Why Associations Leverage Outsourcing for Business Services

Associations have been benefiting from print outsourcing for years. If your priorities are shifting, here are a few ways to think outside the box.

Published on 4 January, 2016 | Last modified on 1 November, 2022
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Whether private or public, non-profit or for-profit, associations always face pressure to improve for their members. However, striving for the best is difficult when organizations are understaffed, under-resourced and unfamiliar with certain skill sets or technologies. This is why associations turn to outsourcing, and they stick with it because by turning to external service providers and hired teams, organizations are able to save money, gain expertise and meet goals.

Top Benefits of Outsourcing Today

In fact, a recent report from SmithBucklin found that the top benefits of outsourcing for associations include access to specific skills and talents, a boost in performance across the organization, a reduction of spending and the ability to use innovative technologies.

“The association sector recognizes that outsourcing is an effective way for organizations to extend their teams and wisely allocate resources,” said Matt Sanderson, executive vice president at SmithBucklin. “In that way, associations mirror the overall business sector, which continues to rely on outsourced services as a time-tested business strategy.”

“81% of associations use outsourced services.”

Associations are outsourcing more than some might think. The source reported that 81 percent of these organizations use outsourced services in sectors other than legal and auditing. Specifically, associations leverage external teams for graphic design, multimedia or video the most, with 52 percent of organizations citing they use those services. Additionally, the outsourcing of editorial or publishing (27 percent), advertising sales (27 percent) and membership technology (26 percent) are very popular for associations. And of course, event management, social media, and public relations also placed on SmithBucklin’s list.

Top Benefits of Outsourcing Tomorrow

As for where it’s headed, outsourcing IT could fall out of favor, according to Tom Davenport, a professor at Babson College, writing for the Wall Street Journal. As cloud services become more popular, associations won’t need to hire external firms to manage their IT environments. Instead, they can hire a single individual to manage each cloud service and fill the gaps with automation.

That said, because associations can definitely find value in outsourcing, it’s likely they will be able to find external providers for their various needs that deliver cost-saving solutions and offer expertise in other distinct areas.

Contributing to the Nashville Business Journal, Chad Milom, CPA, partner and leader of nonprofit at LBMC, asserted that outsourcing will be the key to solving problems with hiring and finding employees. Obviously, this will help associations get more done with less spending. Surprisingly, Milom wrote that some organizations are even outsourcing executive positions and roles that contribute creative content and support marketing projects – such as graphic designers, freelance writers and photographers.

Whether it's for creative reasons or financial ones, outsourcing is widely used by associations.Whether it’s for creative reasons or financial ones, outsourcing is widely used by associations.

The Importance of Getting it Right

Associations understand the importance of outsourcing tasks, but it isn’t advised to just set it and forget. Delegating tasks to third-party services and teams requires a level of management that some association leaders might not have experience with. After all, when operations take place under a different roof, they do not have immediate insight into those processes.

CIO magazine suggested that organizations ensure that outsourced parties are synced up with their same benchmarks and aligned with their goals, but Tom Fountain, CTO of Pneuron, told the source that entities shouldn’t micro-manage too much. The solution here is to open up access to all necessary resources, and collaborate with, rather than boss around, outsourced teams. File sharing is critical in this regard: If marketing materials, financial documents or processes are shared and available, problems can be addressed immediately.

Outsourcing has the ability to save associations a lot of money, but it’s important to stay up to date on trends in this sector, as the best outsourcing solutions could go unnoticed. Furthermore, outsourcing must be carefully managed, as too much oversight could negate any benefits.

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