Why freelancers are the perfect choice for business transformation projects
Portl is a mobile app designed to connect businesses with high-quality freelancers. Unlike other freelancer platforms, we focus on project-based work rather than just task-based work.
While our long-term goal is to be the go-to platform for finding freelancers across every industry, our short-term focus is on building a strong portfolio of business transformation experts. We currently have highly-skilled, qualified consultants who specialise in the following areas:
- Acquisition Integration
- Automation / Robotic Process Automation
- Business Analysis
- Change Management
- Continuous Improvement
- Digital Transformation
- HR Consulting
- IT Consulting
- Lean / Six Sigma
- Management Consulting
- Operational Excellence
- Process Improvement
- Project / Programme Management / PMO
If you need experienced consultants in these fields, download Portl for free and get started today.
In this article we are going to discuss why freelancers are the perfect choice for business transformation projects and will cover:
- What is business transformation?
- Who should invest in business transformation?
- Deciding what is right for your business
- Why use freelancers rather than employees?
- Why use freelancers rather than consultancies?
- Choosing the right freelancer
What is business transformation?
Business transformation involves making a fundamental change to people, processes, systems, branding and/or technology, across part, or all, of a business, with the aim of achieving measurable improvements. These improvements may be to efficiency, effectiveness, stakeholder satisfaction, profit, reputation or service delivery. Many business transformation projects include several smaller change management projects which focus on different departments, processes or systems.
Transformation is about transforming something from one thing into something else. This could be your entire business or a specific area. For example, you may need to update your IT infrastructure or implement a new CRM system. Alternatively, you may be merging or acquiring a company which will impact every area of your organisation.
Transformation isn’t instantaneous. It needs proper planning, careful implementation, time to embed the changes and a continuous improvement strategy.
Each stage requires different skills and methodologies. Effective transformation needs effective project management. It is highly beneficial to engage specialists who have the skills, knowledge and expertise to implement change successfully.
Who should invest in business transformation?
Almost every business will experience shifts in the market, changes to their industry, new regulations and advancements in technology. The needs of the workforce have evolved, there are constant developments in the digital world, and the demands of customers change. Therefore, every business needs to invest in business transformation if it hopes to succeed.
The type of transformation and the level of investment is completely dependent on the individual business itself.
Some people will argue that you need to prioritise marketing, others will tell you to invest in your people, while others focus on systems, processes and technology. In reality, all of these are important. Every area of your business has to function effectively for your business to work; HR, IT, marketing, sales, operations and management.
The problem is that budgets are often limited. Very few businesses have an unlimited supply of money to pump into business transformation. That’s why it’s important to have a business vision.
A business vision allows you to decide where to focus your attention. If you don’t know where you want to go, how will you work out how to get there?
Deciding what is right for your business
It’s a good idea to start with your business goals. Work out where you want your business to be in ten years, five years, one year. Once you know this, you can work out what’s preventing you from getting there, which will help you work out what needs to change. If you don’t know what you want your business to look like, you can end up investing in the wrong things, hiring the wrong people and going in the wrong direction.
If you don’t have a business strategy or vision and have no idea where to start, find someone who can help. This could be your management team working together or an external consultant who can work closely with you to identify your goals.
A business without a vision will struggle to move forward.
Once you have a strategy, you will see where the shortfalls are. Perhaps you have great operations but struggle to win business. Maybe you have high demand but just can’t keep up with supply. There may be issues with employee engagement, outdated technology, poor management, low-profit margins or brand reputation. Again, an external consultant can help you understand where improvements are needed.
You may find that you can make the changes you need by utilising the people you already have or by working with an external coach, business consultant or strategist. Alternatively, it may be that you need several specialists to focus on different aspects of your business and manage various projects.
Once you know what you need, the next task is to find the right people to provide it. This could be one consultant or a team of consultants. It could involve bringing people in to upskill your team, or you may prefer to work with external specialists on a long-term basis. Whatever you decide, it needs to be right for your business.
Why use freelancers rather than employees?
It’s great to build a strong workforce and utilise the skills of your team, but sometimes outsourcing is a much better option. Business transformation projects can be complex and often require specific skills, change or project management experience, as well as up-to-date knowledge of methodologies and current legislation. Unless you already have these people in-house or are prepared to upskill your team, you will either need to recruit or outsource.
Recruitment can be a long process; advertising a role, sourcing candidates, conducting interviews, negotiating contracts, waiting for notice periods to end and then training and inducting your new employees. Depending on the type of project and timescales, it can be possible to have a freelancer in place within a couple of days.
As well as being faster than training existing employees or recruiting new ones, using freelancers offers many other benefits.
The saying; “can’t see the wood for the trees” is very apt when it comes to business. Sometimes we are just too close to things to see where the inefficiencies are. A fresh pair of eyes and an objective point of view can make a huge difference.
If you were building a house, you wouldn’t just hire a builder; you’d need a team of specialists; architect, roofer, electrician, plumber, joiner, plasterer, decorator.
The same can be applied to business transformation; you may need a project manager, a strategist, an IT consultant, an HR consultant, a marketing consultant and someone to take care of continuous improvement.
You may have people in-house that can take care of certain elements of your project, but when you use freelancers, you get people with the exact skillsets you need.
When you give project work to employees, it’s easy for them to get distracted by their other responsibilities. They have to split their time between their day-to-day role and the project. Even if they are on secondment from their usual position, they will still get colleagues asking questions or receive calls and emails relating to their previous role.
