Outsourcing – a useful strategy but needs to be carefully considered

Outsourcing – a useful strategy but needs to be carefully considered

In this blog I look at a popular topic often raised by our clients, the question of whether or not to outsource activities involved in their labelling and artwork process. This can indeed be a useful strategy but, as you will see, there are some important areas to look into before making that decision.

Considerations for outsourcing

When considering this question it is useful to understand the drivers on your business:

  • What is the product mix and scale of your business and what will give your business a competitive advantage?
  • What internal capabilities are available?
  • What are the external opportunities?

These drivers can have an impact on the strategy you choose. Is your company rapidly expanding into new markets with multiple launches for a key product or perhaps launching a pipeline of products?  Having a capability to launch as soon as approvals are received, with high quality artwork, will offer you a competitive advantage. Do you have tenders where you need a short timescale capability?  You may need to be highly responsive.

What you may keep in house and what to outsource

In these circumstances artwork is likely to be on the critical path so you may wish to maintain control of key activities in house. Potentially a mixed model may also apply, using external partners to give you additional capacity.
Looking at your current internal capability and reviewing the gaps should be the next area to consider. Do you have the capability to develop artwork in house and do you see it as a core organisational capability?  I always recommend proof reading to be part of your process and you may decide to recruit for this function or use external providers. If you are launching across multiple markets, will you be able to cover the range of languages required internally or will it be useful to use external partners for translation, artwork or proofreading?
Looking externally you may find there are some excellent potential providers who could offer a high quality of service at competitive prices. As ever, how much leverage you have with them will often determine both the price and the service they can provide. When selecting suppliers think long term.

Assessing and selecting external providers

Assessing and selecting your suppliers involves being very clear on your requirements, evaluating their technical and quality set up and ensuring you look for suppliers which will fit with your company’s ambitions for the longer term.
It is important to recognise you are managing a long-term professional relationship here and the accountability for the process still lies with your company so to make it work you will need mutual respect and a commitment to put in the effort to make it work for both parties. Outsourcing doesn’t come for free.
Also don’t outsource a process that doesn’t work, it will not solve the problem and will likely make things worse.

So hopefully you will see that outsourcing is not an easy option but can definitely be a useful approach as long as you go into it with your eyes open.

To help you in your Artwork Improvement Program, you can also find useful information in my book Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities

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Developing and Sustaining Excellent Packaging Labelling and Artwork Capabilities Book

Should you have any questions about this or any other of my blogs, or would simply like to request a copy of my booklets, please don’t hesitate to contact me directly on my email.

For more information on artwork, go to our free download section.