In-house or Outsource?

For most companies the decision between delivering something in-house or outsourcing it is a commercial one, but should it be?

When something new is added to a product or service, the owner can choose to do this in-house or outsource the work.

For most companies this is a commercial decision.

Simple economics.

Cost of delivering in-house versus cost to outsource.

Other factors are considered along the way:

  • Is it a one-off project or will it be repeated?
  • How quickly can a team be scaled up or down?
  • What required resources are already in place?
  • How much protection or control is needed?

Although cheapest usually wins.

New perspectives

For the freelancer, consultant or company-of-one, the opportunity to deliver something new is altogether different.

For starters, delivering something in-house means you’re doing it.

Not a member of your team or a new employee.

Economics isn’t going to help us here.

We need a new starting point that isn’t about cost. Maybe something like:

  • Is this something I’m interested in learning?
  • Will this move me closer to my long-term goals?
  • What opportunities will I miss by taking this on?
  • Will the client and myself both benefit?

Determine your own criteria and check if the opportunity fits.

Outsourcing: what’s your flavour?

I’ve identified three types of outsourcing.

#1 Rather not do it: simple, repetitive processing tasks that can be easily passed on to someone else who is willing. My preference is to automate or eliminate these tasks wherever possible.

#2 The hustle: outsourcing because a client has asked for something you don’t offer, but you’ve said you can deliver. The project gets handed over to the lowest bidder and you hope for the best.

#3 Collaboration: similar to #2 on face value but fundamentally different. Working with other individuals to deliver something greater than the sum of its parts.

If we’re going to outsource, lets aim for collaboration.

Working practices are changing rapidly.

Projects are increasingly being delivered by remote teams of independent consultants, freelancers and experts as opposed to teams of employees working for a single company.

The forgotten option: decline

Or just turn the work down.

Just because you’ve been offered work or have an opportunity to do something doesn’t mean you have to take it on.

Or that you should.

Resist the urge and make space for the things that matter most.

When we are selective about the work we take on, we move from simply working on our clients’ projects, to having our clients’ projects work for us.

A fair and equal exchange that favours both parties.

Let’s determine our own criteria for future work and break the mold of cost-based decision making.