Freelancing provides enough market for outsourcing agencies to continue profiting from the inconvenience of others. Freelancers found that they can be more productive and profitable inside the confines of their homes working online as an outsourced staff. Many are attracted not only to its convenience (no traffic to beat!) but also to its flexibility in terms of working hours and best practices. Most companies that hire freelancers only look at the output, except for some positions that pay for every hour of work such as virtual assistants. Freelancing, they say, is part of the labor revolution that we are experiencing today.
Challenges in Freelancing
According to Forbes.com, the number of freelancers in the UK and the US will be one in two by 2020. Freelancing is attractive basically because of the abounding opportunities and the freedom of managing your own time. While it seems to appear as a breeze-kind-of-work, it actually entails more responsibility in managing your own system of giving services such as looking for your own clients, invoicing and billing. It is also more prone to distractions because of possible exposure to distractions inside your home like the television, the internet and household chores. Your productivity levels may soon go down if you won’t look for a solution right away.
Freelancing requires excellent time and task management skills, which are essential to staying productive amidst the distractions. Because you are basically self-employed, you should set aside time to do your own tax filing and invoicing as well as in billing your clients. Administrative work could be tedious and time-consuming, which robs some of your precious time for work.
When you are working at your own pace, it requires a sound schedule to follow. The schedule will help you budget your time to accommodate the equally important tasks you need to do apart from actual work. It is imperative that you stick to it as much as possible to avoid getting overwhelmed by backlogs and unanticipated problems that might come. Being behind the schedule can compromise your credibility with your clients; that is why it is increasingly important to develop a habit of making schedules and following it.
Another challenge for freelancers is to provide valid proofs of rendered work hours to clients. The use of time sheets is the most common method to do this, but it is tedious and prone to errors because of its manual nature. This is important if you are being paid for every hour of work, so you must show a record of your activities that will quantify your productivity.
Challenges for Outsourcing Agencies
Employee outsourcing agencies can either be industry-specific or multi-purpose. In both cases, they manage as many freelancers and staff to continually provide the requirements of their clients regardless of what they may be. They maintain an extensive record of contacts whom they can easily tap whenever a need arises. Their pool of talents must be diversified to accommodate varied positions.
Recruiting manpower has already been a challenging task, what more if you are to manage many of them. Dealing with freelancers also requires a high level of tolerance to a diversified workforce that differ in personalities and work ethics. Remote work management requires an effective task management system and a solid time tracking for remote workers. It should help in delegating tasks appropriate to one’s strengths and skills to produce more quality outcomes.
Outsourcing agencies are also met with challenges in performing sound evaluations of its manpower pool. Some of their talents may be assigned to different projects, and there is a need to record each performance evaluation to further assess their strengths and weaknesses and look for areas of improvement. This is also useful when assessing applications for a salary increase, or when implementing incentive programs.
Benefits of Time Tracking
The importance of time tracking allows you to have a wider perspective on how you spend your time, whether during work or the whole day. It makes you an informed employee, who understands the kind of service or work you are capable of doing and knows the amount of time you can spend to finish it. Time tracking for freelancers enables you to impose your rates and highlight your strengths to prospective clients. You can support your offer because you have substantial proofs of what you claim in the form of time tracking reports.
Aside from timekeeping and the understanding of your skills, here are the other benefits of time tracking:
1. Minimize estimation errors
When offering your services, some clients require an auction where you need to present a proposal including your rates and project time frame. Should the client choose you, it is a must that you meet the deadline you imposed. Coming up with a realistic estimate all the time is not through trial and error, but must be from the full understanding of your capabilities and consideration of budget, time and project nature. And it can be best supported by the time tracking tools that show how much time you usually accomplish certain tasks.
Project rates must be balanced – with rooms for leeway but without being too liberal. Time tracking can also help you quantify your skills into reasonable rates based on your measured productivity depending on the agreed contract if you will be paid per hour. You need to have a certain working budget or a project package.
2. Quantify your productivity based on hours
Freelancers usually work at home, and their typical days are a mix of work and personal tasks. Through time tracking, you can segregate the time you spend on work related tasks and on non-essentials, which let you quantify the hours you really spend working. It can help you assess if you are maximizing your time to have the profits you need, or if you are staying right on track towards your goals.
3. Impose professionalism
Sometimes, the impression with freelancers is that they are laid back and casual people. While there is no wrong about this, we know that professionalism can go a long way; not only by the way we look but on how we deal with our clients in terms of performance and on-time output delivery.
Time tracking gives you an understanding of your own value as a working professional. If you are under an outsourcing agency, it helps to remain professional to establish a mutually beneficial relationship between the two of you.
As an outsource agency, your level of professionalism should manifest on how you negotiate with your clients and with your freelancers or staff to deploy. Part of it is to give out detailed and fair contracts, to pay your talents with reasonable rates and on time, and to stay active in looking for work opportunities to give your manpower pool.
4. Learn when it is best to delegate
Outsourcing agencies should know when it is time to deploy a team for a certain project instead of one. It is also required that they can pick the right people to compose the team, that will yield the best output for the client. Time tracking lets them evaluate the strengths and skills of their manpower pool, and include them in their profiles for easy viewing. Comparing past and present performances will help you determine areas of weaknesses, which will lead you to get members that complement each other’s lack.
5. Improve on your best practices
As an umbrella organization for your freelancers and manpower pool, you can help them improve their craft by sharing best practices to stay motivated, productive and efficient. By consistently tracking time, outsourcing agencies can understand the motivational factors that positively influence the performance of your team. Freelancers can also be proactive by sharing their own best practices with the team, and constantly communicating with their agencies to help them perform better.
Outsourcing agencies are also required to have strong project management skills. A Gartner research about the reasons why projects fail revealed that 59 percent of respondents see that it is mostly the lack of organizational, and partly technical, skills that largely contributes to it.
6. Encourage accountability
One of the advantages of time tracking is that it can help build a motivational incentive system. But it can also encourage accountability in staying productive even without strict rules or limits. It helps freelancers to become aware of their responsibility in delivering the output on the designated time without compromising the quality.
Questions to Ask Before Getting a Time Tracking Software
Getting a time tracking software can help freelancers and outsourcing agencies reap the most benefits of time tracking without compromising their own work. Automation helps in achieving savings – both in time and budget. Additional tools require investments, and it is only logical to first evaluate yourself or your business regarding the needs and priorities.
Before getting the top time tracking software, ask yourself these questions first:
1. Do you intend it for personal or corporate use?
2. Can you use it with minimal training and supervision?
3. Can it seamlessly integrate with your existing software like the ones you use in attendance, scheduling and payroll?
4. Will it support your project management system well?
5. Is it accessible through mobile devices?
6. Will its features help you achieve your project goals?
7. Does it scale to fit one or several people to monitor at once?
8. Does it fit your budget?
Research the market first by reading the reviews of time tracking software in CrowdReviews.com to guide you in choosing the right software and provider that will fit your needs.
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