Outsourcing is a way of life for most game developer and publishers. This process allows for teams to remain agile while also keep costs in control. There are plenty of horror stories of art outsourcing gone bad, but seldom do we hear why. After careful review, we have summed the top-5 reasons outsourcing fails in order to not suffer the same fate.
5. Spec creep. You can't hit a moving target and when it comes to outsourcing it pays to be bedrock in what you are trying to accomplish. Like all things in life, knowing what the details are make a world of difference. With outsourcing you want to be 100% clear on specifications and scope of work. A good rule of thumb here is to be thorough in your documentation and reaffirm what you have asked. TIP: Have a coworker not related to the outsourcing process read your documents and explain to you what they believe they are stating. This way you catch anything that is unclear.
4. Penny wise pound foolish. Nowhere is the expression "you get what you pay for" more applicable than with outsourcing. If you're getting offers that are too good be true, they probably are. On the other hand if you're putting the squeeze on your vendor in hopes to save a nickel don't be surprised when you find yourself in rework hell. Remember, the true benefit of outsourcing is the ability to access skilled talent on demand for a reasonable price. If you find yourself demanding prices lower than the cost of a software license you best look around realize this isn't Victorian London. TIP: Understand the total cost of production by calculating the time of direct overhead, man month and cycles when budgeting. Doing so will help you understand how much you are spending. You may find a team that costs more, but delivers on time and end up saving time, money and stress.
3. They can't do more. One of the saddest things is watching great talent go to waste and the worst is knowing that it wasn't given a chance to shine. Most outsourcing vendors have been in a constant state of production since their founding. This never ending grind has endowed them with unique insights and experience that only veteran production staff have. Unfortunately, this talent and know-how isn't tapped into as studio biases can cloud reality. No one doubts your company is unique or special, but when your deep in production having access to seasoned hands is worth everything. So next time you're in the shit, ask your outsourcer if they can help. It may just save you some sleepless nights. TIP: When assessing outsource partners ask them for the best and worst experience to gain insight into their experience. The more you approach the process from a level of professional respect the more buy in you will get.
2. Poor infrastructure. Outsourcing is a powerful process for game development and it's only as good as the infrastructure to support it. You want to be sure your outsourcing team is appropriately equipped the same way your internal development team is. Experienced outsources generally come with their own flexible pipeline that can accommodate your development needs. Find out early how your systems can integrate together in order to reduce manual processes that are convoluted. TIP: Investigate cloud based Production Management Solutions. They can significantly improve the outsourcing experience and are built from the ground-up for game development.
1. The wrong staff. Outsourcing done right can save millions of dollars. It can also cost millions of dollars when managed by the wrong people. The makeup of an outsourcing team requires deep knowledge of production, business and management. Shorting any of these positions will result in an ineffective experience. Seek to build departments that have the authority and mandate to implement the right processes studio wide. After all, outsourcing is a vital business process. TIP: Resist the urge to staff these position with inexperienced production staff members or paper MBA's. As productions scale-up your team will find itself in battlefield decision making situations and you want the best people making the calls.
Outsourcing is here to stay and mastering the process is vital. If you would like to know more about how outsourcing can be better implemented at your business, click on the button below to schedule a meeting.