Freelance Management Software (FMS): The Ultimate Guide
Updated: 8th November 2023
Embracing freelancers as part of the workforce is a growing trend in the modern business landscape. In recent years, the number of freelancers is estimated to be over 1.57 billion across the world. According to recent studies, the market for freelancers worldwide is valued at $1.5 trillion, and growing at a rate of 15%. It would only make sense for businesses to express their intent to enhance their freelancer engagements in the near future.
But who is actually in charge of freelancers? In most organizations, that responsibility still falls squarely on individual managers. They are tasked with finding the right talent for their teams, bringing them on board, and gathering all the necessary paperwork and documents. And then begins the intricate process of briefing, managing, and collaborating with freelancers, keeping an eye on project deadlines, and then finally processing individual invoices.
What is a Freelance Management Software?
If the process described above sounds incredibly effort-intensive, that’s because it is. Think about it. When it comes to a traditional, full-time hire, all these responsibilities would be shared across different departments — the HR team for talent procurement and hiring, the Legal team for documentation and paperwork, the Accounts team for payments and so on. But when it comes to freelance management, most organisations still lack the right software and protocols to ease the process. That’s exactly where a Freelancer Management Software comes in.
A Freelance Management Software is a software that helps you streamline and manage every aspect of working with freelancers, automating several processes along the way and bridging the end-to-end functions in a smooth, seamless way. Moreover, it takes into account the more dynamic relationship you would have with your freelance workforce, while also making space for you to scale up in future. So how does an Freelancer Management Software do this? Let’s delve into its key features.
What are the benefits of Freelance Management Software?
They help you source talentTo begin with, a good Freelancer Management Software eases the process of finding new freelancers. Given that freelancers are engaged more frequently than full-time employees, and that the requirement is often immediate, this process needs to be quick and easy. TalentDesk enables this by integrating with its parent company PeoplePerHour, to give users access to its database of 3 million freelancers. You can filter by rate, location, experience, expertise and more to shortlist and find the most relevant talent in minutes.
They make compliant onboarding a breezeA Freelancer Management Software will enable you to create an onboarding form, customized to include all the information your organization requires. There on, every new freelancer you hire will automatically be asked to submit the right documents, contracts, NDAs and bank details before they even begin working for you. This helps you ensure that you capture all the necessary information right at the start, and don’t miss out on anything crucial.
They help manage documentation compliantlyOnce you gather all the required freelancer data, the Freelancer Management Software will then collate and store the forms and documents securely in one place. This saves you from having all that data scattered across various inboxes and chat apps, and it ensures that your organizational processes are flawless when it comes to following compliance protocols. Should you need to pull up any specific form or tax detail of a particular freelancer later, you know exactly where to find that information.
They let you juggle talentOne of the biggest challenges managers face is to find the right people for the right job, at the right time. It is unrealistic to expect every manager to stay updated about the strengths and talents of each freelancer, especially in fast-growing companies where new people join the team each month.
Once you do have your experts hired and onboarded, your Freelance Management Software will maintain a comprehensive database of talent so that you can easily find the right freelancer, the next time a new requirement comes up. A good Freelancer Management Software will let you filter and search with ease, and it will also let you see exactly who is available at any particular time, which helps you cut down on unnecessary back and forth as you try to manage timelines.
They simplify project planning and executionSynchronizing tasks is not easy when you have different people, based in different locations, handling different parts of the project. This becomes even more complex when you consider the fact that each manager may be handling more than one project at a time.
A Freelancer Management Software offers the perfect solution as it weaves project management capabilities into the system. Having a comprehensive dashboard lets your managers keep track of who is in charge of which part of the project, so that they can manage dependencies accordingly. For instance, TalentDesk has a 360-degree project dashboard that helps your managers create projects, manage upcoming deadlines, create dedicated teams for different tasks and enjoy a real-time view of project budgets, which helps reduce overspending
They offer collaboration capabilitiesWith many or all of your freelancers and contractors based in different locations, it can be all too easy for important communication to slip through the cracks. When conversations happen in silos, it becomes difficult for managers to notice when one freelancer on the project has missed receiving a crucial update or when someone does not have access to the information they need.
