It’s possible you’ve never heard of a freelance management system. If so, don’t worry—the term didn’t really start to make the rounds until early 2014. Although it’s a relatively new concept, however, an FMS is a powerful system for managing freelancers, their contract templates, and more. You’ll want to look into it sooner rather than later.
Your business probably uses freelance labor. These days, you’ll be hard-pressed to come across a company that doesn’t. Between 2011 and 2015, the number of freelancers contributing to US businesses rose from 4.5 to 6.4 million people. That number is only expected to grow.
Still, the process of hiring, managing, and paying freelancers is not the same as with full-time employees. There are different processes, rules, and expectations. That’s why finding a good freelance management system is so important.
A freelance management system, or FMS, is a system used by companies or individuals to streamline their freelance management. It helps in a variety of field including freelancer on-boarding, management, tracking, payment and reporting.
You have standards and protocols for managing your team and its workflow. However, if your company has traditionally relied on full-time talent, you might find that freelancers don’t fit so neatly into your established systems. Contracted workers get paid and taxed differently. They need to sign contracts about ownership of content. They might even be in a different time zone. How will you keep track of everything?
Well, as Forbes defines it, freelance management systems “allow enterprises to consolidate every aspect of their freelance workforce—onboarding, management, accounting, reporting—into a single dashboard.” If you’re hiring several different contractors, this will get them all connected to you through a centralized system. Furthermore, it’s a system that’s designed to account for the specific needs of freelance talent. This means you use the built-in features to make sure that all the right boxes get checked.
As CPO Rising puts it, “the FMS platform is a dynamic, automated tool to tap into the burgeoning freelancer community while also gaining enhanced control.” That all sounds great, but what exactly does it mean? Let’s drill down into the specific features that freelance management systems provide.
Before you hire freelancers, you have to find the right ones. Fortunately, an FMS can connect you directly to a pool of vetted contractors who are ready to get to work. They usually have searchable profiles that clue you in to their areas of expertise and levels of experience. On top of that, they’re already familiar with using your system—so connecting and getting started is simple.
Once you find a good match, you can reach out to them and begin the conversation through the platform. Then, when you decide to pull the trigger, it’s easy to make an offer and get the digital paperwork in motion. Your FMS will automatically send actionable next steps to you and to your freelancer so that no time is lost.
You might be hiring writers, designers, and administrators for a variety of tasks and several different timelines. Clarify terms up front with a contract. When does your working relationship begin and end? Who owns the original content created, and how can it be used? Don’t fall into the trap of assuming you’re on the same page about these details. Get it in writing, and let your FMS do the heavy lifting.
Now that you’re moving forward on assignments, you need to keep the project on track. Leverage the project management features in your FMS to make assignments, establish milestones and deadlines, and monitor progress. As things move forward, you’ll maintain a clear overview of what’s been accomplished and where your attention is needed.
You need to keep your team updated on progress, challenges, questions, and stakeholder concerns. However, a slew of scattered emails, chats, and texts can lead to confusion or gaps in the conversation. Have your contractors communicate with you through your FMS so that everything related to the project stays in one place.
With an FMS, invoices and payments are frictionless and convenient for both you and your team members. Freelancers submit their invoices, you approve payment, and funds are electronically transferred. Accounting becomes streamlined as well, because you’re working from the same set of automatically-updated records.
Knowledge is power, and the analytics provided by a freelance management system give you mountains of data. Are you staying on budget? How many hours are your freelancers logging? Has content been delivered on time? Which of your freelancers are performing most consistently? A clear picture of these statistics will help you catch problems before they start, and improve planning in the future.
Money may be a renewable resource, but your time is not. An FMS will save you time by automating processes and workflows. If you have other tools and platforms that you already use, you may also be able to integrate them. Talk to your FMS provider about connecting your tools. If the integrations you need are not yet in place, consider automation solutions like IFTTT or Zapier.
A fully-loaded FMS is clearly not just a tool for managers. It may be used by nearly everyone on your team as assignments move forward, for many different tasks.
Management can simplify workflows, build a talent base, and track growth more easily.HR can quickly find and hire new talent, define terms of employment, and get contracts quickly signed and filed.Operations can manage projects, track timelines and milestones, and keep communication on point.Accounting can simplify invoices, set up automatic payments, and nail down tax documents.
Freelance management systems aren’t just for small businesses or fully remote teams. Large, traditional companies are seeing the benefits. The Washington Post, for instance, built its own FMS to manage its freelancers. Fortunately, you don’t need to start from scratch like they did. With existing freelance management system like Bonsai, you have options to get set up for smarter freelance management with minimal effort and maximum results. Start your free trial today!
A verbal contract (formally called an oral contract) refers to an agreement between two parties that's made —you guessed it— verbally.
Formal contracts, like those between an employee and an employer, are typically written down. However, some professional transactions take place based on verbally agreed terms.
