“Time is money,” goes the old adage, and this can be taken literally when it comes to outsourcing pricing schemes. The question of whether to outsource work full-time at a fixed monthly rate, or by-the-hour is one of that comes up often. Some say full-time resources allow for a broader scope of work, but others find such arrangements inflexible. On the other hand, some clients hesitate to entrust sensitive processes to outsiders who work for other clients.
In the end, choosing whether to contract a dedicated team or to pay for shared services depends on the kind of work you need. As a creative process outsourcing agency that offers both, this is our take on what kinds of situations each arrangement is best suited to.
A Dedicated Team
The biggest advantage is already in the name: a full-time outsourcing arrangement ensures that your outsourced agent or team will work exclusively on your businesses’ needs. You won’t be competing for attention against other projects. In addition, given the amount of time both sides will be investing in the work, and the commitment and collaboration required, such arrangements also allow the outsourcing provider to become familiar with the client’s brand, values, and strategies. This can pay off in the long run, and full-time arrangements are typically made with a view to long-term collaboration.
Because a dedicated team has a deeper level of involvement, it allows clients to exercise more managerial control over how work is executed. With collaboration arranged for months ahead, they can choose intervals for updates or meetings and specify what tools or software to use for collaboration. With a team fully engaged with one project, the client can also establish procedures and controls for security and confidentiality—which would be difficult with part-time arrangements that might involve switching agents, or having agents working for other clients you might not know of.
Finally, clients and agencies alike will be at greater liberty to review and revise, as a dedicated scheme is not as bound as a part-time one to wrap things up as soon as possible. This allows agencies to not simply provide products as one-offs, but to partner with clients in constantly improving and updating them, as can be seen in the growing practice of growth-driven web design.
Dedicated teams are therefore ideal for clients seeking long-term collaboration on marketing efforts with various components, or those that require a broad set of skills. These usually require teams of specialists and benefit from the experience and insight those specialists can gain from a long partnership a single client.
At StraightArrow, for instance, we begin dedicated partnerships with creative and digital agencies by allowing both sides to meet, so that our creatives can understand our clients’ objectives and challenges, and both sides can agree on schedules, procedures and house rules. Our full-time teams do work as virtual extension offices—carrying on creative work even as our clients sleep—or by taking multiplatform approaches to marketing, managing brands’ websites, social media, search engine optimization and more.
However, dedicated teams require a stable allocation of resources, well thought-out procedures, and a clear agreement in order to work. Full-time agreements are bound by the scope of work, rather than the time, and while this protects both sides’ interests, it also means that expanding the scope of work requires more resources and a new agreement. Clients should consider this when contemplating a dedicated team.
Part-time arrangements, in which clients pay per hour spent by each outsourced agent, are typically geared toward performing specific tasks or on obtaining a specific product. This allows clients to allocate resources in increments and to redirect their resources more quickly when they deem it necessary. Where a dedicated team offers stability, shared services offer speed and agility.
Shared services work well for businesses that are experimenting with new areas of marketing because resources can be reallocated easily. A company might, for instance, contract part-time work to boost their social media marketing by hitching onto a trend or capitalizing on a busy season. When the trend or season ends, they can cease the part-time contract.
In addition to new or seasonal forays, part-time arrangements also work well for companies that know what they need, and need it as a one-off: a brochure or an e-mail template or something else of the sort. In this case, clients can simply send in their specifications and have their output in short order—no recourse to long meetings spent hammering out ground rules.
This setup works especially well for startups and small and medium enterprises, who typically compete for advantage in a dynamic environment. Where short turnaround times are key, part-time outsourcing often carries a needed edge.
There is, of course, more to consider in outsourcing than the pricing arrangement, but knowing which method to choose is a good starting point.
Download our free ebook today to get more insights on which processes you can outsource, avoiding the common mistakes when entering an outsourcing engagement, and the benefits of outsourcing creative work.
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