When is the Right Time to Outsource?

Through a sensible program of outsourcing, your company’s secondary tasks can be carried out with the same expertise as your primary ones – often faster and more cheaply than your business could have done it in-house.

Every organization spends enormous amounts of effort refining itself, to become even better and more efficient at creating the products and services it provides to its customers. But these companies have other obligations as well, which may be just as important but are less of a primary focus. Administration, accounting, hiring, team-building, office decoration, procurement of licenses and other legal procedures, marketing, logistics – each of these areas is essential, but on some level they distract from what the company would prefer to focus on: making widgets.

Some of these tasks can be handled in-house without putting too much strain on the system, but even in such cases, the people responsible have to be trained by somebody, and supervised by somebody, in order to ensure efficient procedures and positive outcomes. Moreover, if those specialists should one day leave for greener pastures, your organization will have to start again from square one in order to replace them and keep the machine going.

Recognizing and Respecting Your Limits

Fortunately, the collaborative nature of our economic structure means that businesses are not required to be experts at all things simultaneously. While you have been honing your widget production skills, other entities have been honing their skills at accounting, office decoration, and dozens of other kinds of tasks. Profitable partnerships can be made through outsourcing, letting each of you practice the things you do best.

A recent survey by the London School of Economics revealed that of firms outsourcing tasks to external partners, nearly 70% do so for purely monetary reasons. It’s often simply cheaper to let outsiders leverage their economies of scale to provide a cheaper service than you could afford on your own.

Quality and time are other key factors. When you partner with a genuine expert in a particular field, you get expert quality results. Work can also be processed and checked quickly, because this is the primary service provided by the outsource partner.

Staying Ahead of the Game

Another key advantage of outsourcing is less frequently discussed, but equally important for producing positive outcomes. As the relationship between business and technology advances, new techniques are invented, standards are upgraded, laws and regulations are rewritten, and processes change. Even if your organization can manage to perform its secondary functions adequately in-house, it is unlikely to have the resources and wherewithal to stay in front of these adaptations as they occur.

Companies that specialize as outsourcing partners can (and indeed must) stay at the forefront of their industry, offering services at a consistently higher quality than standard businesses could deliver for themselves. The point is made well in the following exchange between David Norcross, Director of Lexicon Thailand, and Chris Cracknell, Chairman at Grant Thornton in Thailand, in the context of digital marketing:

David Norcross: In the marketing industry and the social media industry, digital transformation is changing everything. There’s more video marketing now… influencer marketing – and it’s almost impossible to predict where the market is going to be two years from now. How can a large company remain agile with so much change happening in digital space?

Chris Cracknell: As a chief executive, I have sometimes found it very difficult to be an expert in every subject and everything that we were involved with. Not only operating on an international basis – that we had to pick up on cultural differences around the world – but we also had to pick up on language differences and a whole host of other points. So one solution did not fit all.

And I think for a company, especially larger international companies, to try and do all of this in-house is probably one expectation too far. They should stick to what are their core activities because there are a lot of experts out there who know how to use social media, how to use the best routes to market and that’s what they do a hundred percent of their work lives, for someone like myself as a chief executive who has very little experience doing it hands on. I think it’s totally inappropriate I should try and come up with the answers.

My solution was always to go out and find the best work strategy with a third-party supplier, outsource to them and engage them with, maybe, our in-house team, which will be quite limited in number to make sure that we had our own brand being managed in our guidelines – whether it’s color, whether it’s tone of message, whether it’s image, etcetera. And then to use a professional firm who is marketing strong digital, conventional, advertising… or whatever… and getting them to come up with the ideas, convince us to then take it to market under our agreed strategy.

DN:  I think the partner firm needs to work very closely with the in-house marketing team to not just understand the brand, but understand the audience also.

CC: You’re going out there to find the people who are good. You tend not to want to try and work with generalists because they know a fair amount about a lot of different subjects, but we want to identify the people who know the most about their individual disciplines and engage with them, so that we get the best solutions in each targeted area.

There is a lot of competition. This is a fast-moving environment. As a client organization, I don’t expect our in-house team to be as up-to-date or as aware of what is available as a third-party organization which is employed specifically to do that, that’s the core activity and therefore they should be experts at it.

The approach outlined by Chris is consistent with the business model that is currently the gold standard around the world. Customers buy your widgets because you are the experts at making cutting-edge versions of them. By the exact same token, the widget company should utilize the services of marketing specialists, because they are the experts regarding cutting-edge marketing practices.

A certain freedom comes when we acknowledge our limitations. We no longer feel the weight of responsibility for situations we are powerless to alter, and can therefore redirect our energy instead to areas we are better equipped to manage. Through a sensible program of outsourcing, your company’s secondary tasks can be carried out with the same expertise as your primary ones – often faster and more cheaply than your business could have done it in-house.

At Lexicon, we provide a suite of content and digital marketing services, from writing your website or blog, to producing impactful imagery and multimedia content. We build brand recognition through thought leadership, using a targeted advertising system that connects you with the right audience every time. To learn more about outsourcing your digital marketing and digital PR efforts to Lexicon, contact us today.

Lexicon is a full-service digital marketing agency in Bangkok, Thailand. We specialize in corporate storytelling and produce all of our content in-house, including branding,  copywriting, video production and graphic design. Lexicon’s social media marketing services start from just 25,000 THB per month.

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