Spend Matters welcomes this guest post from Martin Konrad, co-founder and CEO of Shortlist.co.
Companies have been using Excel and email to manage their freelancers, independent contractors and suppliers for as many years as these tools have existed. The rise in the “on-demand economy” has created a requirement for companies to be able to manage a more agile workforce. PricewaterhouseCoopers estimates that the on-demand work sector is expected to generate $335 billion in revenue by 2025, up from $15 billion in 2014.
Experts argue that companies best prepared to manage an agile workforce will be able to beat their competitors. It may be time that you change out your email and Excel solution for an enterprise freelancer management system (FMS). In this post, we’ll share five reasons we think you’ll be happy you made the choice to move to an enterprise FMS.
What is an Enterprise Freelancer Management System?
Enterprise FMS software is an umbrella term for desktop and mobile platforms that help a business manage their talent or resources more effectively. The term originated in customer interaction centers, and other service businesses, that employ a large number of workers who are paid on an hourly basis. Other terms such as contingent workforce management or contractor management may also be used.
As businesses rely on more external resources, the number of work orders, on boarding requests, quality control issues, authorization and approval requests may become unmanageable using traditional tools such as email and Excel. The goal of an enterprise FMS is to improve efficiency in how managers are able to engage with their external workforce, driving the best performance possible.
1. Track Relationship History
You can absolutely use Excel to build and manage a database of your external freelancers, contractors and suppliers. As the number of resources grows, however, it can be hard to track the history of each relationship. This includes tracking project teams the freelancer has worked in, the skills required for each project and over what period of time a freelancer was engaged with the business. It can be challenging to get a holistic view of projects and freelancers when these multiple dimensions need to be taken into consideration.
Good enterprise FMSs track user and vendor activity, allowing companies to see the interactions from the start of the relationship. This capability also ensures that the company’s organizational knowledge is not lost when an employee leaves the company.
2. Performance Management
Tracking the performance of your external workforce can be challenging for teams using static Excel files. To measure performance properly, you need to be able to capture reviews and rate your freelancers over a period of time. For example, your freelancers may perform well on one project but underdeliver on another. This evaluation may not be transparent when using multiple Excel sheets as information can easily be missed. To stay on top of each worker, your team need to be constantly updating the Excel files to keep the performance ratings up to date. They also need to track performance against various project times, skills and budget.
Another disadvantage of Excel is that it doesn't automatically send reminders to employees to collect reviews on freelancers in order to calculate a performance score.
With an enterprise FMS you should have the ability to track the performance of your extended workforce based on a particular project, period of time or required skillset. You can search talent based on different filters or requests. It can also automatically send reminders to employees to provide feedback and reviews for each contractor at the end of a project. This feedback then contributes to an overall performance score, which is particularly useful when looking for talent for your next project.
3. Profile Administration and Compliance
A key component of managing your external workforce is ensuring that you have the latest contact and service information. This can be achieved by sending Excel files back and forth via email. You can also have someone on your team performing data entry on a continuous basis.
Alternatively, an enterprise FMS will have profiles that contractors can manage and update by themselves, freeing your staff from these types of administrative tasks. An enterprise FMS platform should also keep track of any missing information and automatically send reminders to your contractors keeping required documents up to
date. This is particularly useful for maintaining contracts, NDAs and other documents required for compliance purposes.
Since onboarding is a critical process for managing your external workforce, most enterprise FMSs will have features to ensure all steps are completed in a timely fashion when new talent is brought onto the platform. Status notifications will be sent to the next person in the process and follow up tasks that haven’t been completed on time. This automated notification is a great advantage over an Excel-based solution, as it removes a lot of administrative work and also reduces risk.
4. Workflow Integrations
Increasingly, companies are looking for ways to connect business systems together to automate repetitive tasks. Platforms like Zapier are allowing business users to easily take the output from one tool and connect it to another reducing their workload and the amount of time it takes to complete tasks. While Excel and Google Sheets can be connected to these types of systems, their lack of APIs or robust integration points makes integration more difficult and reduces the amount of automation that can take place.
5. Search and Access Fresh Talent
Finally, in order to manage your external talent, you first need to find it. An enterprise FMS platform makes it easy to search and find contractors suitable for your projects. It should allow you to browse by skillset, location, past experience and ratings provided by other users.
An enterprise FMS that has an extensive marketplace of qualified contractors and freelancers can greatly reduce the amount of time your business, and specifically your managers, spend on trying to find new talent. An enterprise FMS that also combines services for sourcing or finding agile talent could also save a lot of time and money for your business. It could even reduce your costs associated with hiring and using staffing agencies. Clearly, this isn’t an area that Excel can help with.
To evaluate if an enterprise FMS is right for your company, look at the five areas above. Ask if these areas are a pain point for you or your managers and whether removing these would improve your business. If so, consider moving from email and Excel to a enterprise freelancer management system today.