Pros and Cons of Outsourcing

Running a design business, either as a freelancer or a small agency, is a big challenge. Getting the most efficiency out of your time is essential, but it’s also very difficult for those who wear many different hats, like freelancers. One of the most common ways of dealing with this challenge for efficiency is to outsource work to others. It could be anything from design work, front-end development, back-end development, marketing, to anything else that needs to be done.

There are some very strong reasons for outsourcing, and likewise the are some equally strong reasons against outsourcing. In this article we’ll look at those pros and cons, which will hopefully prove to be helpful to those who are trying to decide on whether or not to outsource.
Pros of Outsourcing
1. Leverage Your Efforts

Whether you are a part-time freelancer, full-time freelancer, or you run a design agency, the business aspect of your work is just as critical to your success as is your ability to design and/or code. One of the principles that is key to growing a business is that you need to be able to leverage your time and efforts. As a one-man operation you will only be able to earn money for the services that you can provide to clients yourself. But by expanding your business, in this case through outsourcing, you can leverage your efforts and make money based on the work of other people as well.

This makes an assumption that one of your priorities is to maximize income and profits, which may not be the case with all designers. Some designers prefer working on every aspect of client projects rather than outsourcing or hiring employees, even if it means reduced potential for business growth.


http://vandelaydesign.com

Running a design business, either as a freelancer or a small agency, is a big challenge. Getting the most efficiency out of your time is essential, but it’s also very difficult for those who wear many different hats, like freelancers. One of the most common ways of dealing with this challenge for efficiency is to outsource work to others. It could be anything from design work, front-end development, back-end development, marketing, to anything else that needs to be done.

There are some very strong reasons for outsourcing, and likewise the are some equally strong reasons against outsourcing. In this article we’ll look at those pros and cons, which will hopefully prove to be helpful to those who are trying to decide on whether or not to outsource.

Pros of Outsourcing

1. Leverage Your Efforts

Whether you are a part-time freelancer, full-time freelancer, or you run a design agency, the business aspect of your work is just as critical to your success as is your ability to design and/or code. One of the principles that is key to growing a business is that you need to be able to leverage your time and efforts. As a one-man operation you will only be able to earn money for the services that you can provide to clients yourself. But by expanding your business, in this case through outsourcing, you can leverage your efforts and make money based on the work of other people as well.

This makes an assumption that one of your priorities is to maximize income and profits, which may not be the case with all designers. Some designers prefer working on every aspect of client projects rather than outsourcing or hiring employees, even if it means reduced potential for business growth. Leer más “Pros and Cons of Outsourcing”

Blogging Innovation » What is an Innovation Culture?


by Roy Luebke

What is an Innovation Culture?Much has been written about what constitutes an innovation culture. Defining what that means may seem relatively simple, but is much more difficult to both define and achieve than one might think.

To begin the definition for an individual organization, start by understanding how the senior management team deals with ambiguity and risk. If an organization is extremely risk averse, it is unlikely to be very innovative. All companies deal with risk, there is risk in doing something, and there is risk in doing nothing. Risk is a part of being in business, and how the organization is prepared to manage risk is a leading factor in its ability to move into new competitive arenas.

The need to be innovative is derived from market pressures. The leadership team must feel a degree of angst about the future, or some paranoia about outside forces that makes them uncomfortable. Innovation is driven by the belief that a firm’s competitive advantage is fleeting and that it must always be reinventing itself in order to survive. Hubris is anathema to innovation.

An innovation culture requires advances in processes for discovery, experimentation, and developing portfolios of options. These new processes will, in fact help mitigate risk exposure as opportunities and solutions are better defined. Better definitions will reduce ambiguity and uncertainty.

Organizations require new process to research their customers and discover new patterns in customer attitudes, and market and technology evolutions. Firms need to create ways to recognize new, emerging patterns in key areas and develop new business concepts to meet these new realities. Business leaders need to allow their people to experiment more and develop prototypes that fail before going to market so that new innovations are more likely to succeed in the long term. Ultimately, new processes need to be developed to create deeper understanding about customers and deliver more of what customers want, even though customers are not likely to articulate these needs precisely.

