The world of work has changed, and that may be especially true for the services industry where simply doing things the same way they’ve always been done just doesn’t cut it anymore.
“Finding the right talent is one of the primary challenges in building an on-demand workforce,” says Jeffrey Leventhal, CEO and co-founder of Work Market, a leading platform and marketplace for finding and managing freelance labor. “Especially for companies who use freelancers at scale, it’s imperative to find a reliable place where you can routinely tap into top-tier freelancers.”
In the services industry, “top-tier” typically means highly trained and certified field technicians who may be confidently (and quickly) dispatched after being recruited and vetted by the organization. And they must also be conveniently located to a wide distribution of customer sites.
How can this be done? And what are the potential pitfalls of not having a plan for action or the proper tools to support expanding market demand.
“There are six tools, or processes, that a services organization requires in order to effectively manage its field technician freelancers,” says Diego Lomanto, vice president of marketing for Work Market. “They are find, verify, engage, manage, pay and rate.”
Find: Identifying and finding the right freelancers for the job at hand represents the best place to start. For many businesses, it is relatively easy to screen lists of potential freelancers in defined industry segments, such as accountants, home healthcare aides, plumbers and electricians by relying on sources such as Craigslist, the Better Business Bureau (BBB), LinkedIn or Google. But in the services community, most of these sources will come up short. An onsite freelancer platform can handle things much more efficiently by providing a tool that:
- Allows the user to build assignments quickly, based on previous work.
- Identifies candidates that best meet the required skill sets.
- Provides a mechanism for generating and tracking community ratings for each selected candidate (i.e., to assure a consistent level of freelancer quality).
Verify: The verification of the candidate’s background and capabilities to ensure they have the right skills, experience and certifications for the job is another major obstacle for most services organizations.
The use of an effective onsite freelancer platform takes nearly all of the burden out of the verification process by allowing the user to:
- Verify the candidate’s credentials via an integrated verification process.
- Identify limit functions, which will automatically off-board the independent contractor when compliance thresholds are reached, or if certain details change, (i.e., such as expiring insurance coverage or certifications, etc.).
Engage: The engagement process is typically where too many organizations begin the process, as it is typically far less painstaking for some to start with the recruitment of “warm bodies” rather than mounting a concerted effort upfront to find the most qualified candidates and verify that they are qualified for the job.
This is where an onsite freelancer platform provides one of its greatest value propositions to its users by allowing them to:
- Organize their field technician workforce into groups for easy assignment en masse.
- Eliminate the need for having to deal with only one contractor at a time, or conversely, having to rely on group e-mails that make it impossible to manage responses quickly or effectively.
Manage: Managing the freelancer field force should require the greatest levels of attention and oversight by the organization; however, many managers find themselves too overwhelmed or understaffed to effectively handle the situation. This is often the single process that ultimately defines the direction — and the success — of the organization to send the best qualified people to each site and track their performance and progress over time. Many services organizations utilize fully functioning mobile applications to communicate with their mobile field force in real time.
By utilizing an onsite freelancer platform, organizations benefit from a variety of tools that allow for:
- All field communications and management tools to be resident in a single system.
- The use of geo-location tools to identify the exact locations of their freelance contractors in real time.
- The ability of workers to upload and complete all tasks directly through their mobile devices.
Pay: Paying the organization’s mobile field force freelancers should be one of the easiest jobs to do, but any HR or accounts payable professional will likely tell you different. What should typically only involve the tracking of hours and cutting checks to the appropriate individuals is generally anything but easy — and PayPal simply doesn’t cut it!
Freelancer platforms can make payment easy by allowing the organization to:
- Enable Application Programming Interface (API) integration into existing payment platforms so the organization can continue to manage their respective accounting processes all in one place, and on a business-as-usual basis.
- Create a robust mechanism for reporting key financial and compliance data to HR, accounting (and the CFO) as necessary.
Rate: The process does not end once the freelancer is paid. In fact, the process is never-ending because the performance of each and every freelancer is rated, tracked and ranked to identify top talent for future projects, and measure the performance of the onsite freelancer model as a whole, over time. What’s more, the organization will likely have greater confidence in the ratings provided directly by their customers rather than by an outside third party, such as Angie’s List or the Better Business Bureau (BBB).
The principal benefits of an onsite freelancer platform are that it provides organizations with:
- An online capability for rating, and viewing ratings, on a much broader scale.
- The ability to determine the “height of the bar” with regard to the desired, or expected, quality of the worker’s performance.
Coordinating all of these individual tools into a single set of processes may be daunting for many organizations, but not for those that have the power of an effective onsite freelancer platform. It is difficult enough to run a services organization (or any business, for that matter), but it is far more difficult to attempt to do so without the support of the proper technology, tools and processes.
Click here to download a complimentary whitepaper on “Finding & Managing Onsite Freelancers” for businesses and field service organizations.