Transitioning from Spreadsheets to Freelance Management Software
It’s time to switch from spreadsheets to a modern Freelance Management System
Frustrated with managing your freelancers in multiple spreadsheets? It’s time to consider switching to a Freelance Management System (FMS). FMS are software platforms for businesses to efficiently managing their freelance talent, vendors, and other external workers — getting the best performance out of their liquid workforce.
Scaling Your Liquid Workforce
As businesses become more reliant on the liquid workforce, the process and workflows for managing freelancers quickly become unmanageable — when using traditional tools such as email and spreadsheets (Excel or Google Sheets). Keeping up with onboarding requests, tracking contracts and SOWs, managing invoices and payments (particularly approval and authorization requests), catching invoice errors that don’t match agreed upon SOWs — these processes aren’t scalable when using spreadsheets. Each one must be done manually, with each step a potential point for errors to be introduced. Moreover, using spreadsheets to manage freelancers puts you at the mercy of version control — as soon as someone stores and works out of a local copy, your whole system becomes out of sync.
Experts agree that companies prepared to efficiently manage an agile liquid workforce are better equipped to beat their competitors. Given that, isn’t it time you finally put aside your outdated email and Excel (or Google Sheets) solution for an FMS? Jenny Gao of Fly by Jing made the switch and now saves herself dozens of hours each month.
Here’s why you, too, ought to make the switch from spreadsheets to a freelance management system.
A Freelance Management System reduces errors as it converts your manual spreadsheet processes into automated workflows. Here are a few areas in which an FMS reduces errors.
Onboarding is a critical process for managing your liquid workforce, and when managing this process in spreadsheets the process is prone to errors. An FMS should have features to ensure all steps are completed in a timely fashion before freelancers being their first project. Status notifications will be sent automatically to follow up on forms, documents, and tasks that haven’t been completed. This automation reduces the administrative burden on ensuring that all freelancers have been properly onboarded — reducing potential security and intellectual property risks.
When managing freelancer payments and invoices in spreadsheets, you leave yourself open to double paying invoices and paying for invoices that weren’t contracted. An FMS like Liquid automatically notifies you if invoices don’t match active SOWs, reducing your chances of overpaying freelancers.
Freelance Management Software Systems have many advantages over spreadsheets when it comes to compliance. An FMS should keep track of any missing information and automatically send reminders to your freelancers keeping required documents up-to-date. Documents such as contracts, NDAs, W-9 forms, and other forms and information required for compliance purposes. Some FMSs, like Liquid, also encourage freelancers to use an EIN (versus a SSN); this reinforces their classification as an independent contractor versus someone you should be hiring as a W2 employee.
An additional advantage of using a dedicated Freelance Management System like Liquid is that it allows you to separate the management of your full-time employees from your outside contractors and vendors. This separation provides several benefits for your company. The business requirements for freelancer processes (such as for sourcing, onboarding, managing, and paying) are not the same as those for HR processes for employees. Additionally, if you have independent contractors on the same systems that are used to manage employees, you are more at risk of violating the ABC test.
Saves You Money
Switching from spreadsheets to a Freelance Management Software System saves you time by reducing people hours and by reducing the number of different software systems you pay for to complete all tasks related to managing freelancers. Here are a few ways an FMS saves you money.
Reduction in People Hours
Freelancers are used for short-term and often, one-time projects. There is always churn in your freelancer workforce. The management overhead of keeping your spreadsheet-based systems up to date increases with your churn rate. For example, using an FMS like Liquid reduces people hours for making payments and for onboarding freelancers. Switching to an FMS would provide an immediate cost savings.
Fewer Software Systems Needed
If you’re using spreadsheets to manage your freelancers, you’re probably also using a dozen different solutions for payments, onboarding, project management, contract management, file storage, etc. An FMS should integrate those features, consolidating your software spending into one system — saving you money.
Download Liquid’s Independent Contractor Agreement Checklist as a handy reference guide.
Track Relationship History
Yes, you can use Excel and Google Sheets to build and manage a database of your freelancers, contractors, and other vendors. However, as the number of resources grows, it becomes more difficult to track the history of each relationship in spreadsheets. The skills needed for each project; which project teams the freelancer has worked in; contracts, NDAs, and SOWs; over what period of time a freelancer was engaged with the business, etc. — there’s much to keep track of.
FMS platforms like Liquid track user and project activity, giving companies insight into all interactions from the start of the vendor relationship.
As you increase the regularity and/or duration you engage freelancers, you also increase the financial impact of a mis-managed freelance budget.
When managing freelancers in spreadsheets, you must rely on freelancer invoices being coded correctly and your finance teams providing reporting on your freelancer spend. Inconsistently coded invoices in spreadsheet-based systems lead to inaccurate freelancer spend reporting.
An FMS consolidates freelancer and vendor payments, making it possible to report on spend at a company, department, project, or individual freelancer level. Liquid takes this a step further and allows you to forecast your spend based on agreed upon SOWs.
Switching from Spreadsheets to a Freelance Management Software System
Freelance management systems aren’t just for startups or large, traditional enterprises. Small businesses, mom and pop shops, and remote teams are also seeing the advantages of switching from spreadsheets to Freelance Management System. With an FMS like Liquid, you can get started with smarter freelance management in minutes.
If you are still managing your 1099 independent contractors and/or vendors in spreadsheets, isn’t it time you switch to a Freelance Management System? Try Liquid today.
Note, we are not providing legal, tax or payroll advice. Please consult your legal, tax and payroll professionals. These are simply to serve as guidelines based on our own experiences.
Category: Freelancer Management
Updated: January 6, 2020
Quick note: This is not to be taken as tax advice or legal advice or payroll advice. Since tax rules and laws change over time and can vary by location and industry, consult a CPA / tax advisor and/or attorney for specific guidance.