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Cracking the Offshoring Nut

Last year a senior creative leader asked us “Why aren’t more creative services teams sending work offshore? Why aren’t teams cracking this nut?” It was a great question, because our research shows that few teams are sending work offshore. Below is a recap of our conversation about why more teams aren’t offshoring creative work.

In short, you need an environment with (1) a high volume of work (as measured by  number of people required to get the work done or billable hours), (2) a critical mass of Tier 3 work, (3) a low-need for same-day support, and (4) for global infrastructure to be place. When each of these criteria are present, a creative team is best positioned for a successful offshore pilot.

  • Lack of Volume
    69% of creative teams are 10 or less team members. These teams simply don’t have the critical mass to split their team across two locations and share work. Based on my personal experience offshoring, I have said, and still believe, that implementing an offshore team requires a vision of staffing at least 8–10 people in that location within 2­–3 years. The cost savings of 3­­–5 people isn't enough to offset the management, technology and communication challenges that are part of managing an offshore team.
  • Lack of Work Type
    Production design is more simple to outsource and offshore than conceptual design. It requires less communication as Tier 3 work is either revisions to existing materials or template-based design (rules-bound). Conceptual work is more difficult to offshore as these projects typically benefit from first-hand conversation between requestors and the creative team. In addition, different cultures have different design aesthetics that may or may not appeal to a global audience.  (On the flip side of this, if there is a critical mass of work being done for a region—such as AsiaPac—, this might be a reason to source designers locally).
  • Need for Same-Day Turnaround
    One of the value propositions of an in-house creative team is the ability to turn/iterate a document multiple times in the same day if necessary. If a portion of the team is remote and working off-hours, this ability is diminished. (Again, on the flip side, having a team work off-hours can be advantageous for some businesses.)
  • Lack of Global Infrastructure
    Offshoring can be accomplished by hiring employees to work for your company in one of the company’s offshore offices OR you can hire an outsourcing company who has offshore operations to do the work. Some companies don’t have offices in traditional offshoring locations, therefore there isn’t pressure on US teams to shift hiring or resources to these offices. And some companies may not want to outsource materials to a third-party due to confidentiality reasons.

Jackie Schaffer

In her role as Cella VP & General Manager, Jackie Schaffer has consulted for Fortune 500 clients with more than 400 in-house team members and for teams at mid-sized businesses, government entities and educational institutions with teams as small as four designers. Her management competencies lie in operations assessments, financial management and talent management. Prior to joining Cella, she led an international "mega-sized" creative team through an evolution of production studio to strategic partner.

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