Hiring freelancers to fill your talent gaps isn’t just smart. At some point, it may be your only option. That’s partly because more people are shunning traditional jobs for the flexible freelancer life. In fact, one report estimates by 2020, four out of ten workers will be freelancers.
The same report shows 80% of companies expect they’ll use more contingent workers in the future. They find it’s the best way to access specific skills for project needs.
But working with a virtual workforce requires different processes.
The old tried-and-true methods of Excel spreadsheets, managed service providers (MSP), or vendor management solutions (VMS) offer limited support. They simply aren’t designed to efficiently handle remote talent from diverse locations. In response, a new technology has emerged called Freelancer Management Systems (FMS).
With an FMS, companies can hire, communicate with, and pay their contingent workforce–all from one cloud-based platform.
But is an FMS really worth it? To find out how much they really save you, look at these six metrics:
- Project completion rate
Often, the skills and experience of your talent influences how quickly a project finishes. Some FMSs are linked to large freelance marketplaces—giving you instant access to talent pools filled with millions of freelancers, covering thousands of skill sets, and located worldwide. From one platform, this lets you source and hire the most appropriate talent. Then collaborate in real time with your freelancers. This direct communication not only saves time, it also keeps your freelancers more engaged. Sebastian Battig, VP of Technology and Chief Architect at Convey Compliance Systems, says their projects finish four times faster thanks to the quality talent and administrative efficiency provided by their FMS.
- Cost of talent
An immediate benefit of working through an FMS is you get the same high quality talent without agency markups. This equates to an average savings of 20-30% per freelancer. Some platforms let you compare rates and ratings of several freelancers at a glance, which makes it easier for you to choose the best talent for your budget.
- Onboarding efficiency
Through an FMS, onboarding is automated, so it can be done in a fraction of the normal time. This saves your company a significant amount of time, especially when using the same freelancers for future projects. For one leading software company, onboarding freelancers used to take two weeks. After using Upwork Enterprise, an FMS platform from Upwork, 95% of the company’s freelancers are onboarded in one business day. Not only did they slash administrative costs, their projects ramp up faster too.
- Project management time
An FMS allows you to view multiple projects from a single dashboard, making it easier to see the status, pull reports, and communicate with project teams no matter what time zone they’re in. This could significantly reduce time your employees spend coordinating their contingent workforce.
As is the case for an editorial manager of a leading financial blog. She oversees hundreds of contributing writers and explains, “Our blog network used to take 8-10 business days a month among several people to manage. It now takes us maybe one day per month between all of us.”
- Payment processing speed
Your FMS can be connected to your accounting department for a streamlined payment process. With fewer steps for your staff, payments that used to take two weeks to a month, can now take as little as 24 hours. And faster payments don’t just free up your staff for other tasks, they can increase freelancer productivity too.
The same editorial manager adds, “I can respond to my writers much more quickly, and pay them two days after their work is syndicated on the site…That’s really appealing to people. It’s immediate feedback: ‘I write this, I get paid.’ It encourages people to write more, and we’ve definitely seen an increase in our volumes.”
- Administrative overhead
In today’s fluctuating business world, it seems the nimble remain competitive. That’s especially true when it comes to engaging with your contingent workforce. Savings come from acquiring the right talent when needed and getting them to work as soon as possible, then wrapping up the project quickly. But this process can be cumbersome, especially if you work with many freelancers across multiple time zones or countries.
One worldwide operations manager works with over 1,000 top freelancers in 20+ countries. By adopting an FMS, she can move people in and out quickly while collaborating with them with more personalization, which strengthens their long-term relationships. What’s more, it’s all scalable. Her FMS provides such a high level of agility, things get done in less time, with fewer signatures, and processes. As a result, they continue saving money on everything from writing descriptions of work to maintaining compliance, no matter how many freelancers she works with or where they’re located.
Utilizing a virtual workforce requires a new way of engaging—a way that embraces responsiveness while supporting the diversity, flexibility, and remoteness of your talent. Thanks to new FMS technology, your company can take advantage of the changing workforce trends in a way that supports your bottom line.