Until recently, a number of companies preferred to keep things in-house, with the general consensus that outsourcing created a sort of impersonal touch that they didn't want associated with their business. While this is hardly the reality of the situation, it is why there are so few companies that rely on outsourced services at this point in the game, and more importantly why there are so many companies struggling to figure out how they're going to afford to stay afloat during these difficult times.
One of the fastest ways for a company to cut expenses is to outsource. Think about it for a second—when you have an entire marketing department with full-time salaries and benefits, but your business is shut down and you are working on a bare-bones budget, the math just doesn't add up. No one wants to talk about the unfortunate idea of eliminating the "fixed costs" associated with in-house staff, but in times like these, it might just be the only way that you can stay operational.
Keep in mind that it doesn't have to be a permanent switch. Or, if it is, you can find other places to utilize those displaced employees throughout your organization. Then, you aren't spending excess marketing budgets on payroll that you really can't afford, and you're not leaving people without the jobs that they need now, probably more than ever before.
Before we get too off track, though, let's get back to the topic at hand: the true value of third-party solutions for things like marketing operations and other business processes. People who may have originally thought they had no use for these services are now scrambling to find a better way, not realizing that this might be exactly what they need.
The Pros and Cons of Third-Party Solutions
Regardless of the specific niche of the third-party provider(s) you are considering, there are some general benefits and disadvantages that everyone wonders about. When special circumstances arise, it's natural to seek out special answers that you might not use otherwise. This is often what brings people to third-party marketing operations services and other outsourced solutions. What do they offer, though, and what things should you look out for? Find out below.
Third-party outsourcing is a very simple concept that's all about one thing: finding a better way to get things done. "Better", of course, is subjective and open to interpretation, so what exactly is it that is better about this option? Here are a few things to add to the plus side:
- Experience: Third-party service providers specialize in one area of service and one area only. Rather than having to know the entire business AND their specific role within it, they are well-educated and experienced in managing or providing a single service or set of services for businesses of all kinds. Such as in the case of marketing operations management, a third-party service will know how to maximize your marketing potential during this pandemic to get the most value and best results, even when your business is technically on lockdown.
- Accountability: Right now, your team has enough on their plate with adjusting to the changing landscape of your business. It's almost impossible to hold them accountable for regular day-to-day work and expect them to deliver results in the same way that they have in the past. Not only that, but your team might not even know how to act right now, let alone how to help the business stay afloat. A third-party provider is there specifically to pick up where your team is losing traction and will make sure that everything gets done in a timely fashion.
- Time Savings: Your business has a lot going on and everyone has their own things to worry about. When you pile too much on, it can take up a lot of your time and tie up a lot of valuable resources. Outsourcing allows you to put your own efforts where they are most needed and spend less time on the things that you pass off to someone else. In the case of marketing operations management, you'll be able to trust that your marketing operations are rolling along without your oversight, thanks to third-party services. Then, you can put that time into other areas of your business that need it more.
- Reduced Costs: In a crisis situation like the COVID-19 pandemic, many businesses are coming to the realization that fixed costs are what are going to drown their profits. It can be difficult to realize that your people are the problem when it comes to your business expenses, but that doesn't mean that you just have to eliminate them and outsource their roles. You can restructure your departments and realign roles to ensure that everyone still has a place, even if that place is currently on temporary leave or layoff, and that your business isn't spending more than it has to on things like oversight and monitoring.
- Outside Perspective: When working with a third-party service, you get the unique benefit of having another, entirely different perspective on how things can be done. Problem-solving only gets better when you have more input and perspectives, not to mention the value of a truly unbiased opinion. In fact, most people who employ the use of these services find that they may never have come up with the same solutions on their own.
- Scalability and Geographic Reach: Because third parties have more access to industry resources and a better means to provide dedicated services, they are often able to provide a level of scalability and flexibility that many multi-national and international corporations cannot match. They also offer the opportunity for your business to achieve a wider reach geographically without having to spend your own marketing dollars on entering new sales channels.
