Contractor Management 10 min

The best freelance management systems to manage global freelancers

Written by Manasa Manogaran
May 7, 2024


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Did you know that nearly half the global workforce is self-employed?

Companies generally turn to self-employed freelancers or independent contractors to tackle short-term tasks or projects. Hiring freelancers is also a cost-effective solution for businesses that don’t have the resources to hire full-time employees. From freeing up managerial resources to adding diverse skills to your team, there are solid benefits to hiring contractors.

However, ‌managing contractors, tracking workflows, and making payments can be a challenge, especially if you have dozens of freelancers on board. If you’re working with freelancers from abroad, you’ll have to face the additional hassle of following a complex set of labor laws and tax regulations.

A freelance management system (FMS) can solve these pain points by helping you with project management, payroll, and HR functions to ensure compliance with local laws and internal company standards.

This article will cover what an FMS is, its benefits and use cases, and will also give you an overview of some of the top FMS software solutions for global-first businesses.

What is an FMS?

An FMS is cloud-based software that enables companies to hire, manage, and pay freelancers and other independent contractors from a single hub. 

The terms “freelancer” and “contractor” are often used interchangeably. As such, freelancer management software is also known as contractor management software

Freelancers are technically a type of independent contractor, and both freelancers and contractors are the same under the tax code. However, from an enterprise perspective, contractors typically work with companies for longer periods or projects, while freelancers deliver services with a quicker turnaround. 

In general, you use freelancer or contractor management software to manage both. 

 An FMS system allows companies to:

  • Search freelancers by skill and experience

  • Hire and onboard freelancers remotely 

  • Conduct due diligence

  • Track milestones and communicate with freelancers

  • Conduct FMS payroll

  • Rate performance

  • Conduct enterprise resource planning for freelance talent.

Benefits of using an FMS 

With the growth of freelance labor worldwide, demand for FMS solutions has ballooned. Valued at $4.6 million in 2022, the FMS market is expected to reach $160 million by 2028 at a 15% CAGR. 

As freelancers offer businesses the necessary on-demand expertise and services to scale with minimal overhead, some global businesses are increasingly relying on freelance or other contingent labor for up to half of their organizational staffing needs. 

FMSs make it possible for these organizations to perform project management, compliance, and payroll functions, especially while tapping into a dispersed pool of freelance or contracted talent. An FMS encompasses functions for the following enterprise-level departments:

Human resources

A FMS can help HR teams to:

  • Find qualified freelancers: FMS platforms allow employers to filter candidates by skill set, years of experience, and work experience. Many platforms with a ranking system allow HR staff to vet freelancers via references and past performance.

  • Streamline onboarding: standardized contracts and onboarding agreements are built into FMS functionality. Because local hiring laws vary from country to country, it’s important to use compliant contracts when hiring independent contractors abroad.

  • Automate payroll: FMS can automatically pay freelancers and contractors according to the rate and frequency specified in their contract and even in local currencies when applicable. Beyond payroll management, FMSs allow accounting teams to perform more accurate budget forecasting and administration.

Project management

FMSs can help project managers:

  • Set project goals and milestones: depending on whether you hire freelancers for short-term projects or on a more long-term basis, an FMS with project management functionality might allow enterprise users to sync milestones and timelines for freelancer workflows according to their contracts.

  • Track progress: compared to a vendor management system (VMS), an FMS allows for a greater amount of communication between enterprise clients and freelancers. A common way for freelancers to communicate progress to their clients is through asynchronous updates on the platform.

  • Spend analysis with data tracking: by storing payroll, contract information, and real-time project management data, an FMS allows project managers to conduct in-depth spend analysis based on completed and upcoming deliverables. 

Depending on their performance, a business may also choose to convert high-performing freelancers into employees through an FMS.

Using an FMS can help legal and accounting teams to:

  • Budget forecasting tools: FMS compiles data such as freelancer rates, work hours, and total project costs. These systems also centralize financial data for accounting teams to track freelancer payroll across various projects. 

  • Minimize risk of employee misclassification: According to the Economic Policy Institute, misclassification of employees as contractors can cause people to miss out on thousands in payments and benefits. FMS platforms help ensure that freelancers and independent contractors are compliantly contracted and paid, no matter where they are based or where the work is performed. 

How is an FMS different from a VMS?

An FMS streamlines task delegation, internal communication, project management, and payment processes between a company and its independent contractors. It is geared toward more short-term, project-based work with functionality to support collaboration.

While similar, a vendor management system is designed for managing external service providers, which can include freelancers as well as other vendor categories.

A VMS also allows companies to conduct vendor lifecycle management to optimize sourcing, procurement, and vendor contract management. It has a broader focus than an FMS, addressing vendor relationships and procurement within an organization’s processes. 

Generally, an FMS can better handle legal compliance in HR processes than a VMS, especially for independent contractors.

Top FMSs 

The following list covers some of the most agile FMS platforms on the market.


Remote is a comprehensive global HR platform that allows global businesses to hire, manage, and pay freelancers or independent contractors (and employees) no matter where they’re based. 

