Published 9th June 2020

In a world where outsourcing has become so common across business activities, it’s understandable to think it has to be the go-to solution for companies looking to buy in expertise.

Growing and maintaining a workforce that is expert in every aspect of relevant technology simply isn’t feasible due to the cost and effort needed for ongoing training and upskilling. On the other hand, despite the clear benefits of outsourcing, one major downside remains that it adds little or nothing to a company’s core competencies. Worse, an over-reliance on outsourcing can effectively condemn organisations to permanent dependency on outside suppliers or partner companies.

However, there is a middle ground — one that’s reached by investing more in your organisation’s overall ability to adapt and evolve than in specific technical knowledge. It’s called capability building, and it equips internal enterprise teams by teaching them best practice around development skills, project management and workflows on any particular project or challenge.

As this Forbes article explains, capability building not only helps to de-risk transformation initiatives, but it can grow support for operational changes and encourage engagement across the organisation. Below are five additional reasons why future-thinking companies are considering capability building rather than fully outsourced digital development.

Ramp up internal expertise

Expertise and experience are the stock in trade of any organisation, and opting for capability building as an alternative to outsourcing lets companies add to their store of in-house knowledge and track record of achievement.

Typically, capability building involves a temporary embedding of experts within an internal team to design, create and deliver products and services. By working side-by-side with the embedded experts, your staff gain close-up visibility of what best practice looks like and experience a well-run development cycle or project implementation. This simply doesn’t happen with outsourcing.

At the end of the exercise, staff are not just better equipped to handle future challenges, but also have a deeper appreciation of areas where they may be lacking in competencies. Knowing what you don’t know is a great hedge against being blindsided by new changes or by the competition.

Control the tap

Depending on whether their needs are short-term or long-term, project teams can decide the amount of assistance required, the budget reserved and the duration of the support period. And at the end of the capability building project, companies gain a team that is empowered and equipped to build on their newfound skills and knowledge.

In addition, the experience of a capability building project provides companies with valuable insight into how the process may be revisited effectively in the future – and how to make an informed decision on whether or not to outsource.

Build a more agile culture

The digital age brings new challenges on an almost daily basis, demanding an exceptional level of agility on the part of consumer businesses and solutions providers.

For a technical team to be able to hop from project to project, they need to have a core of key strengths. Either as a team or from the top down, they must be able to assess needs and identify solutions, They also require the skills to design, build, test and implement those solutions, and then to support and scale them.

This level of agility is best achieved by constantly adding to existing skills. Employees may not need to become experts in a new area, but they need to know enough – whether as leaders, designers or developers – to appreciate the changing needs of clients and know how to address those needs as quickly and efficiently as possible.

Stay competitive

Being competitive today is no guarantee of being competitive tomorrow, as new challenges and new clients may put technical teams under enormous pressures to up their game.

Adding new skills to the team can add a real sense of synergy to an organisation. The skills you already have become infinitely more valuable to clients when augmented by new skills, new processes or new ways of thinking.

This constant improvement is key to remaining competitive — and is the only real way to future-proof a service-based organisation.

Build happier teams

When a company culture is one of collaboration and constant learning, the organisation tends to have happier staff who realise their full potential — and stay longer! Apart from the immediate financial savings, lowering staff turnover avoids lost knowledge and repeated onboarding or training, and helps support a team environment. A culture of continuous professional development also makes it easier to attract new talent in a very competitive recruitment environment.

Perhaps the greatest benefit of happier teams, however, is that they tend to equate to happier customers. A recent article in the Harvard Business Review detailed the direct statistical link between the happiness of a company’s workforce and the satisfaction level of their customers, making a clear case for investing in the employee experience.

When weighing the options, it becomes clear that outsourcing isn’t the only way to augment internal knowledge. By investing in teams’ ability to develop skills and processes in response to new challenges or market changes, organisations can gain capabilities that extend well beyond development and engineering, to benefit the company as a whole.

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The alternative to outsourcing digital development

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