A good freelance management software will include collaboration features, thus enabling all your external workers, managers and stakeholders to connect seamlessly in one place. This also adds an extra layer of security if you are working with proprietary or internal company information – sharing everything in one place is much safer than having it all spread across various communication apps.
They enable time trackingMaintaining timesheets manually can quickly get tedious with the greater number of freelancers you bring on board. Moreover, it leaves huge scope for human error – think forgotten entries or duplicated references.
A good Freelance Management Software will offer time tracking features to help you resolve this. The TalentDesk platform, for example, makes it really simple for all your freelancers to log the time spent on a task, with just a few clicks.
They save you time and cost in invoice processingUnlike employee salaries which are paid in one go, your freelancer invoices don’t come in all together. Every completed task or project involves different freelancers sending individual invoices, all at different times. This can quickly flood your managers’ inboxes – and sorting, verifying and processing all these invoices eat up a lot of their time.
This is yet another step that a Freelance Management Software will automate for you. Our platform tracks freelancer timesheets, consolidates all the invoices and generates a single monthly invoice for you. Once you make the payment, the system then pays each individual freelancer on your behalf, generating audit trails as it goes. Having this step automated actually saves you up to 70% in invoice processing costs – not to mention all the time that it frees up for your managers
They make international payments simpleIf you are working with a global workforce, making payments individually can become a stumbling block, even after you’ve processed the invoices. This is because it involves international payments – which involves navigating different currencies, exchange rates and global banking protocols.
A good Freelancer Management System will help you here by functioning as a payment portal with multi-currency capabilities. Some systems will also enable you to set up multiple global entities under one parent organization. This means you can have all local freelancer and contractor invoices billed to the entity in that geography – which saves you the hassle of dealing with expensive exchange rates every time.
They take care of the busy work
While you can handle all the steps above through separate tools, the lack of a unified system creates a lot of busy work for your managers. For example, imagine a freelancer updates their timesheet at the end of a project through your time tracking tool. You will still need to verify that with the tasks they were assigned – and then match that approved time to the invoice they send. That in turn, will need to be reconciled with the relevant payment receipt in your accounting software.
An integrated Freelance Management Software reconciles all these processes in real time, thus removing the unnecessary admin work from your managers’ workdays. In younger organizations, this is a huge advantage because managers can then spend that time on higher level tasks that actually help grow the business.
They make audits and reports seamless
Here again, having multiple disjointed systems (or worse, having no systems in place!) makes those quarterly audits unnecessarily stressful. Having to create a single budget report, for instance, would then involve trying to dig out months-old invoices or having to locate a specific contractor’s Tax Identification Number (TIN).
An Freelancer Management Software eases this process by generating audit trails and saving all that information in one place makes it super simple to track work, payments and documentation – which makes budgeting and reporting, a stress-free process
They help you build better relationships with freelancersYou, as the employer, are not the only one who benefits from having an organized system in place. Every freelancer and contractor appreciates the transparency that an Freelancer Management Software offers.
From gaining visibility on task updates so they’re not left guessing about approvals to enjoying the assurance that their invoices will be paid out by a certain date without fail, a Freelancer Management Software can make the engagement that much smoother for your workers. This makes you a very attractive employer – so the next time you need freelancers for a new project, you’ll find these same trusted professionals excited to work for you again.
How does a Freelance Management Software work?
Implementing and adopting a Freelancer Management Software is not as complicated as you might think. Most modern cloud-based systems are incredibly easy to use, and they allow you to integrate any existing data that you already have across various document storage and project management platforms. Of course, your Freelancer Management Software provider will also likely have teams to help you along the way. Depending on the software you choose, you might be able to get it up and running within the hour!
