Business isn’t what it used to be.
While many employees are still employed by a number of traditional companies, a growing number of startups and small businesses are increasingly turning to freelancers and outsourced teams to handle a larger scope of work.
Outsourcing can be much more cost-effective. It also means you can tap into specialized skills and expertise on an as-needed basis. You don’t have to worry about health plans, paid time off or other HR related concerns. However, managing freelance and outsourced teams does introduce a new set of challenges.
Whether you’re a solopreneur who simply needs help or a larger small business that employs freelancers on a frequent basis, access to the right tools will help you manage the process with ease.
1. Workflowmax for time tracking
Depending on the type of work, it certainly isn’t out of the ordinary for outsourced professionals to bill on an hourly basis. This includes web development and accounting to blogging and social media management. However, what is the easiest way to keep tabs on time across accounts, projects and freelancers?
WorkflowMax offers time tracking software that is suitable both for traditional employees and outsourced team members alike. Workers can take control of their own time sheets and submit hours to a manager quickly and efficiently.
There is no need to break out a cumbersome excel spreadsheet. WorkflowMax time tracking software is also great for hassle-free quotes. This is especially useful in cases where you may subcontract work, when you quote a large project for a client.
Users can set the timer to track to time, define start and end times, or enter a set duration. The platform is accessible on mobile and desktop. Completed time sheets can be automatically converted into an invoice, which makes it easy for your freelancers to bill for their time.
On your end, you can see where time is spent to better optimize workflow and resources too. WorkflowMax starts at $15/month.
2. Basecamp Campfire for real-time chat
One of the biggest keys to success for any business is good communication with clients and colleagues. You may be used to back and forth messaging via instant messenger or email, but it’s not always efficient.
In some cases, a live chat room is much more appropriate for real-time collaboration. Campfire, once a stand alone, is now integrated into Basecamp 3 for project management. In effect, Campfire allows you to hearken back to the days of chat rooms, but it’s optimized for business.
When you create a new project in Basecamp, it automatically creates its own Campfire room. Simply invite the people you’d like to participate, tell them when to “show up” in the Campfire room you’ve assigned, and chat away. It’s that easy.
What’s great is that the full transcript is archived. So anyone who missed the meeting can read the notes. In addition to plain text, chat inside of Campfire supports drag-and-drop saved images, and the ability to use @mentions to get the attention of someone specific. Basecamp 3 pricing starts at $99/month for businesses.
3. Editorial Calendar for content management
Do you run a WordPress content site with multiple authors? It can be difficult to keep track of all the topics, articles assigned, who you’ve assigned them to, when you intend to publish and so on. Thankfully, there is a WordPress plugin that can organize your editorial workflow for you.
The free Editorial Calendar plugin is available through the WordPress Plugin Directory. It places all of your content on an easy-to-read calendar. This includes published and scheduled content. You can also manage drafts and quick edit headlines and timing without having to revert to the main post view.
Perhaps one of the most useful functions of this plugin is the ability to drag-and-drop blog posts to different days on the calendar. This feature allows you to quickly manage content to go live on the site. Editorial Calendar is a free plugin.
4. Shortlist for talent sourcing
Just like standard employees, not all freelancers are a great fit for your company culture. To make it easier to find and add talent to your business, use the integrated vendor and freelancer management system at Shortlist.
The goal here is to help you find the right people, for the right job, at the right time — with minimal friction or complication. You can build your own private network of talent including freelancers, vendors and contractors and tap into their respective skills when needed. Need someone to develop a mobile app? Look up the information for the guy you used last year.
In addition to seamless contact management of your existing talent pool, Shortlist is also great for sourcing professionals and vendors. Once you find the right person, you can create work assignments with detailed questionnaires, rate their performance, and pay contractors too. Contact Shortlist for pricing information.
5. Rallyteam for freelancer management
Need help managing all of the freelancers and outsourced talent you have brought on board? Rallyteam’s freelancer management tool is a good option.
For instance, when you first a freelancer, you may be overwhelmed with background checks, signing non-disclosure agreements (NDAs), tax forms, etc. Rallyteam lets you do all of that quickly and easily.
If you have a larger external workforce and want to onboard quickly with minimal hand holding use the Opportunity Marketplace function. Team members are automatically added to projects based on skill level and experience. They can easily share files, send messages, and demonstrate progress through Kanban boards.
Other key features include invoice management, private notes, endorsements, and shared feedback between team members. Rallyteam offers a 30-day free trial, after which monthly pricing plans are revealed.
This article has been edited and condensed.
Zac Johnson, the creator of Blogging.org, is an entrepreneur with nearly 20 years of experience in the online marketing space. You can learn more about Zac through his blog at ZacJohnson.com. Connect with @zacjohnson on Twitter.