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Whilst many image agencies see the benefits of outsourcing photo desk work in terms of improved performance, cost control and allowing better focus on core business, it is another matter to get started on that track. With a sensible plan, this needn’t be a big headache.

Here are some important tips on how to begin reaping the benefits of contracting out image processing and metadata functions:

1. Decide on what functions make the most sense to outsource. In doing so, it is tempting to hold back, based on sentimentality or inability to commit fully.  Rather than be timid at the beginning, it is best to see how much you can outsource and then consider whether the benefits mean that you should go the whole way, or stop short.  Unless you review a wide range of functions you won’t really know what is possible, and what isn’t.

2. Find a reputable outsourcing company.  Cheapest is rarely the best option, given that quality and trustworthiness of those handling your images and videos is crucial.  Ask around to see who market leaders are using, and get wise counsel from people in the know.  Also, beware of companies which say yes to everything, without any insight into the level of difficulty – almost certainly they say yes to everything, whether they can deliver or not.

3. Work out a sensible plan for implementation.  If you’ve picked a reputable outsourcing company they will be able to guide you through this.  If they have the attitude of “don’t worry, it’ll be all right on the night”, find another provider.  A good outsourcing company should come up with a series of stages for making a transition which is as efficient and painless as possible.  That might include counselling against moving too quickly.  Listen to this advice, as there’s never a good reason to be in a hurry to do things badly.

4. Engage in the process.  To get the absolute most out of outsourcing, it’s no good sitting back and expecting the provider to come up with all the solutions without insights into your business. The more you can tell them about what you need, what your processes are and so on, the better the price will be, and the faster they will be up and running.  Engagement doesn’t just mean a one-off conversation, it means sharing manuals, demonstrations, insights from existing staff and potentially a tour of your office.  Time spent at this stage will pay off many times over.

5. Start early.  If you are establishing an image agency, get in touch with outsourcing companies from the very beginning, even before you’ve decided on your system.  A good outsourcer will have experience, ideas and advice on how to avoid common mistakes and how to make your system as streamlined as possible.  Outsource companies generally know a lot more about the practicalities than in-house staff or worse still software companies – both of whom can have agendas other than improving efficiency.

6. If in doubt, do a trial.  Before going to full implementation, you can always ask for a trial.  As well as testing out the ability of the outsourcer, it can serve as a way to refocus on better ways of organising your systems and/or working with clients.

For free advice on how to outsource image library and metadata functions, make an enquiry by clicking here.  We can send you our image services guide with plenty more detail.