Remote’s contractor management system has a reliable user interface (UI) that supports efficient two-way communication between businesses and freelancers. Importantly, Remote’s team of employment experts are knowledgeable about local laws and tax practices and can minimize legal risks by promoting compliance. 


  • Global payroll management: includes comprehensive tools for managing global payroll and compliance. Businesses can automate payments on time and in a wide range of currencies.

  • Integrated compliance: Remote helps mitigate misclassification risk by ensuring freelancer contracts and payment structures comply with local laws and tax codes internationally.

  • Candidate verification: the platform supports a thorough vetting process for candidate verification, including identity and background checks. Remote also launched a job board on which companies can post opportunities for long-term freelance and contracting roles.


  • Access to a vast pool of global talent without the complexities of international hiring.

  • Streamlined payroll processes that free up bandwidth for HR teams while improving informational accuracy.

  • Compliance with international labor laws and tax codes.


  • Doesn’t serve all countries

  • Involves a learning curve for new users

Try Remote risk-free to efficiently manage contractors, automate admin, mitigate compliance risks, and ensure swift contractor payments in multiple countries. 


Upwork is a leading FMS platform that connects businesses with freelancers around the world. It has a vast talent pool, collaboration tools to support transparency and project management functions, and a UI that helps businesses filter candidates according to a range of parameters.


  • Advanced filters for candidate search: Upwork’s search filters allow businesses to narrow down their candidate selection based on experience, skills, hourly rates, location, and more. The platform also contains built-in verification features.

  • Work diary: Upwork’s Work Diary feature allows freelancers to track the time they spend on a task or project in a transparent way. This helps with billing and project management.

  • Collaboration tools: the platform supports messaging, file sharing, and progress tracking, which allows project managers to gauge and forecast project completion easily.


  • Upwork freelancers represent a wide range of skill sets and areas of expertise and are based in different countries.

  • The platform protects clients and freelancers by offering two-way payment protection.

  • Companies can use Upwork to find talent for either short- or long-term projects.


  • Upwork charges relatively high service fees (20%, split by client and freelancer), which can impact long-term feasibility.

  • The platform can be hard to navigate for new users and offers only limited dispute resolution.

  • Compliance services are an add-on to regular service and are not included with standard use.


Toptal positions itself as an elite source of freelance talent (reportedly hosting only the top 3% of applicants), focusing on software development, design, and management. Toptal clients include large enterprises with complex requirements.


  • Freelancer matching algorithm: Toptal streamlines the candidate search by using an algorithm to match freelancers with businesses depending on the project scope and requirements.

  • Project management features: the platform includes collaboration and communication tools tailored to professional projects.

  • Workflow integration: Toptal’s robust UI helps enterprises integrate freelancers into permanent team structures through various collaboration features.


  • Access to highly-vetted freelancers who demonstrate exceptional professionalism and industry expertise.

  • Dedicated support managers to assist companies with the hiring process.

  • Includes background checks, which help mitigate risk when hiring freelancers for high-level projects.


  • Businesses pay a flat rate to activate their membership on the platform, and freelancer hourly rates are typically higher than they are on other platforms.

  • Because Toptal caters to top talent, it doesn’t have as wide a talent pool as other platforms.

  • Due to its pricing structure and talent network, Toptal is less suitable for smaller projects and more sporadic hiring needs.

Fiverr Enterprise

The beefed-up version of the popular freelancing website Fiverr, Fiverr Enterprise is an FMS platform through which businesses can easily and cost-effectively contract and manage freelance talent for small projects with fast turnaround times.


  • Worldwide talent: Fiverr includes freelancers from all over the world with diverse skill sets across multiple industries.

  • Collaboration tools: the platform hosts collaboration and project management tools that enhance communication and milestone forecasting.

  • Talent pools: Fiverr’s FMS lets businesses create custom talent pools for ongoing or upcoming project needs.


  • With multiple pricing options, it’s cost-effective for short-term projects.

  • Fast turnaround times for contracting talent and receiving completed work.

  • Scalable for organizations that need either one-off freelance work or support with ongoing projects.


  • Businesses need to perform more due diligence to vet freelancer quality.

  • Freelancers may have limited expertise compared to other, more specialized platforms.

  • Effective communication can be a challenge for short-term freelancers working remotely.

Freelance-forward companies need an FMS 

If you and your team are buried in spreadsheets and struggling to keep up with the demand for more talent to staff upcoming projects, then you need an FMS. Unlike the more traditional VMS, an FMS allows companies to find, onboard, and pay freelancers quickly and easily without having to spend hours shortlisting candidates or iron-cladding contract agreements. 

As talent becomes more global, a freelance worker management system like Remote can help you locate and manage the best talent, without having to fret about non-compliance with local labor laws and tax rules. Remote can make it simple to hire international contractors by:

  • Managing freelancer onboarding, payments, and invoicing in one platform.

  • Using localized contractors compliant with local labor laws

  • Paying freelancers swiftly in their local currency

  • Operating in compliance with employment regulations and tax practices.

Book a demo to see Remote can be used to master local compliance, simplify your workflow, and empower your distributed teams.

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