The curation of talent: talent clouds, private talent networks gated talent communities and preferred providers is how Staffing Industry Analysts’ research describes a core function of emerging talent management technology platforms. More simply, these are contingent worker talent pools and they are supported by a rising software toolset called freelancer management systems (FMS). The core question is whether an FMS tool is right for your contingent workforce management program.

An FMS is a category of contingent workforce management technology that enables enterprises to self-manage their engagements with independent workers and freelancers.

But do you need one? You need to answer a few key questions to know whether a technology is right for your program. First, how are independent contractors, independent workers and/or freelancers being managed in the organization? The second is whether there is a critical mass of these contingent worker types engaged in the organization — is there a problem that needs to be solved? Next, you must know whether an FMS technology platform can enhance the management of these freelancers operating in the organization or will your current tools do the job adequately?

Varied options. Answers to these question will vary by each organization. Freelancer engagement management capability is emerging from multiple directions and sources. Vendor management systems (VMS) are adding additional functionality to address multiple worker classifications such as SOW engagements and independent contractors.  Payrolling service providers offer FMS platforms to enhance the service delivery of their CW support offerings. Finally, online staffing vendors are creating derivatives of their platforms to meet the FMS management needs of their enterprise client base.

As you can see, there are many choices, especially considering multiple, emerging FMS platform sources have original core missions that are not actually aligned with the defined purpose of freelancer management. As long as there is a solid understanding of the core focus and mission of the FMS vendor, this is fine.

Mission, focus. For example, VMS systems’ core mission is to manage staffing vendors and their deployed workers in a CW engagement process. The core mission of an applicant tracking system is to enable and manage the permanent recruiting process for traditional hires. These two vastly different core missions and focus are probably why we are still waiting for an integrated management tool to enable and support a total talent management solution. It’s important to understand the perspective an FMS vendor because that focus will drive development strengths and limitations in the “freelancers” management capability in the long run.

Finally, FMS systems are reportedly able to help the management of talent clouds and private talent networks. This sounds like relationship management and would be beyond engagement management basics. An important lesson here is from the RPO solution providers that are engaging CRM tools to enhance their recruiting capabilities. It’s not just about the ATS platform when creating and managing a relationship with passive, permanent hire applicants or potentially a similar case with managing ongoing relationships with known/vetted contingent workers in terms of a VMS platform.

Maybe someday soon, we will see integrated systems that will have an original core mission of total talent management. In the meantime, there are lots of choices and options to incorporate freelancer management capabilities into CW program management. For more detail review Staffing Industry Analysts’ research report “The Rise of Freelancer Management Systems, Review of an emerging technology.