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The Complete Guide to Working with and Managing Freelancers

When it comes to working with and managing freelancers, like most other areas of business, you need to be super organised to maximise the results. Unfortunately, the constant juggling of projects and trying to keep track of everything can feel overwhelming.

This is often because there are few systems and processes in place to make every step more efficient. As a result, everyone managing outsourcing projects ends up reinventing the wheel time and time again.

In this guide we hope to change that and bring consistency and visibility on a greater scale – not just for managers dealing with freelancers on a day-to-day basis but also so that the whole organisation can benefit from being more in control including finance, HR and business owners. Discover key tips for managing freelancers and ensure working with them is as seamless as possible.

The Complete Guide to Hiring Freelancers

When it comes to hiring freelancers, there are several steps you need to think about or go through. These include:
1. Do you really need to outsource?

Many organisations outsource without a clear vision of what they want to achieve or the overall impact on business. It’s often the case that HR, finance and even the business owner or department head don’t have visibility of the projects taking place and the freelancers carrying out work for the organisation.

Are there multiple people in your organisation outsourcing projects for similar skills? This might lead HR to suggest hiring someone internally and creating a role for those particular types of projects and tasks, rather than outsource.

2. Creating a great job description

If there’s a genuine need to outsource, you’ll want to create a written job (aka project) description. Keep this direct and on point so that you articulate the project succinctly, outlining exactly what’s entailed and the skills required.

Good freelancers will see many project opportunities every day and will be choosy about which ones they pick. That means you need to sell your project to attract freelancers of the highest calibre. A great job description also clarifies what your overall objective is and is an important exercise in its own right.

3. Tightening up your search skills

With your job description in hand, you’ll next need to post it on the recruitment platforms of choice. You may also want to target specific freelancers. Whilst you might be aware of sources such as personal networks, social media and freelancer platforms, when it comes to searching you can always be more efficient.

The great news is, there are many ways to speed up your search. This includes the proper use of filters on freelancer platforms to narrow down your target audience fast. You can also add a power boost to LinkedIn’s filters by combining them with boolean search.

4. Mastering the art of the interview

If you think you’ve found the right freelancer, you’ll definitely want to check that your assumption is correct. This means knowing what you want to achieve and having a conversation with purpose.

The best way to do this is to create a clear framework for your interview questions. This will ensure that no important factors are left out of the equation. It will also make the interview process much more efficient – and provide you with a handy blueprint for future interviews.

The complete guide to hiring freelancers
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The Complete Guide to Onboarding Freelancers

Having a procedure in place ensures you start off on the right foot with your freelancer, and helps to make sure that you keep compliant – something which every business should take seriously.
1. Onboarding freelancers

When you onboard freelancers for projects, you’ll want to make sure you’ve got all their necessary information, including full contact details, signed agreements and payment details. One important factor to bear in mind is that this is different to onboarding an employee.

The freelancer is a business in their own right and should be treated as such - particularly when it comes to working practices. They’re not subject to the same internal employee procedures, but are essentially a supplier, so you should consider this a business-to-business relationship.

2. Remaining compliant

When it comes to compliance, you’ll need to make sure you fully understand the impact of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). This gives individuals, including freelancers, more rights over their personal information, which should always be kept in a GDPR-compliant system.

If you work within the UK, IR35 legislation is important to understand as well. It is set to change in  April 2020 for mid to large organisations in the private sector, so that the onus falls on the "fee payer" to determine a freelancer or contractor’s employment status. This is certainly one to seek legal guidance on.

Onboarding Guide
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The Complete Guide to Managing Freelancers

Wondering how to manage freelancers? The day-to-day management of outsourced projects can become a nightmare – particularly if there are a number of them running in parallel. Having highly efficient processes in place will help you keep on track.
1. Creating a project brief

Like the job description, the project brief should be tightly focused to provide only the necessary details. Make the objectives SMART, provide key deliverables and ensure that any milestones and timelines are clearly laid out.

Additional information such as audience, benchmarks, branding and other specific details that are important to the success of the project are also be included.

2. Providing clear communication

The quality of the outcomes you get when working with freelancers will be driven by the quality of your communication. This applies to your briefs, discussed above, and also every other interaction you have with freelancers.

Always think about the outcome you want before you have a call with a freelancer, write an email or any other form of communication method you use. Good communication can ensure that you articulate project requirements and changes well, leading to a better end result for all.

3. Managing multiple projects

When it comes to managing projects with freelancers in parallel, it is important to work collaboratively, maintain accountability and visibility.

Having the right tools in place across the organisation will help you achieve this. This is useful in information consolidation and gaining a better view of outsourced projects and their status'.

The Complete Guide to Managing Freelancers
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The Complete Guide to Managing Finances and Reporting on Freelancers

The final part of the puzzle when outsourcing projects is to have clear visibility on the finances and be able to analyse and report on them too. Without this, the organisation will have no clear understanding of the return on investment it’s receiving from outsourcing projects.
1. Budgeting and tracking

Setting a budget from the start is key to creating a baseline to work from and it can be apportioned in whatever way the organisation sees fit. You also need to get a system in place so you can track your finances and make sure you’re not going over budget. Often businesses don’t realise how much they spend on freelancers until it’s too late.

2. Invoicing and payments

Prompt invoicing and payment of freelancers will help to keep relationships in good standing. Having proper processes in place will also ensure that projects can be tracked and finances attributed. This will ensure greater visibility and help to avoid rogue spending.

3. Reporting and analysis

Having the systems in place to track finances will make it much easier when it comes to analysis and reporting. This is valuable feedback for the organisation to see how money is being spent, where value is being added and what changes might need to be made.

Dashboards are a key part of this toolkit to provide a visual snapshot at any point in time, and so is a reporting framework. This allows everyone to apply the same processes and standards to better manage and report on outsourcing costs within the business.

The Complete Guide to Managing Finances and Reporting on Freelancers
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