Full article:
Blogging Innovation » What is an Innovation Culture?
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Who Has Innovative Ideas? Employees.

The trick is knowing how to tap into them. One answer: innovation communities.

Let’s take the mystery out of innovation and its inspirations.

Most great ideas for enhancing corporate growth and profits aren’t discovered in the lab late at night, or in the isolation of the executive suite. They come from the people who daily fight the company’s battles, who serve the customers, explore new markets and fend off the competition.

In other words, the employees.

Companies that have successfully made innovation part of their regular continuing strategy did so by harnessing the creative energies and the insights of their employees across functions and ranks. That’s easy to say. But how, exactly, did they do it? One powerful answer, we found, is in what we like to call innovation communities.
Questions to Ask Yourself

1. Does your company leave innovation to an R&D team without input from groups that work directly with customers?
2. Are your best managers and staff increasingly restless and cynical because they aren’t being given the opportunity to shape your company’s future?
3. If you asked 10 employees what they thought management considered to be fruitful areas for innovation, would you get 10 different answers?
4. When you talk of employee-generated innovation with your management team, do they act dismissively?
5. Does your management team think it’s too costly and disruptive to hold regular cross-function innovation discussions?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your company probably needs to rethink how it inspires innovative ideas. Regularly hosting what we call innovation communities can save companies money while enhancing future leadership, growth and profits.

Every company does it a little differently, but innovation communities typically grow from a seed planted by senior management—a desire for a new product, market or business process. A forum of employees then work together to make desire a reality.

Innovation communities tackle projects too big, too risky and too expensive to be pursued by individual operating units. They can be created with little additional cost, because no consultants are needed. After all, those in the midst of the fray already know most of the details relevant to the project.

A lot of senior managers think the opposite: that the people around them don’t understand what’s needed or are incapable of seeing the big picture. This is why some call in consultants. But we say this often shows a signal lack of strategic courage and resolve. We say trust your own people.

Innovation communities are a way of giving new shape and purpose to knowledge that your employees already possess. The detailed discussions that take place, led by senior managers, often represent a company’s most productive and economical engine for increased profits.

Here, then, are seven key characteristics that we have identified as being part of successful innovation communities.

CREATE THE SPACE TO INNOVATE. Line managers and employees occupied with operational issues normally don’t have the time to sit around and discuss ideas that lead to cross-organizational innovation. Innovation communities create a space in which employees from across the organization can exchange ideas.

At first, participants typically meet face to face at a central location, often company headquarters, then shift to virtual meetings for follow-up sessions. The most important thing is blocking out time free of daily responsibilities to devote to discussion and creative thinking.
Executive Adviser

Innovations in management theory & business strategy – a collaboration with The Wall Street Journal

Senior management sets the agenda. A clear statement of purpose and themes for discussion are set forth. Participants are free to discuss ideas without concerns about hierarchy and quarterly financial results.

Each year at food retailer Supervalu Inc., 35 to 40 mid- and director-level managers break up into four teams to discuss strategic issues suggested by executives in the different business units. The managers discuss issues outside their own areas of expertise and work on their leadership development at the same time. Over periods of five to six months, they hold electronic meetings at least weekly and meet in person at least five to six times, all while continuing to perform their regular duties.

Japanese pharmaceutical maker Eisai Co. has convened more than 400 innovation communities since 2005 to focus on health-care-related issues such as examining possible new structures and sizes of medicines—for instance, a medication now on the market in Japan in a jelly-like substance that Alzheimer’s patients can swallow easily—and devising social programs for the families of Alzheimer’s victims. Every Eisai employee world-wide participates in at least one such project, and spends time with patients as well. The company thinks connecting in person with patients is crucial because it helps employees see and understand issues that the patients think are important, and so enhances the employees’ ability to see beyond pure data.

GET A BROAD VARIETY OF VIEWPOINTS. It’s essential to involve people from different functions, locations and ranks, not only for their unique perspectives, but also to ensure buy-in throughout the company afterward. Innovation communities focus on creating enthusiasm as well as new products. At Honda Motor Co., innovation groups in the U.S. draw members from sales, engineering and development, and from different business units across North America. Some companies, like General Electric Co., involve consumers and business clients in new-product discussions as well.

