OnForce Canadian push focuses on contract work

Canadian IT managers looking for employees in a pinch will soon be able to use an eBay-like on-demand marketplace where they can post tech jobs to a lists contract IT professionals for hire.

New York-based OnForce, which currently lists over 10,000 service providers in the United States, has recently launched a Canadian branch and is currently accepting registrations for IT professionals and technicians looking for contract work. Once the Canadian Web site is officially launched, companies or “buyers” will be able to post a variety of technical jobs ranging from installations, upgrades, temporary staffing or training.

“For the professional out there in the field, this is a really a great pipeline of work where they can evaluate the potential work and decide what they want to accept,” Paul Nadjarian, senior vice-president of product and marketing at OnForce, said. “It’s a phenomenal solution for them to really fill in extra time in their schedule and make some extra money.”

Jobs can range from quick tasks such as installing a scanner or replacing a hard drive to longer five to 10-day management projects. Nadjarian said the biggest appeal to IT contractors is how simply the whole process operates.

“They go out and get the job done and when it’s complete the buyer than pays them directly through the system,” Nadjarian said. “They don’t have to do any billing and collections or send any invoices to get paid. In the U.S., the professionals out there doing work on OnForce were making anywhere from US$20,000 to US$80,000 a year off the platform.”

Steve Finkelstein, president of Thornhill, Ont.-based consulting firm Byte Dr, said he has already signed up as a provider for OnForce. His company provides computer and networking services for individuals and small businesses.

“This means that I won’t have to knock on doors to find new clientele and I can keep my schedule busy with work,” Finkelstein said. “This will deal with the real issue for companies trying to find qualified workers.”

While OnForce’s marketplace system is innovative in this space, firms like the Toronto-based CNC Global have been helping companies find IT contract staff for years. According to Christopher Drummond, CNC’s vice-president of marketing, his firm is one of about a dozen national IT staffing firms, with hundreds more regionally-based consultancies.

But despite this, there may be room for all these IT staff firms, as Drummond said the shortage of IT staff can make contractors quite popular with companies.

“It is becoming harder and harder to find the talent that you need and particularly experienced workers,” Drummond said. “Contractors are popular if a company is working with a hiring freeze or when they need outside expertise to compliment a project team. Plus, the IT workers that we deal with will often opt for contract roles, particularly in senior level project managers or business manager roles, because it tends to be a little more lucrative.”

One aspect that OnForce believes could be utilized by many Canadian companies is the staffing and training work requests.

“We started to see people who were requesting five, 10 or 20-day engagements,” Nadjarian said. “This was to back up somebody who was on vacation or to get somebody on-demand when they had a big project to do within their office,”

Despite being in operation for only three years and entering a crowded IT staffing industry, OnForce believes it can be successful in the Canadian market. Nadjarian said that OnForce has been receiving calls from both IT pros and buyers for the last year to implement a Canadian service. “And based on the profile of the providers in Canada, with a lot of them being independent one or two person shops, it is the perfect bulls-eye fit for the OnForce marketplace,” Nadjarian said.

For companies looking to find IT staff on Canada’s OnForce site, the company anticipates a late October or early November launch date. The service will be free for both providers and buyers; however, OnForce charges an $11 fee for buyers who send out work orders and 10 per cent commission for providers when they get paid.

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