Skip to content Skip to content

Table of Contents

Apr 30, 2021 9:23:00 AM | 7 Minutes read

To outsource, or not to outsource - that is the question!

Prior to the pandemic, in-housing looked set to grow. According to the Dentsu Aegis Network's CMO Survey 2019, the vast majority (92%) of global CMOs planned to maintain or increase digital and programmatic capabilities internally. In fact, nowadays, in-house agencies (IHAs) are becoming more popular. Companies in the UK and Australia are building and operating IHAs. CMOs and Marketing Directors have witnessed the merits of IHAs in the United States and have also identified the benefits for employing an in-house team.


Outsourcing while insourcing

Despite the IHA model, additional pressures and quick turnarounds mean that IHAs often use external partners to help, from campaign production to programmatic and printing. According to IHAF’s 2018 State-of-the-Industry Report, 85% of today’s in-house agencies outsource some portion of their project load to external resources.

An article published by Campaign Live highlighted how Nestle was able to reduce production costs by as much as 80% using offshore production partners. A 2020 report ‘State of the Market for Offshore Creative Production' by TKM Consultants showed that 86% of agencies have been offshoring for at least two years. The report also highlighted India as the most popular offshore location due to an English-speaking workforce, an unmatched talent pool for creative services and high quality production. In fact, the report showed that 53% of agencies have partners there.


What should my IHA outsource?

To develop a long-term partnership, the outsourcing business model should be made in a manner that serves the interest of both parties, shares the risks and comprises some flexibility to make amendments along the way. Deciding what projects to outsource is always easier said than done! To start with, get an insight into what creative services you can outsource to enhance your ROI.


Getting started

Creating an allied culture of belonging across borders, time zones and job roles is the key to successful outsourcing. Here are three tips to outsource creative projects successfully:


1. Communicate

Get to know your offshore team and account manager. Communication is vital, as project management shows, projects hit bottom due to the lack of communication. With the range of collaboration and communication tools available now, communication should not be an issue. However, it is good to establish early on a communication tool and process which will enable both parties to effectively work. Is there a workflow system which your company uses or that your offshore partner can provide?

It is vital to communicate and agree on a service level agreement (SLA) which is realistic. While the 24/7 turn-around capability of your offshore partner can help deliver work overnight, having realistic SLAs manages expectations for both sides.


2. Onboarding

Onboarding is a vital process in outsourcing. An effective onboarding strategy ensures offshore and onshore teams collaborate and deliver. Onboarding allows IHAs to streamline the transition and educate team members about the business, culture and brands. It also ensures that all team members adjust quickly to their new roles. From the start of a creative outsourcing engagement, all stakeholders should be made aware of their roles and responsibilities. An effective onboarding strategy clearly outlines what, why, how, who and when questions so that there is no ambiguity.


3. Robust briefs

Translating culturally specific creative work requirements to an outsourced partner need not be a nerve-wracking task. It is essential that all stakeholders are on the same page and speak the same design language. For this, a proper briefing should be done. A set of understandable terms should be part of a creative brief to enhance better understanding between both the agency and the outsourced partner. The brief should clearly highlight the creative expectations too i.e. what creative discretion is allowed, brand guidelines, etc.

Both the IHA and offshore partner need to work towards a united goal. To accomplish this, an efficient, flexible and accurate structured process must be set up, documented and followed.

With clear communication, effective onboarding and robust briefs, projects can be successfully delivered by an offshore team.


Need an offshore partner to support your existing team? We can help!

At EKCS, we understand creative outsourcing. Since 2002, we have worked with IHAs, external agencies, and publishers to provide end-to-end creative production services across digital, video, print and packaging for brands. Daily, we support IHAs with dedicated offshore staff to work on video, digital campaigns, print projects, rebranding, and high volume campaigns.

To know more, drop us a line at

Want to learn more? 

Join Robert Berkeley on Thursday, September 7th. In this free webinar from Henry Stewart, Robert will explore the age-old dilemma of having a great in-house team but needing to do more. And often do more for less! This webinar looks at the ways in which in-house teams can work alongside offshore teams. Robert invites you to share your in-house challenges, gives insight into how to embed teams and different outsourcing models such as the hybrid mix, and reveals how outsourcing creative production can enable in-house teams to think and behave more creatively.

Sign up now for the webinar: Why would I outsource if I have a fantastic team: Here's Why...
Register Now 
Thursday, September 7, 2023


To find out more about outsourcing and explore how it can help your team to solve production challenges

Download our FREE GUIDES. They look at the benefits of creative production outsourcing, what to consider in a production partner, and tips on how to get started with outsourcing.

Subscribe to our Newsletter

Let's stay in touch! so that we reach out to you with our best news and other insightful content.