Sometimes groups seek out certain kinds of participants. Best Buy Co., for example, assembled mostly women employees, from store cashiers to corporate executives, to discuss how to make its stores more attractive to female consumers. The inspiration: Best Buy considered women a seriously underserved market segment with high growth potential. Store data also revealed that women customers tended to return less merchandise than men did, and so generated more profits.

CREATE A CONVERSATION BETWEEN SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND PARTICIPANTS. By definition, innovation communities can’t work in isolation: To create sustainable cross-organizational innovation, it’s important that ideas flow to senior managers. If they don’t, innovations will tend to have limited, local effects that don’t benefit the organization as a whole.
See Also

Further reading from MIT Sloan Management Review

* Six Myths About Informal Networks—and How To Overcome Them
Rob Cross, Nitin Nohria and Andrew Parker
Informal groups of employees do much vital work.
* Four Keys to Managing Emergence
Ann Majchrzak, Dave Logan, Ron McCurdy and Mathias Kirchmer
Encouraging spurts of participatory innovation.
* An Inside View of IBM’s ‘Innovation Jam’
Osvald M. Bjelland and Robert Chapman Wood
What happened when IBM brought 150,000 employees and stakeholders together.

Discussions about innovation should be open but guided conversations between senior managers and lower-ranking participants. Everyone has to be on the same page, especially when it comes to understanding the competitive environment and how to respond.



http://sloanreview.mit.edu/executive-adviser/articles/2010/3/5234/who-has-innovative-ideas-employees/

By JC Spender and Bruce Strong

The trick is knowing how to tap into them. One answer: innovation communities.


Let’s take the mystery out of innovation and its inspirations.

Most great ideas for enhancing corporate growth and profits aren’t discovered in the lab late at night, or in the isolation of the executive suite. They come from the people who daily fight the company’s battles, who serve the customers, explore new markets and fend off the competition.

In other words, the employees.

Companies that have successfully made innovation part of their regular continuing strategy did so by harnessing the creative energies and the insights of their employees across functions and ranks. That’s easy to say. But how, exactly, did they do it? One powerful answer, we found, is in what we like to call innovation communities.

Questions to Ask Yourself
  1. Does your company leave innovation to an R&D team without input from groups that work directly with customers?
  2. Are your best managers and staff increasingly restless and cynical because they aren’t being given the opportunity to shape your company’s future?
  3. If you asked 10 employees what they thought management considered to be fruitful areas for innovation, would you get 10 different answers?
  4. When you talk of employee-generated innovation with your management team, do they act dismissively?
  5. Does your management team think it’s too costly and disruptive to hold regular cross-function innovation discussions?

If you answered yes to any of these questions, your company probably needs to rethink how it inspires innovative ideas. Regularly hosting what we call innovation communities can save companies money while enhancing future leadership, growth and profits.

Every company does it a little differently, but innovation communities typically grow from a seed planted by senior management—a desire for a new product, market or business process. A forum of employees then work together to make desire a reality.

Innovation communities tackle projects too big, too risky and too expensive to be pursued by individual operating units. They can be created with little additional cost, because no consultants are needed. After all, those in the midst of the fray already know most of the details relevant to the project.

A lot of senior managers think the opposite: that the people around them don’t understand what’s needed or are incapable of seeing the big picture. This is why some call in consultants. But we say this often shows a signal lack of strategic courage and resolve. We say trust your own people.

Innovation communities are a way of giving new shape and purpose to knowledge that your employees already possess. The detailed discussions that take place, led by senior managers, often represent a company’s most productive and economical engine for increased profits.

Here, then, are seven key characteristics that we have identified as being part of successful innovation communities.

CREATE THE SPACE TO INNOVATE. Line managers and employees occupied with operational issues normally don’t have the time to sit around and discuss ideas that lead to cross-organizational innovation. Innovation communities create a space in which employees from across the organization can exchange ideas.

At first, participants typically meet face to face at a central location, often company headquarters, then shift to virtual meetings for follow-up sessions. The most important thing is blocking out time free of daily responsibilities to devote to discussion and creative thinking.

