15 factors to consider before your association decides to outsource

Association Solutions

15 factors to consider before your association decides to outsource


Outsourcing services can be a strategic way for associations to reach their objectives and address challenges by tapping into the specialized expertise and resources of an experienced partner who can help increase non-dues revenue, grow membership, implement innovative tech solutions, enhance branding and creative, and more. By outsourcing these and other functions, associations can have greater bandwidth to laser focus on their core mission and objectives. Before making the decision to outsource, though, there are several key factors associations should consider.

1. Opportunity for outsourcing: Determine what areas within your association would benefit from external expertise and have the biggest opportunity to make an impact. These areas might include non-dues revenue and sales, publications and creative services, technology, membership services, etc.

2. Cost-benefit analysis: Evaluate the financial implications of outsourcing. This should include direct costs and fees as well as potential hidden costs such as transition expenses, training and oversight.

3. Strategic partnership: Research potential outsourcing partners to ensure they have a good reputation, relevant experience and a track record of reliability. Partnering with a company you trust that fosters an environment of collaboration is key to success.

4. Stakeholder buy-in: Ensure that key stakeholders, including association members, staff and leadership, are on board with the decision to outsource and they are clear on what the partnership entails.

5. Contractual agreements: Clearly define the terms of the agreement, including service-level agreements, scope of work, confidentiality clauses and exit strategies. This will help set clear expectations, ensure accountability and promote transparency.

6. Data security and privacy: If the partner your association is working with will be handling sensitive data, be sure non-disclosure agreements have robust data protection measures in place and are compliant with relevant regulations.

7. Risk management: Identify potential risks associated with outsourcing and develop strategies to mitigate them. This could include risks related to service disruption, data breaches or reputational damage.

8. Cultural and organizational fit: Determine how you will communicate your association’s organizational culture and values to the partner and how you’ll assess whether they align with them.

9. Ethical considerations: The outsourcing partner should adhere to ethical standards, especially if the service involves work in countries with different labor laws and standards.

10. Communication: Establish the best methods and channels to use for clear, consistent communication as well as the frequency of regular check-ins to ensure any issues are promptly addressed, updates or changes are understood, and both parties are aligned on future direction.

11. Transition plan: Develop a comprehensive plan for transitioning the service to the outsourcing partner. This should include training, knowledge transfer and contingency plans.

12. Quality control: Ensure the outsourcing partner can maintain or improve the quality of the service by setting clear performance metrics and monitoring mechanisms.

13. Flexibility: Evaluate the flexibility of the outsourcing partner in adapting to changes or scaling services per your association’s needs.

14. Exit strategy: Consider what will happen if the association needs to end the outsourcing relationship. This might involve transitioning the service in-house or to another provider.

15. Continuous review: Periodically review the outsourcing relationship to ensure it remains beneficial. Reassess the quality of service, costs and the alignment of the provider with the association's evolving needs.

Outsourcing can offer associations many benefits that help them grow and reach broader audiences, but it is essential to approach the decision with a comprehensive understanding of the potential advantages as well as the challenges. Proper due diligence, planning and ongoing management are crucial to ensuring a successful outsourcing relationship and a thriving association.

Discover how to unlock your association's full potential with MCI USA as your consultative, advisory or project-based services partner.