To Outsource or Not to Outsource?
Sometimes hiring a consultant or a firm to work on projects for you or your company is beneficial. But sometimes it causes more trouble than it’s worth. Needless to say, outsourcing, just like anything else, has its advantages and disadvantages.
Here are some things to look for when considering outsourcing to an individual or firm
1. Once the project is done, will you, the client, own everything?
If you answered “no” to that question then you need to find someone else for this project. Remember, YOU are paying for this. When everything is done, you should own it. You should have full access to everything and have the ability to freely make changes and/or updates to whatever was created. This includes websites, newsletters, brochures, business cards, etc. For example, I do creative projects (blogs, print media design and websites) for businesses as a side job. No matter what it is that I create, the client receives all original work from me. So let’s say I create a one-page marketing piece for a company in InDesign. The client will not only receive the finished product, but the original InDesign file, not just a PDF of the document. The client might not be able to open the document, but if they decide they want someone else, perhaps someone internal, to update the document, that person will be able to so long as they have InDesign.
2. Will all data, files, photos, etc. be stored off-site or on-site?
If you answered “off-site” to this question, then once again you need to find someone else.ALL data, files, photos, login information, etc. should be stored by you, the client. Of course the individual or firm you outsourced to will also have this information, but once the project is done all this info should be sent to you. Let’s say you outsource your website to a firm. After a couple of years you decide you either want to make changes to your site or want a completely new site. In order to make changes to your current website, you’ll need the login information, and probably the FTP information as well. What would you do if you don’t have this information and the firm that does has went out of business? Or maybe the person in charge of your website at that firm has left. Either way you may find it quite difficult to get this information. I have encountered such problems on several occasions. It is imperative that you, the client, have full access to this data. If it’s your website, then you need to be an administrator on the site. Even if you don’t know how to manage the site, at least you have control and ownership of it, just in case.
3. Will necessary changes and updates to the finished product be made in a timely fashion?
This is something else to consider. If you have a brochure that needs to be updated will the individual or firm you outsourced this to be able to make these changes quickly? The timeliness of updates should be agreed upon in the beginning, and clearly stated in the contract. If the individual or firm can’t meet your timeline needs, then you need to look elsewhere. I have seen it happen time and time again. A company is waiting for a marketing firm to update their print media pieces, and it takes weeks, sometimes even months. Same applies to websites. If you, the client, need something changed or updated, it should be done quickly. That is what you’re paying for after all, right?
Do you need to outsource?
This can be a difficult decision. Outsourcing can be expensive, but so can hiring someone to do the job internally. To help you make this decision, you should weigh the pros and cons, and also your budget. Some of the pros and cons are outlined above. But what it simply comes down to is this; do you want full control and full access to whatever is created? If this isn’t important to you, or the individual or firm you are working with will grant you full control and access, then outsourcing is a great option. But if having full control and access is important to you, and the individual or firm will not be able to grant you full control and access, then hiring someone to handle these projects internally is probably your best option.
Whatever you decide to do, make sure you do your research. Just because a firm is ranked as one of the best doesn’t mean it’s the right outsourcing firm for you or your company. Shop around; compare pricing, contracts, timelines and abilities. Then, compare those outsourcing results to the projected results of hiring someone to handle these projects internally.
Which will work best for you and for your company? Only you can answer that question.