Executive Adviser

Innovations in management theory & business strategy – a collaboration with The Wall Street Journal

Senior management sets the agenda. A clear statement of purpose and themes for discussion are set forth. Participants are free to discuss ideas without concerns about hierarchy and quarterly financial results.

Each year at food retailer Supervalu Inc., 35 to 40 mid- and director-level managers break up into four teams to discuss strategic issues suggested by executives in the different business units. The managers discuss issues outside their own areas of expertise and work on their leadership development at the same time. Over periods of five to six months, they hold electronic meetings at least weekly and meet in person at least five to six times, all while continuing to perform their regular duties.

Japanese pharmaceutical maker Eisai Co. has convened more than 400 innovation communities since 2005 to focus on health-care-related issues such as examining possible new structures and sizes of medicines—for instance, a medication now on the market in Japan in a jelly-like substance that Alzheimer’s patients can swallow easily—and devising social programs for the families of Alzheimer’s victims. Every Eisai employee world-wide participates in at least one such project, and spends time with patients as well. The company thinks connecting in person with patients is crucial because it helps employees see and understand issues that the patients think are important, and so enhances the employees’ ability to see beyond pure data.

GET A BROAD VARIETY OF VIEWPOINTS. It’s essential to involve people from different functions, locations and ranks, not only for their unique perspectives, but also to ensure buy-in throughout the company afterward. Innovation communities focus on creating enthusiasm as well as new products. At Honda Motor Co., innovation groups in the U.S. draw members from sales, engineering and development, and from different business units across North America. Some companies, like General Electric Co., involve consumers and business clients in new-product discussions as well.

Sometimes groups seek out certain kinds of participants. Best Buy Co., for example, assembled mostly women employees, from store cashiers to corporate executives, to discuss how to make its stores more attractive to female consumers. The inspiration: Best Buy considered women a seriously underserved market segment with high growth potential. Store data also revealed that women customers tended to return less merchandise than men did, and so generated more profits.

CREATE A CONVERSATION BETWEEN SENIOR MANAGEMENT AND PARTICIPANTS. By definition, innovation communities can’t work in isolation: To create sustainable cross-organizational innovation, it’s important that ideas flow to senior managers. If they don’t, innovations will tend to have limited, local effects that don’t benefit the organization as a whole.

See Also

Further reading from MIT Sloan Management Review

Discussions about innovation should be open but guided conversations between senior managers and lower-ranking participants. Everyone has to be on the same page, especially when it comes to understanding the competitive environment and how to respond.
Leer más “Who Has Innovative Ideas? Employees.”

How The Nielsen Company Uses Idea Management Software to Drive Innovation

We’ve heard a lot about how idea management works in theory – but how does it work in practice? Ann Marie Dumais, Senior Vice President of New Product Introductions at The Nielsen Company, was kind enough to walk us through Nielsen’s use of BrightIdea for enterprise idea management. Here are the lessons we came away with.
When Selecting Your Platform, Know What You’re Looking For

Dumais said Nielsen decided to adopt idea management software because it wanted to put process around thoughts. That may seem a bit corporate. OK, that sounds ridiculously corporate. But considering the company had found that it had no shortage of ideas coming from staff and no good means to do anything with them, it makes sense. The company wanted to drive ideation faster, and didn’t want to chase ideas that had already been considered.

Dumais said they needed something flexible – something that would enable them to make changes on the fly by themselves, without calling IT or an external vendor. She also needed something that would be easy for all staff, including those dealing with the backend. “It had to be like eBay,” she said “No one had to teach us how to use eBay – it just works.” Dumais also knew the system would have to support single sign-on.

After vetting several possibilities, Dumais and her team settled on BrightIdea because of its flexibility and usability.


By Klint Finley |  //www.readwriteweb.com

This post is part of our ReadWriteEnterprise channel, which is a resource and guide for IT managers and technologists in the Enterprise. The channel is sponsored by Intel. As you’re exploring solutions for your enterprise, check out this helpful resource from our sponsors: All New 2010 Intel Core vPro Processors and Microsoft Office 2010: Your Best Choice for Business PCs

We’ve heard a lot about how idea management works in theory – but how does it work in practice? Ann Marie Dumais, Senior Vice President of New Product Introductions at The Nielsen Company, was kind enough to walk us through Nielsen’s use of BrightIdea for enterprise idea management. Here are the lessons we came away with.

