For some businesses, the prospect of engaging multiple contingent workers can seem daunting. People say engaging on-demand, freelance talent will help you be nimble, efficient, and agile, but how nimble can you be when you’re spending hours sorting through compliance paperwork and processes?

The truth is, these aren’t new concerns. To head them off, tech-savvy companies have found plenty of ways to integrate and tailor new processes to kick off new freelance engagements—both to their own requirements, and to the unique challenges of the contingent workforce. The combination of cloud-based platforms like Upwork and the use of APIs have saved administrative time, shortened project ramp-up time, and reduced misclassification risk.

All in all, technology has made creating a contingent worker-friendly back office nearly turnkey, transforming how businesses engage talent, among other things. Read on to learn how finding, vetting, and getting started with contingent workers isn’t just easy, it can help reduce the budget and time businesses spend engaging freelance talent.

Standardize and streamline the process

When it comes to onboarding, people typically think about employee onboarding—but freelancer “onboarding” is inherently different, with separate goals and different complexities like security, proper classification, and overseeing the contracting processes.

With this in mind, consider creating a standard process so you’re not reinventing the wheel each time you engage a new freelancer. What needs to get done between finding the perfect freelancer and work getting started? What are the current gripes or inefficiencies? Be sure to address:

  • The foundational basics such as an overview of your company
  • The tools you’ll use to collaborate and communicate
  • The documentation they need to get started
  • Access to any technology, data, or systems they need

You’ll be able to remove items as needed that don’t apply to new talent, but there will be less risk of mandatory things slipping through the cracks. Consult a legal professional to help come up with a standardardized end-to-end process, including ensuring accurate classification. This will give you a framework moving forward so you know you’re getting the right forms and documents filled out.

Check out this article for a sample onboarding process for remote talent.

Upgrade to a tech solution to save time

With a plan in hand, consider upgrading from manual onboarding to a tech-driven solution. Freelancer management systems (FMSs) can streamline and automate tedious, time-consuming processes and paperwork, replacing the old ways of doing things that were fragmented, lacked transparency, were difficult to scale, and often increased risks of human error or misclassification. To learn more about what to look for in an FMS, check out this article.

Once an FMS is set up, the process becomes relatively turnkey. In some cases, what used to take up to two weeks with a traditional managed service provider (MSP) solution can be accomplished in one business day. Beyond the significant amount of time saved, administrative costs are decreased and projects can get started faster.

Use APIs to integrate, combine, and customize a freelancer platform with your current business model

In looking for an FMS platform, search for one that has the APIs you need to customize that platform to your needs, and your existing software and systems. APIs can also help with automating and tailoring processes that currently eat up time and effort.

It may seem like adopting a new process will add extra work—for you and for your IT department—but in reality, once it’s up and running it will reduce time and risk associated with the process. Platforms like Upwork Enterprise are cloud-based, which makes getting up and running possible in a matter of days.

Streamline contracting, payments and administrative steps

Investing in a FMS can pay dividends in terms of time and work saved. You’ll likely find it helps streamline other areas of freelance engagement, like contracting and payment. By automating and centralizing invoicing and payments, some businesses have even reduced the length to pay a contractor from weeks to mere days. For freelancers in other countries, a platform like Upwork Enterprise supports currencies in over 180 countries, making it easy to pay in just a few clicks.

Integrating your existing technologies and processes with an FMS will help you find, engage, work, and pay freelancers with less risk and cost overall.

Regardless of your particular business, there are always a few processes required when engaging talent, remote or on-site. The good news is that many of these processes can be automated through a freelancer platform.

  • Engaging freelancers—A FMS can reduce time to engage from 6-8 weeks down to 2-4 days.
  • Reporting—An FMS provides visibility into project progress and more with one-click reporting.
  • Processing payments to freelancers and assigning rates and milestones

Your CPA or legal consultant should be able to provide you with a full compliance checklist. Some FMSs even offer the option to integrate a compliance solution so you can feel secure in your IC classification without the added cost of a lawyer.

Also, keep an eye out for API integrations that are designed to help with automating workflows and reporting. You’ll likely find that a solution that can support multiple departments, cutting administrative time rather than adding to it.

Companies have found contingent work can have a transformative effect on how efficient they can be—but only once they’ve found a solution that gives remote talent secure access to their systems. Don’t let onboarding concerns keep you from leveraging the operational efficiency of freelance talent. The key is to make onboarding easy for you, and easy for them—ultimately setting them (and future talent) up for success.