The Untimely Demise of FMS: Gone, Buried and All But Forgotten

When the idea and prototypes of what was called the Freelancer Management System (FMS) appeared at the end of 2013, it was met with much excitement and interest, which continued well through 2014 and 2015. Though propped up into 2016, FMS — after a long struggle with confusion, rebuttal and lack of adoption in the market — finally succumbed, quietly and without much notice. Scarcely a tear was shed, and barely a whisper was heard, not even from investors who poured millions of dollars into their progeny.

Don't know much about FMS?  Read our 2015 article Freelancer Management Systems: The Origin and Destiny of a Species.

FMS was an innovative concept — perhaps the first to emerge in the enterprise contingent workforce management space since VMS. Full of promise, the now-deceased came into this world in response to the rising tide of independent (a.k.a. freelance, gig) workforce. It was a was greenfield opportunity to engage badly-needed talent which traditional suppliers were at a loss to deliver.  What could go wrong?

Here are a few answers:

  1. The FMS model, attractive and interesting as it was, led to many questions by enterprise prospects. What about sourcing? What about compliance? What about integration into existing systems and processes?
  2. The idea of a new centralized, monolithic enterprise system — a complement to VMS — seemed like a good idea. Apparently it was not. Not only did prospects get stuck on the shortcomings above, many wondered why they should pay for a new technology solution. With the costs of implementation and integration, not to mention the cost of the solution itself, where was the demonstrable ROI?
  3. Solution providers that had been thrown into the FMS solution category started to reject the category and reposition themselves without the moniker, as they pursued viable solutions that the market would adopt.
  4. The term FMS became diluted and a source of confusion, as the market conflated online freelancer marketplaces with freelancer management systems.  For more details on this subject, read The Difference Between Online Freelancer Marketplaces and Freelancer Management Systems
  5. Finally, it started to become clear that, technologically, the age of centralized, stand-alone enterprise systems was coming to an end. Whatever the requirements, they would be fulfilled on different architectural principles and technology infrastructures (cloud, peer-to-peer, distributed, etc.).

But life has gone on, and the baton is passed to the next generation. FMS may be no more, but the story does not end there. A range of players — incumbents and new — have moved on, using the knowledge of the past and new insight into the present and future to bring new models into the market.

How this next generation will fare remains to be seen. But if you want to give it some more thought, we suggest you give our recent white paper a read through: Contingent Workforce Self-Sourcing Technology: Past, Present, and Future.

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Voices (4)

  1. Kyle:

    Work Market is the largest and has not disappeared. Instead it has gotten much longer and now covers a lot more functionality beyond traditional FMS.

    1. Andrew Karpie:

      Hi Kyle, Thanks. I’ve had a few folks respond to my assertion as you have, and it raises a good point. I am not saying that solution providers that had been subsumed into the FMS model category have disappeared…on the contrary, as Work Market clearly demonstrates. Companies like Work Market have grown beyond the original concept and have deliberately abandoned the term, for a number of reasons, including the desire to amplify their differentiated approaches to solving client problems. I’ve often noted that one of the things that FMS was about was building a bridge between the enterprise and the independent workforce. Earlier and newer players continue to pursue this goal, while technology (e.g., iPaaS, etc.) and business workforce paradigms continue to change (e.g., TTM, Consumerization of sourcing, etc.). So we both know that Work Market has not only not disappeared, but it is evolving and growing. But if you review the website, I think you’ll find there is no mention of FMS.

  2. Bob Solomon:

    Andrew, who were the FMS vendors and did they disappear?

    1. Andrew Karpie:

      Bob, no, for the most part, they did not disappear. They really just kept moving on beyond the original category and evolving different positioning and approaches to the market. New players also entered the picture, trying to put their own draw-bridges down to span the enterprise moat. I’ll send you a note off line re:

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