Freelancers are a good example of this. Often, freelancers will take on projects having agreed on the terms and payment via the phone, or an email. Unfortunately, sometimes clients don't pull through on their agreements, and hardworking freelancers can find themselves out of pocket and wondering whether a legal battle is worth all the hassle.
The main differences between written and oral contracts are that the former is signed and documented, whereas the latter is solely attributed to verbal communication.
Verbal contracts are a bit of a gray area for most people unfamiliar with contract law —which is most of us, right?— due to the fact that there's no physical evidence to support the claims made by the implemented parties.
For any contract (written or verbal) to be binding, there are four major elements which need to be in place. The crucial elements of a contract are as follows:
Therefore, an oral agreement has legal validity if all of these elements are present. However, verbal contracts can be difficult to enforce in a court of law. In the next section, we take a look at how oral agreements hold up in court.
Most business professionals are wary of entering into contracts orally because they can difficult to enforce in the face of the law.
If an oral contract is brought in front of a court of law, there is increased risk of one party (or both!) lying about the initial terms of the agreement. This is problematic for the court, as there's no unbiased way to conclude the case; often, this will result in the case being disregarded. Moreover, it can be difficult to outline contract defects if it's not in writing.
That being said, there are plenty of situations where enforceable contracts do not need to be written or spoken, they're simply implied. For instance, when you buy milk from a store, you give something in exchange for something else and enter into an implied contract, in this case - money is exchanged for goods.
There are some types of contracts which must be in writing.
The Statute of Frauds is a legal statute which states that certain kinds of contracts must be executed in writing and signed by the parties involved. The Statute of Frauds has been adopted in almost all U.S states, and requires a written contract for the following purposes:
Typically, a court of law won't enforce an oral agreement in any of these circumstances under the statute. Instead, a written document is required to make the contract enforceable.
Contract law is generally doesn't favor contracts agreed upon verbally. A verbal agreement is difficult to prove, and can be used by those intent on committing fraud. For that reason, it's always best to put any agreements in writing and ensure all parties have fully understood and consented to signing.
Verbal agreements can be proven with actions in the absence of physical documentation. Any oral promise to provide the sale of goods or perform a service that you agreed to counts as a valid contract. So, when facing a court of law, what evidence can you provide to enforce a verbal agreement?
Unfortunately, without solid proof, it may be difficult to convince a court of the legality of an oral contract. Without witnesses to testify to the oral agreement taking place or other forms of evidence, oral contracts won't stand up in court. Instead, it becomes a matter of "he-said-she-said" - which legal professionals definitely don't have time for!
If you were to enter into a verbal contract, it's recommended to follow up with an email or a letter confirming the offer, the terms of the agreement , and payment conditions. The more you can document the elements of a contract, the better your chances of legally enforcing a oral contract.
Another option is to make a recording of the conversation where the agreement is verbalized. This can be used to support your claims in the absence of a written agreement. However, it's always best to gain the permission of the other involved parties before hitting record.
Fundamentally, most verbal agreements are legally valid as long as they meet all the requirements for a contract. However, if you were to go to court over one party not fulfilling the terms of the contract, proving that the interaction took place can be extremely taxing.
So, ultimately, the question is: written or verbal agreements?
Any good lawyer, contract law firm, or legal professional would advise you to make sure you formalize any professional agreement with a written agreement. Written contracts provide a secure testament to the conditions that were agreed and signed by the two parties involved. If it comes to it, a physical contract is much easier to eviden in legal circumstances.
Freelancers, in particular, should be aware of the extra security that digital contracts may provide. Many people choose to stick to executing contracts verbally because they're not sure how to write a contract, or they think writing out the contract terms is too complicated or requires expensive legal advice. However, this is no longer the case.
Today, we have a world of resources available at our fingertips. The internet is a treasure trove of invaluable information, platforms, and software that simplifies our lives. Creating, signing, and sending contracts has never been easier. What's more, you don't have to rely on a hiring a lawyer to explain all that legal jargon anymore.
There are plenty of tools available online for freelancers to use for guidance when drafting digital contracts. Tools like Bonsai provide a range of customizable, vetted contract templates for all kinds of freelance professionals. No matter what industry you're operating in, Bonsai has a professional template to offer.
A written contract makes the agreement much easier to prove the terms of the agreement in case something were to go awry. The two parties involved can rest assured that they're legal rights are protected, and the terms of the contract are sufficiently documented. Plus, it provides both parties with peace of mind to focus on the tasks at hand.
Bonsai's product suite for freelancers allows users to make contracts from scratch, or using professional templates, and sign them using an online signature maker.
With Bonsai, you can streamline and automate all of the boring back-office tasks that come with being a freelancer. From creating proposals that clients can't say no to, to sealing the deal with a professional contract - Bonsai will revolutionize the way you do business as a freelancer.
Why not secure your business today and sign up for a free trial?