A freelancer will be completely project-focused. The time they spend in your business will be dedicated to the project you have hired them for. They aren’t on a salary; they get paid for the work they do so they’re invested in delivering what is expected.
Lower long-term costs
Hiring freelancers rather than recruiting often works out more cost-effective over the long-term. When you recruit, you pay a salary, regardless of how much work there is for that employee. With a freelancer, you pay for the work they do; you can increase or decrease the hours they work to suit your requirements. You also don’t need to pay holiday pay, sick pay, pension contributions or other costs associated with employing staff.
Less commitment; lower risk
It’s easier to “switch-off” freelancer projects if your priorities change, rather than having to restructure a team or make redundancies. You can contract freelancers for a set period of time, until a project has been delivered or on a rolling agreement. Once a contract has ended, or a project is complete, you aren’t obligated to continue working with a freelancer. The quality of work is often higher because freelancers have to continually deliver if they want to retain your business.
Why use freelancers rather than consultancy firms?
Advancements in technology and communications mean it is now much easier to work on a freelance basis than ever before. More and more highly-qualified experts are offering specialist services on a freelance basis rather than working for one employer.
This is great news for businesses as it also gives them far more freedom. Nearly every element of a business can be outsourced, and you can hand-pick freelancers with the exact skills you need. You aren’t limited to contracting large consultancy firms for business transformation projects; using a freelancer could be far more beneficial.
Large consultancies are expensive to work with. They often have much higher overheads than freelancers, and this is reflected in their pricing. A consultancy may have a fancy website, offices in a prestigious postcode and state-of-the-art IT infrastructure, but if it doesn’t benefit your business, why pay for it? Freelancers and smaller agencies can provide just as high-quality services without all the bells and whistles.
Many consulting firms follow rigid methodologies. While these do have a place, they might not be right for your business. Freelancers have a bit more flexibility in their approach. They’ll work with you to find the most appropriate solution for your organisation and adapt methodologies and processes to meet your needs.
Consultancies may also insist that you use their preferred suppliers, sign long-term agreements or invest in their systems. This can be frustrating if their packages aren’t quite the right fit or you can’t commit to a long-term investment. It can also work out more expensive. Freelancers are more likely to create packages to fit your needs rather than trying to fit your needs into a package.
Access to experts
More and more business transformation experts are becoming freelance consultants. Free from the limitations of a consultancy, they can set their rates, choose the clients they want to work with and take the projects where they add the most value.
With a growing supply of high-quality freelance consultants, you can find the specific skills you need for a project without tying yourself to complex consultancy contracts. Hand-pick the individuals you trust to deliver each element of your project to a high standard.
Choosing the right freelancer
When hiring freelancers, approach it in the same way you would approach hiring employees.
Start with a project brief
Just as you would write a job description for an internal role, create a project brief. What do you want the freelancer to deliver? You don’t need to know the process or methodologies they will use; you just need to know what outcome you want.
Make a shortlist
Don’t just pick the first freelancer you find in an online search. Do some research, ask for recommendations and make a list of people who can potentially deliver what you need.
Skills and experience are important, but freelancers also need to fit the culture of your business and understand your vision and values. For task-based projects, you might only need a few calls with a freelancer to check they are the right fit, but for longer-term projects, it’s better to meet face-to-face.
Agree on terms
Make sure that both you and the freelancer understand what the terms of the contract are. What are the timescales, payment terms, key deliverables, desired outcomes, expectations? A formal agreement protects both you and your freelancers.
One of the benefits of using freelancers is flexibility. If your project changes, or a freelancer no longer meets your requirements, you need to review and adapt. Perhaps your requirement has increased, and you need to bring additional freelancers in or recruit a full-time employee to take on the extra responsibilities. Maybe there have been developments in your industry which mean you have to change your strategy and re-allocate your resources.
As the needs of your business evolve, your people and processes must evolve too.
Our article on how to choose the right freelancer for your project offers more tips on how to ensure you choose the best people for your needs.
Find business transformation experts with Portl
Portl was designed with business transformation projects in mind. We identified a lack of cost-effective platforms that connected businesses with high-quality freelancers and consultants.
While recruitment agencies can be an excellent way of sourcing freelancers, they can be costly, and the process isn’t always as quick as you might need. Freelance websites offer an alternative, but these tend to be better for task-based work rather than business transformation projects. They take a fee based on project values and winning work can be competitive, not to mention time-consuming for freelancers. This means that higher-quality freelancers tend to move away from these platforms once they become more established. Online searches will produce results, but not every freelancer has a website, and even those that do can find it difficult to stand out online.
Portl allows you to find freelancers who match your criteria. You can search by key skills, sectors worked in, qualifications, location, rates and availability. You view profiles anonymously, so you won’t suddenly receive endless emails or calls relating to your search. Once you find freelancers that match your requirements, you pay a minimal fee (less than £5 per profile) to unlock their contact details.
Portl is focussed on introductions, not projects. The priority is connecting you with the right people, so matches are based purely on your search criteria. Our article about what makes Portl different gives more detail about how our simple app can save you time and money, and most importantly help you connect with the right people. The next version of Portl will be web-enabled for clients, making finding the right freelancer even easier.
If you’d like to source expert freelancers for your business transformation projects, then register with Portl for free. There’s no contract, no commitment and no hidden cost. Simply download the app and start connecting with the experts you need.
Written by Lisa Slater, Freelance Copywriter