Internal resources or out-sourced contractors? It is a question facing many marketing and technology firms today. In reality, it should be one of the most significant questions asked by potential clients as they research the ideal partner to help them achieve their business objectives. Below is some insight as to why it is so critical to understand, and to why Liquid has decided, after searching for the best client-friendly solution for more than ten years, to take the in-house command and control approach.
First, let’s look at outsourcing. The term is being used in almost every industry these days as a way to reduce overhead and maximize your internal core capabilities. Sounds very logical. From an agency standpoint, outsourcing not only reduces overhead costs, but allows the agency to offer services to clients that they could not otherwise provide. On the surface, this approach makes the agency appear larger and more capable. This is great marketing into the community served and can be done successfully for certain types of services. However, there are some very serious sacrifices that come with outsourcing from both the client and agency perspectives – the biggest being collaboration with quality control being a very close second.
So, if the loss of collaboration is the biggest risk of outsourcing, it must be a significant component of successful in-house work. While I cannot speak for other agencies, most projects at Liquid have some form of desk-to-desk or impromptu collaboration on a daily basis. This collaborative spirit is the cultural backbone of an exceptional outcome at Liquid. Even the simplest of projects require a collaborative atmosphere – creative personnel feeding off of one another in order to produce well-rounded and innovative designs.
Imagine this scenario for a moment. You have hired an agency to build your next corporate website – an ecommerce platform required to drive critical revenue for new products being released. The agency you chose tells you that they can get it all done – all the things, like strategy, user interface and user experience, creative, front-end development, back-end development, and then the digital marketing required to drive the traffic to the site. That’s at least six separate skill sets – at least six, but maybe many more based on digital marketing requirements. Those components of your project do not happen in a precise waterfall fashion, let alone in silos. The major components of this project have interlocking touchpoints that must be managed by solid project managers who foster a collaborative process on a daily basis. Strategy informs the entire process. UI and UX have significant impacts on creative and both ends of the development process, and so on. At Liquid those individuals have one-to-one access to each other at any moment of every single day. We don’t have to collaborate via emails, skype, or any other form of communication that is required when you are in different cities, different time zones, or even on different continents. At Liquid we TALK, face-to-face. We have critical brainstorming sessions, face-to-face. We embrace your brand, your project, and your success, face-to-face.
Collaboration, the kind that is relevant to success, happens in the moments. Those moments don’t wait for emails, meeting acceptance, or for people half a world away to wake-up. As the famous commercials state – it’s priceless.
The second major factor is quality control. The very nature of outsourcing is to allow others to control what you cannot do internally. If you cannot do the actual work internally how will you determine if the quality of what is provided meets the standards of your client? Do you know if it does? Do you know what questions to ask? Do you know what direction to provide, or are you just assuming that the outsourced person/agency will miraculously hit the mark? Go back to our project noted above and imagine that, on top of a possible lack of necessary collaboration, the ability to perform continual, inter-project quality control could lead to missing early issues that, once included in the many steps of your project, are negatively impacting significant portions of an almost complete (but totally inaccurate) deliverable.
At Liquid we have tried it all. We have, at earlier moments in our history, outsourced nearly every component of our business. Each time we tried this model, we ended up with a product that did not meet our standards, thus were undeliverable to our clients. This led to timeline impacts and, in most cases, budget impacts to Liquid itself so that we could redo the work internally. The only possible solution – we control everything inside the walls of Liquid. We do this, ultimately for our clients, but also because it is the right thing to do.
So, as a buyer of the services provided by agencies like Liquid, do not forget to ask how your partner looks at such aspects of getting the job done. It may be the difference between getting what you want and … “uh oh.”
Countdown to 10 Years
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About Kurt Cannon
Kurt is the Vice President, Client Engagement at Liquid Interactive. Kurt leverages his more than 15 years of senior leadership experience to oversee the client experience at Liquid. He is responsible for the creation of new, meaningful services in the market, the strategic application of those services for our clients, and exceeding client expectations with solid, measurable results.