Content Management: Inhouse Vs. Outsourcing

Whether pushing a product, selling a service, or sharing information, a Website does not exist without content: pictures, streaming video (or audio), bodies of text, Flash animations and more.

The files that collectively make a site worth visiting are its raison d’etre. Today’s Websites are growing ever more advanced and interactive; their level of complexity increasing as new technologies raise the demands and expectations of people surfing the Web, as well as the capabilities of the Websites they surf. Content is being updated weekly, daily, hourly, and in some cases, minute-by-minute – even in real time! As if the magnitude of its importance wasn’t enough to make content such a pressing issue to those owning and operating Websites, the complexities of its management are enough to send some Webmasters scrambling.

Does it need to be authored? Has it been made secure? How do you go about scheduling its updates? Are you going to license or syndicate it? Is the template correct? And what of personalized displays for your viewers? Who’s going to update and edit it? Has it been tagged, or does it even need to be? If more than one person is going to be working on it, how do you collaborate the workflow? How much is this costing me? On countless occasions, an individual’s thought process or a boardroom meeting involving any or all of the questions above has led to yet one more query: Should we outsource our content management?

For such a complex issue as content management, the decision on whether or not to outsource comes down to that most basic, fundamental question: What’s the cost?

“Ensuring we work ‘cost-effectively’ is one thing we all want to do,” notes Lee Windsor of “We need to make a profit while still being able to develop our business further.” When done internally, content management’s cost in dollars is equal to its cost in time. Can the time you spend maintaining and updating your content be better spent doing something else? How many people sit on your payroll for no other reason than to manage your site’s content and how much does that cost you? If you’re paying an employee more to manage your content than you would an outsourced entity to do the same, it would seem to be a pretty clear cut business decision to send that work outside.

Some software options present the opportunity to automate content management. But still, you have to factor in the time and money it would cost to purchase, learn how to use, maintain, and customize the software, not to mention migrating all of your existing content over to the new application. Most small businesses or online ventures not backed by a massive supply of investment capital would find content management software costs alone to be the most prohibitive factor in its acquisition. The most comprehensive content management software solutions have prices that reach well in to and beyond the tens of thousands of dollars. Other software suites catering to small businesses and those on a tighter budget with smaller, less complicated Websites can still find themselves shelling out a four-figure sum for content management software. Further still, your programming and technological background might not make you the best candidate for managing your own Website's content – with or without the help of software solutions. Would putting someone on the payroll for the express purpose of running your newly purchased content management software be a cost effective solution?

Of course, outsourcing has costs inherent to it as well. How much that outside company or individual will charge you, along with how much time it might take them to assume the process of managing your content and meeting your particular needs and desires are variables with very real dollar values.

It could also be extremely difficult indeed to assign a dollar value to the trust necessary in handing over something so important to the operations and success of your Website. Moreover, depending on the complexity of your content management operations, can you afford to pay an outsourced entity for the time they would bill you? Then again, already possessing the experience and know-how, as well as the necessary software and technological tools to do the job, an outsourced firm could carry out your content management tasks in a fraction of the time it would take you.

When weighing the costs and benefits of outsourcing content management against those of keeping it in house, it’s easy to find yourself facing a great deal more questions than answers. Aspects of content management you had taken for granted or never given thought to before now stare you in the face as real issues with significant effect on your bottom line.

Making sense out of all the variables and options involved in outsourse vs. inhouse, suggests Windsor, comes down to that age old business practice: “...running the numbers.”

Ultimately, once you’ve made up your mind, you could very well find yourself in possession of the most valuable asset of all: peace of mind.

Brian Dunlap is the Director of Marketing for Bionic Pixels LLC.