When Should You Choose to Outsource Your Design Work?

March 27, 2013

Creating a new product or service is an exciting and challenging time that is necessary for any business to not only survive, but also grow in today’s economy. For those companies that do not have an internal product development team, it is important to realize the impact NPD (New Product Development) can have on your business and reasons you may want to outsource your design work. Whether you need help with styling, design for manufacturing (DFM), user interaction, or developing a concept from the ground up, a product development firm can get involved at any point and lead the process.

Discovering how to grow your business with help from outside professionals can offer increased efficiency and greater success. The reasons below (in no particular order) can help you realize if investing in an outside product development firm is the right strategic fit for your company.

1. You have limited internal resources. It may not make sense for your company to maintain a full-time design team. You may be a start-up with a new product idea or a company that has a complete engineering department, but is lacking in the design aspect. Either way, if you’re not producing new products or services very often then outsourcing is the way to go.

2. You have an overload of work. Every business, both large and small, has those moments when there doesn’t seem to be enough time in the day to get everything accomplished. Many times, you need help undertaking new projects that don’t warrant hiring another full-time employee. In these cases, it can be best to take some pressure off of your employees and rely on an outside source for assistance.

3. You want a fresh perspective. Often times, when you are part of one company for so long, you become engrossed in the culture and politics and lose track of what it is your company really needs. An outside perspective will provide new insights and can introduce new design paradigms to help your business evolve.

4. Gives you an opportunity to leverage multi-disciplinary expertise. Many product development firms offer full-service capabilities – whether it’s research, strategy, industrial design, engineering, branding, or UI/UX. You will be exposed to experts in the field who understand your business requirements. In addition, they are up-to-date with the latest trends in the industry and know what your brand needs in order to stand out from the competition.

5. Reduces time-to-market. Experienced product design firms are skilled at getting concepts to market in the most efficient and timely manner. They can apply their knowledge of similar projects and technologies to enhance productivity and overcome obstacles they might have faced (and learned from) in the past.

6. Saves money. Outsourcing is a cost-effective method if you take into consideration all expenses involved in maintaining the necessary capabilities within your company, including employee salary, benefits, overhead, risk, etc. In almost all cases, it is less expensive to outsource design than to build an internal product development team.

7. Design firms help reduce stress by taking full control of the project timeline. It can be hard to fully commit resources to product development projects. You may start a program and have something unexpected come up in another department that delays the entire process. Outsourcing design means that the design consultancy is in charge of managing the project timeline, the resources, and the deliverables with a set deadline.

8. Capitalize on state-of-the-art technology. Most design consultancies today use state-of-the-art technology that helps speed up the development process. In addition, they have access to the latest design programs and manufacturing equipment that help bring your product to life in the most lucrative and efficient way.

9. You want more presence in a specific location. Your company may be in Boston and you want to enter a different market, such as Chicago. In this case, a Chicago design firm might best know how to design for consumers in and around the Midwest. Likewise, if you are from another country and want to enter the U.S. market, outsourcing your design to a firm in the same geographic location as where you hope to penetrate the market would be ideal.

10. Allows you to focus on other areas of your business with growth potential. Hiring an outside firm to take charge of your product or service design requires periodic meetings or conference calls, but it also frees up time for you to focus on other aspects of your business with growth potential, such as marketing or sales.

What are your plans for growth in 2013? New products, whether in the form of new services, new applications, or entirely new experiences, are an essential component of business success. Developing a thorough product development program is the first step toward realizing your design solution. Using the right professionals to develop an innovative solution will enable you to position your product for success.

If you’re interested in discussing your product development needs, please contact us here. You can also download a PDF of the article below.

Written by: Michael Prince, President, Beyond Design, Inc.

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