Are you still using spreadsheets to manage specific aspects of your business? If so, then it's time to stop. While spreadsheets are great for individuals looking to manage small tasks, business owners and managers need to have better control of their projects. In this post, we'll look at the things you can't do well with a spreadsheet in terms of managing your freelance workforce.
Spreadsheets won't help you find new people.
If you live in the world of freelance management via spreadsheet, you will be living in a closed off one where you have to go out and find new people to fill specific needs in your business. And when you do find them, you will have to determine whether you trust them enough to be able to access and edit that spreadsheet.
Spreadsheets don't have specific privacy controls.
Speaking of new people, you generally have two options with spreadsheets. Viewing privileges or editing privileges. If you have a spreadsheet that covers multiple projects, you may not want one freelancer to be able to review them all, especially if confidential client information is involved. Hence, anything beyond simple in terms of privacy needs cannot be handled by spreadsheets.
Spreadsheets can get messy when multiple people are working in them.
Version control can help, but ultimately, spreadsheets tend to get messy when more than one person is updating them. Even a small group of six people may run into issues of two people editing one cell at the same time or thinking that a task hasn't been assigned yet.
Spreadsheets don't allow for on-going conversation.
Have you ever made comments on a spreadsheet? It goes one of two ways. You either get a huge cell full of text that is hard to scroll through or creates a never-ending row. Or you get the little triangle icon at the top right of the cell that gets missed by most. Hence, while it's possible to have a conversation, it's not going to be an efficient one.
Spreadsheets don't allow attachments.
Here's what generally happens when you are working on a project managed by a spreadsheet with multiple freelancers. You'll likely have an email thread running between you and your freelancers (as a group or individually) for communication about the project since your spreadsheet cannot handle on-going conversation. When it's time to to trade off deliverables, you will have to keep track of multiple emails with attachments or links to Dropbox files.
Spreadsheets are hard to search.
Simple spreadsheets, with a few rows and columns, can help you see things at a glance. But larger, complex spreadsheets with months or even years worth of data get tricky. You may find yourself trying to get to the right date range, the right tab / sheet, or the right keyword search to find that one thing. And if it was a comment and not actual data in a cell, you will have an even more difficult time finding it. Or you will just have to resort to going back to your email conversations to search for the information instead.
Spreadsheets can't convert currency.
Do you spend a lot of time calculating the amount to pay freelancers in other countries? If so, you might be wasting time. Spreadsheets don't have current exchange rates built in by default - if you want your spreadsheet to calculate amounts between two types of currency, you will have to delve into VBA, macros, scripts, and formulas. So if you have freelancers located in different countries, you will definitely want something other than a spreadsheet to help you out.
A Better Alternative
Instead of using spreadsheets, save yourself time and frustration by relying on a freelance management platform. Freelance management platforms (like Coworks) allow you to do everything you can't do in a spreadsheet and beyond in one place, including the following.
- Discover new freelancers to help with specific tasks.
- Manage legal document signatures, like nondisclosure and noncompetition agreements.
- Share specific project information with the freelancer assigned to that project.
- Keep all communication, from the job offer to the final edit notes, all in one stream.
- Attach deliverable files for the project in the conversation stream.
- Keep track of freelance payments and spending analytics with automatic exchange rate conversions.
- Keep a history of project discussions that can be easily searched.
- Integrate with other tools for time management, appointment scheduling, and more.
Whether you have the occasional project or an on-going series of projects based on your business or client needs, having a reliable all-in-one platform for managing your freelancers can save you from the headaches that come with trying to manage complex projects in simple systems (spreadsheets).