The Art of Knowing When To Outsource Work

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We’ve all read the headlines on the effectiveness of outsourcing, ranging from increased efficiency in your team’s workflow and being able to put more focus on things that matter. And, based on the vast amounts of information and sources that claim it’s near “superhero-like” capabilities of taking your business up a notch, surely it’s fool-proof, and everyone should get it, right?

Well, not necessarily.

Yes, we will acknowledge that there are advantages to outsourcing work and non-primary functions. It will undoubtedly help you save on operating costs, expand your talent pool to the rest of the world, and not limit your business to the immediate locality. However, outsourcing isn’t always the best solution for all kinds of problems, and there are cases when you should reconsider and weigh your options.

When Does It Become Counterintuitive?

Of course, one of the most evident disadvantages to outsourcing is the lack of immediate supervision. Unlike your employees who are easy to contact and usually within reach, you’re putting yourself at the risk of miscommunication and misunderstanding when you decide to go the outsourcing route. And when uncontrollable variables are added into the mix, it adds an element of liability into your workflow and operations.

  • Quality Control: Firstly, if you’re a business with a high standard of quality in their products and services, quality control is one of the biggest headaches when it comes to outsourcing. There have been plenty of cases where businesses outsource their customer service and support center only to receive mediocre or lackluster service, which hurts the brand image and makes you lose accountability. Furthermore, when you begin to outsource specific material, there’s no way of ascertaining their quality, and you’re also putting them at the risk of damages through transport.
  • Confidentiality: Secondly, if you’re a company with trade secrets and projects that have yet to be announced to the public, outsourcing can potentially cause leaks. And depending on the material released to the public, it could cause irreversible damage to your business. In the worst-case scenario, the beans are spilled, and your competitors get a hold of your only edge against everyone in the industry, which means you’ll be facing intense competition and might even overtake your spot.
  • Legal Liability: Lastly, outsourcing also has the potential to negatively impact your business on the legal aspect and spiral into more severe problems. Suppose that your outsourcing company makes a mistake on a particular product, this small problem goes unseen, and it reaches a customer’s hands. If this problem puts your customer in danger or is deemed unsafe, you are legally liable to face the repercussions.

What Are Some Examples?

To put the nail in the coffin, there are very recent and relevant examples of outsourcing problems experienced today due to the global pandemic. And since many businesses and companies can’t afford to do things in-house, outsourcing becomes the only option to meet their deadlines and fit their budgets.

#1 Production I.G and Haikyuu’s Animation

If you’re a big fan of anime and know the depth of the Japanese animation industry, you will understand the importance of quality art design and animation to bring these characters to life. However, due to the pandemic, Production I.G had to cut some corners with the animation of Haikyuu To The Top Season 2. They opted to outsource some of the animation work to meet their scheduled release date, which resulted in backlash and very apparent shortcomings.

  • Inconsistent Art Style: As many fans pointed out in their more recent episodes, the art style was very inconsistent, and in some cases, downright horrendous and did no justice to the beauty of the story. Here we can see outsourcing the animation saw a drop in quality, which struck a blow on its reputation and image.
  • Noticeable Animation Problems: Likewise, fans also noticed animation problems, and certain frames weren’t as crips and didn’t hold to the standard of Production I.G’s other works. Here we can see the animation studio being held accountable for the outsourced animation and makes fans question their standards.

#2 The Success of Stardew Valley

woman using phone and laptop

Video games take a lot of work and require teams of developers, art design, music composition, and story-building writers to make everything come to life. In most cases, game studios will openly outsource work to expand their talents and maximize their potential. However, this doesn’t always guarantee success, and one of the best examples is Stardew Valley’s success by Eric Barone or better known as ConcernedApe.

  • One-man Indie Team: Eric Barone created his game, Stardew Valley, all on his own. And while it did take a considerable amount of time to finish and left all the hard work on his plate, the output paid-off. Here we can observe that it’s possible to get a lot of things done even without introducing the prospect of outsourcing. Sure, in-house will take much longer and cost more, but there are trade-offs and opportunities that you also benefit from.
  • Flush With Content And Active Community: Stardew Valley just celebrated its 4th Anniversary, and the game is still going strong, filled with new content, and still holds a very active community and player base. And because Eric decided to do all the work himself, he ensured that quality remained the same and that his vision for the game truly came to life.

Your Business Model Should Not Be Dependent on Outsourced Work

Of course, the key takeaway is that your business should never fall back on outsourcing as your driving force. It should act to supplement your work and make things much more manageable to handle. Therefore, we strongly advocate outsourcing accounting services and delegating trivial tasks, so long as you avoid being too dependent on outsourced work.

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