Companies today are increasingly relying on freelancers to support one-time or ongoing projects. The growing need for freelance support can create complex challenges for companies.
How, for example, can companies manage projects across time zones? How can freelance and in-house staff access the same information and collaborate in real time? How can companies provide access to necessary information quickly when needed but keep systems and access secure when projects are done?
Answering these questions led to the development of Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit. The service leverages tools already in use by many businesses via common Microsoft applications.
The toolkit provides functionality explicitly designed to address freelance management and simplify the complexities of working with teams comprising internal and external employees. It includes a curated set of templates, tools and best practices designed to help organizations launch, manage and execute projects that rely on freelance talent.
How Is the Microsoft 365 Freelance Toolkit Organized?
The toolkit uses four functional areas that Microsoft calls “workloads.” Each is designed to work with existing tools to address core needs:
How Does the Product Manage Communication?
SharePoint has long been a powerful tool allowing teams to access critical information and understand complex projects. Leveraging your existing SharePoint investment, toolkit users can learn about a project or program, access necessary training materials and see best practices. These spaces allow for key stakeholders and adopters to understand projects, including goals, metrics and desired outcomes.
Users can post use cases, guidelines for using freelancers for the project, FAQs or Microsoft-provided research reports on the gig economy, alternative work arrangements, and the future of work.
As with all the workloads included in the toolkit, the communications space is customizable.
How Do Freelancers and Staff Work Together?
The collaboration space uses Microsoft Teams and Microsoft Planner as a way to get cross-functional and distantly located teams moving in the right direction.
With these tools, your organization can provide a shared space for teams to hold discussions and to track project progress in one place. Team member assignments can be managed and updated online, and files can be shared using intelligent search tools.
Your organization can grant guest access at no additional cost to freelancers. When the project is concluded, you can easily remove team members who no longer need or should have access.
You can also learn from best practices detailed in the space, including whether to use email; how to use, review and comment on documents, slide presentations and spreadsheets at the same time; and capture shared notes.
How Can the Toolkit Measure Success?
With Power BI, you can create connectors and dashboards that measure key performance indicators about the use of freelancers. Analytics help to gauge which internal groups benefit most from using freelancers. By using the business and data analytics tools, your organization can connect multiple data sources, ease data prep and generate easy-to-read reports.
How Can I Manage Repetitive Tasks Associated with Projects?
There are multiple processes associated with using freelancers. Provisioning, budget, compensation, compliance, monitoring and assessment tools all play a role in managing freelance workers.
Using Microsoft Flow, toolkit users can reduce the reliance on manual, repeated tasks with workflow automation tools. Create seamlessly integrated processes among apps and services to send notices, synchronize files, collect data and report on progress and needs. Using Boolean logic strings, you can streamline and simplify many processes.
As your business evolves, it may require a rapid influx of resources that cannot be acquired using traditional hiring practices or budgets. The freelance market offers companies greater flexibility and reliability. Now, with the Microsoft 365 freelance toolkit, you’ll be able to manage freelancers and empower them to solve pressing business needs.
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Stuart Crawford serves as Creative Director and CEO with Sebring, FL Ulistic, a specialty MSP Marketing firm focused on information technology marketing and business development. He brings a wealth of knowledge and experience pertaining to how technology business owners and IT firms can use marketing as a vehicle to obtain success.
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