Freelancers are quickly becoming the oil that keeps the economy running. Across a wide range of industries, professions, and roles, businesses are expanding the ranks of their freelance army to fulfill their talent needs. Freelancers are a major boon to productivity—if they are managed correctly. They can help businesses scale up, access specialized skillsets, expand in new markets and more, but a management strategy is key to ensuring workflows stay humming along. Spreadsheets just don’t cut it anymore, especially when you’ve got thousands of freelancers in the mix. To accommodate this growing sector of the workforce, Freelance Management Systems (FMS) have emerged to streamline the process from end-to-end.
Recognizing the need for an FMS is step one, and it’s an important step. Step two is figuring out the types of capabilities an FMS needs to deliver the most value. Here are the five must-have features that will help you unlock the full potential of your freelance workforce.
- Simple, Fast, Flexible Onboarding
An FMS needs to get your current and future network up and running in a scalable manner. When not managed properly, freelancer onboarding can create serious bottlenecks. Say a startup tasks their HR team with onboarding freelancers, but that HR team has a ton of other stuff to do. They may not be able to make freelancers their priority, which causes delays for the team that needs the freelancer, not to mention freelancer. It also adds to HR’s already-full workflow.
An FMS can take care of onboarding, taking it from a manual to an automatic process. When a new freelancer joins the ranks, an FMS brings all the necessary information about contracts, tax-forms, etc. into one centralized place.
Scheduling & Budgeting
The platform should make it easy to know when your freelancers are available so you can quickly get started with the best talent when you need them. Countless hours can be wasted trying to find an available freelancer with the right skillset, unless that information is organized and updated in a cohesive way. An FMS should present clear freelancer profiles, with their availability and their rates, so with just a few taps, a manager can find the person they need.
Businesses, and teams within those businesses, use dozens of different SaaS tools for everything from collaboration to payroll. To actually improve efficiency, an FMS needs to integrate with existing tools. Everyone can be more productive and optimize their time when an FMS fits into existing workflows. It also prevents things, like invoices, from falling through the cracks.
Invoicing & Payments
Without the ability to pay your freelancers quickly the FMS is not a true end-to-end solution. Payments are one of the biggest freelancer pain points. A 2015 report from the Freelancers Union found that 44 percent of its members reported issues getting paid; On average, they are owed over $10,000 in unpaid invoices and spend 36 hours tracking down missing payments. Clearly, organizations are having a tough time figuring out how to pay their freelancers in a timely way, and this is a problem. Not only is it unfair to the workers, but slow payments can also deter great freelancers from working with you again. An FMS should enable quick and seamless payments by automating as much of the process as possible.
Worker Review & Sharing
Just like any full-time employee, freelancers are primed to succeed when they have feedback about their performance. Freelance relationships are most fruitful when they are long-term, which means there should be opportunities for freelancers to improve and grow. An organization will get more out of their freelance workforce if they understand where they stand.
In addition, worker review and sharing is a must-have for an FMS because it brings accountability to freelancer performance. This helps you keep working with the best talent, while protecting your team (and others) from working with freelancers who aren’t up to snuff.
With these five features, an FMS can set any organization, small or large, up for success in how they handle their freelancers.