When Selecting Your Platform, Know What You’re Looking For

Dumais said Nielsen decided to adopt idea management software because it wanted to put process around thoughts. That may seem a bit corporate. OK, that sounds ridiculously corporate. But considering the company had found that it had no shortage of ideas coming from staff and no good means to do anything with them, it makes sense. The company wanted to drive ideation faster, and didn’t want to chase ideas that had already been considered.

Dumais said they needed something flexible – something that would enable them to make changes on the fly by themselves, without calling IT or an external vendor. She also needed something that would be easy for all staff, including those dealing with the backend. “It had to be like eBay,” she said “No one had to teach us how to use eBay – it just works.” Dumais also knew the system would have to support single sign-on.

After vetting several possibilities, Dumais and her team settled on BrightIdea because of its flexibility and usability. Leer más “How The Nielsen Company Uses Idea Management Software to Drive Innovation”

Thought Leadership Success Factor No. 5: Fueling Service Innovation, Not Just Marketing

Thought leadership programs serve one master in most professional services and other B2B firms: Marketing. Marketing generates content (commissioning studies, writing white papers, and so on). Marketing packages and distributes that content (producing academic-looking publications, seminars and webinars, educational PR campaigns, email newsletters, etc.). Marketing then turns over the resulting client inquiries to account executives. Thought leadership is a Marketing activity.

But that robs thought leadership programs of their greater potential value – as sources of service innovation, not just marketing content. When companies use thought leadership to fuel new services or rejuvenate existing ones, they not only codify expertise on how to solve some business problem; they turn it into capability that many (not just a handful) of their professionals can use with clients. They do this by taking a powerful concept described in a white paper or research study and turn it into a rigorous methodology. They then develop effective curriculum around that methodology and put their professionals through training programs so they can master it.

When that happens, thought leadership content fuels new services or new approaches to existing services – not just creates client interest in them through marketing. We have seen a number of professional firms that created strong client interest in a concept after conducting and marketing some innovative research – only to find that just a few people in their firm could actually deliver the service implied by their compelling concept. (It’s a page from the “Let’s Throw Something Against the Wall and See What Sticks” book on marketing and service development. The idea is not to develop a robust service until a firm has numerous clients who are willing to pay for it.)


Bob Buday’s blog
//bloomgroup.com/blogs/bob-buday

Thought leadership programs serve one master in most professional services and other B2B firms: Marketing.  Marketing generates content (commissioning studies, writing white papers, and so on).  Marketing packages and distributes that content (producing academic-looking publications, seminars and webinars, educational PR campaigns, email newsletters, etc.).  Marketing then turns over the resulting client inquiries to account executives. Thought leadership is a Marketing activity.

But that robs thought leadership programs of their greater potential value – as sources of service innovation, not just marketing content.  When companies use thought leadership to fuel new services or rejuvenate existing ones, they not only codify expertise on how to solve some business problem; they turn it into capability that many (not just a handful) of their professionals  can use with clients.  They do this by taking a powerful concept described in a white paper or research study and turn it into a rigorous methodology.  They then develop effective curriculum around that methodology and put their professionals through training programs so they can master it.

When that happens, thought leadership content fuels new services or new approaches to existing services – not just creates client interest in them through marketing.  We have seen a number of professional firms that created strong client interest in a concept after conducting and marketing some innovative research – only to find that just a few people in their firm could actually deliver the service implied by their compelling concept.  (It’s a page from the “Let’s Throw Something Against the Wall and See What Sticks” book on marketing and service development.  The idea is not to develop a robust service until a firm has numerous clients who are willing to pay for it.)

When you think about what would happen to other industries that followed this practice, you begin to see that it’s insane.  Imagine a pharmaceutical company that conducted drug research for marketing purposes only, telling the market it’s come up with a breakthrough compound but deciding not to manufacture it.  That’s just about the state of thought leadership programs in most of the B2B firms we know.  What they publish is often not something that most of their professionals practice.

