We can raise our hopes and expectations and upgrade our results. Do not be fooled by the title Fantasy which this card is sometimes given — this card indicates the truly magical quality of awakened imagination.

The benefits of outsourcing creative production are widely understood by many creatives. Agencies, both in-house and dedicated, often partner with an external vendor to allow them to focus on their core strength — ideation.

They may also reduce production overheads, align production costs with work volumes, as well as enjoy on-demand capacity, cost efficiencies, and skills. Not having to call up freelancers, or explain why you couldn’t deliver a campaign on time, is clearly attractive, as is a far lower expenses line.

However, there are many reasons why agencies fail to reap the promised benefits of outsourcing creative production. And in my experience there can be many reasons where a carefully-taken decision, or an evaluated, agreed upon plan may not deliver as expected, resulting in frustration, failure and ultimately loss of resources.

But the good news is that agencies can learn from the failures of others! In our experience, the most important points to bear in mind include:

  1. Vision: Creative managers must be able to really imagine relying on a strategic third party for critical support, as though do every day at home with child-care, car maintenance, and train drivers.

  2. Intent: The objective should primarily be about better service delivery, and cost savings should not be the outcome, not the reason.

  3. Support: Staff and managers who are not on board with the initiative won’t rise to any challenges presented. If all they see are obstacles with no solutions, then take that as a red flag.

  4. Quarterbacks: No internal, hands-on, champions mean the strategy cannot be progressed and supported on the floor, as opportunities arise.

  5. Workflows: Internal workflows need to be clear and followed, otherwise how can you adapt them for the future-state with an external party? If you use a system, does it lend itself to third-party access, are correct assets available and is it secure?

  6. Briefing: Do briefs contain all necessary information to do the work in hand? At the outset, your partner doesn’t know what you know and a managed knowledge transfer is needed. Often the outcome of insufficient time and effort spent here is that only the most basic work gets outsourced (image cutouts anyone?) and the real benefits are never felt.

  7. Commitment: Taking the time to build a similar personal rapport that comes with tightly-locked internal colleagues. If your partner is offshore, invest time to work with them at their premises.

 Those clients we have had for ten years or more are those who follow most — if not all — of these points. Their reward for an institutional inclusion of their outsource partner has been a consistent increase in efficiency and ability to move with the times, leading to a more competitive presence within their target market.

If you are losing business to agencies that make outsourcing work for them, then now’s the time to look at your strategy. So ask yourself: are you a bubbling cauldron of ideas, or a production house?

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