What are the considerations in building an in-house design team?
When is building a design team the right move for your company? Some marketing firms have embraced the idea of building an in-house design team, rather than working with an outside agency. Those firms believe that having designers under their roof will translate into significant cost savings.
Based on these quick questions, you can clarify your expectations:
1. Are your design needs mostly internal, or outward-facing?
In-house designers are a great boon for internal communications – they know the organization as well as anyone. But if you want to sell ideas and offerings to the outside world, it might be wise to go with an outside perspective. That person, in getting to know the business, may be closer to the external marketplace and the target audience.
2. Are you prepared to manage an on-site team of designers?
Managing a team of designers – a group that is outside your core competency – is quite different from overseeing other employees. Designers often have workflows, interests and schedules that may not jive with your overall business. Make sure your company has the infrastructure, management and right philosophy to integrate, nurture and educate your designers.
When push comes to shove, how comfortable do you feel about dumping a rush project onto your colleague? How can you expect them to do it when they have other work and deadlines, as well? Is it important enough to go with an outside group instead?
3. Do your company's design needs require cross-discipline innovation and outside-the-box thinking?
In-house designers can get caught up in the internal politics of the business. And their design perspectives can become narrow, after working exclusively for one brand. When designers push back against change, you might have another internal battle on your hands. How well do your in-house designers work with your outside agency? Is it a power struggle?
4. Will you be able to get the maximum value out of an in-house employee
Workflows can be very inconsistent, especially in design. Before you hire an in-house designer, make sure they'll be plugged into a strategic – and, ideally, varied – amount of work. No creatively-driven designer wants to put together the same weekly newsletter ad infinitum. You may be finding yourself trying to dream up interesting projects that don't really need to be done, just to keep everyone in the design department engaged.
When marketing professionals prepare their budgets, they should review their options: assemble an in-house design team or contract with external consultants. Look at the estimated activity level of the design professionals; making this base explicit will help the creativity, development, execution and timetables of projects run more smoothly, whether in-house designers or consultants join your team.
The biggest factors to consider:
When you work with a design firm, the company doesn't need to spend on things like office space and employee overhead.
If design isn't one of its core competencies, the company may benefit more from outsourcing that sort of work as needed. When you have a time-sensitive project that need special attention, don't be afraid to go outside.
Afraid to Go Out? Staying In-house Isn't for Everyone. Article by Janet Odgis, originally posted to the Huffington Post Blog see it here.