I’m not sure why this is the case.  But I know it is the case.  Perhaps it’s because service innovation in professional services is in its infancy.  Few firms have created formal and highly productive processes for developing superior services.  In most professional firms I know, services are hand-crafted by individual artisans – practicing consultants, lawyers or accountants who often in their spare time document some approach to solving a recurring client problem.
Leer más “Thought Leadership Success Factor No. 5: Fueling Service Innovation, Not Just Marketing”

5-step Process for Business Transformation and Organizational Stability

During the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with many business leaders in the GCC. The topic on every one’s mind is, of course, the economy and how their business can weather the storm. Many of these executives had read my previous posts on restoring an organizational immune system, and on reducing complexity in key areas to increase business stability. Most of them had the same question: where do we start?

The answer is to start at the top – with those in charge of leading the business. The 5-step process below begins there and provides a roadmap for mobilizing the entire organization in support of transformation. It’s important to realize that business transformation isn’t a miracle cure for all business problems. It’s an ongoing journey and a continuous process. There’s no one end point, but every step you take will be a lifesaver for your company. Here’s how you can make sure you’re moving in the right direction, let’s see…


Blogging Innovation
by Kamal Hassan

5-Step Process for Business Transformation and Organizational StabilityDuring the past few weeks, I’ve spoken with many business leaders in the GCC. The topic on every one’s mind is, of course, the economy and how their business can weather the storm. Many of these executives had read my previous posts on restoring an organizational immune system, and on reducing complexity in key areas to increase business stability. Most of them had the same question: where do we start?

The answer is to start at the top – with those in charge of leading the business. The 5-step process below begins there and provides a roadmap for mobilizing the entire organization in support of transformation. It’s important to realize that business transformation isn’t a miracle cure for all business problems. It’s an ongoing journey and a continuous process. There’s no one end point, but every step you take will be a lifesaver for your company. Here’s how you can make sure you’re moving in the right direction, let’s see… Leer más “5-step Process for Business Transformation and Organizational Stability”

10 Common Mistakes Made by API Providers

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. How one services provider provides first-class service to its agency clients. Learn more in this ReadWriteWeb special report, made possible by Intel and VMware: Opus: A Marketing Agency That Gets the Most out of Virtualization.

Please Send More Birds!Twitter was one of the first to see what happened when traffic to the site came more from the API than the Web.

It now has more than 65 million tweets per day, most coming from services that use the Twitter API.

Twitter has made numerous changes to fix its API. Those experiences have taught providers what mistakes not to make when launching a service.

But there is still a lot for providers to learn.

Considering this, we asked developers and service providers to help us prepare a list of 10 common mistakes made by API providers. Hopefully, the list will provide some basic insights into what mistakes should be avoided when developing an API.

Our group of commentators include Adam DuVander executive editor at Programmable Web; Mike Pearce, a developer out of the United Kingdom who writes a lot about scrum and Agile; Mashery’s Clay Loveless and Sonoa Systems Sam Ramji.


By Alex Williams <!– –>

This post is part of our ReadWriteCloud channel, which is dedicated to covering virtualization and cloud computing. The channel is sponsored by Intel and VMware. How one services provider provides first-class service to its agency clients. Learn more in this ReadWriteWeb special report, made possible by Intel and VMware: Opus: A Marketing Agency That Gets the Most out of Virtualization.

Please Send More Birds!Twitter was one of the first to see what happened when traffic to the site came more from the API than the Web.

It now has more than 65 million tweets per day, most coming from services that use the Twitter API.

Twitter has made numerous changes to fix its API. Those experiences have taught providers what mistakes not to make when launching a service.

But there is still a lot for providers to learn.

Considering this, we asked developers and service providers to help us prepare a list of 10 common mistakes made by API providers. Hopefully, the list will provide some basic insights into what mistakes should be avoided when developing an API.

Our group of commentators include Adam DuVander executive editor at Programmable Web; Mike Pearce, a developer out of the United Kingdom who writes a lot about scrum and Agile; Mashery’s Clay Loveless and Sonoa Systems Sam Ramji. Leer más “10 Common Mistakes Made by API Providers”