Here are 6 ways to make your Freelance Management Software work well for you:
Have a project owner in place
Identify one person within your organisation who will be in charge of the onboarding process. They will be responsible for keeping track of the progress within the organization, and will be the go-to person for anyone who needs help navigating the software. They will also ensure that there is a unified channel of communication with the Freelancer Management Software provider — they’ll work closely with the dedicated account manager and will be the first to receive any news or announcements about features releases.
Communicate effectively with freelancers
A Freelancer Management Software is a tool for both you and your freelancers, so make sure you give them some notice that a new system is coming. Don’t forget — freelancers don’t know what is discussed internally within the organisation, so you will have to give them enough context. Communicate effectively about when you are planning to roll it out, how it will help them, and how they can work with you to help you achieve your desired goals. Like any other piece of software, it is only as useful as the information you put into it. So, tell your freelancers exactly how you want them to manage their profiles so that it can make things smoother for both of you.
Implement it right
Getting your Freelancer Management Software up and running may just take minutes, but it’s also important to devote some time to implement it effectively across your organisation. Without proper training on how to use the system, you may find internal managers as well as external workers getting frustrated, losing steam, and reverting to old methods. One great way to ease implementation is to seek the help of your Freelancer Management Software account manager. They will be able to assess your unique company situation and schedule in a set of onboarding calls to both help you roll out the software and teach you how to use it effectively. Do make sure that all your managers and key stakeholders are on the call so that they can be brought up to speed. It might also be a good idea to organise a training call for your freelancers. Do also document your processes as you go. This way when more people start using the platform there’s already a consistent procedure in place.
Get continued buy-in from stakeholders
Communicate with your stakeholders at relevant points in the project, and include all your departmental heads in these conversations. This will help you explore how your Freelancer Management Software can drive benefits across the different departments of your organisation. After all, a good freelance management platform has features that encompass HR, recruitment, legal and accounts functions, so it can certainly cater to many areas of your business.
If any of your stakeholders had some key points of concern at the initial buy-in phase, it would be a good idea to provide new information and updates that address these concerns. When people see that you’re consistent and continue to keep them involved where appropriate, it will reinforce their decision to back the project as being the right choice.
Make iterative improvements
Once you’ve completed the implementation process, allow time for the system to bed in. Track its use and get user feedback – both internally and from your freelancers. This will allow you to identify areas of inefficiencies and make iterative improvements to your processes to drive maximum benefit from your Freelance Management Software.
Communicate with your account manager
Every good Freelance Management Software provider will assign a dedicated account manager just for you – and their input shouldn’t stop after you’re on board. Make sure that your account manager is someone you can build a good working relationship with because they’ll help you for as long as you use the system. They will help you extract more value from your Freelance Management Software, work with you to implement any process changes required, and keep you up to date on the ever-evolving software.
Best Current Freelance Management Software
So now that you have seen all the ways in which a Freelancer Management Software can help your business, how do you go about choosing the right software? To help you with that, here’s a handy shortlist of the 10 best Freelancer Management Softwares in the market today.
This is a top Freelance Management Software that offers truly end-to-end capabilities. The advantages begin right from the moment you decide you need a new freelancer or contractor. TalentDesk offers an integration with its parent company, PeoplePerHour, which makes it incredibly easy for you to find, shortlist and hire talented professionals. If you want to make this step even easier, opt for the TalentMarket service, which gives you curated access to only the top professionals on their platform.
TalentDesk then helps you streamline and customize the onboarding process, ensuring compliance and transparency, every step of the way. An easily searchable database of all your freelance talent makes it simple to find freelancers, even as you scale up. They also offer Agent of Record (AOR) services should you need it – putting their name on the contract and functioning as a shield that helps you reduce risks with global freelance engagements.
