Insourcing vs. Outsourcing: 5 Key Resource Considerations for Digital Transformations

Many organizations make the shift toward a digital and technology-first approach to meet the needs of all cross-functional departments for current, near and long-term goals. Those organizations that move to integrated platforms—offering web content management, personalization, targeting, email marketing, analytics, demand generation—are doing it right. 

Kudos if you have already made this shift! 

But identifying and accessing the necessary resources to make a digital transformation is not always easy. While collaborating with many clients across a multitude of verticals, we commonly see a dilemma: Whether to outsource digital transformation initiatives to agency partners or keep the work in-house. 

Here are five critical resource considerations when making decisions on who to turn to for your digital transformation projects…

1. Resources Identifying the resources to implement your initiatives and ensure you have the right mix of senior-level talent is critical. Here are some of the key questions to consider:

   Do you have in-house leadership who have implemented similar initiatives?
   Are you able to identify and source the right talent to approach the job at hand?
   If you need to source the talent, do you have enough time before your targeting to start the work?

Technology initiatives require resources across a broad spectrum of expertise—including system administration, architecture, full stack engineering, front-end development, quality assurance, and project management. If you’re also considering a redesign and a multi-channel activation plan, there’s another set of talent that’s needed. This includes strategists, UX architects and designers.

2. Internal Subject Matter Expertise (SME)  Say you’re moving to Adobe’s marketing cloud technology, built on Java. But the resources you have in-house are primarily .NET engineers supporting your legacy technology stack. While you might have the talent, the specific SMEs required need to be fully considered. 

Is your talent really the “right” talent? 

At R2i, we’re staffed with separate development teams across .NET, PHP, and Java. This enables us to support clients across all leading marketing technologies, ranging from  Sitecore to Drupal and Adobe.

3. Project Management  Pairing project managers with the right SME is crucial to a project’s success. If you’re considering keeping your project in-house, make sure the resource mix includes a PM with the technical acumen you need. 

If there’s not a good match, R2i has a team of technical project managers with tenured experience in managing web development and technology integration projects. Our PMs can quickly identify risks to budget and timelines, and they can easily identify the required level of effort when new challenges arise. Our project managers can also help articulate technical concepts to those less inclined. 

4. Competing Priorities  Many organizations segment their business lines across products or services while maintaining one, central IT department. This was the case at a popular consumer products company that manufactured and sold different products across office tools (printers and fax machines). 
Each product had its own team members across brand, marketing, communications and public relations. 
Yet these teams had to compete against each other for IT prioritization. Website features, enhancements, and bug support all went into a central ticket management system for IT to eventually resolve. By the time one team’s issue was fixed, the big campaign they were gearing up to launch had already happened. 

Large-scale projects like this one, where teams need to compete for resources, rarely succeed. Consider whether or not you have access to internally available resources who can pivot based on your priorities alone.  

5. Web Development  If your IT department focuses on hardware, infrastructure or data analysis, your decision is already made for you. IT teams typically do not provide web development unless they consist of full stack engineers, web architects, front-end developers, and quality assurance engineers. 

These resources are crucial to the success of digital transformation projects. Efforts that attempt to get internal IT resources to learn new skills usually fail and can cause staff members to feel frustrated. Conversely, working with external resources with the necessary web development skills will help digital transformation projects move forward more expediently.

The Synergy of Leveraging Internal and Externals Strengths 
Whether you’re in the early stages of overhauling your marketing technology or already under way with platform integration, consider your immediate and long-term requirements—for both your internal stakeholders and your end customers:

   Are your internal resources the right ones to meet your objectives?
   Is time on your side? 
   Can your internal resources devote themselves to the project without sacrificing other work?
   Does your team have the skill set and vision to put forth new strategic ideas that complement your technology and project goals?
   Would an outside perspective help move the needle?

Answering these questions will give you a sense as to whether you can wholly rely on internal resources or if an external agency is required. You may discover a hybrid approach will work best, where you rely on a combination of internal and external resources. 

By working with an agency with experience in collaborating closely with clients, you can tap into the strengths of both external and internal resources. And that often creates synergies that enable your digital transformation projects to exceed expectations. 

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