The Freelancer’s Story


Project Business Management


By Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany



“I have learned that success is to be measured not so much by the position that one has
reached in life as by the obstacles which he has overcome while trying to succeed.”

Booker T. Washington, Up From Slavery: An Autobiography




A lack of communication between customer and contractor can lead from hope to disaster. Here is an example of that happening to a freelancer, a one-man show as a contractor.

Entry to the Freelancer’s Diary

April 1: This was my lucky day today. I received the confirmation that I will work as the project manager for the DOLPHIN project of Jellyfish, Co. They were impressed of my biography and the experience that I can bring into the project on technical, interpersonal, and organizational level. My help is needed over the entire project lifetime, and my work will be essential to its success.

I will have a team of ten developers, most of them also self-employed freelancers, some may be internals, and Jellyfish will pay me a good rate.

I had 3 months of frustrating searching for a new project, after the end of my last assignment. I am meanwhile running out of cash. The combination of travelling costs and lack of income was devastating for my bank account.  But end of next month, it will be able to write an invoice and hope, they will pay it immediately. It feels good to have income again and to be back in project business.

My wife is not happy that I will need to do a lot of travelling, leaving her alone with the kids, and she has a job to do too. However as the travel costs are covered by the customer, and understanding that jobs like this are not easy to find these days, she accepted the deal with gritted teeth.

Jellyfish—Internal Memo

April 1: Today, we finally took Mr. Smith under contract. He will contribute to the RIGHT FLIPPER work package of the DOLPHIN project. RIGHT FLIPPER is not a mission-critical part of the DOLPHIN project, but it adds to its business value and to its acceptance by important stakeholders. We believe, Mr. Smith’s work will be relevant to gain acceptance of the entire project by the requesting departments.

Mr. Smith was second choice. We had two highly capable candidates for the job, but they decided instead to accept competing offers from other companies that were prepared to pay much better. So, Mr. Smith was our last option. At least, choosing him was a budget-friendly decision.

We are uncertain about his technical capabilities, and there is also a question mark on his ability and preparedness to subordinate to a team mission. Therefore, we will need to have a watchful eye on his performance.

He will start working on the tasks next month. He will be paid based on daily rates and work records. He will send his invoices at the end of each month. We have agreed that travel charges will be included.



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Editor’s note: This series of articles is by Oliver Lehmann, author of the book “Project Business Management” (ISBN 9781138197503), published by Auerbach / Taylor & Francis in 2018. See author profile below.

How to cite this article: Lehmann, O. (2020). The Freelancer’s Story; Series on Project Business Management; PM World Journal, Vol. IX, Issue III, March.  Available online at https://pmworldlibrary.net/wp-content/uploads/2020/03/pmwj91-Mar2020-Lehmann-The-Freelancers-Story-PBM-series-article2.pdf



About the Author


Oliver F. Lehmann

Munich, Germany




Oliver F. Lehmann, MSc, ACE, PMP, is a project management author, consultant, speaker and teacher. In addition, he is the President of the Project Business Foundation, the home association for professionals and organizations involved in cross-corporate projects.

He studied Linguistics, Literature and History at the University of Stuttgart and Project Management at the University of Liverpool, UK, where he holds a Master of Science Degree. Oliver has trained thousands of project managers in Europe, USA and Asia in methodological project management with a focus on certification preparation. In addition, he is a visiting lecturer at the Technical University of Munich.

He has been a member and volunteer at PMI, the Project Management Institute, since 1998, and served as the President of the PMI Southern Germany Chapter from 2013 to 2018. Between 2004 and 2006, he contributed to PMI’s PM Network magazine, for which he provided a monthly editorial on page 1 called “Launch”, analyzing troubled projects around the world.

Oliver believes in three driving forces for personal improvement in project management: formal learning, experience and observations. He resides in Munich, Bavaria, Germany and can be contacted at oliver@oliverlehmann.com.

Oliver Lehmann is the author of the books:

To view other works by Oliver Lehmann, visit his author showcase in the PM World Library at https://pmworldlibrary.net/authors/oliver-f-lehmann/