Digital Transformation: Why you’re better off outsourcing

I was sitting in a client meeting a few years ago when someone, for some reason I’ve long forgotten, started talking about Oompa-Loompas. That’s right, the little orange men with green hair who worked in Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory in the classic movie from the 1970’s.

The conversation flicked a switch in my brain and sparked an idea for the fuel company we were working with. Instead of a ‘golden ticket’ — the prize in the Willy Wonka movie — I suggested that customers could win free fuel from a ‘golden pump’ by using an app on their phone.

It was an out-there idea but that’s one of the advantages of working with an outsourcing company on a digital transformation project. Outsiders bring a fresh set of eyes and a new perspective to your problem and solution. Outsourcing to a third party helps create the space and conditions for innovative ideas to flourish.

Customers are increasingly hard to please. They expect and demand engaging digital experiences. Many companies are frantically trying to figure out their digital strategy. Some choose to build their own in-house digital teams. Others use third-party partners like PaperKite. What’s the right solution for you?

In-house vs Outsourcing

Creating an in-house team to run a digital transformation project involves hiring or reassigning individuals who haven’t worked together before and trusting them to lead your digital journey. They will typically have to start from scratch and make things up as they go along.

Third-party providers, on the other hand, have an existing set of processes that are specifically tailored to take a concept and turn it into a physical, tangible digital product or mobile app. They have fine-tuned their processes based on experience and feedback from previous customers and their goal is to deliver the best possible outcome in the most efficient timeframe. That means they can save your company time and money, enabling you to launch your digital experience sooner.

Hiring an in-house digital team comes with the usual risks and set up costs of hiring and managing employees. With a third-party company, no setup is required. Your company can tap into years of experience and expertise immediately and put it to work for you. All employee agreements, set up costs, training, HR etc are managed by the third party on your behalf. It’s like having a well-drilled, well-prepared team ready to go out of the box. Working with a third-party partner has a number of other benefits.

Embrace the collective genius

One of our values at PaperKite is to embrace the collective genius — that includes the collective genius of the people in our team and the organisations we work with. A lot of our team have worked together for a long time so they respect each other’s area of expertise but they also appreciate that collaboration is the key to coming up with the best ideas. That means collaborating with each other and more importantly, collaborating with the client.

There’s a bedding-in period when you start a project with a new client. You have to win over the people you’re working with. You have to win their trust. One way of doing that is to be open and receptive to their ideas and engage with different departments and disciplines to work together to come up with the best possible solution. Our goal is to tap into the collective wisdom in the room.

We’re not afraid to be humble and ask lots of questions — some good questions and some dumb ones too. Stupid questions often lead to smart answers. After all, the organisations we work with are the subject matter experts. They know their customers. Our job is to unlock what they know to help them achieve the best outcome. We’re the enablers who help turn their vision into a reality. We’re the Oompa-Loompas if you like.

Hold the space

Internal teams can’t help but be influenced by the values of the organisations they work for. If it’s a conservative culture then it’s really hard to push the boundaries or come up with something edgy and innovative.

Individuals working on in-house teams may be wary of saying anything controversial or being too creative because their reputation or job could be under threat if they rock the boat too much. One of the key roles of a third-party partner is to hold the space and create a new culture, a safe space where ideas can flourish.

During every digital transformation project there are moments when everyone in the room is frustrated, where the solution seems a million miles away and none of the ideas are working. There’s a time when everyone wants to throw in the towel. We help teams to push through that discomfort.

When things get tough or go wrong — and they will — rather than pointing the finger and blaming people, you need to bring people together and figure out a way to help them through the tough times. One of the ways we do this is by challenging ourselves and the client to think differently.

I’m dyslexic and one of the advantages of being dyslexic is you’re forced to come up with solutions in a non-traditional way. All my life I’ve had to create shortcuts to keep up with my peers. But if everyone is conditioned to think exactly the same way — which often happens with in-house teams — how can you expect anything but the same solutions and the same ideas?

I come up with lots of ideas — like the ‘golden pump’ for example — and I encourage the people I work with to do the same. Some of them are rubbish but it’s like panning for gold. You’re only looking for one nugget to make it worthwhile.

To find the nuggets you’ve got to create the space and the environment to encourage people to come up with ideas and share them with the rest of the team. The skill is in knowing which ideas to throw away and which ideas are worth fighting for.

Creating serendipity

The team at PaperKite has worked on a huge variety of projects across a broad range of industries and sectors including: retail, banking, insurance, finance, local councils and national government.

This breadth and depth of experience creates moments of serendipity where someone will say, “This reminds me of a project I worked on and this is how we solved the problem.” That can often be the spark to create something new and different and magical. An in-house team is less likely to have those moments simply because their industry experience tends to be more limited.

Avoiding tunnel vision

Most companies have a very clear vision of what they want to achieve but sometimes they try to align or shoehorn a solution with their existing capabilities rather than considering what else might be possible. It’s that old cliche: “When the only tool you’ve got is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.”

They may have a clearly defined problem, which is a good thing, but they also have a clearly defined solution that can lead to tunnel vision. It’s a very blinkered approach that shuts the door on the potential to do something great.

A third-party provider like PaperKite will help you break the concept down to first principles, find the why, and build it back up so you can create a product that your end customer needs, rather than one that fits with your in-house skillset.

Summing up

There are so many intangibles that go into creating high-performing, collaborative, creative teams. It takes time to build the connective tissues and create an environment where great things can happen. There are also the initial set-up costs and lead times of recruiting and training a team before you see any results.

When you outsource to a third-party digital provider like PaperKite, you get access to a wider range of expertise, a carefully considered and well delivered solution, and support on your digital journey. All of this for a defined budget and timeline. This provides a higher level of certainty that you will achieve the outcomes and a return on your investment.

And if you still want to develop your own in-house digital expertise, we’ve worked with a number of clients to help them build internal teams.

P.S. The lawyers put the kibosh on the ‘golden pump’ idea because they feared it could be construed as gambling, but that one idea changed the conversation in the meeting and convinced our client to be braver and bolder.

If you want to be brave and bold on your digital transformation journey, then we’d love to talk. Let’s build something beautiful together.

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