Every time I talk to someone about Sourcesense - a prospect, a customer, a friend, whoever - I always mention the fact that everyone is a permanent employee and we don't usually use contractors. 90% of the times I get a strange look no matter the country I am at that particular moment (since we have offices in UK, Netherlands and Italy).

The reason for the strange look I believe lies in the fact that consulting and systems integration companies by and large tend to do a lot of body shopping (UK definition, in Italy it's called body rental): contracting people off the street just to resell them to customers, most of the time doing so after having already sold the bodies to the customers.

When I get the inevitable question "really?" and the occasional "why?!?!?" I usually jump at the chance to explain our point of view but it's always a long discussion. I was thinking about this last week after the situation presented itself again and thanks to way too much air travel I got to the following concise, arguably bold explanations, both probably unconsciously inspired by something I read sometime ago about Pixar:

We aspire to be the home for all Open Source developers who want to create customer value by and while contributing to the ecosystem: to do so we need to blend individual stars and operating systems that matches up with that strategy. Try doing that we random people you either don't know and drop at the end of an engagement or that are in any case not part of your organisation. Great people tend to generate the most value when they can see beyond their little part of the universe (e.g. I love it when I offer to a colleague to go to a conference and, as part of his/her happy reaction, he/she asks things like "is it a good thing for the company if I go? does it make financial sense?")

Contracts allow (consulting/systems integration) companies to be irresponsible: since you don't need to worry about keeping people happy and fulfilled. What we strive for in Sourcesense is to create a workplace that's better than any contract. And it's not just a matter of idealism, there are long term returns as well that I can prove: more than once a customer has thanked me because - their words - "rather than selling me anything and the kitchen sink you preferred to be honest and avoid selling us someone off the street". The result is not only a happy customer, it's a relationship based on trust and professionalism that pays over and over again.