One of the most important aspects of producing a flawlessly executed event is putting together the right team, with the right personalities, and the right areas of expertise. The question facing event organizers is whether they can build that team internally with existing resources or whether to augment with outsourced partners and vendors.
It’s an important question and it requires a bit of critical introspection. The right team is everything. Get it right, and you exceed expectations and win trust. Get it wrong, and you face unhappy stakeholders and an underwhelmed audience.
Here are some key questions you should ask when considering whether to outsource:
What’s your bandwidth?
Be honest. How many other projects are you balancing at the same time? Are you adequately staffed with the right people to deliver everything your company [same ambiguity. In many cases, the client of the client is the client. I think 'company' would be more apt (and change 'their' to 'its' if you make that change] needs to advance its objectives?
Tip: Create a detailed production schedule with all deliverables and due dates. This will become an invaluable tool to identify staffing holes. At that point, you can determine whether to call in outside resources.
What are your internal areas of expertise?
Successful events require multiple experts in event production and creative, meeting planning, creative development and art direction. Larger companies may have all these areas under one roof, but beware of the “jack of all trades, master of none” syndrome. Rarely can one department be all things to its company.
Also consider your event expectations. Who is your audience? Do you require high-level production values to create the desired outcome? Do you need state-of-the-art staging, sound design, video and experiential engagement? If so, do you have staff executive producers, creative directors, planners and technical directors to meet those expectations? If not, hire outsourced professionals. You'll be glad you did.What do you bring to the table in a negotiation?
Are you running enough events to build vendor relationships that will give you negotiating power at the table? This may be a reason to pull in a production agency -- to negotiate better deals on your behalf. A production company that lives and breathes by producing events has earned buying clout and, consequently, greater leverage with suppliers.What’s your budget?
If you have a small budget, it may be wiser to manage your event internally. Production companies, like all businesses, are built to meet a certain profit percentage. If there is no margin, it makes better sense to keep your project inside and manage expectations accordingly. You wouldn’t hire an engineer to pump gas, but you would hire her to design a new car.Do you need cover from internal politics?
It’s a fact of life. Sometimes it’s helpful to have an external company navigate the landmines of internal politics. For example, your CEO wants to deliver a 60-minute speech at your next national sales meeting. In your position, you know that’s a really bad idea, but telling him could be a career-limiting move. That’s where your production company comes in. They will manage this request within the wider context of the event. As outside experts, they know how to diffuse tension and balance egos with their experience in producing high impact events. The CEO is likely to see the outside company as the experts and be more amenable to their guidance. In other words, if you need a bad guy, an outside vendor is less beholden to internal politics.
Hiring outsourced experts may sound expensive, but to help you do the job right, it can lead to more successful meetings with higher measurable ROI on every level. You may be well versed in events, but to move your organization to a higher level of production, it might be time to think about bringing in a production partner.