It is quite a common practice for agencies in many countries to win projects and then outsource some aspects of those campaigns to freelancers or other agencies, even if they remain the only service provider the client interacts with. That is why some freelancers and smaller agencies cannot really list all of the clients they have worked for as it counts as ‘off the record’ services. This trend continues nowadays, and a new study shows that technical work is the most outsource component.
The Digital Outsourcing Survey Report 2012, made by Econsultancy in partnership with United Studios, surveyed 132 senior UK digital respondents in July and August 2012. The findings show that 57% of responding digital agencies are outsourcing work to freelancers, other agencies or to specialist digital production companies.
Technical work is the most likely to be outsourced, with 66% of the respondents mentioning it, followed by HTML, CSS, and AJAX development (60%) and LAMP (PHP/MySQL) programming (54%). Also, 97% of the participant mentioned Flash design and build as the most needed production skill, while the most outsourced service is mobile applications (64%), followed by video production and post-production (55%) . Other outsourced services are content management systems (47%), social network applications, games, search marketing and e-commerce systems, each with 36% of the mentions.
More than half of the work (53%) is outsourced to freelancers, and only 47% to other digital agencies, with 69% of the respondents saying that when they work with another agency they prefer a UK based one. Also, 72% of a freelancers’ time is billable, and the typical mark-up of outsourced work by agencies is 38%.
“Faced with challenging market conditions agencies need to control their costs and fixing headcount is one way to do so,” explained Tim Seddon, Founder and Managing Director at digital production agency United Studios. “For them to be successful, creative ideas must be allowed to thrive, so they can’t be constrained by the skills or availability of an in-house studio. Outsourcing allows the flexibility and quality demanded by clients; it ensures if done correctly, you can have the right people, on the right job at the right time.”
“With the increasing complexity of campaigns and multiple consumer touch points, technical skills are being held at a premium and good developers are hard to recruit in-house,” added Amy Rodgers, Econsultancy research analyst. “This is reflected by the fact that two thirds of agencies who outsource work rely on outside expertise for technical work.”
A similar report was carried out in 2008, so this one analyzes the trends and changes in this period of time that has passed since. The results only go to say that outsourcing services is a trend that’s here to stay, and many freelancers and small agencies will continue to have such work in the future. Also, it surprisingly emphasizes the importance of Flash skills, even if for years now experts have been hinting that Flash will no longer be used, as other technologies are available.