Freelance Management Systems, Revisited

Whether you frequently hire freelancers, or you are someone who freelances yourself on a regular basis, you know it’s a hassle to keep track of it all.

You probably rely on a half dozen or more different software systems or mobile apps (or a hybrid of the two, in many cases) to stay in touch with contractors or clients, for scheduling or to manage billings and payments – to name but a few.

Recognizing that more and more professionals are engaged through freelancing, entrepreneurs are answering the call for better work management tools for when you’re dealing with contractors vs. employees. Below, I review of some of the freelance management systems currently on the market.

About 18 months ago in this space, I talked about the rise of freelance management systems, and how they were beginning to make life easier for business professionals who prefer to do their work and hiring a la carte. Among the benefits cited were:

  • Gaining convenient online access to vetted, screened talent;
  • Reducing liability risk and ensuringe compliance on things like employee misclassification, which can bring on hefty IRS fines;
  • Increasing your visibility, efficiency and control with a single tool that can replace the usual mishmash of different tools you typically need with freelancers such as third party payment systems, project calendars, virtual meeting platforms, and spreadsheets.

At that time there were only a handful of freelance management systems (FMS) formally presented as such. Many were subsystems of larger online staffing platforms like Upwork, or ours at Graphite, a trend that continues today.

Companies that facilitate professional hiring have answered client desires for a simple way to manage the work actually being performed. Since April 2015, Graphite has added easier online invoicing and payment systems (now available across North America), internal messaging apps and other conveniences that help our customers avoid having to use too many different systems. Likewise, Upwork is trying hard to keep all their customers happy by offering all communications, invoicing and time tracking within the Upwork ecosystem. Powerful mobile apps that can offer the same robust versatility is the next great frontier these platforms need to conquer.

Besides this hybridized form of FMS, there are now lots more apps and systems designed as standalone systems for managing freelance work. Here are some of the new and more noteworthy FMS products on today’s market:

Work Market  Work Market offers tools for recruiting, on boarding, payment and reporting. The company aims to help you manage the entire lifecycle of your freelancers and independent professionals from one platform.

Contently  Contently is a SaaS content marketing platform from the New York company of the same name. Features include a collaboration space, calendar, and workflow controls, engagement metrics, and rapid access to a high volume of original content from freelance creative talent.

Field Nation  Field Nation offers native mobile apps for project management and payments, and workflow management software for scheduling and tracking progress on assigned tasks.

WorkingNotWorking   WorkingNotWorking is a less robust platform than the others, but it’s probably my favorite just because their website itself is so creative. This is an elite, invite-only site for top creative talent needed by top advertising agencies and media producers. It offers an additional suite of tools that allows clients to assemble work portfolios of artists, photographers and designers by project category – which can be a real time-saver for busy creative directors.

Obviously, there’s still a lot of room for competition to grow in this area. Maybe next year will be a lot different.

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