Here, Near and Far Shoring

With the growth and success of in-house agencies, additional creative resourcing opportunities have emerged to augment these teams and amplify the value they bring to companies. In this article we look at different options and a newer blended approach called Multishoring that is being explored and embraced.

Back in 2008, when working in the CPG industry, I had the opportunity to build an offshored global creative services team in India. We already had a successful IT related shared services team of over 500 people in place which was largely transactional in nature. Soon there was interest in exploring marketing support services that were higher touch – such as creative services. This started a journey over the next decade that delivered significant cost avoidance for the company but also a dynamic experience in working with distant and culturally different creative resources. So, let’s dig into this topic more.

A Quick Timeline of Creative Services Offshoring

Offshoring has become familiar to many people as a successful business strategy in relocating work to be done in a foreign country with the primary goal of reducing costs through lower labor costs. While offshoring originally started with IT transitioning many back-office functions (data entry, customer support) it soon expanded to the marketing and creative / design services. Creative agencies have been offshoring since the early 2000s when they began to outsource non-core work needs to foreign country providers. 

The rapid growth of digital technology and the increasing globalization of the creative industry created opportunities for offshoring functional work such as graphic design, web design, animation and photo / video production. Many agencies started to explore offshoring cost advantages and access to emerging specialized skills and expertise. 

The first countries to appear as popular destinations for offshoring in the creative industry were India and the Philippines, due to their large English-speaking populations and lower labor costs. China, Vietnam and Central American countries have also become offshoring destinations for creative agencies. Cost savings through labor arbitrage remains a key driver for offshoring.

Offshoring in the creative industry has not been without its challenges. Some considerations and concerns include: 

  • Language barriers 

  • Cultural differences 

  • Time zone differences

  • Quality control

  • Intellectual property and data security

These challenges aside, offshoring creative services has been widely utilized by many companies who were prepared to invest the time and financials to establish and manage these capabilities.

Nearshoring is About More Than Cost Savings

Nearshoring is a variation on the offshoring strategy where the creative resource is located in a country geographically close to the company’s headquarters. It has become increasingly popular in the creative industry, as it allows companies to access a larger talent pool via a nearshoring partner who shares the same values and work ethic as the agency, and who can produce work that meets the agency's high standards. 

Another advantage of nearshoring is the time zone differences tend to be small so communications and creative collaboration may be facilitated in sync with the company’s normal business hours to ensure more manageable responsiveness to needs. Nearshoring partners’ proximity also makes it easier for travel and face-to-face collaboration.

Some Quick Definitions

As Offshoring has matured, newer outsourcing approaches have been tested and adopted such as Nearshoring, Onshoring and, more recently, Multishoring.

Offshoring is the practice of outsourcing business processes to a creative agency or resources in another country. The key driver is to reduce costs, as labor costs are typically lower in other countries. However, Offshoring can also be challenging, as it can be difficult to manage a team that is located in another country.

Nearshoring is similar to Offshoring and refers to outsourcing to a nearby foreign country with similar time zones. This can help to reduce some of the challenges of offshoring, such as language barriers and time zone differences.

Onshoring is the practice of keeping creative outsourcing in-country. This can be done for a variety of reasons, such as to make it easier to maintain control over creative services, to ensure quality, or to comply with regulations. However, onshoring can also be more expensive than Offshoring or Nearshoring.

Multishoring is a newer concept that chooses a balance of Offshoring, Nearshoring, and Onshoring. It involves selecting the best location for each creative resource based on a variety of factors, such as cost, quality and risk. Multishoring can be a good option for companies that need to reduce creative costs while also maintaining quality and control.

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The distinctions between these strategies are not always clear-cut, and some companies may use a combination of approaches to achieve their business goals. The key is to carefully assess the advantages and challenges of each approach. Only then can you determine if there is a singular approach or multiple approaches in combination that fit the company’s needs most effectively.

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So, what is Multishoring and where does it fit?

In essence Multishoring can be defined as effectively sourcing and efficiently utilizing top talent no matter their location. In our digital economy, we are seeing the global talent marketplace being rapidly democratized and accessible. Companies are beginning to explore how they can source top talent for their work needs through redefining the work model. Multishoring can be seen as a more flexible version where creative talent can be sourced from a variety of geo-locations from both in-country and offshore, as well as creative organizations or specialist freelancers to fulfill needs. This is more of a customized approach to building creative resources for short-term project needs, or longer-term capabilities as an extension of in-house creative agencies.

Multishoring as a blended combination offers a different way of resourcing creative talent based on the skillset and needs. A Multishoring strategy may include a combination of sources for a company such as the example below:

  • Resources in India to do production design and DAM asset ingest / search 

  • Resources in Costa Rica designing mobile apps and website landing pages

  • An agency in the US Midwest with specialist focus on email design, testing and performance reporting or an ex-top 10 agency creative director freelancing on breakthrough campaign creative from a vacation home in rural NY.

Key considerations:

  • You should be geographically agnostic to sourcing locations

  • Focus on experience needed to meet the functional requirements of the project

  • Clearly define the work types and scope of support to manage expectations

  • May be challenging to locally source top or highly specialized talent

  • Manage sourcing costs based on creative spend targets

  • Communications need to be structured (time zone, languages, collaboration ability)

  • Technology integration considerations (compatibility to in-house systems and security / privacy requirements)

  • Brand training effort and expectations

From a creative resourcing perspective, Multishoring can be a more complex and challenging process than some other singular sourcing strategies, but it can also be a very rewarding one. If you are considering a Multishoring strategy, be sure to do your research and plan carefully.

If you need unbiased help in addressing an Offshore, Nearshore, or Multishore strategy or work plan, Cella can help. Let’s talk about which is right for you.