The keys to a successful outsourcing relationship

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As the publishing industry confronts significant challenges, many companies are looking to take cost out of their businesses. Many look to outsource key functions, such as IT, HR, fulfillment, production, research and marketing or consumer marketing. As we have worked in this space for nearly two decades, I am often asked what the keys are to making outsourcing successful. While there is no one-size-fits-all solution, there are some things we think are very important.

First, approach outsourcing positively. If you are dreading outsourcing key functions, you are inviting an environment for failure. Rather, you have to say, “Others are making it work for them, so how can I make it work for me?”

Clearly articulate your needs and objectives. Outsourcing relationships can quickly fail if you are not completely clear on your goals, your historical performance and the very specific tasks that you are expecting. Clear input upfront helps us price, staff and service your business so we may meet and exceed your expectations.

Like with any relationship, you must use frequent and constructive communications. Account trouble is usually due more to communications than performance. Regular stewardship sessions need to be scheduled on a planned and regular basis. It is also beneficial to get together face-to-face at either company's offices or at industry events and conferences, especially with out-of-town clients.

Finally, seek exceptional talent. A key to more efficiency through outsourcing is hiring better people — they do more and they do it more quickly. It speeds up learning curves and gets better results more rapidly. For small or independent publishers, this is critical as they may not be able to afford experts in each aspect of their business. Via outsourcing, you can share department heads among several clients and get better performance as a result.

In my 30-year career, I've never seen a more challenging time than this.  It is only through working harder and smarter that we will weather the stormy seas we are swimming through. I welcome your comments, questions and feedback on this article and look forward to contributing more in the future.

Rick Jones is president and CEO of DJG Marketing LLC, which includes the companies ProCirc, ProCirc Retail, DJG Marketing Services and WRSS. Reach him at rickj@djgmarketing.com.

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