This is the third post in a series on “In-house or Outsource?”
In the last post in this series, I talked about the importance of assessing your internal team’s true capabilities, before deciding whether to outsource some of the work on your next digital project. But once you’ve made the decision you need outside help, it’s just as important to recruit the right kind of support. The wrong sourcing decision can waste money, diminish results, or even crater an entire project.
Most professionals know how to research vendors, check references, and set up strong contracts. But when resourcing for a digital project, here are a few tips to keep in mind:
Invest where it matters most
The makeup of digital work streams, especially for websites, has shifted dramatically in the past few years. Most design and functionality has been commoditized. Template systems that would have cost tens of thousands can now be bought for a few dollars. Expensive custom software can be replaced with open source plugins or inexpensive subscriptions. Don’t waste precious budget on custom design and development that won’t return on its investment. Depending on who you have on your internal team, look to strategic planning, IA, UX, content strategy, analytics, optimization, and inbound marketing, for areas where outside expertise can really pay off.
Don’t do what you’ve always done
The digital industry is ever-evolving and business models are evolving along with it. If you’ve always turned to staffing services, or creative agencies, or a particular freelancer, you might want to revisit what makes sense for your current project. The agency who did a great job with your brand refresh might not be a good fit for your content strategy update, and, because suppliers deliver best to their strengths, you may find the project scope keeps skewing towards less content and more visual design. Some areas of the industry have changed dramatically in the past few years and your favorite freelancer may or may not have kept up.
Consider the working model
Your time is valuable. But you also don’t want to pay for more than you need. A junior-level contract worker might be ideal for when you need an extra pair of hands, but could be a problem when you need someone who can work unsupervised. A seasoned consultant can deliver invaluable advice, but can be budget-busting when you want someone full time. And a full-service agency could make everything flow smoothly… or could be high-overhead overkill when you only need a few specialized services.
Complement your team
If your team is experienced and wise but lacks hours in the day, augmenting with temporary junior staff to cover more repetitive work can free them up for strategic work. A more junior team can benefit from specialized advisors, as well as coaches and trainers to help ramp their skills. If your team is full of strong writers and graphic artists, but lacks UX experience, you may only need a UX designer rather than a full design team.
Just like you review your team’s performance, be sure to conduct ongoing progress reviews and provide feedback on what is going well or needs improvement. Do a formal evaluation of your service providers at regular milestones or at the conclusion of each project.
Continue to evaluate
Yes, finding a great supplier can be a lot of work, but don’t get stuck in ruts. Keep an eye on all options to identify the best outsourcing solution for each project.