By 2020, half of the American workforce could be freelancers. They represent a huge chunk of the American economy and their share of the workforce is only getting bigger. Businesses are relying on freelancers more and more—for everything from copywriting to design to sales consulting—but without a strategy or system in place for managing those freelancers, workflows could quickly devolve into chaos. Any organization that works with freelancers needs a freelance management system to ensure their entire workforce is as productive and efficient as possible.
What is a Freelance Management System?
A Freelance Management System (FMS) helps businesses manage their freelance workforce. Traditionally, companies managed freelancers using a patchwork of spreadsheets, emails, and other tools, like invoicing software. This cobbled-together approach quickly becomes confusing and unwieldy, forcing managers to switch back-and-forth between systems and dig for the information they are looking for.
Freelance Management Systems streamline that process from end-to-end. Instead of searching through a spreadsheet for a freelancer with the right skills, ironing out contracts, assignments and timeline via email, and then loading that person into a separate invoice and payment system, an FMS brings all the information and tools needed into one place.
When designing Kalo, we thought about dividing the freelance management process into three buckets: The worker, the work they do, and how they get paid for that work. The first bucket focuses on the people themselves. What freelancers has a company worked with before? What are their skills? Where are they based? What is their availability? What is their rate? Who at the company has worked with them before? Using centralized profile information, a manager can quickly identify the right people for a job, make contact, and bring them on board.
The second bucket is about the work itself, meaning the assignment and all the contracts and documentation that go along with it. These tools track the progress of projects, enable managers to message freelancers about work, and store information about deadlines, brand guidelines, equipment, and any other custom attributes. And when the assignment ends, Kalo allows managers to leave feedback and track performance.
Finally, the third bucket is invoicing and payment. An FMS can serve as the source of truth for all invoices to be submitted in various forms and templates. Invoices can be built into various approval flows, so once it’s approved, the payment is automatically processed. Companies can integrate the FMS with their existing payment system or with Kalo, pay directly using the premium service.
By tackling these three aspects, Freelance Management Systems help keep productivity humming along. One vendor replaces multiple vendors to simplify the process with a platform that is custom-built for the problem. By standardizing the process with an FMS, businesses save time and money. They also gain efficiency, which opens the door to scale up the freelance program in a sustainable away, and can reduce compliance risks.
An FMS also prevents delays, miscommunications, and information from slipping through the cracks. Say you’ve got a project that employs five freelance software engineers. If they are not onboarded properly with the right tools, that can cause a bottleneck and/or shortfalls in the work itself. If they are not paid on-time, that could generate ill will and mean those freelancers won’t want to work with the same company again. Everyone involved benefits from the structure and convenience an FMS provides.
As with anything, there can be downsides to working with an FMS. Onboarding and learning the new platform can take time. An FMS also needs to integrate with existing products and systems. This is why we made ease-of-use and integrability a priority at Kalo. We wanted to be sure that whatever technology a company was already using, whether it’s an e-signature tool, project management software, or a payment provider, they could keep using it if they wanted to.