Best practices for automating freelance workflows

As she was facilitating program onboarding, helping people understand how and when to engage freelancers, and addressing employee concerns about our enterprise freelance strategy, one of our freelance program managers discovered that automating some aspects of her work was critical to sustaining operations.

Read the following best practices to learn from her experiences. These best practices were developed with Microsoft employees in HR, Legal, Procurement, Research, Corporate Strategy, and Product Development who helped deploy our freelance program.

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a graph Build to scale. Our freelance program manager started small, but built her workflows in ways that would scale as the program grew. This enabled her to test the automation with low-level impact when things didn't work as planned, giving her room for fine-tuning.
a wrench Shift from repeating tasks to tools that support automation. As our freelance program manager was figuring out how to set up our freelance program, she realized that some elements of her initial processes could be automated if she moved them to different tools. Look through the list of Microsoft Power Automate connectors to get a sense of what's possible.
blocks Think creatively. As she stood up our enterprise freelance program, our freelance program manager found that sometimes there were tasks she couldn't automate because of elements that required human judgment. She stepped back to think about the broader systems involved and found that if she adjusted some of the ways that judgment was captured, she could reduce the cognitive load required to keep the workflow moving, and increase the pace of workflow completion.
a workflow diagram Workflows aren't just about data and approvals. Our freelance program manager uses automated workflows for all kinds of tasks, not just ones where captured data needs to move from one place to another, or ones where stage-gated governance is required. She automates responses to specific inquiries, distribution of announcements and newsletters, and even updates to information available on our freelance program communication site.
a question mark Ask for help. Our freelance program manager found that if you think something can't be automated, but you're doing it repeatedly, it can probably be automated. When she recognized a repeated task and wasn't sure how to connect systems together, she captured her requirements and engaged a freelancer to propose and build a solution.

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