Relying on in-house resources used to be a given. But in a UX world with fewer and fewer retainers and AOR relationships, that given often becomes a hurdle, especially in situation when you need to be agile.
Is it (still) true that no one can deliver a better product than an in-house team that has daily, intimate knowledge of a product and is readily available?
Welcome to insourcing
When you think about outsourcing, it’s hard not to worry about unaccountable mercenaries who seek nothing but the smoothest route to a completed timesheet. But good freelancers add immense value, providing a strategic advantage thanks to an inherently different POV, built-in flexibility and independent thinking.
We call this Insourcing – a committed team that is connected to your organization, but just independent enough to challenge the status quo and lead you (and your clients) to better outcomes.
It starts with staffing
During the classic recruitment process, many great candidates are left out simply because they’re not interested in becoming full-timers.
Additionally, the stricter you are with your needs (experience, talent, inter-personal skills), the smaller the talent pool you have to work with. And once you’ve found someone, you’re already dreading losing that person and going through the process again.
Either way, hiring an in-house team member can take 2-3 months. Want a full UX team? Clear your schedule for closer to 5-6.
LET’S TALK $$$$($)
Hiring a full-timer costs a lot of money. Recruiters, interviews, time, contracts and bureaucracy. But it doesn’t stop there. Full-timers also mean 401Ks and insurance, as well as office expenses, equipment, sick days and leave.
That’s why many companies do, in fact, turn to outsourcing. More often than not, the payment is for actual work (time and materials), and with an experienced freelancer needing a lot less management, the bottom line is in your favor.
What about productivity?
Many UX relationships are project-based, be it a one-off or a series of assignments. Working in this format means a clear beginning and a clear ending, as well as parts where more/less effort is required. When you’re dealing with full-timers, you can’t just send them home or cut their monthly salary just because things were naturally slow.
An outsourced team, on the other hand, is tailored for that type of culture. A freelancer won’t be around (and won’t cost you) when there’s no work to be done, while at the same time, they’re trained to create a lot of work in a short period of time. Not to mention, more often than not, freelancers are more versed and experienced in different projects and methodologies, requiring less time spent on research and onboarding.
How to insource
- Look for people who are experts, but also experts who are people.
- Check for experience that’s relevant to your industry and product.
- Ensure your candidate is equipped with the most up-to-date software and tools, and that they’re are well versed in the latest UX best practices.
- Know whether or not they have experience in dealing with dev teams.
- Confirm availability for the duration of your project, taking project peeks and valleys into consideration.
- Identify your team’s familiarity with the business model and vision. Do they understand the big picture?
- Look for people who like to teach, explain and share their experience. They’ll be good with clients, and are likely to improve your full-time staff by simply being around.