Checklist to Follow When Hiring and Managing Data Scientists

There are important protocols that need to be followed when hiring and managing data scientists.
guidelines for hiring a data scientist
Shutterstock Photo License - By Gorodenkoff

Big data has changed the nature of modern business in tremendous ways. As a result, a growing number of companies have started hiring data scientists to handle many of the different functions that they need to oversee.

Companies have to take a number of things into consideration when hiring and managing data scientists. A lot of the same principles apply as with managing and onboarding other employees. However, there are some unique differences that need to be taken into consideration.

When a company needs a data scientist, they may find that freelancers, independent contractors, and gig workers are cost-effective options. They can use them to outsource the skills needed for specific tasks. It might seem tricky to manage people you haven’t met, but there are tools and methods to ensure the best outcome.

What is the best way to go about finding the right freelance data scientist? How should you supervise and leverage their talent? 

We have provided a helpful checklist for hiring and managing data scientists. The checklist also indicates the steps to follow through the process.

Checklist: Hire & Manage your Freelance Data Scientists

Define your needs

Be clear about exactly what the freelancer will need to do and how often. Draft a scope of work or brief for the specific tasks you need them to do. Include the timeframe and milestones. These are all important things to consider when you need to hire a data scientist for your company.

You may not be able to compile a comprehensive scope of work without input from the independent data scientist. Be as detailed as you can. Have your other team members give feedback on the scope of work if necessary.

Determine your budget

Find out the average rates and create a budget. Be reasonable in your price expectations. For the freelancer system to keep benefiting its clients, it needs to be adequately funded.

Decide on how and when you want to pay. You can generally pay per unit of output or for the data scientist’s time.

Consider the freelancer’s availability

The number of freelancers available is overwhelming. It’s impossible to consider them all. A reputable demand-side platform will eliminate this problem.

Freelance platforms should ideally conduct background checks for you. It gives you professional assurance when they have good working relationships with their freelancers already.

A demand-side platform should also prevent problems such as employee misclassification and its negative tax implications. This can be an issue whether you are hiring a data scientist or any other independent contractor, so it is a good idea to avoid it whenever possible.

View the data scientist’s portfolio of most recent work. Is there a clear overlap between what you want them to do and their past projects? Is the quality of their work acceptable? Pay attention to their recent clients and projects to get a better idea of their expertise.

Is the freelancer familiar with the knowledge needed for the task? Do they have the critical skills at the right level? If you are unsure, ask them to explain the procedure they follow and the tools they use. This will help you decide if they know what they are doing.

Negotiation and contracting

Once you have found a suitable candidate, discuss the scope of work or brief in detail. Check that they can do everything you need them to do. Ensure they know the milestones and deadlines. Confirm the costs and how and when you will pay them.

Having a contract when taking on a new data scientist, especially on a freelance basis, is always a good idea. It makes your expectations clear. It also commits both parties to their responsibilities, including confidentiality.

Good freelancers are flexible and can often anticipate your needs. All the same, it pays to give them clear instructions. Emphasize what matters on a particular project to avoid wasting time.

Efficient onboarding

Establish reporting lines and communication expectations as soon as possible. Different individuals can play a role in hiring, working with, and paying the freelancer. Make this clear to save time and confusion.

Be clear on how often they must update you on their progress, if necessary. Onboarding can also include training the freelancer, which takes away time from your employees.

All these onboarding processes can be time-consuming and costly. An integrated system will ensure you convert to business value more quickly.

It can be a challenge to manage the relationship between freelancers and existing staff who feel threatened. If you’re concerned about this, help your staff understand the situation beforehand. Introduce them during the onboarding stage.

Use the best tools to track their work

Automated team management software is the most effective way to track freelancers’ work and stay up to date with them. As your business grows, a spreadsheet won’t be enough to keep track of everything. 

Look for a platform that is flexible with all the tools you need. The best options allow you to easily project and control your budget and use multiple ways to pay. You can even bring your own talent onto some systems.

Build trust throughout the process

You may want to retain freelancers in the long term because the system works so well. Their knowledge and skills can become increasingly valuable the longer they work with you. So, it makes sense to keep their trust while expecting the same from them.

A good reputation will help you attract new talent. Sadly, some companies have bad reputations among freelancers who avoid working for them.

Fair treatment will ensure freelancers want to work with you. It will also build a good reputation for your brand. Treat freelancers as valuable employees, even if they only work with you temporarily.

Simplify the process with a demand-side platform

A good demand-side platform will make working with freelancers a pleasure by eliminating or simplifying each of the above aspects. Comprehensive management software will provide a range of online tools to streamline the entire process. 

This checklist provides an overview of how to go about finding the right freelancer, how to supervise them, and leverage their talent. It requires good management and people skills to make the most of this valuable resource.

Make Sure that You Know How to Hire and Manage Independent Data Scientists Properly

There are a lot of things that you have to take into consideration when you are onboarding data scientists. Some of these changes are going to differ depending on whether they are being hired on a freelance basis. Make sure that you follow the tips listed above.

Sean Mallon
Sean is a freelance writer and big data expert. He loves to write on big data, analytics and predictive analytics.