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The Pros and Cons of Outsourcing Overseas

Shrinking budgets. Shorter turnaround times. Extended hours of support. Increased scale. Expanded scopes of work. 

Do any of those sound familiar? I’m positive they do! 

As in-house Creative Services leaders, we are constantly striving to balance the different needs and objectives of our clients, our staff and our executive management teams. And while we have many strategies at our disposal to help effectively manage these conflicting objectives, there are few as effective—and challenging—as outsourcing projects and resources to an offshore partner. 

The best way to start exploring an overseas outsourcing strategy is to assess the pros and cons of shifting work offshore. Here are a few important items to consider: 

Pro: Cost Savings 
Offshore creative resources almost always deliver significant cost savings over in-house resources or freelancers and are a strategically sound option to consider for production-focused design work. The lower resource expense will allow you to push the savings to your bottom line or reinvest in other onshore resources or tools that add more value to your creative capability. 

Pro: 24-Hour Support Model 
Offshore resources can help your Creative Services capability offer a 24-hour support model—an important point of distinction for your team that can help you better manage rush project requests or better support your company’s satellite offices and business development activities around the globe. 

Pro: Ability to Quickly Scale Resources 
As a Creative Services leader, you will inevitably need to handle an increased demand for creative support as your company grows or positions itself to drive new revenue streams. Outsourcing your production design workload to offshore resources is a cost effective way to quickly increase your resource pool, since offshore partners typically have access to large pools of inexpensive resources with specific training in production design. 

Con: Complexity of Training 
One of the most challenging aspects of outsourcing offshore is the complexity of training your overseas resources. Language barriers can make it hard to assess how well your offshore resources are assimilating their training and can lead to quality control issues or decreased production efficiency if your training strategy is not closely managed. In addition, the distance and time gap can make training onerous on your domestic-based team. 

Con: Complexity of Technology Setup 
When outsourcing to an overseas resources, you will need to solve complex technology issues to ensure your offshore team has full access to your local servers, DAMs, workflow tools and other networked systems. You will also need to account for the network latency your offshore team will encounter; otherwise, you run the risk of miscalculating your production allocations and missing project deadlines. 

Con: Onshore Stakeholder Concerns 
Outsourcing to overseas resources can have a negative impact on your onshore team’s morale. Your clients and internal stakeholders may also express concerns that outsourcing overseas will reduce the quality and level of support they are accustomed to receiving. 

There is no “one size fits all” answer for deciding if offshoring is the right decision for your creative team, and there are multiple factors to consider that are specific to your business needs and engagement model. For many companies, the benefits of engaging in an offshore production model are numerous and can lead to significant cost savings for your organization while also enhancing your Creative Services support model. The best approach you can take to ensure your creative department’s success is to carefully weigh all the pros and cons of outsourcing overseas and develop a plan to address to challenges you will encounter before you begin to migrate work offshore. Be sure to speak with other creative leaders who have offshored design work to learn from their experiences. 


Matt Stein

Matt has over a decade of experience leading Creative Services capabilities. He currently serves as Senior Director, Creative Services, for a loyalty-based marketing company in St. Petersburg, Florida, where he leads a global team of 40 creatives with a focus on operational management and creative development for online, mobile and print media channels.