee,
Chairman of the Board at Eagle

This post first appeared on The Eagle Blog on March 23rd, 2017

learning quote from Brian HerbertEagle has been working with independent contractors for more than twenty years.  One of the challenges that any business owner faces is in personal development and it is particularly tough for the owner of a one person business.  If “the business” is taking time out for training, then it is not making money  and a second issue is that the business also has to pay for training.

When I started Eagle I had a similar dilemma, how do I continue to learn about running a business and still do my day job.

“Develop a passion for learning.  If you do, you will never cease to grow.”  Anthony J D’Angelo

Here are some ideas:

Read! It seems obvious … but so few people do it! I love the Executive Book Summaries because they are an 8 page (20 minute read) synopsis of some of the greatest business books. A very affordable annual fee lets me download pdf files that I print and read when I have a few minutes between meetings or when I’m traveling! I also subscribe to Harvard Business Review which produces short, very informative and relevant documents that keep me thinking, give me ideas and help me to stay relevant.

Network! I started a small group of fellow CEOs that gathered on a monthly basis to share stories and collectively grow. There are many existing groups that provide the same experience.  Over the years I have belonged to numerous such groups .. including the group of CEOs who ride motorcycles!  If you are an independent contractor why not start your own networking group?

Online Training.   In recent years there has been an explosion of available, and free or very affordable, training online.  Sites such as Coursera and others like it have great training in a plethora of subjects.

“Leadership and learning are indispensable to each other.”  John F Kennedy

My advice to any business owner, particularly the independent operator …invest a little in yourself and you differentiate from almost everyone else!

Facebook and LinkedIn Groups for Contractors (Part 1)


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+

Part 1: Which Network Has Better Groups for Independent Contractors — LinkedIn or Facebook?

Why Facebook and LinkedIn Groups are Perfect for Independent Contractors in Technology (Part 1)Social media groups are rooms or forums within a social network where like-minded people gather to share discussions, pictures and connect with each other. They have the option to be private or public and are used for unlimited reasons, from planning a family party to school projects to business networking. Depending who you ask, groups on social networks are either a productive way to network or a waste of time filled with garbage. That’s because everybody’s had a different experience with groups. While some experiences are beyond your control, when you know what you want to get out of a group and how to do it, your chances of a positive experience are higher.

Most of the major social networks have some sort of Group functionality, with the most popular being Facebook,  LinkedIn and Google+. A Contractor Quick Poll conducted in March 2015 concluded that 75% of independent contractors log into either LinkedIn or Facebook more than any other network, so let’s look closer at those two options.

LinkedIn Groups

You already know that LinkedIn is the professional social network. Those who use it correctly understand that they need to maintain a professional image, so content and discussions are generally business-related (some people like to bring in politics and fluffy content, but we’ll save LinkedIn etiquette for a future post). In addition, you will find senior professionals who are willing to connect with you on this network more than any other, making it the prime choice for business networking. So, naturally, one would think that LinkedIn groups are the best option for independent contractors in the technology space. In the November 2015 Contractor Quick Poll, only 33% of independent contractors said they use LinkedIn for Groups. There are many valuable groups; however, there are unfortunately more groups that have been filled with SPAM and sales people trying to take advantage of their captive audience. In fact, this combined with the fact that engagement in LinkedIn groups is at an all-time low have many people across the internet wondering if LinkedIn Groups are dying a slow death.

Facebook Groups

The Facebook Groups functionality was popular about 10 years ago, during Facebook’s earlier days, and started to trickle away for similar reasons as LinkedIn — engagement wasn’t there. Recently, Facebook Groups have been making a “comeback” and communities are embracing the functionality all over again. Because of its mainstream popularity, professional networkers may not believe there is as much success. Facebook is used less by senior professionals than LinkedIn and those who do use it tend be more hesitant about connecting with anybody who is not a close friend or family. Therefore, finding a valuable networking group may not be as easy to do.

So which social network should you use for business networking? LinkedIn or Facebook? In typical cliché fashion of most comparison articles you read online, we’re going to recommend the grey area in the middle. Every situation is unique, with factors such as who you want to connect with and the types of topics you’d like to discuss. As such, review the pros and cons above, as well as review the groups on both networks before deciding. If anything, we strongly discourage joining multiple groups and hoping for the best — this will either result in lot of lost productivity or you will be so overwhelmed that you will ignore it all and be no further ahead.

The biggest question you may be asking yourself right now is “Why would I want to join a group at all?” We’ll answer that and provide some tips on how to use social media groups as a technology contractor in the second half of this series.

2016 in Review: Business of Independent Contracting


Share on FacebookTweet about this on TwitterShare on LinkedInEmail this to someonePin on PinterestShare on Google+

2016 in Review: The Business of Independent ContractingIt’s well-known that successful independent contractors are hard workers, experts in their field and know the best ways to keep a steady flow of work. Something often over-looked by an outsider is all of the extra work an independent contractor has to do just to manage their business. Since we know that IT contracting goes beyond searching for jobs and working on projects, the Talent Development Centre is filled with helpful business tips and contracting advice.

Taking the Leap into Independent Contracting

Just getting into contracting can be a scary endeavor, which is why we posted these articles to help IT professionals in that situation:

Managing Your Independent Contracting Business

We also shared these posts to help manage the business once it’s moving:

Inside Scoop from Eagle’s Executive Team

One of the greatest benefits of the Talent Development Centre is the inside scoop we provide from our executives, who work closely with industry associations. As a result, 2016 also saw these policy-related articles:

What did we miss in 2016? Use the comments below to tell us what you want to learn more about next year.