The disadvantages of working with third-party vendors and service providers are much fewer than the pros, but there are at least a few things to consider. Keep in mind that most are situational in nature and can be avoided or rectified in order to prevent issues from occurring in the first place.
- Transitions: Some businesses struggle with giving up control of a certain project or department to a third-party service. It can be difficult to let a veritable stranger have so much control over your business. However, if you take the time to do your homework, you'll be able to check out providers and make sure that they have a reputation that you can depend on and that they can do the work that you need. This insight sounds simple enough, but it can often make the transition to outsourcing much easier.
- Employee Losses: The unfortunate reality of the current economic shutdown is leading to a lot of uncertainty in the job market. In the event that you do choose to outsource departments or processes that are currently held by in-house staff, you may have to let some people go if you cannot find another place to align them within the organization. Of course, hiring a marketing operations partner doesn't mean that you eliminate your entire marketing team. It just means you scale back and realign your operations.
- Lack of Firsthand Knowledge: While these service providers specialize in their various areas of expertise, they do not have the firsthand knowledge of your company like your own employees do. Your internal team knows (or should know) your business like the back of their own hand. Of course, if you give them time, your third-party provider can learn the ins and outs of your business, too.
Ultimately, Better Wins
While there are definitely those who will still argue against the use of third-party services for things like SaaS (Software as a Service), marketing operations management, and other tasks, the fact of the matter is that they are almost always the better choice for your business. Better, of course, referring to all of the advantages listed above, which can help increase the value of your organization and its end products or services.
These service providers do something unique for businesses, no matter the industry or the niche of the provider—they give many companies a disruptive advantage, not just a competitive one, against the competition within their industry. They will have a package with a value proposition that is far better than anything a company could develop within their own resources, and they will be able to outsmart the competition every single time, helping your company stay ahead of the curve.
More importantly, given the current state of the economy, they will be able to help your business stay alive.
Reducing Operational Risk
Part of any effective disaster planning strategy includes accounting for ways to reduce the risks to your business as a result of a major event. The whole point of planning, after all, is to be prepared. Considering that third-party services directly reduce the exposure of your company to these risks, it just makes sense that you should employ them when and where you can. How does this work, though? It's really a simple concept.
First of all, you are leveraging industry expertise that you would not have access to otherwise since you don't have these types of people in-house. This increased expertise means that you will get better plans and strategies, along with better execution, thereby reducing the risk of investing in new methods or services.
Another way that these services can assist in reducing the operational risks of your organization is by employing the use of service level agreements, which basically state that in the event that risk events that are supposed to be managed do occur, the third party provider is the one that is responsible for them. Ultimately, your business comes out on top with a lot less risk right out of the gate, and that's before you even begin implementing the services of the provider or changing your strategies for risk management and reduction.
Poor Management Can Create Vulnerability
While being able to outsource certain services or processes can be an asset for any organization, there are also risks involved. Some of the cons were discussed above, but there is one more issue that you really must consider. That is in finding the right people to outsource to since their failures could quickly become the failures of your business as a whole.
Essentially, you are trusting key elements of your company to a third-party service, expecting them to deliver on the products, processes, or services that they offered from there outset. If you choose a provider that fails to effectively deliver the solutions that you need, your business could fail to deliver to your audience, as well. This is a vulnerability that no one can afford, given the current state of the economy and the world around us in light of the coronavirus outbreak.
The Smart Decisions are the Hardest
In business, crisis events are never easy to handle. It can be difficult to figure out where to start, what to do, and how to proceed to both keep your business afloat during a difficult time and to minimize your losses, both in terms of profits and people. The last thing that you want to do is eliminate a bunch of positions in a time when people have less certainty about the future than ever. However, if it is going to save your business, you may have no other choice.
At FuseBox One, we're committed to helping you find the best solutions for mitigating risk and managing your marketing operations during these difficult times. We can work with you to develop a plan that cuts your operating costs and improves your overall marketing operations management while working to find ways to incorporate your existing department when and where it is necessary and possible.
Whether you're ready to get started with third-party solutions or you just want to get a little more information about the services that we offer, give us a call today and see what our automated business intelligence solutions can do for your business.