Businesses of all sizes – and across all industries – are benefiting from the freelance economy. Freelancers help tackle large new projects, temporary upticks in workload or specific tasks you simply don’t have time for. And you don’t have to worry about over-staffing once you have completed those projects.
Problem is, most people instantly think they’ll manage everything on a spreadsheet. After all, it can’t be that hard, can it? This might be fine if you work with one or two freelancers, but it can turn into a nightmare once your team grows.
A spreadsheet can accidentally get deleted, corrupted, edited, or an incorrect formula can lead to mayhem. Spending hours correcting spreadsheets or looking for misplaced timesheets isn’t the best way to get work done.
A Better Freelance Management Solution
With a Freelancer Management System (“FMS”), these kinds of mistakes are unlikely to happen. Plus it supports businesses in a whole host of other ways which we’ll look at shortly.
Q – ‘So, what is a freelancer management system exactly’?
A – At the simplest level, it’s a software system that allows you to search, hire and manage talent, as well as track projects, budgets and pay invoices.
The data is stored securely in the cloud, where everyone with authorisation can access it from a laptop or mobile that’s connected to the internet. It provides businesses with a consistent process that helps them stay organised, productive and compliant.
Q – ‘That’s great, but do I really need one’?
A – It’s a valid point. So, let’s take a deeper dive into the four core areas where a FMS can help organisations to systematise the outsourcing process – and why that’s important.
The Four Pillars
Most outsourced projects will go through a specific life-cycle: recruiting/on-boarding, people management, project management and financials. This includes everything from budgeting to invoicing.
Here, we’ll highlight how using an FMS will benefit the business during each stage:
Recruiting and On-boarding
How much time do you waste trying to find freelancers and then on-board them? Are all your on-boarding documents in one place and easily accessible? Is the on-boarding process consistent across the business? Do you even have a proper on-boarding process in place?
With a Freelancer Management System, you create your customised on-boarding procedure and documentation templates. Your entire team can then use the same process and templates. This saves time, avoids reinventing the wheel and acts as a checklist to make sure you don’t miss anything.
It means all CVs and portfolios are kept in a central location and there’s a consistent vetting process. This includes obtaining proof of address, bank details, and any rights to work documentation. An FMS can be integrated with background checking companies, making sure an individual can legally work.
It helps on the GDPR front too, making it easier to comply with data privacy rules. Can you say the same about your spreadsheets? Probably not. And when it comes to hiring and on-boarding, it makes the process straightforward:
- Send an email to invite the freelancer to sign up to the platform
- The freelancer creates a personal profile in the system, triggering the on-boarding process automatically from there
It means you can start creating a team of freelancers that your department – or the entire company – can tap into and share.
You can even add a link to your website or elsewhere and allow freelancers to apply to work with you. Done right, this can save you a lot of legwork.
If you keep details of freelancers in one system you can see what skills are available – along with any gaps. Searching for a specific skill, language, location, or rating means you can narrow down the best person for your project. And because they’ve worked with you before, there’s the added advantage that they know your business.
Even if you find you have a skills gap, the integration with platforms like PeoplePerHour, which has over 1.5m freelancers ready to go, helps to speed up the process of finding the right person. After all, the quicker you can get them started, the quicker you complete your project.
It cuts out the need to email colleagues to find out if they know of anyone suitable. Every freelancer your company is working with is already in the system.
There’s also another important factor in using an FMS: knowing which managers are outsourcing, what projects are being outsourced and how much is being spent. It allows you to set them a budget and track activity.
Managers can be permanent or outsourced themselves Manager’s rights include the ability to create projects, approve worksheets, invite other managers to the platform or allocate budget.
Permanent employees can also have access to the platform, so they have visibility of activity, without giving them manager rights.
This gives businesses more flexibility in how they structure their resources dependent on projects, workload and needs.
A big benefit is being able to track projects from start to finish. A Freelancer Management System provides a clear record of the brief, the status of activity, deadlines and budget spent on a project. If a project looks likely to miss a deadline, managers can, speak to the freelancer(s) and get projects back on track. It helps everyone work better as a team.
When a manager is looking for a freelancer for a specific project, it also allows them to see previously completed projects. Having all past activity in one place makes it easier to get a better idea of an individual’s capabilities right from within your own platform.
Have they worked on similar projects before? How good are they at sticking to deadlines? What projects are they currently working on?
One of the biggest benefits of a good third-party FMS is that new functionality and integrations are being added all the time. This means it will continuously get even easier to manage your freelance teams and all the different activities.
The ability to assign tasks, create hubs for projects and communicate with each other through collaboration tools helps everyone to get work done faster.
Financials: from Budgeting to Payment
Keeping a close check on finances means you make sure that you spend money wisely, and that you pay freelancers on time. With an Freelancer Management System, you know what money you have committed to projects and how much you have left to spend.
Furthermore, an FMS provides a consistent process that allows freelancers to complete timesheets, attach notes and submit them to managers to approve or reject. Once approved the system pays the freelancer automatically, meaning you just get one consolidated invoice each month. No need for managers to do anything else.
Automating financial workflows avoids paperwork going astray and there are fewer bottlenecks such as expense forms being left on someone’s desk. It’s a straightforward process – whether it’s raising a purchase order or requesting a budget increase.
Adding value where it matters
Organisations of all sizes – and industries – benefit from using freelancers. They can help a new business get off the ground, a small business to grow and a large business to manage an influx of work or to take on new contracts.
From sales, marketing and customer services to engineering, IT and agencies, an FMS helps every department and type of business to better manage outsourced resources, stay compliant, get more work done and ultimately help the business thrive.
For more information about how a Freelancer Management System can add value to your company please visit TalentDesk.io.