But going beyond this, TalentDesk weaves in project management capabilities into the platform too, with an advanced real-time dashboard that lets managers break down projects into tasks, create teams, keep an eye on upcoming deadlines and monitor project spends. Moreover, TalentDesk includes a sophisticated payment portal that consolidates all worksheets into a single invoice, and automates payments across different countries.
Fiverr Enterprise is a freelance management software that helps you organise and track all your freelancers in one place. Its powerful search capabilities enable you to filter talent based on skill, location, availability and more. It also helps you track the progress of all active freelancer assignments. Upon completion of the work, freelancers can raise invoices through the system, which gets sent directly to your accounts department.
This is a popular freelance marketplace that also includes hiring and payroll capabilities. Upwork offers three different hiring models — you can post your own project requirements and wait for responses, you can browse through the project catalogue and pick the type of skills you need, or you can let Upwork’s recruiters scout for and find the best talent for your business. Once you hire the right professional and complete your project, you can pay them through Upwork, all while ensuring compliance.
Toptal specialises in helping organizations find the best talent — within 24 hours. It has an extremely selective vetting and verification process, which means that out of the thousands of freelance applicants from around the world, only the top 3% is chosen to be a part of Toptal’s exclusive network. This, together with a trial process, means the platform can guarantee the right fit every time. Apart from the administrative aspects of hiring, the platform also handles certain parts of the invoicing process.
WorkMarket leverages AI capabilities to bring agility back into the process of hiring and managing your extended workforce. Its intelligent system helps you verify and correctly classify freelancers, contingent workers and 1099 contractors, thus enabling you to manage compliance effectively. It also offers a dashboard that can be accessed through a mobile app. This lets you manage assignments on the go, track progress and make payments, easily and flexibly.
This is another end-to-end Freelancer Management Software that allows you to find, onboard, manage, track and pay freelancers from one platform. It allows you to integrate your existing HR, accounting and project management tools, which helps you streamline your processes even further. Apart from these features, it has text messaging capabilities that lets you connect with freelancers in real time. This makes it easy for you to give and receive updates within seconds, thus enabling you to make the hiring and management process extremely transparent for your freelancers.
As the freelance economy continues to grow, it is evident that the way we work is set to change forever. The old methods of managing freelancers (spreadsheets and decentralized systems) might work in a pinch, especially if you’re just starting to engage with an external workforce. However, this is not very scalable in the long run and it only slows you down. A platform like TalentDesk can help you stay agile by helping you make the most of a hybrid workforce – without getting bogged down by the operational challenges.
Speak to us to find out how we can help you pay your contractors more efficiently
Freelancer vs. Design Agency: Why We Chose to Stay Agile
When we decided to revamp our website, we took time to consider the pros & cons of freelancers vs design agencies. Here's why we chose a freelancer.
Failure to classify your workers correctly can impact finances, employee morale and your business’ reputation. Learn all you need about 1099 employees here
Managing social media accounts can be a significant drain on time. Read the benefits of hiring a social media manager and how this may be the solution.
Scalable Workforce Solutions for Digital Marketing Agencies
For marketing agencies, levels of work can vary significantly. How do you scale your team to meet client needs while avoiding overcapacity at other times?
How to attract and retain creative talent globally
Use our comparison chart and checklist to test whether your workers are Contractor vs Employee. Classifying workers correctly is a legal requirement.
Employer of Record (EOR) Guide - Benefits & Risks
Using an employer of record is beneficial when using external employees. Learn how it can protect your company with our Employer of Record (EOR) Guide.
Why AI Can't Replace Freelancers and Take Over Jobs
Artificial intelligence tools like Chat GPT have people thinking their jobs are over, but AI can't replace human creativity & originality of a copywriter.
Checklist for Onboarding Contractors
Learn how to onboard seamlessly into your team with our handy independent contractor onboarding checklist, with consideration to processes & best practices
How to Seamlessly Transition From Recruitment to Onboarding
Learn how recruitment and onboarding processes can be managed more effectively with HR software now.