In-house automation vs outsourced automation: the pros and cons
Should you automate your processes in-house, using your own time and resources? Or should you employ a specialist automation vendor or consultant to implement automation software for you?
Each approach comes with pros and cons. There’s no one-size-fits-all approach to deploying automation technology, and the right path for your business relies on a host of contextual factors.
So, how do you assess the best implementation route for you? To help you decide, here’s a balanced weigh-up of in-house automation vs outsourced automation, looking at the pros and cons of each approach.
Outsourced automation implementation
Outsourced automation is where you hand the implementation of your automation over to external experts. That might be the professional services branch of your automation software vendor, for instance, or an independent consultant.
The outsourced automation team will configure and deploy your solution for you. So, they set up the conditions and rules to automate your processes, they build out your workflows and integrations, etc. They may do so in a one-off implementation, or they may offer a fully managed service with ongoing support and management.
So, what are the pros and cons of outsourcing?
Pros of outsourcing
· Automation experts
You have access to a bigger talent pool when you decide to outsource the implementation of your automation. That is, you have access to knowledge and expertise that you don’t have available in-house.
Vendors/consultants know everything about their product. After all, they work with the automation software day in, day out. So, not only do they know how to install and configure the solution and its various features, but they also know how to prime processes for automation. The result is a faster deployment and improved efficiency / effectiveness of processes.
· (Potential) cost savings
With outsourced automation, you don’t have to hire full-time internal experts. Nor do you have to train existing staff to use the automation to its fullest. So, there’s no need to scrabble around allocating time and resources to automation projects. This, in turn, can save money long-term.
A full-time employee is an ongoing expense. A project fee, on the other hand, is typically a one-off payment. And even if you opt to pay for a fully managed service moving forward, you’re still only paying for the hours you’ve used. That kind of ongoing support will typically be a few hours here and there. (And so, not comparable to the cost of a 40-hour working week.)
N.B.: These cost-savings may not apply if you have strong automation knowledge already in-house, with enough resources to handle the project.
Another advantage to taking the outsourced automation route is that your in-house teams can continue working on their existing tasks and responsibilities. You can automate your enterprise, without tying up your tech team. Your IT guys are free to focus on strategy – not automation administration.
· Support at the level you need it
Perhaps you only want to offload the initial headache of implementation to a skilled engineer. Here, then, you can get the complex orchestration taken care of, but maintain the solution in-house moving forward.
Or perhaps you want a fully managed service. Here, you’ve got somebody to set up your automations, troubleshoot any problems, and help with any ongoing projects and optimisations.
Either way, outsourced automation gives you the support you need, at the level you need it.
Cons of outsourcing
· Complications with communication
With outsourcing, communication can sometimes be harder than with in-house automation projects.
This is because rather than chatting or emailing someone within your own team, you must get in touch with another team from another company. This relies on them answering in a timely manner.
There’s also, arguably, more that needs communicating, and it can be harder to ask and answer questions in real-time as needed.
As a result, in some cases, outsourced automation can require some extra time spent on communication efforts.
· Business detachment
The team or person implementing your automation will have lots of automation knowledge and experience. But they are at a disadvantage when it comes to understanding your team dynamics, business culture, and the intricacies of the processes they’re automating.
They may also be less familiar with the systems you’ll want them to integrate the automation with. So, you’ll still have to allocate time to bring the automation team up to speed, even when you outsource.
· Potential security/confidentiality hurdles
As with any outsourcing, outsourced automation can have implications on your cybersecurity and data confidentiality. Particularly, for instance, if the processes in question relate to the handling of sensitive data or programs which deal with it.
This is not necessarily a big problem, but it does mean there are more hoops to jump through to ensure compliance and data safety than with in-house automation.
In-house automation implementation
In-house automation is where you build and implement your automated processes yourself. So, you purchase your automation solution of choice, and then your own IT team deploys, configures, and manages it. You don’t pay a third-party expert to come in and run the solution for you as a service.
Pros of in-house automation
· Better in-house security
When you automate yourself, you don’t need to give extra access or insight into your systems. All knowledge and access remain in-house. This means that you have fewer hoops to jump through when ensuring compliance and cybersecurity.
· Insider business knowledge
An in-house team will have intimate knowledge of the processes, tools, and dynamics that the automation software will impact/integrate with. In turn, this means a clearer picture of what and how to automate.
· Easier communication
Because everything is happening in-house, communication often runs smoother. Those implementing the automation solution know when the people they need to contact are available. So, they get quicker answers. Or, in some cases, they can just pop down the corridor and ask them in person.
Cross-departmental collaboration is also easier when automation implementation happens in-house. Automation software encourages teams to integrate, rather than work in siloes.
· Full control
In-house automation basically means that you get full control over what, how, and when things are automated. You maintain full control over your processes and their reengineering.
All this means a clearer overview of your automation strategy, what’s going well, what needs fixing, and so on. Without the gap between you and your automation solution, you can get a better overview of how the technology can fit into your business.
Cons of in-house automation
· (Potential) higher costs
There can be higher costs involved with in-house automation compared to outsourced automation.
With outsourcing, you’re paying for a third party to handle your automation implementation as well as for the automation software. But with in-house automation, you need to ensure you have the team in place to support automation implementation, management, and maintenance. This means paying for the automation software and the in-house, long-term team with the skills to implement and maintain the processes. That’s a lot of HR and salary commitments.
So, if you don’t already have such a team, this adds an extra expense.
· Channelling company IT time
Configuring enterprise-wide automation is no mean feat. Automating a business is an ongoing, evolving job – changing as your people, processes, and programs change.
So, your automation project isn’t ‘done’ when you’ve installed the software and set up a few workflows. (Which in itself, can be time-consuming.) Rather, automation requires you to channel regular company IT time to configuring, changing, and fine-tuning. If your IT resources are already stretched, this can present a challenge.
· Limited to in-house expertise
In-house automation means you’re limited to only internal expertise.
This isn’t to say that an in-house team would be incapable of understanding and using automation software to a high standard. However, it does mean there is a chance that you might miss out on some streamlining, or it may take longer to get the automation rules as well-designed as possible.
In-house automation vs outsourced automation
You know you want to automate. Now, you need to work out the best way to implement the automation technology. Should you outsource to an expert, or should you stick with in-house automation?
There’s no one right answer. The way to decide is to weigh up the pros and cons of each route and consider the costs, the risks, and the impact on your teams.
Do you have an IT team ready to implement automation? Or, do you have young systems that don’t require in-depth, intricate knowledge to automate effectively? Perhaps your use case is complex, or your IT resources strained. Perhaps you have a sizeable budget, and want the best deployment possible.
Ultimately, both in-house and outsourced automation are viable options. However you choose to automate, you’re still reaping the gains of automated efficiency.
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